By Anna Meany and Aimee Jewell–
Most call Louisville an island in the state of Kentucky. Since its establishment in 1780, the river city has been cultivating its own unique culture from the compassion and personality of its population. For the millions of visitors traveling to the city each year, the children who have grown up here, and those who have fallen in love with the laid-back, personal feel of the city and chosen to call it home – the one-of-a-kind experience that Louisville gives is unmeasurable. Here are five reasons we think Louisville has got it going on.
Louisville is not short of local music.
A Lion Named Roar, who just recently performed on U of L’s campus at the Red Barn, will be on the bill for Forecastle, as well as Jim James, frontman for My Morning Jacket. The Forecastle Festival takes place at the Waterfront from July 15 through the 17 and offers Louisville’s own music and arts, as well as some large, widely acclaimed national acts.
Kenneth Tyler of A Lion Named Roar says, “I think Louisville is a town that prides themselves on great local talent, and I think the University does a great job of acknowledging that talent. As a local band, it’ really important for us to gauge for where we are amongst the vast talent in this city.” Even the venues that bring big names to town, like Headliners Music Hall, the Brown Theatre, and The Louisville Palace invite local musicians to open for bigger name acts. Curious as to who are some of the most popular names are around town? Be sure to give Justin Lewis a listen, as well as folk-favorite Ben Sollee. Some of the biggest names in music hail from the Possibility City, including My Morning Jacket, Houndmouth, and Lionel Hampton, and they often play shows around the city, so be sure to be on the lookout.
Louisville’s eclectic art scene is nothing short of entertaining and inspiring. Organizations like the Speed Art Museum (who is still operating off-campus despite the museum’s 3-year renovations) and the Louisville Visual Art Association provide plenty of summer camps for kids and other auctions and functions for adults in the area. U of L’s campus even appeals to art lovers. The Hite Art Institute in Schneider Hall showcases student-directed exhibits, senior BFA thesis exhibitions, and other art collections for student and public appreciation. Not to mention, art lovers can enjoy the First Friday Trolley Hop downtown, where many art galleries (located near many eateries and bars the patrons can also visit) stay open late on the first Friday of each month – be sure to check this event out in the summer when the weather is nicest and more people attend. The First Friday Trolley Hop includes stops on Market and Main Streets, in-between Campbell Street and 10th Street. For additional information on the Trolley Hop, visit:
Louisvillians have options ranging from the cheapest and most deliciously greasy meal found at Burger Boy (located within walking distance of campus at Brook and Burnett) to the more refined and luscious selections at Vincenzo’s Italian Restaurant (a five-minute drive to the middle of downtown). Seriously, Louisville has the most satisfactory variety of food. We’ve even got food trucks – search www.louisvillestreetfood.com for a full list of the city’s wheeling food options as well as time and location info. While food lovers should definitely look downtown when they’re feeling the hungriest, many locations near U of L’s campus are just as delectable and much more accessible. This writer’s close-to-campus favorites include Cottage Inn and Dairy Kastle (if you don’t love this seasonal oasis, get out of town). Whether you’re attending a show at Actor’s Theatre, a Bats game, a basketball game at the Yum! Center, or ending a late night on Fourth Street Live, Louisville’s delicious menu is the perfect supplement to any event.
If you’re just coming to Louisville for the first time, or you’ve been here your entire life, there’s always new things to find around Louisville when it comes to exploring outdoors. Jefferson Memorial Forest is the largest urban forest in the country, and both Jeffierson Memorial Forest and Bernheim Forest are known for their great running and hiking trails, as well as their diverse classes on animals, flowers, and trees found around the woods. If hiking isn’t your thing though, never fear. Louisville also has great outdoor parks, such as Cheeroke Park and Waterfront Park. Both offer great views of the city, as well as walking and bike trails. The Big Four Bridge which recently opened at Waterfront Park is also conveniently located ten minutes from campus and serves as a wonderful spot to sightsee for visitors and locals alike.
(If you’re of age, of course.)
It wouldn’t be Louisville, Kentucky if alcohol wasn’t mentioned in some form. Between the well-known bourbon trails that are roughly 40 minutes away from the city, to the unique breweries found around Louisville, new and fun ways to think about alcohol and liqour have been popping up all over the Kentuckiana area. Between Against the Grain, located in the Slugger Stadium downtown, Bluegrass Brewing Company, BBC, which has numerous locations around Louisville, and Cumberland Brews on Bardstown Road, you’re sure to find something you like. Not a fan of specialty beers? Explore Louisville and check out the awesome local bars that are around town – there are a ton, we promise.
Photos by Anna Meany/The Louisville Cardinal