The Best Day You Can Have in Louisville Posted by: Aaron Stearns | 0 Comments
9 a.m.: You’re still sleeping. Because you went out last night and the bars don’t close until 4 in the morning. Yes, somebody’s phone captured you at the sweaty Seidenfaden’s dance party.
9:30 a.m.: Have you looked in the mirror? The only thing that can save you is a bloody Mary. The one at Blue Dog Bakery, which comes with a beer shooter, delivers a spicy roundhouse to the back of your throat. At a curbside table on busy Frankfort Avenue, order the pizza with poached eggs, bacon and arugula. Or the French toast with blueberries if it’s on special. For, um, dessert, head to Hillbilly Tea downtown for biscuits with sausage, mushroom gravy and poached eggs. For second dessert: Toast in the nearby East Market Street art-gallery district for lemon soufflé pancakes.
11:30 a.m.: In the Highlands, explore Bardstown Road, which, according to science, has more hookah bars per capita than any other street in the universe. Lots of boutiques, too. And shops to buy bongs. Custom guitar straps at Leatherhead. Remember the places that once housed collections of bound pages with words on them? They were called bookstores. Carmichael’s is one of those.
Noon: At WHY Louisville, pick up a T-shirt (probably one with a horse or fleur-de-lis on it) that locals love to wear.
12:45 p.m.: You are in Kentucky. Pick a bar. Order bourbon. Trust your bartender.
12:47 p.m.: Finally feeling better, huh?
1 p.m.: Cherokee Park. Not the name of a bourbon bar. Just a park. A hilly one. Frederick Law Olmsted — the “father of American landscape architecture,” according to The Encyclopedia of Louisville — designed the city’s parks and parkways system. Col. Sanders is buried at nearby Cave Hill Cemetery, and he ….
1:30 p.m.: Sorry for the boring history lesson. Got carried away there. To make up for it, how about bourbon at the Silver Dollar? Because you’re in Louisville, you’ll be able to find the unobtanium that is Pappy Van Winkle’s Family Reserve. The stuff ages in charred white oak barrels for 15, 20 or 23 years. Prepare to shell out $70 for a shot. Bourbon’s not your thing? Then get the hell out of our state. Kidding. (Kind of.) The refreshing Moscow Mule is vodka, ginger syrup and lime in a freezing-cold copper mug. If you can find room in your stomach after the three breakfasts I recommended, the fried chicken with syrup-lacquered waffles will probably end up being the thing you remember most about your trip to Louisville. If you remember anything at all. Bourbon will do that to you.
1:45 p.m.: Drink a little water.
2:30 p.m.: The 120-foot-tall steel baseball bat outside the Louisville Slugger Museum and Factory weighs 68,000 pounds. On the factory tour, you can smell it when the workers burn the Slugger logo into each bat’s barrel. If you want to look like a tourist, buy a miniature Slugger.
3:15 p.m.: Bourbon at Proof’s bar. The downtown restaurant is inside the modern-art-gallery-slash-hotel called 21c, which is where you should be staying. There or the historic Seelbach, which inspired part of The Great Gatsby. Oh, and at 21c even women should check out the one-way mirror in the men’s restroom.
4 p.m.: The great thing about Churchill Downs when it’s not Derby Week is that you can sit along the rail at the finish line for the few bucks it costs to get in. Bet a $10 trifecta box on horses 2-5-9 in third race.
4:02 p.m.: Lose the third race. Drink a mint julep.
4:30 p.m.: Snap photo of the Twin Spires.
6 p.m.: Free trolleys will carry you all over downtown (on the first Friday of every month) or Frankfort and Mellwood avenues (on the last Friday of every month).
6:15 p.m.: Realize the bourbon has left you in no shape to see a play at Actors Theatre.
7:30 p.m.: I can’t narrow it down to one restaurant for dinner. On a piece of paper, write down these East Market Street restaurants — Decca, Rye, La Coop, Harvest, Mayan Cafe, Wiltshire — and throw a dart. Below-street-level Hammerheads has stoner-approved barbecue in Germantown…if you can get in (you can’t). El Mundo’s fish tacos. Seviche’s seviche. Or do what I’m going to do tonight: country ham at Garage Bar (a converted old service station with a sprawling gravel patio that has two outdoor ping-pong tables) on East Market; then to Bardstown Road for pommes frites, a warm pretzel loaf with beer cheese and a craft ale you’ve never heard of at the Holy Grale (a bar that used to be a Unitarian church); then to Jack Fry’s, across the street from the Grale, for portly shrimp and creamy grits; and finally go for ice cream at the pink building on Frankfort Avenue called the Comfy Cow.
9 p.m.: Bar. Bourbon.
9:30 p.m. until 4 a.m. (a true Louisvillian can hang until then): Live (and likely local) music at Zanzabar. For bar-hopping there’s Baxter Avenue or St. Matthews or downtown near the Yum! Center. Before all of that, though, how about trying to spot Louisville native and Oscar winner Jennifer Lawrence? Her parents live at….. (Ed. note: Lawrence went all Katniss Everdeen on the author and killed him with her bow and arrow.)
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