- For other places with the same name, see Louisville (disambiguation).
Louisville is the largest city in Kentucky, with about one and a half million people living in the metro area. Louisville is also the namesake of the Official Bat of Major League Baseball - the Louisville Slugger.
A major city located on the Ohio River in North Central Kentucky across from Southern Indiana, Louisville exists at the confluence of Southern and Midwestern attitudes and cultures. Known historically as the 'Gateway to the South', Louisville has long been a transportation center for the region.
The city was named after the French King Louis XVI. There are many correct pronunciations of "Louisville," from LOOey-vil to LOOuh-vuhl to LU-vul, but pronouncing it like "Lewisville" is generally considered incorrect. More or less any pronunciation is acceptable, except 'Lewis', an error which will not offend anyone but definitely marks one as an out-of-towner. Other local nicknames include 'River City' and 'Derby City', in addition to the myriad of ways the name can be pronounced, depending on one's accent.
While it only borders on the region, tourists will probably find a bit of the famous Southern hospitality here, along with its varied cuisine and a relaxed attitude toward life. The city also boasts a vibrant arts and music scene and a world-class municipal parks system.
Louisville's biggest draw are the horse races at Churchill Downs (with the famous Kentucky Derby always the first Saturday in May), but the city is making a concerted effort to draw tourists year round. The architecture in Old Louisville and the Highlands is one-of-a-kind, and the people are very friendly.
The Downtown, Old Louisville, Highlands, and Frankfort Avenue areas are walkable and it is possible to take the city bus between one or all four without much difficulty, with a downtown hotel as base. Outside of this part of town though, you will almost certainly need a car.
Aside from Downtown, a must-see for many is the Highlands shopping district, on Bardstown Road roughly from Broadway to the Douglass Loop. Often described as "bohemian", it includes art galleries, bars, coffeehouses, midrange to upscale restaurants, and is ideally navigated by foot or bike. You can meet some locals on the sidewalks without much trouble, if you are interested. The street life here is particularly active on weekends when the weather is warm.
Louisville was the birthplace of boxer Cassius Clay, later known to the world as Muhammad Ali. He is buried at Cave Hill Cemetery in the Highlands, a couple of miles southeast of downtown, which is also the resting place for many other Kentucky dignitaries.
- See also: Air travel in the United States
Louisville International Airport (IATA: SDF) is served by all the major American airlines though it is only a spoke for most. A single terminal holds two concourses. Concourse A serves Delta Airlines and United Airlines, while Concourse B serves Southwest Airlines and American Airlines. The terminal is small and easy to navigate.
With all of the airlines listed above, direct flights are available to most of their hubs, including Chicago, Dallas, Atlanta, New York, Detroit, Philadelphia, and popular tourist destinations such as Orlando and Las Vegas. The airport is "International" in name only — there are no longer any non-stop passenger flights to any location outside the U.S. Too bad you can't fly with UPS whose huge all-points international "Worldport" cargo hub is in Louisville just south of the passenger terminal.
Several Interstates pass through Louisville: I-65, I-64 and I-71.
- I-71 (North-South) begins in Louisville and heads Northeast to Cincinnati and Cleveland.
- I-65 (North-South) will carry you from just outside Chicago, through Indianapolis North of Louisville and to the south through Nashville, Birmingham, Montgomery, Alabama, all the way to the coast at Mobile.
- I-64 (East-West) travels east through Lexington, West Virginia, on into Richmond, and ends near the Atlantic Ocean in Chesapeake, Virginia. To the west you'll find its beginning/end in St. Louis, the "Gateway to the West"
see also: bus travel in North America
- Greyhound, +1-800-231-2222, services Louisville. Their depot is located at 720 W. Muhammad Ali Blvd. near the center of town. Service is frequent, but it is inadvisable to arrive at the bus station late at night unless someone is coming to pick you up or you are taking a taxi. Note that there are many pickpockets and scammers here and nearby.
- Megabus. Service from Chicago, Indianapolis, Nashville, Chattanooga, and Atlanta. The bus stop is located on the north side of Jefferson St in between Roy Wilkins Ave and S 8th St.
Louisville's public transit service, TARC, operates bus lines in all parts of Louisville Metro (Jefferson County). Fares are $1.75 for adults (80 cents for children between 6 and 17) which includes two transfers within two hours. Tickets can be purchased at some banks and government offices but this will not really save you much money unless you are going to be staying in the city and getting around by bus for at least two weeks. Buses generally run from about 6AM-10PM, some later on weekends, but it is a good idea to check the schedule for each specific route. Timetables are only posted at major stops. The buses are also rather impractical in the suburbs, as they are infrequent and the stops are far apart.
Car rental services are available at the airport. Louisville is encircled by two beltways, I-264 (officially the Henry Watterson Expressway and locally known as "the Watterson") and I-265 (the Gene Snyder Freeway, or unofficially "the Snyder"). Traffic is generally moderate except at peak hours on I-264, downtown, and I-64 between the Snyder and Watterson. In particular, try to avoid "Spaghetti Junction", the downtown freeway interchange, between 7:00 and 9:00 on weekday mornings and 4:30 and 6:30 on weekday afternoons/evenings.
