Louisville is the city of originals. It’s a city with a sense of self, defined according to its own terms. Louisville balances longstanding traditions with an increasingly progressive way of life, embraces diverse cultural roots, and mixes urban excitement with cozy neighborhoods and resplendent natural areas.
Likewise, Louisville provides an original and unexpected experience for visitors.
Ranging from the expansive collection of the Speed Art Museum, that features 13,000 objects from antiquity to the present, to the contemporary collections of working artists at the Mellwood Arts Center, many visitors are delighted to find in Louisville both the quantity and quality of cultural offerings that might only be expected in larger metropolitan centers. In fact, the arts are alive and well in Louisville. Both the casual observer and the devoted patron of the arts will find themselves enamored with the diversity of museums, theatrical performances, and live music venues.
For the history buff, the neighborhood of Old Louisville is home to one of the largest historic preservation districts in the nation. Visitors will find the country’s greatest collection of preserved Victorian architecture. Alternatively, guests can find a fresher look at history with a visit to the Muhammad Ali Center where they’ll experience exhibits that tell the life story of Louisville’s most famous native son.
Of course, no visit to Louisville would be complete without the classic Louisville experience of Churchill Downs, home of the world’s most famous thoroughbred horserace: the Kentucky Derby. Purists nostalgic for the time-honored traditions of old Kentucky can find their pleasure on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail or the Urban Bourbon Trail or relive a bygone era aboard the historic Belle of Louisville, the oldest operating steamboat in the nation.
For a respite from all the excitement, visitors can make a break for the 6,000-acre Jefferson Memorial Forest in south Louisville. The nation’s largest urban forest, the Jefferson offers more than 30 miles of hiking trails through a designated wildlife refuge within view of downtown Louisville. Part of the soon to be completed Louisville Loop connecting the city’s parks by a paved walkway, visitors will be able to stroll from the Jefferson Memorial Forest all the way to Waterfront Park.
Culinary adventurers rejoice as Louisville’s restaurants are a foodie’s heaven. With over 2,500 restaurants, travelers from around the world are astounded by the variety and quality of fine dining offered in the area by chefs who have taken Louisville’s regional cuisine to a nationally recognized level. Visitors need not be aspiring gourmands to enjoy the city’s cuisine, just stop in at any of the Louisville Originals to get a taste of the local favorites. In addition to fine dining, Louisville has its share of quiet cafés, coffee houses, ethnic restaurants, bourbon lounges, casual eateries, and popular national chains.