A Weekend Road Trip to Louisville from Chicago : GoToLouisville.com Official Travel Source

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A Weekend Road Trip to Louisville from Chicago

Summer has finally arrived! Due to lingering COVID-19 restrictions, many people's vacation plans have changed a bit. While canceling or rescheduling a big vacation may be disappointing that doesn't mean travel planning has to stop! There are still plenty of places to get away to, even if it’s just a weekend trip.

My name is Lauren Chapman. I'm the head blogger for CamilleLove Blog. A lifestyle blog that features travel, beauty, and life advice content. This past derby weekend my boyfriend and I took a road trip to Louisville, KY to visit a friend and her boyfriend.

Before arriving, we didn’t know how festive of an event the derby is. Thousands of people look forward to that one weekend year-round, so it was nice to be in the vicinity at least and see all the celebratory activities that take place. That experience was the cherry on top of our amazing trip, and although we didn't attend the derby, we were still able to find plenty of fun things to do in this gorgeous city!

As you're beginning your summer vacation planning Louisville, KY should be at the top of your list of cities to visit. There's plenty of fun to be had in Louisville. If you only have a couple days to spare like I did you'll want to plan an itinerary beforehand. Luckily, you don't have to make your own! Here's an itinerary for your summer vacation based on what we did during our time in Louisville.

Happy planning!

Travel time: My boyfriend and I both live in the Chicagoland area, which is about a 4.5-hour drive from Louisville. The drive wasn’t bad and actually went by pretty quick, which was a huge plus!

Day 1

Arrive Friday afternoon
- check in to your Airbnb or hotel

Kentucky is known for its bourbon and rightly so. We got our first taste of bourbon upon checking into our Airbnb. We stayed at the Red Door Retreat, a quaint bourbon bungalow located in the Highlands neighborhood. This was by far the best Airbnb I've ever stayed in. The hosts were wonderful and we were close to plenty of fun!

Friday evening - attend a bourbon tasting

Since bourbon production is so big in Louisville attending a bourbon tasting is a must! Many of the bourbon distillery's also offer tours along with their tastings for an added charge. However, we were a bit pressed for time due to dinner plans, so we opted for the tasting.

The bourbon tasting was the first activity we did when we arrived and boy, what a warm welcome! We did our tasting at Kentucky Peerless Distilling Co. and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. Our host was energetic and really taught us a lot in the 45 minutes we had. It was interesting learning about all that goes into producing a bottle.

Friday evening - dinner at Mayan Cafe

The Mayan Cafe is an indigenously-inspired farm-to-table restaurant located near downtown Louisville. The food here was delicious and the drinks were even better! We also loved the vibe of this place. The service was 10/10 and the setup of the restaurant made conversation easy, which we appreciated. If you decide to stop by, I highly recommend the chicken entrée.

Day 2

Saturday morning - go ziplining in a cave

Ziplining probably isn't your idea of a typical Saturday morning, but while in Louisville why not start your day off with a rush of adrenaline? Louisville Mega Cavern offers plenty of fun activities including a tram ride, walking tours, and of course, ziplining! The zip lining experience is beginner-friendly and plenty of fun for all age groups.

Saturday afternoon - grab some hot chicken for lunch

Louisville has two popular hot chicken spots. One is called Royals Hot Chicken and the other is Joella's Hot Chicken. If you ask locals like we did which is better you'll get a different answer each time. We ultimately went with Joella's and were pleasantly surprised! Whichever place you pick will be a great choice.

Saturday evening - order Mexican BBQ in a church building

Yes, you read that right. Noche Mexican BBQ is located inside an old church building. The glass-stained windows are still intact and really add to the ambiance of the place. We came here for drinks and appetizers with our friends. I recommend ordering the Chicken Tinga Nachos from the menu. This was hands-down the best thing we ate the whole weekend! Seriously.

Saturday night - explore Bardstown Road

Bardstown is a bustling neighborhood with trendy restaurants, bars, and shops to explore. You're bound to find something fun to do here whether it's going shopping or grabbing a quick bite to eat or a drink with friends. Nightlife in Bardstown was lively during our trip, even more so during the derby, so we got a great taste of all it had to offer.

Day 3

Sunday morning - brunch it up

A nice brunch with friends or family is always a great bonding experience. We brunched at The Cafe and would most certainly go back if given the chance. This café has delicious baked goods, so if sweets are your thing definitely check this out. Also, for Instagram lovers like me, there are plenty of photo ops here, so dress your best!

Sunday afternoon - head to the Muhammad Ali Center

The Muhammad Ali Center is a popular tourist destination, and rightfully so. Museum visitors are taken through a timeline of Cassius Marcellus Clay Jr.'s life starting as a young boy, through his historically decorated career, to his work as a humanitarian. This was a very touching experience, and the exhibit did a great job of showing who the real Muhammad was behind the heavyweight championships. This was especially interesting to me because my grandfather, the late Chicago Sun-Times sportswriter Lacy J. Banks was friends with Muhammad Ali. He'd always tell us stories about him growing up and show us pictures of them together. So it was nice to see the impact Muhammad Ali made not only on those that knew him but on the world at large.

Sunday evening - go to the zoo under the lights

A light show at the Louisville Zoo is a great way to end your trip. The setup of the zoo was very impressive. There were close to a hundred LED light fixtures, all unique in their own way. If you're traveling with young ones this is definitely an attraction the whole family will enjoy. This is a special event that they hold each Spring, but they have other fun events throughout the year like the Dino Quest happening through September 19.

Day 4

Monday morning - hit the road

We headed home Monday, so we took the morning to sleep in and do some last-minute packing. We were sad to go, but we know this isn't the last we'll see of Louisville!

I hope this weekend itinerary for Louisville, KY has helped you solidify your summer travel plans. Feel free to add in other activities that interest you to customize to your liking!

About the writer:

My name is Lauren Chapman. I call the Chicagoland area home and currently work in the field of Marketing. In my free time, I run a lifestyle blog called CamilleLove Blog that features travel, beauty, and life advice content. You can read more about my experience in Louisville and other travel-related content here.

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