Three of the five bridges that cross the Ohio in Louisville are now tolled. The Abraham Lincoln Bridge, which opened in 2016, carries I-64 northbound into Indiana, while the older John F. Kennedy Bridge is now southbound only. The new Lewis and Clark Bridge, plus associated freeway segments, also opened in 2016 to connect I-265 between the two states. The I-65 and I-265 crossings are tolled in both directions. Initial rates will depend on whether the vehicle carries a transponder issued by the local tolling authority (or the multi-state E-ZPass consortium), or if the vehicle's license plate has been registered with said authority. For cars, passenger trucks, and motorcycles, rates per crossing are:
- $2 for vehicles with transponders.
- $3 for vehicles without transponders, but with plates registered with the tolling authority.
- $4 for vehicles that have neither transponders nor plates registered with the tolling authority.
Rates are higher for larger vehicles. Tolling is all-electronic; vehicles without transponders will have pictures of their license plates taken, with a bill sent to the registered owner. The downtown Clark Memorial Bridge (also known as the "Second Street Bridge") and the Sherman Minton Bridge that carries I-64 across the river remain toll-free for now.
The city streets are laid out in a grid pattern in downtown and a wheel-and-spoke system farther out. Frequently, the streets are named after outlying towns they eventually reach (Shelbyville Road, Bardstown Road, Taylorsville Road, etc.) Some of the urban neighborhoods, notably Germantown, Portland, and the neighborhoods surrounding Cherokee Park, can be confusing for non-locals. Fortunately most neighborhoods are quite safe and passers-by will be more than happy to give you directions.
Bicycling is becoming an increasingly effective way to get around Louisville. Although Louisville's bike program  is in its infancy (born at the 2005 Louisville Bike Summit), developments are occurring rapidly, and there are significant improvements on the immediate horizon. In fact, former long-time mayor and Kentucky lieutenant governor Jerry Abramson is an active cyclist. Bike lanes are being added on city streets, especially in and around Downtown which is already the most bike-friendly area of the city.
Every TARC bus in the city is equipped with bike racks, making bicycling a viable option for long-distance trips and trips along major arterial corridors. If you plan your transit route in advance, it is easy to get anywhere in the city using just your bicycle and public transit. Metro Government is also installing more bike racks every day, making it easy to park your bike at your destination.
Louisville's park system was designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, the "Father of American Landscape Architecture." Many consider it to be his greatest achievement. Cherokee Park, Iroquois Park, and Shawnee Park are the Flagship Parks, while more than a dozen smaller parks make up Louisville's own "Emerald Necklace." Cherokee Park features a 2.3 mi (3.7 km) 'Scenic Loop' with one lane of traffic reserved entirely for cyclists, pedestrians, and other recreational activities. Iroquois Park contains what was the tallest hill in Louisville before the city merged with surrounding Jefferson County in 2003; the hill's location gives it a commanding view of downtown, especially on clear days. In addition to the major parks, dozens of smaller ones are spread throughout the city, such as Tyler Park in the Highlands, a favorite of locals, or George Rogers Clark Park in Germantown.
A newer addition, Waterfront Park, is arguably one of the greatest things the city has done to improve its image in a decade. Stretching along over a mile of the Ohio River, Waterfront Park offers playgrounds, artistic landscaping, fountains, and open lawns, all with spectacular views of the city skyline and the river. It frequently plays host to concerts and other festivals. The third phase of the park's construction is still in progress, and, when completed, will include a pedestrian walkway crossing the Ohio River via the abandoned Big Four Railroad Bridge to Jeffersonville, Indiana. The bridge opened on the Kentucky side in 2013; after a year-long delay, the Indiana access ramp opened in May 2014.
Enjoy the view (day or night) of downtown Louisville from Ashland Park, on the Ohio River in neighboring Clarksville, IN. Park the car and walk across the street to Widow's Walk, an ice-cream parlor/garden statue shop constructed to look like an old Victorian mansion. Nearby is also the Falls of the Ohio, a state park containing a fossil bed that spans quite a bit of area when the river is low.
Old Louisville is an architectural treasure trove. Just south of downtown, it is the third largest National Preservation District in the country and the largest Victorian district in the United States. A particularly beautiful area is St. James Court and Belgravia Court, which plays host each fall to the St. James Court Art Show. Faced with possible demolition in the 1970's, the area is now considered to be one of Louisville's best-kept secrets. A good way to see the neighborhood is to follow a walking tour. It also has a number of locally-beloved bars and restaurants, and a heterogeneous population that gives the neighborhood a particularly eclectic feel.
Main and Market streets downtown contain the second largest collection of 1800's era iron facade buildings in the United States. Some have been torn down or otherwise destroyed, but also many new developments leave the old facades intact.
Other notable areas include the Cherokee Triangle neighborhood in the Highlands and Butchertown, which is just east of Downtown.
Market Street has a number of art galleries. If you are in Louisville on the first Friday of the month, there is a free gallery hop  around the downtown galleries, including a couple of glass studios. In March 2016, the Speed Art Museum, a more traditional art museum on the campus of the University of Louisville, reopened following a complete rebuilding. 21C Museum Hotel has several art installations open to the public and is, like all hotels, open to the public 24 hours a day. There are also a variety of art galleries within walking distance of each other in the Highlands/Bardstown Road area.
