Louisville, Kentucky is a terrific town for food and coffee, museums and parks, and of course – cocktail bars and distilleries! Planning a trip there soon? Here are some of the best things to do in Louisville!
Quills Coffee is a local favorite for fresh-roasted beans, espresso, brewed coffee, and other goodies. They have five locations around Louisville (plus ones in Indianapolis and Prospect, Kentucky).
One of our favorites is the NuLu location, built out in an old firehouse. It’s an ideal stop if you need a quiet moment or want to start a day of exploring Louisville. (Get a look at their Baxter Avenue location here.)
Learn more: quillscoffee.com
The newly established North of Bourbon is a beautiful and cozy spot that combines a dynamic bourbon selection with New Orleans-inspired eats.
The bourbon list easily tops 300 selections at any given time.
And the food is stellar. It ranges from seafood gumbo to oysters, pork boudin balls to a country ham plate.
Learn more: northofbourbon.com
It should be no surprise that Louisville is full of great cocktail and bourbon bars. Many of them offer unique experiences like classes, tastings, and tours.
At Prohibition Craft Spirits you can take a cocktail class to learn the basics, then hit up the bar afterwards!
Learn more: prohibitioncraftspirits.com
Start your day off on the right foot with a great breakfast! Locals will point you to Blue Dog Bakery & Cafe as a favorite.
Blue Dog is a bustling little cafe and bakery on Frankfort Avenue that serves up coffee, fresh breads and pastries, and hearty breakfasts focused around sandwiches and tartines.
Learn more: bluedogbakeryandcafe.com
After breakfast at Blue Dog, take time to stroll Frankfort Avenue, with a solid collection of shops, boutiques, and restaurants.
There you’ll find everything from record stores to art galleries, coffee shops and breweries, antique havens to salons. If you’re still hungry, there are plenty of options for dining from sushi to Mexican, Mediterranean to Thai. Might we recommend brunch at The Silver Dollar?
Louisville lands solidly within the bounds of the popular Kentucky Bourbon Trail, with stops like Angel’s Envy, Kentucky Peerless, Copper & Kings. One of our favorites is Rabbit Hole Distillery and its state-of-the-art facility downtown.
You can visit the ground-floor bottle shop or book a tour of Rabbit Hole, but we recommend a stop at their Overlook cocktail bar and tasting room on the third floor. It offers lovely views of downtown Louisville while you sample their bourbons and ryes or sip a cocktail.
Learn more: rabbitholedistillery.com
Not too far away, Old Forrester Distilling Co. offers tours, tastings, a full cocktail bar, and classes at its facility.
The space mixes historic elements with modern amenities very well, and includes a cocktail bar, bottle shop, and views of the towering stills.
The neighborhood around Old Forrester, lined with more bars and restaurants, invites even more exploration.
Learn more: oldforester.com/distillery
If you know the way to go in the Omni Louisville Hotel downtown, you may just find your way into an underground speakeasy… with a bowling alley.
Pin + Proof in the Omni Hotel features a full cocktail bar, an interesting lineup of bar snacks, and if you’re so inclined – a couple bowling lanes where you can throw a few strikes. Mark it eight, Dude.
Learn more: omnihotels.com/hotels/louisville/dining/pin-and-proof
North Louisville, or NuLu (also known as the East Market District) features a hip collection of shops, restaurants, bars, distilleries, historic properties, and much more.
Just north of it is Butchertown (home to the Butchertown Grocery Bakery), where you can spy a house where Thomas Edison briefly lived early in his professional life.
NuLu is where you’ll find spots we’ve already mentioned like Quills Coffee and Rabbit Hole Distillery.
Many of the streets are lined with historic buildings, some of which have been converted into AirBnbs that are perfect options for your stay.
Learn more: nulu.org
In the heart of NuLu you’ll discover one of the must-visit stops for dinner: La Bodeguita de Mima, a beautiful Cuban restaurant and rum bar in a gigantic old home.
La Bodeguita’s menu ranges from empanadas to tostones relleños, arroz con pollo to ropa vieja. It’s highly recommended you make reservations for dinner.
Learn more: labodeguitademima.com
The Butchertown Grocery Bakery offers another perfect option for starting your day.
The corner bakery and cafe features great coffee, fresh pastries, breakfast sandwiches.
Learn more: facebook.com/butchertowngrocery
There are plenty of great places to stop all around Louisville. On our most recent trip we stopped by Woodford Reserve in Versailles for a quick tasting.
Woodford’s property is located in a scenic valley, and offers tours of its historic spaces plus a modern bottle shop and cocktail bar where you can sample their offerings.
Learn more: woodfordreserve.com/our-distillery
If you’re anywhere in bourbon country, a tour of Castle & Key Distillery is an absolute must. The eclectic grounds feature a rich history, with a collection of historic buildings, gardens, and gathering spaces. And their bourbon and gin are superb.
Read full details in Uncovering the Rich History of Castle and Key Distillery: A Journey Through Time and Bourbon!
Just down from Castle & Key sits The Stave, an easy-to-underestimate roadside stop with a surprising bourbon selection and dynamic Southern-inspired menus.
At The Stave you’ll find rare bourbons and interesting cocktails, house-made pimento cheese, catfish and grits, hot honey fried chicken, and more.
Learn more: kentuckyprojects.wixsite.com/thestaveky/
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