Seasonal Story Ideas
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LOUISVILLE’S BLACK HERITAGE EXPERIENCES
A collection of immersive Black Heritage experiences launched in the Spring of 2021 as part of Louisville Tourism’s Unfiltered Truth Collection, which celebrates the impact of African American contributions to Louisville’s history, heritage, and culture through stories many have never heard before. Experiences include the Black Heritage in Racing Tour at the Kentucky Derby Museum which highlights the accomplishments of the Black jockeys who once dominated the sport; Unfolding the Story of The Enslaved at Locust Grove where visitors can learn first-hand what life was like for the enslaved who worked and lived on the 19th century farmstead; The Ideal Bartender Experience at Evan Williams Bourbon Experience where guests meet an actor portraying Louisville native, Tom Bullock – the first Black American to pen and publish a cocktail book; as well as additional experiences at Roots 101 African American Museum, the Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory, Frazier History Museum and the Kentucky Center for African American Heritage.
BOURBON BEYOND THE DISTILLERY
Louisville has reclaimed its Bourbon heritage over the past decade with the opening of 10 urban distilleries since 2013. Now, Bourbon lovers can explore beyond the distillery with unique attractions, festivals, and hotels all while soaking up Bourbon City culture. Start your adventure on a Bourbon City Cruiser – A tuk-tuk style electric-powered vehicle driven by an expert tour guide connecting travelers to distilleries, cocktail bars, and sightseeing, all while on an open-air adventure. Hermitage Farm offers a VIP Bourbon tasting in brand-new Barn6 where guests can enjoy some of Kentucky’s top Bourbons in a working horse barn alongside resident Thoroughbreds. Afterwards, guests can dine at Barn8 Restaurant, also housed in a reclaimed barn, and features a bar that offers bourbons from every distillery on the Bourbon Trail and a menu full of farm-to-table dishes. The Frazier History Museum, (the official starting point of the Kentucky Bourbon Trail®) features its own tasting experience and instagrammable wall of Bourbon at its popular Spirit of Kentucky exhibit. Visitors can stay at Bourbon-themed accommodations like Marriott Autograph Collection Hotel Distil, B&B style Chateau Bourbon and Louisville Bourbon Inn, or Louisville’s Omni Hotel complete with prohibition-style speakeasy.
GET A TASTE OF THE KENTUCKY DERBY
The longest continually held sporting event in the U.S. continues in 2022 with the 148th running of the Kentucky Derby. Once hailed by Magic Johnson as “the Super Bowl and Mardi Gras all rolled into one”, the Derby has become a national springtime holiday with its own distinct culture. For starters, locals roll out a unique menu from appetizers to desserts to cocktails. Start with triangle-cut Benedictine sandwiches using the curious light green cucumber spread Benedictine, invented by Louisville caterer Jennie Benedict in the late 1800’s. Next, you’ll want to dive into a Kentucky Hot Brown, an open-faced hot turkey, bacon, cheese, and tomato sandwich invented at the Brown Hotel in 1926. For dessert try Derby-Pie®, the official pie of the Kentucky Derby, invented at a local inn in the 1950’s. Or try Bourbon Balls, a delicacy invented by two Kentucky ex-teachers in the 1930’s. Lastly, you’ll want to wash it all down with a Mint Julep, the iconic Kentucky Derby cocktail that mixes up Bourbon, sugar water and mint, in a signature silver julep cup. The official hotel of the Kentucky Derby, The Galt House Hotel, is celebrating 50 years in 2022 and features a rotating rooftop restaurant (Swizzle) and legendary bourbon bar, Jockey Silks.
$1 BILLION INVESTMENT IN LOUISVILLE-AREA PARKS
Home to the country’s largest municipal urban forest (Jefferson Memorial) and one of only four completed Frederick Law Olmsted parkway systems in the US, Louisville has plenty of outdoor space to explore. Nearly 700 acres are currently under development in the area anchored by Southern Indiana’s Origin Park, a 600 acre, $1 billion project located directly across the river from downtown Louisville. Just west of downtown, phase IV of Waterfront Park is ready to break ground on an additional 22-acres planned for the already 85-acre Louisville staple. Butchertown’s Waterfront Botanical Gardens is underway with $65 million planned for the 23-acre site. Previously a landfill, the attraction will feature a Japanese garden, conservatory and Visitors Center. Louisville’s Olmsted Parks Conservancy will be celebrating the 200th anniversary of the famed landscape architect’s birth this April with a series of events taking place this spring.