- Louisville Slugger Museum, 800 W. Main St., toll-free: , e-mail: email@example.com. 9–5 Monday–Saturday, 11–5 Sunday. Summer hours (July and early August): 9–6 Monday–Wednesday, 9–8 Thursday–Saturday, 11–6 Sunday. Last factory tour departs 30 minutes before closing; museum recommends 2 hours for a full visit. Home of the legendary Louisville Slugger baseball bat. Full tours include a visit to the factory where wooden bats are made (or a bat-making demonstration if production is not scheduled). The museum is easily recognizable by the six-story-tall steel baseball bat at the front entrance. $12 adults, $11 seniors (60+), $7 children 6–12, under 6 free.
- Louisville Science Center (on Main street in downtown).
- Evan Williams Bourbon Experience, 528 W. Main St., ☎ . 11–5:30 Monday–Thursday, 10–6 Friday and Saturday, 1–5:30 Sunday. Last tour starts 1 hour before closing; recommended last arrival is 30 minutes before last tour. An operating artisanal distillery that includes a museum that explores the history of bourbon whiskey. Tours include a trip through the distillery and offer tastings for those of legal drinking age, and finish in the distillery's retail shop, offering memorabilia including personalized bottles of the distillery's product. Note: While the tour is open to all ages, only those of legal age can enter the tasting rooms. Minors must be accompanied by an adult, and at least one adult must stay behind with the minor(s) when the tasting is going on (and thus cannot take part in it). $12 adults, $9 ages 10–20 and active military with ID, under 10 free. Call for group discounts (20+)..
- Frazier History Museum, 829 W. Main St., ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. 9–5 Monday–Saturday, noon–5 Sunday. $12 adults, $10 seniors (60+) and active/retired military, $8 children 5–17 and college students with school ID, under 5 free.
- Kentucky Museum of Art and Craft, 715 W. Main St., ☎ . 10–5 Tuesday–Saturday, 11–5 Sunday. $8 adults, $5 seniors (65+) and active/retired military, $4 children 13–17 and college students with school ID, $2 children 6–12, under 6 free.
- Muhammad Ali Center, 144 N. Sixth St., ☎ . 9:30–5 Tuesday–Saturday (9:30–1 on Derby Day), noon–5 Sunday. Closed Monday except on King Day, Memorial Day, and Labor Day. International cultural center focusing on the life of the boxing great and Louisville native. $9 adults, $8 seniors (65+), $5 active/retired military and students with school ID, $4 children 6–12, under 6 free.
- Kentucky Derby Museum (south of downtown next to Churchill Downs), 704 Central Ave., ☎ . 8–5 Monday–Saturday (9–5 from December to mid-March), 11–5 Sunday (8–5 on the day after the Kentucky Derby). Two floors of exhibits devoted not only to the Derby, but also the history of American Thoroughbred racing in general. Notable exhibits include a Derby "time machine" that allows visitors to watch replays of every Derby since 1918, and a cemetery where five Derby winners are buried. Also offers several special tours of Churchill Downs, most of which are extra-cost. In addition to the Derby winners buried inside the gates, the grave of 2006 winner Barbaro, marked by a life-size statue, is located outside the gates and is freely accessible to the public. $14 adults, $13 seniors (55+), $11 ages 13–18, $6 children 5–12, under 5 free. Call for AAA/CAA and military discounts.
- Churchill Downs, 700 Central Ave., ☎ .
- Louisville Mega Cavern, 1841 Taylor Ave. (I-264 (Watterson Expressway) to Poplar Level Rd. (KY 864) exit; take Poplar Level north. Right on Taylor Avenue (near Wendy's)), ☎ , toll-free: . Hours vary by attraction. A former limestone quarry beneath the Louisville Zoo, partially converted into a unique underground attraction (other parts are being converted into a secure commercial storage facility). Features the world's only underground bike park, only fully underground zip line course, and only fully underground ropes course. For the less adventurous, motorized tours are offered year-round, and on evenings during the holiday season (just before Thanksgiving to just after New Year's) the cavern is opened to passenger vehicles for a drive-through holiday light show. Prices vary by attraction.
If you plan on visiting more than one downtown museum, consider buying The Main Ticket, a pass that provides one admission to the Frazier Museum, Art and Craft Museum, Kentucky Science Center, Evan Williams Bourbon Experience, Slugger Museum, and Ali Center. $31.99 ages 13 and up, $24.99 children 6–12; pass valid for one year after purchase. Pass holders must purchase a separate admission to the Science Center for any children 2–5; ages 5 and under are admitted free at all other attractions.
If you have a car, definitely take River Road out of downtown, past Zorn Avenue into the River Road Historic District. Beautiful country estates on the bluffs overlooking the Ohio River are amazing to see, along with all the fields that stretch along the river and great vistas of all the boats going by. The district stops when River Road ends at US Highway 42.
Kentucky Derby Festival
One of the nation's biggest civic events, the Kentucky Derby Festival takes place for the two weeks prior to the first Saturday in May when the Kentucky Derby is run at Churchill Downs. The biggest events include the following:
- Thunder Over Louisville. Saturday two weeks before the Derby (sometimes three weeks, depending on when the Easter holiday is observed so as not to interfere with it). Quite possibly the world's largest air show and fireworks display. Thunder draws as many as 800,000 people to the banks of the Ohio river for a day long event filled with food, music, skydivers and many types of aircraft (including military). The evening is topped off with the world's largest fireworks display set to music, usually lasting 30 minutes.
