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Louisville is the largest city in Kentucky and an industrial, financial, marketing, and shipping center of the South. The city has some of the nation's largest whiskey distilleries and cigarette factories. Louisville developed as a portage place around the falls and as a river port and major commercial center. Many of the nation's most famous steamboats were constructed there. Churchill Downs, a noted racetrack, is scene of the annual Kentucky Derby. The city has noted parks and is site of the state fairgrounds. It has a symphony orchestra and an opera company and hosts an annual festival of new American plays. Among points of interest are American Printing House for the Blind; J.B. Speed Art Museum; Kentucky Center for the Arts; Actors Theater of Louisville; “Farmington”; Filson Club, with a historical library and museum; Jefferson County Courthouse; and Cave Hill Cemetery, where Clark is buried. Nearby is “Locust Grove,” the last home of Clark, as well as the burial place of Zachary Taylor. Fort Knox is in the area.
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8-night Ohio River Cruise

Price: Please call for rates - # of Days: 8 days

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9-Nights Bluegrass and Bourbon Trail

Price: $1,794 - # of Days: 9 days
FIRST-CLASS | SELF DRIVE: Memphis and Nashville are your musical bookends on this trip with plenty of musical attractions, from the Stax Museum of Soul to Graceland or the Grand Old Opry trying to get your attention. Country and a little Bluegrass get on the menu when you visit Gatlinburg and realiz...

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15-night Grand Ohio River Cruise

Price: Please call for rates - # of Days: 15 days

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14-night Grand Ohio River Cruise

Price: Please call for rates - # of Days: 14 days

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8-Nights Bluegrass and Blue Ridges: Louisville to Nashville - Land Journey

Price: $6,290 - # of Days: 8 days
Bluegrass and Blue Ridges: Louisville to Nashville Celebrate the history, cultural heritage and natural beauty found in three of the most popular states in the Appalachian Mountains... and discover the natural wonders of the Great Smoky Mountains... on an intriguing journey cr...

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Overview

Introduction

Louisville, Kentucky, is a charming old river town. Rich with Victorian architecture and a legendary reputation for horses, bourbon and bluegrass music, Louisville also cherishes its extensive city park system.

Visitors who first learned of Louisville from their Louisville Slugger baseball bats are pleased to see the giant bat that stands in downtown Louisville. It marks the spot where the Sluggers are made.

Louisville is on the upswing: There's a revitalized riverfront area, an excellent museum at the Slugger factory, the Frazier History Museum, the Muhammad Ali Center and Fourth Street Live!, an energetic entertainment and shopping area. Louisville's classic attractions are as enticing to visitors as ever, including a healthy fine-arts scene, an abundance of excellent restaurants, interesting architecture both old and new, and, of course, the Kentucky Derby.

As it has done for almost 150 years, the Kentucky Derby and associated events transform Louisville each spring. Visitors will find reminders of the city's signature event everywhere—dozens of theme-decorated horse models can be found on the sidewalks, in the gardens and in the entrances to some of the buildings.

Must See or Do

Sights—Thoroughbreds on the track at Churchill Downs; the large baseball bat outside the Louisville Slugger Factory and Museum; the downtown Louisville skyline from the Falls of the Ohio State Park.

Museums—The 17th- and 18th-century European masterworks at Speed Art Museum; a multimedia presentation of the world's greatest horse race at the Kentucky Derby Museum; George Washington's rifle at the Frazier History Museum; The Greatest's boxing gloves at the Muhammad Ali Center; functional, handmade works of art at the Kentucky Museum of Art and Craft.

Memorable Meals—Mayan Cafe for Yucatan dishes; the green chili wontons (a local favorite) at Bristol Bar and Grille; the dining experience at 610 Magnolia.

Late Night—Stevie Ray's for live blues; Fourth Street Live! for all kinds of nightlife.

Walks—A stroll against the backdrop of barges and boats on the Ohio River in Waterfront Park; hiking in Cherokee Park; strolling along wide, tree-lined boulevards filled with restored Victorian houses in Old Louisville.

