Discover Even More Reasons to Love Louisville On Your Next Visit

New distilleries, restaurants and hotels add to the buzz of Kentucky’s largest city, brimming with art, culture, Southern hospitality—and bourbon.

Evolution flows fast and furious through Louisville, matched by the rushing waters of the Ohio River that defines the city's northern border. But that's not the only current running through this town. Here, bourbon infuses everything, from the history and the culture to the food scene and the visitor attractions. These days, it seems all roads lead to a distillery or a whiskey bar.

Evan Williams Bourbon Experience Louisville Kentucky
Evan Williams Bourbon Experience. Marty Pearl/Special to the Louisville Convention and Visitors Bureau

When the Evan Williams Bourbon Experience launched in 2013 on downtown Louisville's historic Whiskey Row, it sparked an industry renaissance that's ushered in a tidal wave of "bourbonism"—bourbon tourism—for the city. To see what all the buzz is about, you'll want to make a reservation for a distillery tour and tasting.

Buzzard's Roost Whiskey tasting Louisville Kentucky
Buzzard's Roost. Courtesy of Buzzard's Roost Whiskey

Check out storied brands like Michter's and Old Forester or newer additions to the growing local lineup of visitor-friendly distilleries such as Buzzard's Roost and Brough Brothers (Kentucky's first official African American-owned distilling operation). Due to open later this fall, Bob Dylan (yes, THAT Bob Dylan) is repurposing a historic 150-year-old NuLu district church as The Last Refuge, a multi-tasking music venue, restaurant, art gallery and tasting room to highlight the singer-songwriter's Heaven's Door whiskey label.

Download the Urban Bourbon Trail app to check in at 35 restaurants and bars all over town for discounts and rewards. Every stop offers bourbon flights, specialty cocktails and a curated selection of at least 60 varieties, with staffers who can capably guide you toward excellent pours.

Louisville enjoys a celebrity spotlight during National Bourbon Heritage Month in September, but tasting opportunities abound year-round.

Louisville Kentucky bourbon tasty Barrels and Billets
Courtesy of Barrels & Billets

What to Do

Take a Louisville Slugger Museum and Factory tour to see how baseball bats are produced, then pop into the new Barrels & Billets custom bourbon experience next door to create your own whiskey blend by tinkering with six different samples. Or, learn how to craft the perfect Old-Fashioned—Louisville's official cocktail—during a hands-on session led by Certified Bourbon Stewards at the Frazier History Museum across the street. For a more sprawling adventure, guided Whiskey Row Walking Tours are a good way to get the lay of this legendary land.

Bourbon and Beyond Music Festival
Bourbon & Beyond Music Festival. Courtesy of Bourbon & Beyond

Bourbon and music are a match made in heaven, and Louisville has found a winning way to marry the best of both worlds. If you can time your trip right, you'll be able to attend one of the high-profile music festivals that roll through town from April through October.

Kentucky Derby Museum Secretariat exhibit
Courtesy of Kentucky Derby Museum

Need a break from bourbon? Head to the Kentucky Derby Museum at Churchill Downs to see the new Secretariat: America's Horse exhibit. With informative displays and interactive features, this permanent installation commemorating the 50th anniversary of the famous racehorse's historic Triple Crown victory is a real winner.

Paseo Louisville Kentucky
Paseo. Courtesy of Weyland Ventures

Where to Eat and Drink

Sup on modern interpretations of classic dumplings, Korean BBQ and bibimbap rice bowls at Nami Korean Steakhouse, the latest addition to local celebrity chef Edward Lee's tasty portfolio. Or, feast on Mediterranean-leaning dishes like hummus with onion jam, harissa cauliflower and wagyu beef loin, all infused with smoky flavor from the busy wood-fired oven at Paseo, new in 2023.

Please and Thank You Chocolate Chip Cookie and Hot Chocolate
Please & Thank You.

Cookies for breakfast? Sure, go ahead! Although it's been around for a decade, Please & Thank You (three Louisville locations) was recently voted USA Today Readers' Choice "Best Cookie Shop" in America, nice validation for its rep as the city's best chocolate chip. Plus: The Harvest Moon latte with maple syrup and cinnamon gives pumpkin spice a run for its money.

Myriad Hotel Louisville Kentucky
Myriad Hotel. Amy Lynch

Where to Stay

How often—if ever—do you get a chance to spend the night in an old disco ball factory? The new Myriad Hotel in the vibrant Highlands neighborhood repurposes a production facility where the sparkling spheres once took shape (PS, they're still being made at Omega Mirror Products next door). These groovy digs include 65 boutique guest rooms and an outdoor swim club anchored by giant orange dust collectors that used to suck glass particles out of the air.

Lucky Penny Speakeasy Louisville Kentucky
Lucky Penny Speakeasy. Nick Simonite

Open since May in NuLu, the Parisian-inspired Hotel Genevieve boasts a glam rooftop bar where guests can settle in to enjoy cocktails and gorgeously assembled charcuterie boards with panoramic views of the city. At ground level, the swanky Lucky Penny speakeasy hides in plain sight behind an unassuming door inside sunny yellow Mini Marche.

Situated in the perfect location for guests who want to splash out andexplore Whiskey Row museums and attractions, The Grady Hotel mixes modern and vintage inside into a historic building that functioned as a bourbon apothecary during the 1880s—for medicinal purposes only, of course. Ahem.

Was this page helpful?
Related Articles