- The Great Balloon Race. Saturday one week before the Derby, unless bad weather takes place, then it will be the next day. If bad weather takes place that day, the race is canceled. The start of the Balloon Race moved from the Kentucky Exposition Center to Bowman Field in 2011. Regardless of the starting point, the race ends a few miles away in whatever direction the wind is blowing and carrying the balloons. On the Friday night before the race, the balloons are inflated for the Balloon Glow, a very pretty sight at night. The latter event moved to the riverfront in 2012.
- The Kentucky Derby Festival Marathon and MiniMarathon. Both races are held on Saturday morning one week before the Derby, usually at the same time as the balloon race. Since the 2011 edition, both start and finish in downtown Louisville. The two races follow the same route to the west side, back to downtown, and through Old Louisville and the University of Louisville campus to Churchill Downs, where they take a trip around the track in the infield before splitting after exiting the racetrack. The MiniMarathon (in fact a half-marathon} returns directly to downtown. The Marathon heads toward Iroquois Park in the south end, takes a loop around that park, and returns to downtown after taking a detour into the Highlands.
- The Great Steamboat Race. Wednesday afternoon before the Derby. The race historically matched the Belle of Louisville against the Delta Queen for a race up the Ohio River and back again, ending downtown at the Clark Memorial Bridge. When the Delta Queen, a traditional steamboat, was retired in 2009 and replaced with the diesel-powered Belle of Cincinnati, the event format was dramatically changed. The crews of both boats now contest a skills competition for points before the race, and the race itself is handicapped by forcing the more powerful Belle of Cincinnati to travel farther than the Belle of Louisville. Under both traditional and modern formats, a third boat has occasionally been involved in the competition. The winner, now based on points earned both before and during the race, is awarded the Silver Antlers (replacing the Golden Antlers, retired along with the Delta Queen) for another year until the next race.
- Pegasus Parade. Thursday before the Derby. Held for several blocks along Broadway (on the south end of downtown), the parade is the scene for floats, marching bands, celebrities, and many others groups.
- Thurby. Thursday before the Derby. A new Derby-week tradition—a day of racing at Churchill Downs set against a backdrop of local music, bourbon, and Kentucky culture. Traditionally, the Kentucky Oaks had been geared mainly toward Louisville locals, but in the 2010s, that race became a national event alongside the Derby (though on a slightly smaller scale). Churchill Downs responded in 2014 by creating the first Thurby. Although it's heavily marketed and geared toward a local crowd, visitors are obviously more than welcome.
- Kentucky Oaks. Friday before the Derby. One of the most important races for 3-year-old fillies (females). Like the Derby, it is the last race of a full day of racing, and features much of the same pageantry, but on a smaller scale.
- Kentucky Derby. First Saturday in May. Often described as "the most exciting two minutes in sports," the first race of the Triple Crown is cause for a full day of celebrating, eating, and drinking. There is a full day of races on Derby Day, of which the Kentucky Derby is the last. Everything about the "Run for the Roses" (named for the blanket of roses draped over the winner) is steeped in tradition, from the food (Derby Pie) to the drinks (mint juleps, traditionally served in a pewter cup) to the clothes (designer hats for women, and two- and three-piece summer suits for men). TV stations will have several hours of pre-race coverage as well as the post-race interview with a teary-eyed jockey. Although you can certainly attend in person, either in the stadium seats or the cheaper and boozier infield, it's probably more common to find one of the countless Derby parties, hosted by a bar or maybe just at a friend's house.
St. James Court Art Show
A free event, the St. James Court Art Show has been running strong for more than 50 years. This is the 5th largest Art Show in the United States. The show hosts an impressive 650 plus artists from all over the Americas. The outdoor Art Show is open during the daylight hours on Friday, Saturday and Sunday of the weekend of the first Saturday in October. Held in the heart of historic Old Louisville among the country's largest collection of Victorian homes. An easy drive or bus ride about 1 mile due south of downtown Louisville near Central Park. The heart of the fair is the fountain on St James Court and the lovely Belgravia Court where the artists have to compete for attention among the historic mansions that line the street under towering oaks. Tip: this is a beautiful neighborhood to explore even if it not an Art Show weekend.
- Louisville Bats, Louisville Slugger Field, 401 E. Main St., ☎ , toll-free: . The Louisville Bats are the AAA minor league baseball team affiliate of the Cincinnati Reds. The Bats are currently members of the West Division of the International League. They play their home games at Louisville Slugger Field downtown.
- Louisville Cardinals. The city's most visible sports teams are those representing the University of Louisville, the newest member of the Atlantic Coast Conference (joined for 2014–15). The men's basketball team, a perennial contender for conference and national honors, is extremely popular; tickets for high-profile games are difficult to impossible to come by. Most of the school's athletic venues are on the main campus about 4 mi (6 km) from downtown near I-65, with the best-known being the football team's home, Papa John's Cardinal Stadium. However, the men's and women's basketball teams do not play on campus, but rather at the KFC Yum! Center in downtown Louisville. Ticket information: +1 502 852-5151 or +1 800-633-7105.
- Louisville City FC, 127 S. Sixth St. (offices), ☎ . The newest addition to Louisville's sports scene, Louisville City began play in 2015 in the United Soccer League, the third tier of the American soccer pyramid. The team is affiliated with Orlando City SC, which began playing in Major League Soccer at the same time, and as such features many players who may end up in MLS sooner or later. The team plays its home games at Louisville Slugger Field.
