Hubby and I recently had the opportunity for a weekend getaway to the Bourbon Classic in Louisville, Kentucky. Not only did we get to experience fantastic bourbon tasting and education, we also found out there is a lot to love about Louisville.
I always thought Louisville was this ultra-southern town with big floppy hats and lots of slow movin’ folks sipping on their Mint Juleps. There is that… and there is also quite the hip, artsy and diverse community! Every corner revealed a gem.
Where to Stay
We decided to go off the beaten path by renting an apartment just off the popular Bardstown Road area. Resources like VRBO.com, AirBnB and Craiglist make it easy to find the most perfect and charming spot.
If you’d rather stay downtown check out The Seelbach Hilton. Apparently, it is the hotel used as inspiration as the place for Tom and Daisy’s wedding in “The Great Gatsby” by F. Scott Fitzgerald. Pretty cool, huh? We’re going to stay there next time.
Where to Eat
Oh boy, where do I start? We had so much amazing food!
You should not let the Chicago Gyro sign fool you. Inside this unassuming building on an unassuming street in an unassuming part of town lie plates filled with little bits of delectable heaven.
The offerings of SuperChef’s Breakfast will knock your socks off. Seriously, I thought had been given access to some super secret club. Looking around inside at the five tables and gyro menu on the wall, and my eyes and taste-buds had to battle out what the heck was going on.
Menu items include Red Velvet Pancakes, candied bacon, PBJ oatmeal, granola encrusted French toast, roasted red pepper grits and cheddar biscuits. Mouth-watering awesomeness.
My friend ordered the cheddar biscuit with candied bacon and his eyes rolled in the back of his head after his first-and-every-bite-thereafter. Finally I asked if he was ok and he said, “that biscuit just demands I take another bite.” He talked about that biscuit the entire weekend.
Ok, I’m just going to cut to the chase on this one. Three words. Grilled. Cheese. Donut.
The Silver Dollar
I love honky-tonks. I love southern grunge. I love records and brick walls and sparkly lights and bourbon and good food. Imagine my excitement when all these things combined under one roof?
The Silver Dollar is located in what is called “NuLu,” a vibrant, then desolate, and newly revitalized area in Louisville. Hipsters and working class alike can find common ground in the décor and menu.
When we researched the menu ahead of time the Fried Chicken and Waffles were calling my name. Hubby wanted to try out the Pork Spare Ribs. Just like everything else in this honky-tonk-inspired restaurant, the food did not disappoint, especially the variety in hot sauces and that oh-so-yum-super-moist cornbread.
After an evening of a southern good time, we were drunk not by the alcohol but our super cool surroundings and old school country music being played on the record player.
The Brown Hotel
Located in downtown Louisville is The Brown Hotel. Located inside the Brown Hotel is the Hot Brown Sandwich. What is a hot brown, you say? When we asked this question to a shopkeeper another patron tried to explain…
“It’s… uh… ummm… it’s amazing… it’s … ummm… wonderful… it has this …. Mmmmmm… brown….. it’s amazing…”
So, what, you’re saying is that it’s amazing?
Come to find out a Hot Brown Sandwich is the official dish of Louisville. It was created in the 1920’s at the Brown Hotel. It has become a Louisville tradition and (apparently) has worldwide appeal.
After all the hype, we knew we had to try it. It has sliced turkey, tomatoes, bacon, Texas Toast and a cheesy, creamy brown sauce drizzled all over. It was fun to experience!
What to Do
The Bourbon Classic
If you can be in Louisville around the third weekend in March, I highly recommend attending The Bourbon Classic. It is a brand-spankin-new bourbon-themed event. This first-year event showcased world-class chef and bartending talent, offered numerous educational sessions and, of course, highlighted bourbon (more than 80 varieties!) It is held at the Kentucky Center for Performing Arts. Dates in 2014 have not been announced.
To find out what I learned at this years event, check out my article: What I Learned at Louisville’s First-Year Bourbon Classic (Or A Mama’s Guide to Impressing Her Husband Through Bourbon Geekery)
The Bourbon Trail
Can’t make it to the Bourbon Classic? No worries! You can travel the Bourbon Trail!
The Bourbon Trail consists of seven craft distilleries in and around the Louisville and Lexington areas. There are bus tours, Eat, Drink & Savor Tours, bike tours and plain-old-DIY tours.
We were able to visit three distilleries, each with their own distinct personality and all chock full of fantastic historical and bourbon-based information. Kentucky has a rich and interesting history and the beautiful, rolling hills make for a wonderful experience.
NOTE: There are actually many more distilleries in Kentucky that are not on The Bourbon Trail.
If you’d prefer to stay in Louisville or cannot make it to the traditional Bourbon Trail, check out the Urban Bourbon Trail.
Louisville Mega Cavern
If you’ve ever wanted to ride a Zipline to Hell (?) boy does Louisville Mega Caverns have something for you! Created by a massive limestone quarry back in the 1930’s, this mega cavern spans 100 acres just beneath the city. In fact, approximately 70% of the Louisville Zoo sits right on top of it!
Louisville Mega Caverns offer two activities, Mega Zips and an underground Jeep Tour. The Mega Zips feature six underground zip lines throughout the caverns. Each zip offers something unique and fun such as the Zipline to Hell and the Dual Racing Zips. Some sections required crossing so-high-in-the-dark “challenge” bridges and hanging out on very-high-up platforms (while securely double-clipped to a thick steel cable, of course!)
Our tour guides were funny fellas full of interesting facts and with great humor. Since you’re waiting around while the others in your group zip (we had 12 in our group), we enjoyed the additional entertainment.
Rates range from $59-$79 per person. I would suggest no kids under about 10 years old try it out (they’re much too light to slide on some of the zips)
Bardtown Road is located in the Highlands neighborhood, and is widely known as Restaurant Row. What we found were tons of shops – coffee, oddity, clothing, and fun-funky. We also discovered while meandering hole-in-the wall bars and, of course, restaurants. We found this section of town to be hip, fun, and interesting.
Not to miss: Awesome custom t-shirt shop, Custom Tease for custom-on-demand t-shirts from ultra-cool staff and Vault Liquor & Smokes for the largest bourbon collection in the world – ok, maybe not in the world, but boy, they had a LOT of bourbon!
From amazing restaurants, to fun activities and a cool, laid-back atmosphere. There is a lot to love about Louisville, Kentucky!