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â€śAnd theyâ€™re off!â€ť Those electrifying words,
along with the song â€śDanny Boyâ€ť, mark Louisville as the place to be for
thousands each May during the world famous Kentucky Derby, the first leg
of the Triple Crown of thoroughbred horse racing.
As it has done for more than 130 years, the race and associated events
transform Louisville. Dozens of theme-decorated horses can be found on the
sidewalks, in the gardens and in the entrances to some of the city's buildings.
This public art project, called Gallopalooza, lends a bright note of whimsy to
The 16th largest city in the U.S. and the largest
city in Kentucky, Louisville is home to over 90 attractions and thousands of
excellent hotels and restaurants. Whether you are planning to visit Louisville
for pleasure or attending a meeting or convention, you will find thoroughbred
horse racing, bluegrass music, sporting events, and much more.
Located on the banks of the
Ohio River, greater Louisville is at the center of three major interstate
highways: I-65, I-71 and I-64. It is within a day's drive of nearly half of
the nation's population centers. Louisville International Airport is
conveniently situated only seven minutes from downtown.
Louisville has four
distinct seasons. There is just enough snow in the winter to make the scenery
exquisite. Spring is an exciting time. The city holds the Kentucky Derby
Festival during the two weeks leading up to the race, with fireworks, balloon
races, steamboat races, concerts and many other events. With high temperatures
in the mid-70s during the spring, itâ€™s also the perfect time for outdoor
Summer is the time to enjoy
one of the countryâ€™s greatest theme parks, Six Flags Kentucky Kingdom. This
theme park contains five roller coasters and also has live shows, popular dining
spots, and special areas for smaller children. Hurricane Bay water park has a
giant 750,000-gallon wave pool, with surfable waves. In
the fall, the cooler temperatures bring the change of fall foliage, Kentucky
The landmark that most
people associate with Louisville is Churchill Downs, located south of downtown.
It has been a place of ritual since 1875, when the first Kentucky Derby was run.
Even if you aren't in town for the race, it is worthwhile to make a trip to the
track. In addition to touring the facilities, you can tour the beautifully
appointed Kentucky Derby Museum.
As one commentator
observed: in the Derby, each horse that is running has only two minutes out of
its whole life to prove itself. Because only 3-year-olds run in the race, each
horse has only a once in a lifetime, two-minute chance of winning.
On the education front, the
University of Louisville, with an enrollment of more than 21,000, has three
campuses throughout the metropolitan area. The Belknap Campus, 3 miles from
downtown, contains seven of the university's 11 schools; the university's
medical campus and hospital are in downtown Louisville; and the Shelby Campus is
in eastern Jefferson County.
There is good news for the
many fans of Louisville Slugger baseball bats! The giant bat that now stands in
downtown Louisville marks the spot where the Slugger bats are made: a new
factory has recently opened, marking the return of the company to Louisville
after an absence of more than 20 years.
Why not take in dinner
aboard an authentic Paddlewheel Steamboat. The Belle of Louisville and
the Spirit of Jefferson cruise the beautiful Ohio River daily. With
year round lunch and dinner cruises, this is a way to view the skyline and enjoy
great food at the same time.
For an introduction to the
history of the area, be sure to visit the Frazier Historical Arms Museum. Itâ€™s
an unforgettable journey that spans 1000 years with a collection of arms, armor
and related historical artifacts from around the world.
The Water Tower, east of
downtown at River Road and Zorn Avenue, is an example of classic industrial
architecture, with a Grecian temple front and a great standpipe tower modeled
after the Roman triumphal column. The Confederate Monument is found at 3rd
Street and Cardinal Boulevard.
The performing arts are
housed in The Kentucky Center. The glass walls of the center reflect facades of
buildings, which have been renovated and converted into museums, theaters, shops
and restaurants. The Louisville arts community has gained international acclaim
and is one of only nine U.S. cities with a professional opera, ballet, theatre,
orchestra and children's theatre.
Another downtown treat is
shopping and dining in the rejuvenated Fourth Street area known as Fourth Street
Live!, where a growing number of restaurants have opened (including the Hard
Rock Cafe), some interesting shops, and more are slated to open in the coming
All in all, Louisville is a
city of stature as well as a center of culture and of entertainment. Looking for
a terrific vacation destination? Live it up in Louisville!