- Kentucky Kingdom and Hurricane Bay, Kentucky Exposition Center, I-65 and I-264 (follow signs). An amusement park and water park that reopened in May 2014 after having been closed since 2009.
If you want to bike for recreation, consider biking "the parkways" to the three major parks (Eastern Parkway to Cherokee Park, Southern Parkway to Iroquois Park, and Algonquin/Northwestern/Southwestern Parkway to Shawnee Park). These were originally designed just for bikers (and other "pleasure craft"), although now, especially Eastern, will require urban cycling skills except perhaps on a Saturday or Sunday. But they still represent the absolute finest the city has to offer in terms of biking - the three parks are magnificent, all have dedicated biking lanes (as in, you get half of or all of the road). Probably about 25-35 miles to see all three, if you're in good shape this can make for the perfect day ride around town, with frequent stops since there's a lot to see. There are minor hills on the parkways, but some moderate hills in Iroquois and Cherokee parks.
A good starting place is Waterfront Park, which has free parking, and also gives you a chance to experience downtown and all three "sides" of Louisville. Beginning at the Waterfront, you can take the Riverwalk to Shawnee Park (in the process of being renovated with a Scenic Loop bike path similar to that in Cherokee Park), and - by the end of 2007 - connect via Southwestern and Algonquin Parkways to the Ohio River Levee Trail to the Farnsley-Moreman Landing in the southwest corner of the county; almost a 20 mile ride.
You can also go from the Waterfront along the Beargrass Creek Trail to Cherokee Park (see a Louisville bikeways map  for details). In the next five to seven years, you will be able to bike all the way from Prospect, in the northeast part of the county, to Farnsley-Moreman in the southwest - over 25 miles. Long-term plans will eventually allow you to bike a full hundred miles around the entire city, but the completion date of that project has now been pushed back to around 2020.
The long-abandoned Big Four Bridge completely reopened as a pedestrian and bicycle bridge in May 2014, connecting Waterfront Park with downtown Jeffersonville on the Indiana side. The bridge reopened on the Kentucky side in 2013, allowing pedestrians and cyclists to take in the river view, but construction of the Indiana ramp was delayed for about a year.
You can rent bikes at Waterfront Park.
Younger or more adventurous types who are into skateboarding, aggressive skating, or BMX may want to check out David Armstrong Extreme Park, located on the corner of Franklin and Clay Streets just east of I-65 downtown and open 24/7. Among its features are a 24-foot full pipe, seven bowls of different sizes, a street course, ledges and rails, and a 12-foot vert ramp with a 13-foot extension.
Louisville has a large and thriving music scene catering to every possible taste in music. There are many bars that feature standard-issue cover bands but of greater interest to adventurous visitors are the venues featuring original local music as well as big-name out-of-town acts.
- Headliners, 1386 Lexington Road. Attracts medium-size national acts and top-drawing local acts.
- Bulldog Cafe, 10619 W Manslick Road. Pretty far out from the center of the city, but a good place to see local and national acts that tend towards heavy rock and metal.
- Bellarmine University, 
- Spalding University, 
- Sullivan University, 
- Jefferson Community College, 
- McKendree University, 
- Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, 
Support Louisville's impressive number of locally-owned businesses by shopping in areas like the Highlands (Bardstown Road) and Clifton/Frankfort Avenue. Shops displaying 'Keep Louisville Weird' signs (a concept originally developed in Austin, Texas) are members of a coalition of locally-owned businesses.
There are several malls and shopping areas in which to browse, including:
- Oxmoor Center and Mall St. Matthews, Shelbyville Rd at I-264. Oxmoor Center is immediately east of 264 (outside the loop) and Mall St. Matthews is immediately west of 264 (inside the loop).
- Jefferson Mall. Outer Loop and Jefferson Blvd.
- Paddock Shops. Brownsboro Rd at I-265. You may hear a few long-term residents call this center by its former name of "The Summit".
- Springhurst Towne Center, Westport Rd. at I-265
- Dixie Manor, Dixie Hwy near Lower Hunters Trace
- Shelbyville Road Plaza, Shelbyville Rd. west of I-264 and Mall St. Matthews.
- Stonybrook, Hurstbourne Pkwy & Taylorsville Rd.
Outlet shopping is available in nearby Simpsonville at The Outlet Shoppes of the Bluegrass (take I-64 east to Exit 28).
Groceries and other basics
The dominant supermarket chain in the Louisville area is Kroger, with over 20 locations in Jefferson County alone, plus many others scattered around the surrounding counties (a few Kroger-owned stores on the Indiana side bear the legacy Jay C nameplate). Several of these are open 24/7. No other supermarket chain has anything close to Kroger's presence, though the local chain ValuMarket and the deep-discounters Aldi and Save-A-Lot have several locations.
In the organic/natural niche, Whole Foods and Trader Joe's each have one location in the area, both near Mall St. Matthews. Another national chain, The Fresh Market, has two locations (one in northeast Louisville and the other in Middletown in far eastern Jefferson County), and the local chain Rainbow Blossom has four Louisville locations plus one across the river in New Albany.
