Tri Travel: Louisville, Kentucky
An insider's take on this weekend's Southern Ironman host cityAugust 23, 2011
Churchill Downs/Photo by Tabitha Kaylee Hawk
Louisville. Home of the Kentucky Derby—part one of the Triple Crown, or as they say, the fastest two minutes in sports—is playing host to Ironman this Sunday, August 28.
Talkin’ local, pretend your mouth is full of mashed potatoes when you say it: Luevle. No self-respecting native puts Louie in the name, nor is any native from Kentucky. They’re from Louisville, or LVL.
Next, and maybe more importantly, is whether you bleed blue or red. There are two distinctive groups here. It’s eerily similar to the Hatfield’s and McCoy’s. You are either a U of L fan or a Kentucky fan and the two don’t mix. I know a lady who bought a beautiful house with a red door. She informed her husband that before they moved one piece of furniture in to it the front door had to be repainted. It was, you guessed it, Kentucky blue.
How do I know so much about this fine city? Is it because Louisville is only an hour and half drive from Infinit, just up the road in Cincinnati? No, that’s not the reason. My ex-husband is from Louisville so for 12 years it was a second home. The good news for you is that I can steer you in the right direction for things to do and see.
If you’ve never been, you simply must go. If nothing else, at least do a drive-by. Those steeples are so famous as are so many of the horses that have raced there that it would be a shame not to at least gawk. I’ll be honest that on non-Derby days it’s not all that exciting but it’s a definite bucket-list item. Next to the bourbon and Kentucky Fried Chicken, this is probably the thing the city is most famous for.
Waterfront Park – The Great Lawn
Waterfront Park is the city’s 85-acre park that connects the city to the Ohio Rover. Waterfront Park is also a place where you’ll find yourself race day because it serves as the swim start and the swim-to-bike transition area. Before the race, the park is a great place to take the family or spend an afternoon. There are three main attractions in the park:
The Wharf is home to the Belle of Louisville as well as its sister boat the Spirit of Jefferson. The Belle of Louisville is one of six river steamboats still in operation. The riverboat with its huge paddle wheel allows passengers to cruise the Ohio River as in the old days. Each ship has varying cruises from short day cruises to dinner cruises. Log onto belleoflouisville.org to look at the schedule for both boats and make reservations.
Adventure Playground is an area to take the kids especially on a hot day. Mom or dad can get acclimated to the area for the race while the kids cool off in the water and burn off some energy of their own. It’s one of the many things that make the Waterfront Park so enjoyable for families.
Art in the Park: Waterfront Park is home to famed artist Ed Hamilton’s sculpture of Abraham Lincoln. Second only to the sculpture in Washington of the former president, this sculpture is part civic lesson, part art. In addition, other sculptures by famous artist dot the park from the Flock of Finns to the abstract Gracehopper. Take some time to explore this outdoor gallery.
Gallopalooza: Louisville’s Sidewalk Derby
Cincinnati had painted flying pigs adorning its downtown so it’s only fitting that Louisville has horses. The fanciful painted sculptures sprang up all over the city in 2009, and many still remain. There are 132 life-sized horses to be found, which capture the spirit of the city and the imagination of their creators. Log on to gallopalooza.com and look for the horse locator icon on the right side to find a horse near you—or make an adventure out of it and see how many you can find.
325 Main Street
If you live in Cincinnati you know Jeff Ruby’s. His restaurants are everywhere and some of the most premiere dining establishments in the city. The restaurant king headed south to Louisville and opened up another fine establishment. If you are looking for killer atmosphere along with killer steaks (and if price is not a worry), Jeff Ruby’s is the place to go. As a vegetarian, I’ve had some of my best dinners at his restaurants for he and his chefs do not disappoint. Louisville Magazine named it the best upscale steakhouse in the city.
