Louisville lives

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Bourbon City is a mecca for the fullest range of entertainment options with this week's PGA Championship in the headliner role this week.
Posted on
May 18, 2024
by
M. James Ward in
Estimated reading time: 6 minutes

LOUISVILLE, KY. This week's 106th PGA Championship marks the fourth time Louisville has hosted one of golf's four major championships. The full breath and scale of what Louisville provides covers a wide array of engaging locations and activities.

One of the main attributes of Louisville is the close involvement with sports.

One of the most noted is the famed Kentucky Derby horse race annually held on the first Saturday in May which has just celebrated its 150th anniversary. Louisville is also the hometown of boxing's greatest heavyweight – Muhammad Ali.

There is also Louisville Slugger, the noted baseball bat company.

Main Street Whiskey Row - Louisville
Main Street Whiskey Row

The city is centrally located within a day’s drive of over half the U.S. population and offers Southern hospitality, unique attractions, an Urban Bourbon Experience and an award-winning culinary scene.

Nicknamed Bourbon City, Louisville is home to over a dozen urban Bourbon experiences, with many clustered on historic Whiskey Row such as Old Forester Distillery, Michter’s Fort Nelson Distillery, Buzzard’s Roost Whiskey Row Experience, and the original Bourbon brand to return to Main Street —the Evan Williams Bourbon Experience.

The bourbon boom is set to continue in 2024 and beyond, with several new additions adding to Louisville's whiskey landscape.

Heaven's Door, a whiskey brand owned by Bob Dylan, is opening The Last Refuge in an old revitalized church offering live music and a large bourbon collection. Log Still Distillery is opening Monk’s Road Boiler House, a supper club-inspired restaurant and tasting room on Whiskey Row.

Pursuit Spirits is set to join the fray in the fall with a new tasting room, also on Whiskey Row. Brough Brothers, Kentucky’s first Black-owned distillery, is constructing a visitor experience on the banks of the Ohio River, and Kentucky's first female Master Distiller, Marianne Eaves, plans to unveil a Bourbon concept on the ground floor of a new boutique hotel.

Angel's Envy
Angel's Envy

Two prominent Louisville Bourbon brands, Rabbit Hole and Angel's Envy Distilleries, have announced substantial expansions to their current distilleries. Both are developing newly acquired half-city blocks to enhance their operations, tour and tasting experiences.

Between sips of America’s only native spirit, the city has several top-notch museums featuring Americana pastimes. The Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory, which manufactures around 1.8 million of the world-famous baseball bats a year, offers a guided tour so guests can see how the bats are made and highlight famous athletes who have used them over the past century. You can’t miss it, just look for the 120ft bat marking the front door.

Louisville Slugger Museum Factory
Louisville Slugger Museum Factory

Two blocks over, the Muhammad Ali Center houses a museum dedicated to the life and legacy of the Louisville native. Aside from his outstanding boxing career, the attraction showcases Ali’s time in Louisville, what it was like growing up in the country’s Civil Rights Era, alongside his recognition as a global humanitarian.

Outside of its famous fried chicken, Kentucky may be best known for the annual Kentucky Derby. A visit to the Kentucky Derby Museum on the property of historic Churchill Downs yields a glimpse into what a historic “Derby Day” may look like and how it has evolved over the past 150 years.

Muhammad Ali Center in Louisville
Muhammad Ali Center

General Admission includes a historical walking tour of Churchill Downs Racetrack and full access to two floors of Museum exhibits showcasing Derby fashions over the years. Watch every Derby race dating back to 1918, learn the history of African Americans in horse racing, and see a replica of Churchill Downs' famous Winner's Circle.

Also included in admission is a showing of the Museum's epic 18-minute film about The Kentucky Derby, “The Greatest Race,” which puts guests in the center of what it's like to be at the track on Derby day.

Louisville’s golf entertainment is blossoming. An easy to access Top Golf location is located right next door to Puttshack, a tech-infused mini-golf experience. Another new addition to the NuLu neighborhood is Five Iron Golf, offering high-tech golf simulators, instructors, and memberships.

Churchill Downs paddock
Churchill Downs paddock

Additionally, Louisville’s Waterfront continues to evolve, adding more green space westward - with a nearby Waterfront Botanical Gardens in various building stages. The Big Four Pedestrian Bridge provides an easy walk over the Ohio River to Southern Indiana’s entertainment hub in Jeffersonville with a myriad of eateries and attractions.

Located downtown, the new Derby City Gaming Downtown entertainment hub offers slots-like historical horse racing machines, wine bar, cigar patio and sports bar with sports betting machines.

Louisville's hotel landscape offers everything from boutique properties to swanky historical hotels from the Great Gatsby era. Newcomer Hotel Genevieve, which has garnered national acclaim, has a Parisian-inspired café and rooftop bar.

The Myriad Hotel, located in a former disco ball factory, features retro vibes while paying homage to the disco ball with a variety of the 70s fixture displayed around the hotel as well as the original industrial glass vacuum still standing as a bright orange art installation poolside. The hotel offers an outdoor pool & club, a Mediterranean-themed Paseo restaurant with an AM/PM café and cocktail experience in Switchboard.

The Tempo by Hilton, with a rooftop bar and on-site restaurants, has just opened its doors in the lively NuLu neighborhood, just east of downtown. Derby City Hotel, a Canopy by Hilton brand, is under construction across the street from the Kentucky International Convention Center.

Louisville Skyline

 

Travelers can also opt to stay at a Bourbon-themed accommodation like Hotel Distil or one of the city’s historic properties including the Seelbach Hotel or Brown Hotel, the birthplace of Louisville’s signature dish, The Hot Brown. Just like Bourbon, Bluegrass music was born in Kentucky - deriving from the hills of Appalachia. Louisville’s contemporary spin on Bluegrass music can be found with the microgenre coined LouGrass, which is on full display seasonally every weekend April through October, where a variety of Louisville’s venues, bars, hotels, restaurants and neighborhoods feature live, free Bluegrass genre performances.

Louisville, named one of the “50 Best Places to Travel to in 2024” by Travel + Leisure and one of the “South’s Best Cities” by Southern Leisure, offers an engaging place to get a taste of authentic America.

 

All photos &  information courtesy: Louisville Tourism

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About M. James Ward

A GWAA and MGWA member, the 66-year-old from the USA has covered golf in all facets since 1980, notably the major championships and other high level events. He has played over 2,000 courses globally and has competed in USGA Championships.

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