The real competition for Kroger comes from two major discount chains. Walmart has 10 stores in its "Supercenter" (discount store plus supermarket) format, plus five supermarket-only Walmart Neighborhood Markets, in Jefferson County alone. Two of the Supercenters and one Neighborhood Market close overnight; the rest stay open 24/7. Meijer, a Michigan-based chain that in many ways pioneered the concept that Walmart made a cliché, has four stores in Jefferson County, all of which are also open 24/7. Target also has several locations that all offer groceries, but without the specialized counters of a traditional supermarket or the 24/7 hours of Walmart and Meijer.
All three of the major national pharmacy chains—CVS, Rite Aid, and Walgreens—are also ubiquitous throughout Louisville with many locations open 24/7.
Locals usually prefer to dine at one of the local eating establishments below.
- Spinelli's, 614 Baxter Ave. And three other Louisville locations. Late night (until 5AM every day at all locations) Philly pizza. A luxury car is installed indoors at the Baxter Avenue location for seating.
- J. Gumbo's, 2109 Frankfort Ave. And five other Louisville locations. A regional chain that began in Louisville. Excellent Cajun food. Gumbo, Jambalaya, Etoufee, Creole, etc. Try the drunk chicken, it's excellent. All meals $6.
- WW Cousins, 900 Dupont Rd. Plus a second location on the Outer Loop near Jefferson Mall. Dress your own hamburger and salad bar.
- Home Run Burgers, four locations. (Hurstbourne Parkway near Taylorsville Road, Shelbyville Road Plaza, Middletown in front of Walmart, and at U of L) Local chain offering made-to-order Black Angus burgers and hand-cut fries. Decor is mostly baseball-related, and the staff says "Batter up!" when customers come in. Hand-breaded cod, grilled chicken, hot dogs, veggie burgers, and BLT also available.
- Twig & Leaf, Corner of Bardstown Rd and Douglass Blvd. Classic American diner and a local tradition.
- Check's Cafe, Corner of Burnett Ave and Hickory in Germantown. Same as above, can't beat the price. The decor features a lot of local sports memorabilia. Doubles as a bar.
- Cafe 360, Corner of Bardstown Rd and Bonnycastle Ave. Order anything you want, 24-hours. Also has a bar. Food is okay but it's really more of a social place to go. Great Hookah.
- Shah's Mongolian Grill, 423 E Warnock St (near U of L). Choose-your-own-stir-fry. Huge bowls of food for about $6-8. Mostly a student hangout, especially in the evenings. Hookah also available.
- Juanita's Burger Boy Diner, 1450 S. Brook St (Old Louisville). Located a few blocks away from the Magnolia Bar and Grill (see below) and across from Woody's, this diner is open 24/7, has decent food, and is probably the cheapest place in town. No longer cash only, though using a card can sometimes be an added hassle.
- Nancy's Bagels. The best bagels in Louisville. Nancy's has two locations. The original in the Clifton neighborhood at 2101 Frankfort Ave. and a downtown location at 651 S. 4th St.
- Saffron's Persian Restaurant, 131 W. Market St.
- Ramsi's Cafe on the World, 1293 Bardstown Rd. A local favorite. Very eclectic menu, but generally Mediterranean-influenced.
- Shalimar Indian Restaurant, 1820 S Hurstbourne Pkwy. Authentic Indian Cuisine.
- Smoketown USA, 1154 Logan St. BBQ.
- The Irish Rover, 2319 Frankfort Ave.
- The Granville, 1601 S 3rd St. Considered by many to be the best burgers in town.
The mint julep is a local drink, traditionally drunk during the Kentucky Derby. If you want to try this classic Southern drink outside of Derby week, it's difficult to find a bar that can make them, owing to the difficulty of stocking fresh mint and the fact that they aren't often ordered. One spot that does offer them year-round is Maker's Mark Bourbon House & Lounge (Fourth Street Live!); they sell for $9 as of November 2011.
If you're the voyeur type, a Tom Waits fan, unexposed and looking for some culture shock, or just want to connect with some real locals, you might check out the forty or so hole-in-the-wall bars scattered throughout Smoketown, Germantown, Shelby Park, and Downtown. These places can range from extremely seedy (could get accosted) to the utterly laidback (ability to enjoy your malt 40 with cheap soulfood and the occasional mishmash, smattering of "local color" jabber-banter). Not for the faint of heart.
Smoking is not permitted in bars in the city of Louisville.
There are many pubs around the city, with varying styles, prices and crowds. The Highlands, especially around the 900 block of Baxter Ave., is a great place to drink and meet new people.
- 1 Cahoots, 1047 Bardstown Rd, ☎ . M-F 5PM-4AM, Sa Su 1PM-4AM. Beer, pub grub and a younger crowd.
- 3 Molly Malone's Pub, 933 Baxter Ave, ☎ . 11AM-4AM daily. Irish-style staples with a decent beer selection and a good patio.
- 4 Nachbar, 969 Charles St (In Germantown), ☎ . M-Sa 2PM-4AM, Su 4PM-4AM. Large beer selection with a focus on German and Belgian style beers. Also features jazz and film occasionally.
- 5 Outlook Inn, 916 Baxter Ave, ☎ . 2PM-4AM. A more dive-ish feel but with a no less impressive beer list.
- 6 The Magnolia ("The Mag" or "Mag Bar"), 1398 S Second St, ☎ . Considered the quintessential Louisville dive bar. Don't let the name confuse you, there is no food to be had here.
- 7 The Tavern, 1532 S. 4th St, ☎ . A longtime pub located in Old Louisville. They serve breakfast at all hours and have a daily plate lunch special.
