Here’s Looking at Louisville
June 22, 2010
Filed under Travel
Besides being the host city of The Rally on July 22-25, Louisville is chock-full of a variety of attractions that will appeal to RVers. Since you’ve got the great excuse of heading to The Rally, why not make it an all-out Louisville vacation and explore all that this exciting city has to offer?
Park your RV at The Rally or stay at a local campground just a few minutes from downtown, where you’ll find plenty of fun for the entire family. If you’re a baseball fan — or if you’ve ever taken a swing with a Louisville Slugger — the Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory in the heart of downtown on W. Main St. is the perfect place to begin your exploration of this lively city. The museum and factory is hard to miss, with the world’s largest bat (120 feet tall and 9 feet wide at the base) leaning against the side of the building. Smell the freshly cut wood as you take a factory tour, learn about how the game of baseball has changed since 1884 when Louisville Slugger was founded, browse memorabilia, hold some of the bats swung by baseball’s greats and even take your own turn at bat in this newly renovated museum.
For those RVers who enjoy exploring the watery road as well as the one on land, a scenic cruise on the Belle of Louisville steamboat, a National Historic Landmark, is a way to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city without ever leaving it. Despite being the oldest operating steamboat in the nation (built in 1914), the Belle shows no signs of her age that aren’t charming. Calliope music or a DJ entertains guests while they enjoy lunch or dinner, or they can get a drink at the full-service bar and a snack at the cafe to enjoy while taking in the views from the Belle’s decks. The ship is handicap-accessible.
While you’re in the downtown area, there are many options for satisfying your hunger, whether you’re looking for a quick bite or an elaborate four-course meal. Louisville was ranked one of the top 5 “foodiest” small cities in America by Bon Appetit magazine, and it truly lives up to its status. Try Toast on Market for a scrumptious brunch, and Proof on Main for Italian food with a Southern twist that’s made with fresh, local ingredients. An extensive Kentucky Bourbon selection rounds out the menu.
Head south to see the tree-lined streets of the historic Old Louisville neighborhood — not far from the University of Louisville campus —which contains the largest contiguous collection of Victorian homes in the United States. Whether you want to stroll around at your leisure or take one of the many tours offered, such as the Ghost Tour or Mansions and Milestones Tour, the architecturally diverse area is perfect for a leisurely afternoon stretching-of-the-legs. While you’re in the area, check out the Speed Art Museum on S. 3rd St., which features more than 3,000 unique pieces, ranging from ancient Egyptian art to contemporary painting and sculpture.
Even if it’s not Kentucky Derby week, Churchill Downs is so synonymous with Louisville that it’s a can’t-miss attraction. Get a ticket to a thoroughbred-horse race, visit the Kentucky Derby Museum, or simply admire the beautifully landscaped buildings and bronze statue of Barbaro, the 2006 Derby winner.
If you need a break from the city life, Jefferson Memorial Forest is just 15 miles from downtown, and offers plenty of hiking, fishing, tent camping and fun events for the entire family.
If you want to extend your stay in Kentucky for a few weeks past The Rally, the Street Rod Nationals from August 5-8 just
might be worth sticking around for, and like The Rally, it’s held in the Kentucky Exposition Center. With more than 10,000 restored, flame-painted, meticulously polished street rods to feast your eyes on, it’s an automotive enthusiast’s delight. There’s also a trade show, arts and crafts fair, a vintage auto parts swap meet and entertainment.
When you’re finally ready to leave Louisville, you won’t need to scrutinize maps or power up the GPS. The city is the hub of three major interstates — the I-65, I-71 and I-64 — so you can get right back on the open road and head off to wherever your next adventure on wheels may take you.