Especially for Kids—The Louisville Zoo; David Armstrong Extreme Park.

Geography

Centered along the northern border of Kentucky, Louisville sits on the southeast bank of the Ohio River in the Bluegrass Region. However, don't look for blue grass when visiting—the term applies to a variety of grass originally used in the area's pastures. The soil is limestone based, and therefore rich in calcium, the secret to strong bones in slender Thoroughbred legs. Louisville is bordered by the river to the north and west, and it is surrounded by a ring of hills called the Knobs in all other directions. The area's rolling plateau becomes more rugged near Louisville, most evident as you drive along some of the major highways into the city center.

History

Founded in 1778 by Revolutionary War hero George Rogers Clark, Louisville was named for King Louis XVI of France in appreciation for his assistance in the war. The city's river location has long been its key to growth. As the steamboat became a new mode of industrial transportation in the early 1800s, Louisville became a hive of industrial activity, and then an important supply and operations base for the Union army during the Civil War. Successive waves of immigrants from Ireland, Germany and Italy arrived in the city by riverboat, establishing a variety of businesses, including factories, breweries, restaurants and bars.

In the latter part of the 19th century, Louisville continued to grow as an economic center of the region as merchants and suppliers moved in, thanks to the expansion of the U.S. railroad system. During this time, John A. "Bud" Hillerich, the son of a local woodworker and an amateur baseball player, saw his hero—a local pro player—break his bat during a game. The boy offered to fashion a new bat, and the Louisville Slugger was born.

Following the repeal of Prohibition in the early 1900s, Joseph Seagram chose Louisville as the location for his distillery—at the time, it was the world's largest. No one industry put Louisville on the map, and today, the city's business leaders hail from industries as diverse as meat packing, health care and financial services. Downtown Louisville is experiencing a renaissance with the revitalization of historic buildings, growth in conventions, tourism and a burgeoning arts scene.

Potpourri

In 2007, Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip attended the 133rd Kentucky Derby and watched Street Sense win the Run for the Roses. The queen wore a lime-green wool coat with a matching silk dress and a lime-green hat with fuchsia trim.

The Louisville Slugger Factory and Museum is home to the world's largest bat. The 120-ft/37-m-tall bat weighs 34 tons and is made of hollow carbon steel.

Approximately 120,000 mint juleps are served during the two days of the Kentucky Oaks and the Kentucky Derby, requiring 1,000 lbs/450 kg of fresh mint and nearly 60,000 lbs/27,000 kg of ice. No word on how much whiskey is needed.

Want to place a winning bet on the Kentucky Derby winner? Then, as the song says, you'd better bet on the bay: More bay horses (47) have won the Derby than any other color. Chestnuts follow close behind, though, with 43 winners to their credit. Another safe bet is to not put your money on a roan; only one out of 133 winners has been that particular shade.

A public art project of ornately decorated horses, called Gallopalooza, lent a bright note of whimsy to Louisville during the summer of 2004. Many businesses sponsored horses and subsequently bought them during a charity auction that raised money for Brightside, Louisville's urban beautification program. Dozens of colorful equines still stand about town.

Louisville claims to be within a day's drive of approximately half of the U.S. population.

Old Louisville boasts the largest authentic Victorian neighborhood in the country as well as the most homes with stained glass. Examples of Victorian Gothic, Arts and Crafts, Richardsonian Romanesque, Queen Anne, Italianate, Chateauesque and beaux arts are found within the 48-block historic area. Walking tours point out the use of leaded and stained-glass windows as well as turrets, gargoyles and wrought-iron fences.

The Frazier History Museum, located on Museum Row downtown, contains the only British Royal Armouries collection in America.

Louisville produces 90% of the country's disco balls.

The Seelbach Hilton Hotel was inspiration for The Muhlbach Hotel in F. Scott Fitzgerald's novel The Great Gatsby.


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