- Bluegrass Brewing Company, 660 S 4th Street (4th & Broadway, at Theater Square), ☎ . 11AM-10PM M-Th, 11AM-11PM F-Sa, closed Su. Local microbrewery with three locations around town. Live music some nights. The original location is in St. Matthews at 3929 Shelbyville Road (phone: 502 899-7070). Also the Taproom, 636 E Main St; serves beer but no food. (502-584-2739.) Happy hour 3PM-7PM, pints $3.50.
- Cumberland Brews, 1576 Bardstown Road, ☎ . Small pub that brews their own beer. The Pale Ale is recommended by reviewers.
- The New Albanian Brewing Company (Rich-O's), 3312 Plaza Drive, New Albany, ☎ . Pizzeria and pub.
Fourth Street Live!  (On 4th St, downtown) has plenty of bars, ranging from an English Pub to Maker's Mark own lounge and bar, but you'll pay a premium to drink there. Fourth Street is generally only busy on the weekends; it's dead on the weekdays except for 5-7PM or when the after work crowd grabs a drink. Be aware many of the swankier clubs and bars (Red Cheetah, Maker's Mark, etc.) have a dress code, and some have a cover charge, usually about $5. Fourth Street is free to enter.
- 8 Bourbon Raw, 446 S Fourth St, ☎ . M-Th 11AM-midnight, F Sa 11AM-4AM, Su 5PM-midnight. Upscale bar with bourbons from each of Kentucky's distilleries.
There are a plethora of good coffeehouses in Louisville. Local chains include Heine Brothers' Coffee & Java Brewing Company. There are three Heine stores in the Highlands area alone, with nine more scattered around town, one across the river in Jeffersonville, and a vintage Airstream trailer renovated into a mobile branch that travels to local events. Java has a Fourth Street Live! location, a Main St branch, and a store in Crescent Hill where it was founded. (Others are on the east reaches of town, Prospect, Middletown, etc.) Vint (four locations) merged with Heine Brothers in 2011, but remains a separate chain, and sources its coffee separately from its sister chain. Other selections include Highland Coffee at 1140 Bardstown Rd/627 S 4th St, Old Louisville Coffee House at 1489 S 4th St, Sunergos Coffee on 2122 S Preston St, and Ray's Monkey House at 1578 Bardstown Rd.
Louisville has substantial gay, lesbian and transgendered communities, most visibly concentrated in The Highlands neighborhood, in the East End and Downtown. There are numerous venues and events catering to them and those friendly to them.
- 9 Day's Espresso & Coffee, 1420 Bardstown Rd, ☎ . While not necessarily known for its exceptional coffee, Day's Coffee on Bardstown Road has enjoyed a loyal following among Louisville's gay AND family oriented populations for years, thanks to it's very laid-back, unpretentious atmosphere.
- 10 The Connection, 120 S Floyd St, ☎ . Located downtown, is Louisville's premier gay club and has an enormous dance floor and showroom. Worth the cover on weekends or special events for those who enjoy a good drag show. Claims to have the best drag show in the United States.
- 11 Teddy Bears, 1148 Garvin Pl, ☎ . Teddy Bears has been victim of some scary hype, though for those not afraid of men and transsexuals "of a certain age" or beyond, it can be great places to relax over a game of pool or unselfconscious karaoke.
- 12 Tryangles, 209 S Preston St, ☎ . Tryangles is a Louisville gay standby that endears by possessing the contradictory qualities of both homeyness and sleaze in equal measure. Popular with the bear and levi/leather crowd.
Keep in mind that most Louisville hotels around Derby weekend will usually charge three times the normal rate. The only way to avoid this is to stay with friends and family or to stay at hotels at least 100 miles away, such as Cincinnati or Indianapolis. Other significant events that will cause increases in hotel rates, though by a lesser amount, are Thunder Over Louisville (while its crowds are several times those of the Derby, they're more local); the Kentucky State Fair, held for 10 days ending with the last Sunday in August; NASCAR races at Kentucky Speedway in Sparta; and home games for some U of L sports, mainly football and sometimes men's basketball. Lexington is a slightly closer alternative apart from Derby weekend (when it fills up just as much as Louisville, especially when graduation at the University of Kentucky is on the same weekend), though it also takes in a large amount of overflow for NASCAR races, and regularly fills up for UK sports and graduations.
There are many other hotels around town and in downtown, but they are rather generic. If you're going to pay more for a hotel, you might as well get character as well. There are also some Bed and Breakfasts in Old Louisville, if you'd like to stay in a 120+ year old Victorian mansion, here's your chance.
- 1 Motel 6 - Louisville North, 2016 Hospitality Way, Jeffersonville, IN 47130, ☎ .
- 2 Microtel Inn & Suites by Wyndham Louisville East, 1221 Kentucky Mills Drive, ☎ .
- 3 Suburban Extended Stay Hotel East, 1620 Leisure Way, Clarksville, IN 47129, ☎ .
- 4 Ramada Plaza Louisville, 9700 Bluegrass Pkwy, ☎ .
- 5 Hyatt Place Louisville/East, 701 South Hurstbourne Parkway, ☎ .
- 6 Ramada Downtown North Louisville, 1041 Zorn Avenue (71 Exit #2 and Zorn Ave), ☎ .