Maker’s Mark Bourbon House and Lounge
Part of Fourth Street Live Entertainment District
Kentucky is famous for its bourbon as well as its horses. No other brand is more famous than Maker’s Mark. In case you are not familiar with it I’ll share a little tale: Maker’s Mark is the premiere bourbon with the signature red wax seal. Bill Samuel’s—the grand- or godfather of Maker’s Mark—used to be able to look at a bottle and be able to tell which of three ladies dipped the seal. There were at a time only three people who did this (or so the story goes) with their own unique style, and Mr. Samuel’s could pinpoint their signature style with his signature wax seal.
Today they have a ‘House and Lounge’ that is home to over 60 distilled bourbons. The cool thing is, the House and Lounge is filled with more history and tales. The company has an ambassador program but the House has a guest bartender program. Visit their website and learn how you can register to guest bartend.
The food looks good, too. From a Warm Goat Cheese Skillet appetizer to lots of steaks and a Maker’s Mark BBQ Ribs special, you can’t go wrong soaking in some Louisville here.
Part of the Fourth Street Live Entertainment District
I like the name of a place that tells you exactly what it is. The Pub is a British Pub to be exact, offering your classic pub fare: Beer Cheese, Cheese Bullocks, and of course, Fish and Chips. Pub food is the perfect post-race grub to either celebrate a great race (cause you had Infinit, right?!) or a poor race in which you learned something.
Kentucky Fried Chicken
I could not in all fairness to Louisville write a dining guide if I didn’t include Kentucky Fried Chicken. Colonel Sanders and his famous white beard? Take the kids for lunch. But I’ll confess in all my trips south, I have never been, nor known anyone to go grab some chicken from the Colonel. If you want to immerse yourself in lipids then grab a bucket, some biscuits and coleslaw. They are just about everywhere.
Old Louisville Coffee House
1489 South Fourth Street – on the Corner of Fourth and Hill
Coffee, tea, sandwiches, pastries, gifts, artwork and live music events. To me it looks charming with lots of personal service. The key, although, is always good coffee. Try it and let me know.
S Preston Street
I can smell the coffee brewing all the way up here. Wait, that’s the coffee brewing facility across the street. Anyhow, here is another place to try where they roast their own coffee. (I always like these types of places.) Pay them a visit and take in all the aroma and flavor you can.
Sweet Surrender Dessert Café
1804 Frankfort Ave
Sweet Surrenders, like The Pub, puts it all in the title. As I was reading through the menu I was ready to surrender and get in my car and drive for 90 minutes to try some Belgian Chocolate Cake or Mocha Concord. They even have a Mint Julep Cake. I’ve had a Mint Julep drink and Derby Pie but never Mint Julep Cake. This is a seasonal cake so I am assuming I need to head there for Derby … and I will. For the diet-conscious, Sweet Surrenders offers half cake slices during lunch. For those looking for a little romantic after-dinner dessert, they offer an ‘intimate’ courtyard and patio seating. Make sure you go before race day—and no half slices! When you’re eating something this good, just go for it. Closed Sunday and Monday.
909 E Market Street
Here at Infinit we share a lot in common with this bakery. We’re both all-natural, and delicious. They supply goods (to The Breeder’s Cup) and so do we (to Garmin-Cervelo). Our tag line is “custom-blended Nutrition Solutions.” Theirs is “feel good about eating sweet delights.” (I don’t know about you but I always feel good eating sweets; it’s how I feel after that isn’t always good!)
Cake Flour offers baked goods and quiches. They also have common bakery items, from breads and cakes to cookies and bars. Check out the 60-proof brownie if you go. No, it isn’t alcohol but made from 60 percent cocoa. Wow. Take your family or friends, and give everyone a sugar high.
Laurie Walter is a personal trainer, avid cyclist, and runner, as well as the “Chief Nut Gatherer” for Infinit Nutrition. Formerly, she worked in promotions and publicity for studios like Warner Bros. and Columbia TriStar but decided to pursue a career that paid her to run and ride. Her current job allows her to combine her marketing experience with her love for endurance sports. In her spare time, she serves as an elected official in Milford, Ohio.