Author: Taylor Walston
Louisville is a destination on many people’s tourism bucket list; it’s the birthplace of the legendary Muhammad Ali and home to the Kentucky Derby, fantastic bourbon and so much more. Make sure you take advantage of seeing the sights while you’re in town for the 2022 ATA Trade Show. We spoke with Allison Gotting, destination services manager for Louisville Tourism, and asked her about some of her personal favorite Louisville destinations.
There are countless restaurants to choose from, no matter what you're in the mood for. Photo Credit: Emmy Squared Pizza
Where to Go
Gotting’s favorite thing about Louisville is, well, everything! “North, south, east or west — Louisville’s neighborhoods offer a wealth of attractions and fantastic historic architecture in every direction,” Gotting said. “Much like the boroughs of New York City, Louisville’s neighborhoods each have their own distinct personalities.”
Here’s her list of must-see sections of the city, in her own words:
- Dive into the heart of downtown Louisville by visiting our version of “Times Square,” Fourth Street Live!, the city’s entertainment district.
- Right up the road is Louisville’s historic Whiskey Row, an area full of history and character like NYC’s Greenwich Village. Appropriately named Whiskey Row, as it was home to the bourbon industry in Louisville, this area of Main Street is returning to its roots with distilleries and bourbon-themed businesses and restaurants.
- Right on the edge of downtown is the NuLu neighborhood, a mixed-use area that encompasses most of East Market Street offering bars, restaurants and retail, including Emmy Squared Pizza, Grind Burger Kitchen, West Sixth Brewing and Garage Bar, among others.
- The Highlands and Frankfort Avenue will remind you of the famous Brooklyn borough, offering a view of local culture with coffee shops, breweries and laidback bars at every turn.
Tour Louisville's many museums and experiences, like the Muhammad Ali Center. Photo Credit: Muhammad Ali Center
What to See
Louisville is home to so many events and experiences. While you’re in town, make sure to check out some of the major stops that are quintessential Louisville. “With more than 120 attractions, Louisville has something for everyone to see and do,” Gotting said. “A great place to start is Louisville’s Museum Row along Main Street, right downtown. Within four walkable blocks, you’ll have the opportunity to experience a variety of attractions.”
Here are more of Gotting’s recommendations, in her own words:
- Don’t miss the Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory, which crafts the bats of most major league baseball teams.
- See what makes Kentucky “cool” and catch the official starting point of the Kentucky Bourbon Trail at the Frazier History Museum.
- Spend a day shadowboxing with Muhammad Ali, while learning about his dedication to boxing as well as global humanitarianism at the nearby Muhammad Ali Center.
- Get a taste of America’s only native spirit at the one of the downtown bourbon distilleries including Old Forester Distillery, Kentucky Peerless Distillery, Michter’s Fort Nelson Distillery or the Evan Williams Bourbon Experience (advance reservations for all distilleries are a must — tours will sell out!).
- Be sure to visit iconic Churchill Downs and the Kentucky Derby Museum to get a sense of what a Kentucky Derby weekend is like.
Where to Eat
Louisville is also a food lover’s delight. There are plenty of different cuisines and restaurants to choose from, all with different atmospheres and offerings. It wouldn’t be far-fetched for you to stumble upon a restaurant that’s won some pretty impressive accolades. “Louisville is home to over 2,500 independent restaurants which help us receive many culinary accolades annually, including one of the ‘South’s Best Food Cities’ by Southern Living and one of ‘America’s Favorite Cities for Food’ by Travel + Leisure,” Gotting said. “You might even remember seeing Louisville featured on Bravo’s Top Chef show’s 16th season so there’s plenty to satisfy your cravings.”
Here’s her list of restaurant recommendations, in her own words:
- For steakhouses there are several nearby options, including Jeff Ruby’s Steakhouse, Bob’s Steak & Chophouse, Brazeiros Churrascaria Brazilian Steakhouse, Repeal and Le Moo, just outside downtown.
- If you want the option of seafood, Brendan’s Catch 23 and Riverhouse Restaurant & Raw Bar are great places to stop, as well as Doc Crow’s Southern Smokehouse & Raw Bar for both seafood and barbecue.
- Looking for a casual joint? There’s Mussel & Burger Bar, Troll Pub Under the Bridge, Sidebar at Whiskey Row, Bluegrass Brewing Company and Merle’s Whiskey Kitchen.
Gotting also includes this note:
“Louisville, like the rest of the country, is experiencing staffing challenges. We strongly recommend making restaurant reservations or dining at off-peak hours, as well as checking restaurant hours.”
Check out the Kentucky Bourbon Trail or the Urban Bourbon Trail to experience classic Kentucky Bourbon. Photo Credit: Louisville Tourism
Other Must-See Sites and Must-Do Activities
Though many things come to mind when we think of Kentucky, one of the more immediate ones is bourbon. It’s hard to think of Louisville without imagining a glass of authentic Kentucky bourbon. Gotting provides Show attendees with a map of where to experience the classic drink at genuine distilleries and exciting restaurants around town. “While Louisville’s Urban Bourbon Experience is comprised of eight distilleries (including a brandy distillery) within the city limits that are open for public tours and tastings, the Urban Bourbon Trail boasts over 40 bars and restaurants with more than 50 bourbons and bourbon-inspired culinary delights,” she said. “Your goal? Dine or drink at six participating locations to earn yourself an official Urban Bourbon Trailblazer T-shirt from the Louisville Visitor Center. Download your passport to get started.”
Take the Shuttle
Did one of Gotting’s restaurant recommendations catch your eye and you’re wondering how to get there? The ATA shuttle runs from all the hotels in the ATA Hotel Block to the Kentucky Expo Center. There are multiple routes that stop at multiple hotels, so take the opportunity to hop on the shuttle and be dropped off at one of the hotels near your preferred restaurant to experience some of Gotting’s highlighted eateries. Click here to view the full shuttle schedule and routes.
Make the Most of Your Trip
Having the ATA Show in Louisville makes the week more than just a trade show. Spend your business dinners at one of the restaurants listed above or visit one of the recommended destinations and truly experience Louisville. When you head out to the city in just a couple of weeks, make sure you see something unique to Louisville and make #ATA2022 a sightseeing experience and a business trip, all in one.