80 YEARS OF MUHAMMAD ALI
Even after his passing in 2016, Muhammad Ali’s legacy still inspires in his hometown. The city renamed its airport to Louisville Muhammad Ali International in 2019 and hosts an annual Ali Festival every June. Fans can walk (or drive) in the Footsteps of Greatness on a self-guided tour around the city highlighting local landmarks that shaped Ali into a boxing superstar and internationally known humanitarian. Plan a visit to the Muhammad Ali Center, a six-story multicultural center and award-winning museum. Pay your respects at Cave Hill Cemetery, a scenic 296- acre Victorian-era National Cemetery and arboretum, which serves as The Champ’s final resting place. The historic Brown Hotel offers a Muhammad Ali suite dedicated by “The Greatest” himself and showcases signed memorabilia, photos and boxing gloves.
NEW ERA OF CHEFS ADD DIVERSITY & FLAVOR
Located in NuLu, La Bodeguita de Mima was launched in 2020 by Cuban immigrant and Chef Fernando Martinez. You won’t be able to miss the bright yellow painted exterior and Cuban-inspired décor that transports guests back in time to 1950’s Cuba. Martinez’ wife, Cristina Martinez brings flavors from her home country of Venezuela with recently opened Señora Arepa. The couple plans to open Mexican inspired Guaca Mole early in 2022. Also in NuLu, The Seafood Lady and local celebrity chef Nichelle Thurston is cooking Southern-inspired dishes at her newest location. Darnell Ferguson is rising in the ranks of Louisville restaurant royalty with the recent opening of Tha Drippin’ Crab. After the success of his eccentric breakfast joint Superchefs and multiple TV appearances on The Food Network, Ferguson opened his own Seafood establishment in West Louisville’s Russel neighborhood, which is seeing a culinary comeback. Black chefs and restaurateurs Pamela Haines (Sweet Peaches) and Lucretia Thompson (Lucretia’s Kitchen) are also adding to Russel’s revival with their Southern-inspired soul food. Moving from Mexico City to Louisville in 2011 while working with Brown-Forman, Jesus Martinez missed his home-style Mexican breakfasts and started 23-seat Con Huevos in 2015. Six years later Con Huevos has become one of the city’s top brunch spots and offers three locations.
Though Louisville has iconic hotel accommodations like the historic Seelbach Hilton and Brown, the city is seeing an emergence of boutique properties retrofitted in reclaimed spaces. NuLu’s Hancock House opened in early 2019 in what was once a neighborhood grocery store. The 16-room micro-boutique hotel offers online check-in and key pad entry allowing visitors to bypass any hotel employees upon arrival. The recently opened Bellwether has a similar check-in process and is housed in a former early 1900s Police Station. Also opening in 2021, the 51-room Grady Hotel building was originally built in 1883 and was once a pharmacy where prescriptions of “medicinal Bourbon” were filled. Kentucky Derby hats were also once made on site at the Swann-Abram Hat Company, the partial namesake of Wild Swann, the Grady’s in-house speakeasy-style eatery and bar. 21c Louisville is the flagship property for the boutique hotel brand and contributes 91-rooms along with restaurant Proof on Main and contemporary lobby/art museum, all packaged nicely into a group of 5 separate warehouses that once housed tobacco and Bourbon products on Louisville’s Main Street. Scheduled to open Fall of 2022, an 1890s-era schoolhouse and former Joe Ley Antiques building will undergo a roughly $27 million renovation to become a 106-room boutique hotel with outdoor pool, rooftop bar and multiple penthouse suites.
