Louisville, KentuckyBy Allison Reiber DiLiegro
Fun fact: my blog came to be after people were always surprised to learn that I was from Kentucky. I’ve learned to always preface that with “I live in Louisville.” Louisville has gotten quite a lot of attention over the last few years. From being named a Top 10 Food City by National Geographic to our designation as a Top 10 Destination to Visit by Lonely Planet, we’re not a well-kept secret anymore.
A lesser-known fact is that we come in right behind Los Angeles for our percentage of gay residents. Yes, you read that correctly. Louisville has the 11th highest percentage of residents that identify as gay. At 4.5 percent, we’re nearly a full percent over the national average of 3.6. While we’re definitely no San Francisco, yet, the city is as welcoming as they come. That makes Louisville the perfect destination for your next weekend getaway.
Where to Stay
Louisville has grown leaps and bounds over the last five years, and hotels are popping up left and right because of that. But the opening of the AC Hotel by Marriott in NuLu signified a change. It’s the first hotel to open in a neighborhood such as NuLu. The majority of our hotels are downtown, which also has its charm, but having a hotel here makes it easier than ever for guests to experience an authentic Louisville weekend.
NuLu is Louisville’s trendiest neighborhood and the perfect home base for a weekend spent here. From local boutiques like Revelry and Mahonia to Louisville’s best chocolate chip cookies at Please & Thank You, there’s something for everyone on Market Street.
If hotels really aren’t your thing there are also plenty of AirBnb options available in the neighborhood. Stay + Wander Louisville has beautifully appointed properties throughout local-favorite neighborhoods like NuLu, The Highlands and Butchertown.
Where to Eat
Now this is a list that could go on and on and on, but I’ll keep it brief and stick to some local favorites within NuLu. Don’t worry. The majority of our best restaurants are all found on Market Street.
Breakfast is hands down the most important meal of the day, especially before a day of exploring a new town or after a night out on the town. Toast on Market has been a staple in NuLu before it was even called NuLu. Order Toast & Eggs with a side of their Lemon Soufflé pancakes, and thank me later. Quills is a coffee shop at heart but has some of the most delicious breakfast burritos ever.
Maybe breakfast isn’t your thing, or you’re like me and tend to sleep in a little too late. Trust me, I know; it’s easy to do. Make your way to Feast or Royals for a quick and easy lunch. They’re both an order-at-the-counter kind of place, but I promise you won’t regret a single thing you order. Go heavy on the sides at both places. You can’t go wrong with Collard Greens and Mac ’n’ Cheese at Feast or Pimento Cheese Grits and Cucumber Salad at Royals. If tacos are more your thing, Galaxie is going to introduce you to your new favorite “tacos,” and of course, any late lunch wouldn’t be complete without a margarita or two.
Our bars are open until four in the morning meaning that dinner is necessary. Insider tip: opt for a later dinner if you hope to make it until the lights come on. Harvest is my absolute favorite place to send first-time visitors. All their food is grown and sourced in Kentucky, and they’ve got some of the best food in town. Mayan Café is the restaurant pioneer in NuLu, and they’re still serving some delicious Mayan food to this day.
Rye and Decca are perfect for those nights where you want dress up a little and treat yourself to truly one-of-a-kind meals. Decca’s chef, Annie Pettry, has appeared on Bravo’s Top Chef, and Rye’s team has been serving up one of the best cocktail programs in town since 2011.
Order Toast & Eggs with a side of their Lemon Soufflé pancakes, and thank me later.
Where to Play
Now the real fun begins, and what Louisvillians do the best. It’s time to have a little fun. Start your night at Garage Bar by either playing ping pong with some locals or just enjoy the people-watching. Their beverage menu is long and focuses mainly on bourbon, as it should. You can’t go wrong with a Ginger Shandy with bourbon or their District 8.
Depending on what tickles your fancy the night can go one of two ways. Galaxie turns into one of the best dance floors once the sun sets, and I’ve spent many a night dancing there until the lights come on. PLAY Louisville is also a short walk or two-minute ride share from NuLu and boasts one of the best drag shows you’ll ever experience.