Louisville Travel Ideas: Explore History, Culture & Food : GoToLouisville.com Official Travel Source

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Historic Churchill Downs will host the 150th running of the annual Kentucky Derby on May 4, 2024, maintaining its title as the longest continually held major sporting event in the U.S. The event will also mark the completion of a $200-million, multi-year renovation of the National Historic Landmark. Less than 10 days later, Valhalla Golf Club will host the 2024 PGA Championship, a highly prestigious week-long golf tournament that has not been held in the city since 2014. Female soccer stars from around the world will head to the city in August to compete in the Women’s Cup, which brings NWSL and International clubs together for the annual tournament. Bourbon Heritage Month’s spirited lineup includes two back-to-back weekends of music, with the four-day music festivals Bourbon & Beyond and Louder Than Life, both of which draw over 100,000 people to the city every September. To round out an epic year in sports, the NCAA Women’s Volleyball Championship game will be held at the KFC Yum! Center in early December.


Though Louisville’s distilling heritage dates back to the 1780s, 2023 marked only a decade since the opening of the Evan Williams Bourbon Experience, the city’s first visitor-friendly bourbon attraction. Since then, Louisville has undergone a spirited renaissance, seeing bourbon-themed hotels, festivals, restaurants, and more than a dozen additional distilleries and attractions open within the city limits. 2023 marked the addition of four new tasting rooms and retail stores including Castle & Key 502 (Apr. 2023), Buzzard’s Roost Whiskey Row Experience (June 2023), Bardstown Bourbon Company (Sept. 2023), and an expanded Bourbon Barrel Foods (Nov. 2023), offering demonstrations and tastings of their popular Bourboninfused soy sauces. Louisville will see even more action in 2024 with the openings of The Last Refuge (Mar. 2024), a new restaurant, whiskey bar, and live music venue inside a 150-year-old church led by American singer-songwriter Bob Dylan, Log Still Distillery’s Monk’s Road Boiler House (Spring 2024), a supper club-inspired restaurant and tasting room helmed by world-renowned Chef David Danielson, a new Pursuit Spirits (Nov. 2024) tasting room, planned to open on Whiskey Row this Fall, and a Bourbon concept by Kentucky’s first female Master Distiller, Marianne Eaves, set to open on the ground floor of a new boutique hotel in late 2024. Two Louisville-based Bourbon brands recently announced expansions to their current distilleries with Rabbit Hole and Angel’s Envy distilleries looking to develop newly acquired city blocks to expand their current operations and visitor experiences.


Hailing from the Bluegrass State of Kentucky, Bill Monroe is highly regarded as the father of American Bluegrass, as he and his band, Bill Monroe and the Blue Grass Boys, helped spread the musical genre across the South back in the 1930s. Nearly a century later, Bluegrass music is seeing a revival in Kentucky’s largest city with live
performances gracing some of the city’s hottest bourbon bars and music venues. Performances often incorporate contemporary music and sound into the classic Bluegrass music genre, creating a microgenre we’ve coined as LouGrass. Starting in April of 2024, visitors and locals alike will be able to experience live Bluegrass music for free, every weekend, through the end of October. A full schedule of performances can be found at GoToLouisville.com/LouGrass.


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 1800s. Next, dive into a Kentucky Hot Brown, an open-faced hot turkey, bacon, cheese, and tomato sandwich invented at the century-old Brown Hotel in 1926. Add Henry Bain Sauce, a rich and tangy tomato and vinegar-based topping, to any of your meat-based dishes. The original recipe was created by Henry Bain, the maitre d’ at Louisville’s Pendennis Club, which also happens to be the birthplace of the Old Fashioned cocktail. For dessert try Derby-Pie®, the official pie of the Kentucky Derby, invented at a local Louisville inn in the 1950s. Or, try Bourbon Balls, a delicacy invented by two Kentucky ex-teachers in the 1930s. Lastly, you’ll want to wash it all down with a Mint Julep, the iconic Kentucky Derby cocktail that mixes Bourbon, sugar, water, and mint, in a signature silver julep cup.


Housed in a former disco ball factory, the 65-room Myriad Hotel opened in Sept. 2023 in the Highlands neighborhood and features chef-driven Mediterranean-inspired restaurant (Paseo), an outdoor pool, and a cafe & cocktail bar. Hotel Genevieve (May 2023) is turning heads in the NuLu neighborhood with its feminine French design, Parisian Cafe-inspired restaurant (Rosettes), a lush rooftop (Bar Genevieve), mini market, and intimate speakeasy (Lucky Penny). The $80 million Derby City Gaming Downtown opened in Dec. of 2023 in the heart of downtown and features slots-like historical horse racing machines and three unique bar concepts: a main-level sports bar with a stage for live entertainment, a premium bourbon library, and an elegant wine & charcuterie lounge.


Louisville neighborhoods are seeing an emergence of boutique properties retrofitted in reclaimed spaces. In downtown Louisville, you’ll find the 51-room Grady Hotel, an 1883 building once a pharmacy where prescriptions of “medicinal Bourbon” were filled. Head over to the Highlands neighborhood, and you'll see the construction of Myriad Hotel, a hotel opening in late summer or early fall. This soon-to-be hotel was once a factory that produced disco balls. These elements will be layered within the hotel. The Bellwether offers “invisible service” with online check-in and keypad entry and is housed in an early 1900s police station. The NuLu neighborhood introduced Hotel Genevieve in the spring of 2023, a new-build property making headlines due to its unique style, rooftop bar, speakeasy, and Parisian-inspired café and restaurant.