SPRING FESTIVALS & EVENTS
Beer festivals Tailspin Ale Fest (held at historic Bowman Field Airport) and NuLu Bock Fest (featuring Billy goat races) both kick off the festivities every March along with the Louisville Zoo’s Wild Lights festival. April’s Kentucky Derby Festival is a month-long celebration of events leading up to the annual horse race and includes popular events like Thunder Over Louisville (30-minute firework and all day air show), the Great Steamboat Race (2-hour riverboat race on the Ohio) and the Mini-Marathon & KDF Marathon (which take you through historic Churchill Downs). The Kentucky Reggae Festival, Abbey Road on the River and the Forecastle Festival (with headliner and Louisvillian Jack Harlow) all take place Memorial Day Weekend, with the Kentucky Shakespeare Festival and the Kentuckiana Pride Parade & Festival both taking place in June.
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A portmanteau for “new Louisville”, NuLu is seeing another renaissance with new restaurants, bars and accommodations recently added or in the works. La Bodeguita de Mima was launched in 2020 by Cuban immigrant and Chef Fernando Martinez. You won’t be able to miss the bright yellow painted exterior and Cuban-inspired décor that transports guests back in time to 1950’s Cuba. Chef Martinez also recently opened Señora Arepa (a Venezuelan arepita restaurant) and Guaca Mole (authentically original Mexican) is coming this Fall. NoraeBar is a recently opened, Korean-inspired karaoke bar offering an open-mic stage as well as private song rooms. Tucked behind the building of plant-based retailer Buff City Soap visitors are surprised to find the open courtyard of NuLu Marketplace where you can visit The Craftery (a DIY cocktail & crafts bar); West Sixth Nulu (a craft brewery), Torino’s Sandwich Bar (an Italian-style deli) Gertie’s Whiskey Bar (a hidden prohibition-style speakeasy) and the NuLu Sundae Club (sundaes, milkshakes, and ice cream). The Seafood Lady also joins the restaurant roundup with celebrity Chef Nichelle Thurston leading the charge at her new location located on the first floor of the of the 16-room micro-boutique hotel, Hancock House. The 1870’s former Market Street United Methodist Church will soon become ChurchKey, a 23,000 sq. ft. Cajun/Creole restaurant, sports bar and entertainment venue.
LOUISVILLE ON FOOT
Louisville is the only city where Bourbon lovers can walk between Bourbon distilleries. Within a 1.7-mile stretch you’ll find Rabbit Hole, Angel’s Envy, Old Forester, Evan Williams, Peerless and Michter’s distilleries. This portion of Main Street is living up to its pre-prohibition name of “Whiskey Row”. Also, on Main Street you’ll find a stellar lineup of attractions like the Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory, Muhammad Ali Center, Roots 101 African American Museum, Kentucky Science Center, and the Kentucky Museum of Art & Craft (KMAC), are all located within a 1-mile stretch. The Galt House Hotel, 21c Louisville, Hotel Distil and newly opened Grady Hotel all also call Main Street Home.
FALL FESTIVALS & HOLIDAY EVENTS
Celebrating it’s 65th anniversary in October, the St. James Court Art Show brings 600 artists to Old Louisville, a neighborhood boasting the country’s largest collection of Victorian-era homes. Also in October, the Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular in Iroquois Park features 5,000 carved pumpkins illuminated at night as a walkable art show. Drive through Iroquois in December to see the Winter Woods Spectacular featuring millions of twinkling lights and holiday-themed décor. Lights Under Louisville also hosts a drivable holiday light event in the Louisville Mega Cavern, a 4 million sq. ft. cavern located beneath the Louisville Zoo. The 6-week Fête De Noël in the redeveloped Paristown District offers an outdoor ice-skating rink and Holiday Village.
With the nickname Bourbon City, one may be surprised that the city’s beer scene is hoppin’ with dozens of beer festivals and a large collection of breweries. Tailspin Ale Fest (held at historic Bowman Field Airport), NuLu Bock Fest (featuring street goat races), Kentucky Craft Bash (on the banks of the Ohio River) and the Frazier Summer Beer Fest (new for 2021 at the Frazier History Museum), are just a few of the unique beer events offered annually. Holy Grale, housed in a former 1905 Unitarian Church, has been touted as one of the “Best Beer Bars in America” and breweries Gravely Brewing Co., Ten20 Craft Brewery, West Sixth NuLu and Upland Brewing Co., offer some of the city’s top patios for great views and strong brews. Ride on the Lou’s Brews Bus or book with Derby City Brew Tours for a guided tour of the area’s local breweries.