Explore Downtown's three main districts: Whiskey Row, Museum Row & South Fourth Street
WHISKEY ROW & MUSEUM ROW
Louisville’s Whiskey Row is re-inhabiting the original footprint that once served as home to the Bourbon industry from the mid-to-late 1800s, while Museum Row is home to several notable museums all within a few blocks of each other. Lining downtown Louisville’s Main Street are some of the oldest buildings in the city, built between the 1850s and early 1900s. The Revivalist and Chicago School-style buildings with cast-iron facades are the largest collection, second only to SoHo in New York City. Named one of the best Main Streets in America, this downtown street is once again a thriving Bourbon and culinary district and is also home to some of the city’s most iconic attractions.
Eat & Drink
No matter your taste buds, the Whiskey Row/Museum Row area has an abundance of dining options. For breakfast or lunch, there’s Wiltshire Pantry Bakery & Café Downtown, known for its homemade biscuits, sandwiches, salads, soups and pastries. If it’s pizza you’re craving, there’s Bearno’s and Luigi’s. For straightforward, Southern cuisine, there’s Merle’s Whiskey Kitchen and Doc Crow’s Southern Smokehouse & Raw Bar. For a tasty burger, try Sidebar or Mussel & Burger Bar. For quick, yummy pub fare, there’s O’Shea’s Downtown and Troll Pub Under the Bridge. For upscale dining, pop into Proof on Main where fresh, local and seasonal ingredients inspire the restaurant’s ever-evolving menu. Inside the Galt House Hotel you’ll find Walker’s Exchange, which
serves up substantials and delicacies with a view of the Belvedere, a riverfront park and event space. Or enjoy Swizzle and their signature smoked Old Fashioned, high atop the hotel overlooking the Ohio River. Satisfy your sweet tooth with a stop at Ehrler’s Ice Cream, a 150-year-old area tradition.
The Evan Williams Bourbon Experience gives visitors an insider’s look at the process of crafting Kentucky Bourbon at an artisanal distillery with an opportunity to sip on a cocktail at ON3 Bar on the third floor. Old Forester Distillery’s tour has an on-site cooperage, urban rickhouse and bottling line, along with George’s Bar to enjoy Brown-Forman products. Michter’s Fort Nelson Distillery is the city’s latest Bourbon tourism experience to open its doors on Whiskey Row.
The KFC Yum! Center (ranked by Rolling Stone as one of the country’s Top 10 Arenas) is a 22,000 seat, state-of-the-art downtown waterfront arena that continuously plays host to a who’s who of musical acts.
Museum Row on Main Street boasts several one-of-a-kind attractions within just five walkable blocks. From history, Bourbon and modern art, there is something for everyone. In addition to the Evan Williams Bourbon Experience, you can visit the Frazier History Museum (home of the Kentucky Bourbon Trail® Welcome Center), Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory, Kentucky Science Center, Peerless Distilling Co., KMAC Museum, Kentucky Performing Arts and the Muhammad Ali Center.
Louisville’s speakeasy scene is making a splash. Seek out Hell or High Water, a decadent speakeasy with a seated cocktail experience, or relax to some live music at The Flamingo Lounge, located under a sandwich shop. For live music, visit Stevie Ray’s Blues Bar.
A trip down Whiskey Row wouldn’t be complete without a visit to Art Eatables, a premier Bourbon chocolatier known for its Bourbon chocolate truffles. Duluth Trading Co. is home to men’s and women’s clothing and accessories, including its popular “Buck Naked”™ underwear line. The KMAC Shop has a variety of handmade decorative and functional art pieces while the Frazier Museum Store has culinary goods, jewelry and rare Bourbon bottles among other souvenirs.
SOUTH FOURTH STREET
As the city’s primary retail and entertainment corridor for much of the 19th and 20th centuries, Fourth Street was the place to see and be seen. Folks flocked to the area to dine, enjoy an evening out at the theater and shop, especially at the old Stewart’s Department Store (now an Embassy Suites) where they came decked out in their finest attire. After undergoing a recent retail revitalization, South Fourth Street has once again become a trendy place for local shopping, dining and attractions. The 500 and 600 blocks of the street have been dubbed Sou4th.
Eat & Drink
Treat yourself to a Mint Julep or an Old Fashioned at the Brown Hotel before ordering up Louisville’s Official Sandwich – the world famous Original Hot Brown. It was created at the hotel in the 1920s, has been a fixture on the menu ever since and has inspired other versions across the state.
For elevated views and cuisine, go to 8UP Elevated Drinkery & Kitchen. Louisville’s first open-air rooftop bar and restaurant is located on the 8th floor of the Hilton Garden Inn Downtown. The historic Seelbach Hotel has a breakfast spot, Gatsby’s on Fourth, named in homage to one of the hotel’s many famous guests, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and the Old Seelbach Bar conjures an opulent, early 1900s vibe worthy of Jay Gatsby himself.
If you’re in the mood for seafood or steak, there’s Brendon’s Catch 23. This official stop on the city’s Urban Bourbon Trail® also boasts a selection of more than 100 Bourbons. For meat lovers, Brazeiros Brazilian Steakhouse serves up carnivorous delights and gourmet sides. And, Sicilian Pizza & Pasta offers an array of melt-in your mouth pizzas, including Kentucky Hot Brown. This twist on the Hot Brown features a pizza piled high with roast turkey, bacon and cheese sauce. Pizza Bar also boasts a vast array of pies and slices.
Theater Square is home to several dining options. Enjoy specialty cocktails, like the Oliver Lewis Old Fashioned, named for the jockey who road Aristides across the Kentucky Derby’s first finish line, in the elegant Black Jockeys Lounge, where dinner is also served Thursday through Saturday. Riot Café pairs edgy art with coffee and sets the stage for conversations about social justice. Their sister location, The Limbo, is colorful, quirky tiki bar and lounge where dreamy tropical cocktails are served up with live entertainment nightly.
The Louisville Palace, originally a movie theater that opened in 1928, now hosts internationally known musicians, comedians and performing arts shows. The Palace is famous for its ornate interior baroque architecture and design. The Mercury Ballroom is another great place to catch performances by both national and up-and-coming artists.
Louisville entertainment district Fourth Street Live! is an epicenter of nightclubs and restaurants. It’s also home to Guy Fieri’s Smokehouse, where the celebrity chef’s passion for barbecue is evident. For craft cocktail connoisseurs, Meta is a must. You’ll find classics as well as playfully modern concoctions.
In recent years, the South Fourth Street district has been transformed into an eclectic and artistic shopping area featuring locally owned shops. Beaded Treasures is where women entrepreneurs
handcraft jewelry using semi-precious gemstones. A few blocks away is K.U.L.A. Art Gallery filled with contemporary artwork and the Mysterious Rack with a wide variety of handcrafted hats perfect for the Kentucky Derby.
Two Saturdays of every month, local Black entrepreneurs set up an indoor market on 4th Street Live! The MELANnaire Marketplace is a makerspace featuring creatives and retailers who offer products ranging from unique clothing to holistic, organic beauty and healthcare products.
A downtown shopping trip is not complete without a visit to the Louisville Visitor Center to pick up Bourbon and Louisville-themed gifts to enjoy at home.
Featured Attractions & Things to Do
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