We moved to Louisville three days after we eloped in late July 2016. Since we both had two weeks after moving before our jobs started, the hashtag #phoneymoon was employed more than once as we familiarized ourselves with our new home.
Our short-term rental was in the Highlands, and our bungalow (that we bungalove) is in Germantown/Schnitzelburg, but biking around town helped us orient ourselves quickly, understanding how the many neighborhoods of Louisville interconnect.
LouLift now has a fare-free route from Downtown to Churchill Downs, in addition to their established fare-free route from Downtown to Nulu, making it easy to traverse a lot of ground without a car.
We love our new city and have learned a lot in the two years we’ve been here. As Airbnb Superhosts, we regularly play tour guide to our guests and wanted to share some of what we’ve learned with you, too.
Since it’s fall, we thought we’d highlight some of the outdoor gems and suggestions for a weekend in Louisville.
11:30 a.m. Start with lunch in one of the shipping containers at Royals Hot Chicken (736 E. Market) in Nulu. Despite the meat-forward name, there is also stellar Southern Fried Tofu ($9, with one side—I recommend the pinto beans & kale with benne). Perry’s go-to is the 2-piece Jumbo Chicken Tenders (hot) with spicy potato wedges and Green Goddess dipping sauce ($7.5). I prefer the Feast BBQ sauce myself. If you’re into day-drinking, the bourbon slushies are beloved, and there’s an 8 oz. option, so you don’t have to commit to a 16 oz.
1 p.m. Continue with the shipping container theme, and go on a distillery tour at Copper & Kings (1121 E. Washington St.). Copper & Kings does sonic-aging, so you get to experience some of the barrels’ playlist on your tour. Though bourbon is king is Lousville, this brandy (and absinthe) distillery easily holds its own. You can get samples in the machine in the gift shop if you don’t feel like committing to a tour.
2:30 p.m. Go play some games of ping pong at Garage Bar (700 E. Market) on its cool tables made out of repurposed car parts. You purchase balls from a quarter machine inside. The pizza at Garage Bar is delicious, too–we recommend adding fried kale or arugula to your pie.
5 p.m. Take a free guided docent tour of the latest contemporary art exhibit at 21c (700 W. Main). Arrive a little early and go to the charmingly wallpapered bar for a cocktail or beer to accompany you on the tour.
6:30 p.m. Leave Kentucky. By that, I mean: take a stroll across the Big Four Bridge that joins Louisville and Jeffersonville, IN. The lore is that it’s a mile wide (in fact, Mile Wide Brewery celebrates this lore with its name). There are bike rentals available near the entry ramp if you’d prefer to ride. My mom and I rented a 2-seater trike on one of her visits.
7:30 p.m. Play some giant Jenga in the beer garden at Parlour (131 W. Chestnut) and have a pizza, too.
10 p.m. Go have a cocktail in one of the secret rooms in the speakeasy-style bar Hell or High Water (112 W. Washington). You’ll need to make a reservation for this. Once you arrive at the address, look for the round light–this is the entrance (it’s unmarked otherwise). All the bartenders and servers dress in ‘20s attire; if you want to play along, rent flapper-wear or a suit at Nitty Gritty Vintage & Costumes (996 Barrett Ave).
8 a.m. Grab a coffee and sit among the terrariums at Safai (1707 Bardstown Rd.).
9 a.m. Go to the Parklands at Floyds Fork and rent a bike for a morning ride. The paved greenway takes you over bridges and streams and through fields and tree-canopied stretches. The mile markers make it easy to track your ride, too. Have a picnic at the farm table at the silo and climb up the silo for a good view, too.
12 p.m. Don’t eat too much at that picnic though so you’ll be hungry for brunch at Chik’n Mi (2319 Old Brownsboro Rd.). Perry loves the Cure ($15), a biscuit and gravy bowl that includes bacon, sausage, and the best breakfast potatoes in town. I toggle between the Scrambled Tofu and Cauliflower ($14) and the Spicy Garlic Vegetarian Ramen ($14). If you do the “make it spicy” option ($1), ask for the spicy paste on the side, as a little goes a very long way (and a dab too much risks ruining your meal).
2 p.m. Wander through some of the cool antique shops—we recommend Crazy Daisy (1430 Mellwood Ave.) and Joe Ley (615 E. Market). It’s possible there will also be a Flea Off Market going on.
5 p.m. Go play some cards or board games at the aforementioned Mile Wide Brewery (636 Barrett Ave.), Falls City Brewing Co. (901 E. Liberty), or the music-themed Gravely Brewery (514 Baxter); all have nice outdoor seating and a good game selection. Local favorite Mayan Café has a food truck set up at Gravely, too. If you go to Gravely, you’ll also get the chance to join in with the rest of us who have photographed the brewery’s great neon sign.
7:30 p.m. Get an outdoor table at the colorfully-lit honky tonk bar and restaurant Silver Dollar (1761 Frankfurt Ave.). It’s in an old fire station and features a range of food, from a beer-can hen to a vegan sloppy joe to chicken livers to vegan “meatloaf.” The Hearts on Fire is our favorite cocktail—a spicy whisky drink. Bonus: you’ll get to hear some sweet music—a Dolly Parton or Patsy Cline album, perhaps.
10 p.m. Check out a show at Zanzabar (2100 S. Preston), Headliners Music Hall (1386 Lexington Rd.), Odeon (1335 Story Ave.), or Mercury Ballroom (611 S. 4th St.). Zanzabar has great pinball machines, and Odeon has a mean shag carpet that will make you feel transported to the living room your grandparents never had.
If you’re at Mercury Ballroom, then you can also stop in for a mini-umbrella-clad drink at the Limbo (411 W. Chestnut), a nearby tiki bar.
If you’re not quite ready to call it a night, have a nightcap and an Underberg digestif at beloved Germantown dive Nachbar (969 Charles St.). This place has the best jukebox in town, and you may even get the chance to pet a neighborhood cat who likes to wander in and hang out at the bar. You can often catch a free show here, including old-time music jam sessions with the Kentucky Round-ups.
10 a.m. Get brunch at Lydia House (1101 Lydia St.), a bar and restaurant in the old Germantown haunt Flabby’s, whose signage you’ll still see decorating the bar. You may see me there, eating vegan kimchi tacos ($10), alongside Perry, eating the Classic (sausage patties or bacon, two eggs, and potatoes, $10)—Perry likes to sub bacon for eggs so he can have both house-made sausage and bacon.
12 p.m. Take advantage of the Free Owsley Sundays at the Speed Art Museum. There’s a parking garage right beside the museum. Grab a to-go coffee and dessert (perhaps a house-made pop-tart) at Wiltshire Café in the museum before getting on the road or going a little further down the road to Churchill Downs (704 Central Ave.) for a visit to the tracks and/or to the Kentucky Derby Museum. If you do the museum, tack on the behind the scenes walking tour ($15 extra)—it’s well worth it, and you’ll likely get to interact with some jockeys, horses, and trainers. The last behind the scenes walking tour starts at 2:30 p.m. on Sundays.