- 7 Ramada Louisville Expo Center, 2912 Crittenden Dr (I-264 Exit 11), ☎ .
- 8 Courtyard Louisville Airport, 819 Phillips Lane, ☎ . Check-in: 3PM, check-out: 12PM. The hotel provides complimentary airport shuttle service, free internet, and onsite parking. The Bistro serves breakfast, dinner, cocktails and Starbucks specialty coffee.
- 9 Four Points Louisville (Four Points By Sheraton Louisville Airport), 2850 Crittenden Drive, ☎ . Check-in: 3:00 PM, check-out: 12:00 PM. Offers complimentary Louisville airport shuttle during your stay. $129-$184/Night.
- 10 21c Museum Hotel Louisville, 700 West Main Street, ☎ , toll-free: . A boutique hotel in the historic West Main District, also including an art gallery.
- 11 The Seelbach Hilton Louisville, 500 S 4th St, ☎ . Historic and luxurious. Opened in 1905, it is Louisville's original Grand Hotel. The Seelbach has played host to many presidents, famous authors, and gangsters like Al Capone during its tenure. The hotel's monument to fine dining, The Oakroom, is Kentucky's only AAA 5 Diamond rated restaurant.
- 12 The Brown Hotel, 335 W Broadway, ☎ . One of the most historic hotels of the city. Not only it is an excellent hotel, but it is full of history and fun stories. For example, during a flood in 1937, Brown Hotel was partially submerged, and a worker caught a two-pound fish in the lobby.
- 14 Hyatt Regency Louisville, 311 S 4th St, ☎ . Connected to Kentucky International Convention Center and 4th Street Live.
Most of Louisville is pretty safe (for a city its size, it has never been featured on the TV show "Cops"). Probably the least safe areas are west of Ninth Street (the Greyhound bus station is unfortunately located here). Professional scammers acting as panhandlers are common at the station, and while not terribly aggressive or rude, they are persistent. Pickpockets are also a problem, as they will often snatch belongings from the side pockets of any bags or purses you may have.
In addition, several attempted muggings have occurred directly outside of the terminal, (with station security being shockingly apathetic and unhelpful in these situations, at least until the Metro Police arrive) so be very cautious. However, a daytime drive through this part of town along Portland and then Northwestern Parkway is very interesting and not dangerous at all. Areas around Churchill Downs are also relatively sketchy, but again, simply driving through in the daytime is not a risk.
The crime risk is lower east of the Highlands. Within the Highlands, crime is still low, but use caution exiting bars on Baxter Avenue if you are alone. This same advice applies to Old Louisville, only more so. Other than this, just use common sense like you would anywhere else.
The West End of Louisville is commonly considered the most dangerous due to its gang activity (partly due to how impoverished it is). Just use common sense such as not leaving your car unlocked, not staring at others, etc., and it'll be much less dangerous.
- The Courier-Journal, . Local daily newspaper.
- LEO, . The Louisville Eccentric Observer, the local alt-weekly. The founder, John Yarmuth, now represents Louisville in the U.S. House of Representatives.
- Velocity, . Weekly, local entertainment guide published by The Courier-Journal.
- The Voice-Tribune, . East end weekly newspaper.
No overlay area code has yet been imposed on the Kentucky side of the metropolitan area, so 7-digit local dialing from a landline phone is still allowed.
The same is not true on the Indiana side. In September 2014, an overlay code (+1 930) was established throughout the area that was previously served by only area code 812. A local or in-state call on the Indiana side now requires all 10 digits of the local number be dialed (omitting just the leading +1 from a local landline call). If a sign on an established business in Indiana displays only a seven-digit number, dial 812 before it.
There are plenty of places to visit outside Louisville. To the south are Mammoth Cave National Park (longest cave system in the world), Fort Knox (home of the gold bullion and the Patton Museum), the Abbey of Gethsemani, the historic town of Bardstown, home of Stephen Foster-The Musical, the Bourbon Trail, the Lincoln Birthplace, the Bernheim Forest Arboretum and Nature Center.
To the east is the state capitol at Frankfort, where you'll find some distilleries in the area. Lexington is the home of the Kentucky Horse Park. Located off I-71 is the Kentucky Speedway, since 2011 home to races in all three of NASCAR's national series (Monster Energy Cup, Xfinity Series, Camping World Truck Series).
To the north is the river town of Madison, Indiana, home of the Madison Regatta. Nashville, Indiana and Brown County are a haven for artists.
To the west, numerous caves are found, including Squire Boone, Wyandotte and Marengo. Holiday World & Splashin' Safari in Santa Claus boasts the Raven, one of the most popular wooden roller coasters in America.
- New Albany
- Saint Matthews
|Routes through Louisville|
|St. Louis ← New Albany ←||W E||→ Saint Matthews → Frankfort|
|Indianapolis ← Clarksville/Jeffersonville ←||N S||→ Shepherdsville → Bowling Green|
|Cincinnati ← La Grange ←||N S||→ END|
|Indianapolis ← Jeffersonville ←||N S||→ Splits into and|
|Merges onto ←||N S||→ Bardstown → Glasgow|
|Merges onto ←||N S||→ Fort Knox → Bowling Green|
|Evansville ← Fort Knox ←||W E||→ Saint Matthews → Frankfort|
|Vincennes ← New Albany ←||W E||→ Bardstown → Danville|