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Kentucky Derby travel guide for a Louisville getaway

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The 148th Kentucky Derby is on Saturday, May 7. 

Held annually at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky, there’s much to see and do on this fascinating city on the crossroads of the South and the Midwest. 

Should you’re heading to town for Derby Day, the spring Kentucky Derby Festival or eyeing a visit to River City within the near future, there are just a few things to envision out while on the town.

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And one note for travelers during Derby season: It’s not only race day that has all the thrill. The month-long celebration leading as much as the Kentucky Derby (the Kentucky Derby Festival) has a whole lineup of fantastic events just like the Pegasus Parade, Thunder Over Louisville fireworks show and the Great Steamboat Race.

You’ll want to call venues or check the web site for availability in case you’ll be on the town for the large day.

The 148th Kentucky Derby is on Saturday, May 7. Held annually at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky, there’s much to see and do on this fascinating city on the crossroads of the South and the Midwest. 
(Louisville Tourism)

Restaurants

For a smaller city, Louisville is brimming with many varieties of restaurants from buzzy Cuban haunts to classic barbecue joints.

Against The Grain Brewery & Smokehouse

For nice grub at Slugger Field, head to this upbeat eatery with loads of TVs and stellar BBQ. Craft beer fans will love the sizable brew list. Whatever you do, don’t miss the mac and beer cheese.

J. Graham’s Café or the Lobby Bar at The Brown Hotel

Don’t skip town without ordering one among the town’s famed Hot Brown sandwiches. One spot to order one is at The Brown Hotel. A Derby City staple invented at this hotel in 1926, this sandwich consists of roasted turkey breast, toast points, Mornay sauce, Pecorino-Romano cheese, bacon and tomato. 

Wagner’s Pharmacy

Situated across the road from Churchill Downs, this beloved greasy spoon has been doling out breakfast and lunch since 1922. P.S. You could thoroughly run right into a horse trainer or jockey during your time here.

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La Bodeguita 

This swanky Cuban restaurant within the buzzing NuLu neighborhood will teleport you to Havana with heaping platters of hits like tostones, arroz con pollo (chicken and yellow rice) and salmon marinated in guava. Sister restaurant Guacamole only in the near past opened down the road.

Hip Hop Sweet Shop

Got a sweet tooth? This bakery has delectable cookies, hot chocolates and milkshakes. You’ll want to try the bangin’ banana pudding and “foxxy” brownies in Oreo, plain or turtle flavors. 

Spirits

Kentucky is thought for its bourbon heritage. Listed below are three picks for where to boost a glass. Should you really love your bourbon, try the Urban Bourbon Trail, where each restaurant on the trail carries at the least 60 varieties of bourbons. You check in at the least six locations to win a prize.

Angel’s Envy 

Enjoy a distillery tour in the middle of Louisville’s Bourbon District at this beloved distiller. Don’t miss the gift shop to take home some spirits and presents for the oldsters back at home. 
 

Angel’s Envy 

Angel’s Envy 
(Louisville Tourism)

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North of Bourbon

Opened in 2021 in Louisville’s historic Germantown neighborhood, this bourbon bar is a hat tip to the link between Recent Orleans and Louisville. If you ought to chase your drink with some stellar fare, grab a bourbon-barrel shaped booth and feast on Louisiana and Mississippi cuisine.  

Black Jockeys Lounge

Grab dinner or drinks at this spot that pays homage to the Black jockeys who’ve dominated the Kentucky Derby. It’s positioned on historic South 4th Street, so walk off those wings and “first call” bleu cheese coleslaw with a postprandial stroll. 

Wild Swann

“For the thirsty and the curious” this establishment is tucked into The Grady Hotel, one among Louisville’s recently repurposed buildings from 1883. In its former life, the constructing was occupied by J.B. Wilder – the owner of an apothecary and bourbon distillery positioned within the constructing’s basement, where diners and drinkers can now take pleasure in delectable cocktails and Southern fare. 

The Mocktail Project 

Should you’re not much of a drinker but still need to partake within the festivities around town, try this local initiative for alcohol-free fun.

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Culture and Attractions

Kentucky Derby Museum

Come for the races, stay for the history and tradition. Tour this unique venue brimming with mementos from probably the most famous of horse races. You too can pair your ticket with a tour of Churchill Downs. 

The Kentucky Derby Museum

The Kentucky Derby Museum
(Louisville Tourism)

Old Louisville Walking Tour

Talented tour guides will walk you thru Old Louisville with its splendidly preserved homes and greater than just a few friendly ghosts. Fun fact: the neighborhood is home to the most important contiguous collection of Victorian-era mansions within the country and history buffs are in for a veritable treat as you learn in regards to the region’s storied past.

Hermitage Farm 

Situated a few half-hour away from downtown Louisville in Goshen, Kentucky, this working thoroughbred farm has horse tours, a locally-sourced and seasonally-focused restaurant (Barn8) and bourbon tastings with retired horses at Barn6.

TRF (Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation) at Chestnut Hall

Head to East Louisville for a tour across the historic farmstead, where you’ll see many gorgeous horses. It’s about half-hour from downtown Louisville, but you’ll feel eons away from city life. 

Louisville Mega Cavern 

Should you’re an adrenaline junkie, try underground zip lining at this 100-acre former man-made mine turned tourist attraction beneath a portion of the Louisville Zoo. The world’s only fully underground zip line course is a 2.5-hour expedition that you simply won’t soon forget, taking you thru a portion of the cavern’s 17 miles of underground passageways via six zip lines and two challenge bridges.

Where to remain

Hotel Distil

This Autograph Collection hotel is walking distance to Big 4 Bridge, a six-span former railroad truss turned bicycle and pedestrian bridge that crosses the Ohio River, connecting Louisville to Jeffersonville, Indiana, and an adjoining waterfront park.There’s also Slugger Field, the Muhammad Ali Center and way more. Situated on Whiskey Row, the hotel pays homage to the repeal of Prohibition in 1933 with a free bourbon cocktail for guests at 19:33 military time every evening, and in addition offers great dining and drinking on-site.

The Brown Hotel

This luxury property first opened in 1923 and has been hosting Derby Day attendees since. The gold-and-black Muhammad Ali Suite complete with a four-poster king bed and marble Jacuzzi tub is the proper splurge for an important day.

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The Galt House Hotel

The town’s only riverfront hotel property is the official host hotel of Churchill Downs and the Kentucky Derby. Mosey as much as the bar at Jockey Silks for a celebratory drink to start out your stay after which loosen up in rooms with river or city views.

The Holy Goat

Post up in an 1843 church reimagined as 4 individual spaces. There’s also an outside courtyard so that you can catch your breath between events. You may book each suite individually or combined to accommodate as much as 16.

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