If you had asked me a few weeks ago to name some cool vacation destinations in the United States, Kentucky would not have made the list. However, after my recent trip to Louisville, I have to say that it’s one of my favorite places I’ve ever visited. As I mentioned in a previous post, I went with a friend to the Kentucky Derby. Going into the trip, I fully expected my favorite thing about it to be the Derby itself, but I was pleasantly surprised to find that I enjoyed the town just as much as the Derby. The coffee and restaurant scenes are incredible, and local art and music seem to have a big presence there. I found myself saying over and over throughout the trip, “Everything’s just so cool!”
Side note: Because I wasn’t allowed to bring my camera to the Derby, I didn’t bring it to Kentucky at all, which was so so foolish. All photos were taken with my iPhone and edited with VSCO, so excuse the quality.
The Walking Bridge
There is a walking bridge over the Ohio River that connects Kentucky to Indiana. During the day, people walk across the bridge for exercise or leisure; some people ride their bikes across it; and musicians sit on the benches and play music for tips, which I love. From the bridge, you can look out over all of Louisville, and at night, it is lit up with colored lights.
Silver Dollar is a really cool restaurant and bar that is located in a renovated firehouse. It combines all the things I love: old buildings, good food, and cute decor. I ordered the fried catfish, and my friend got the chicken and waffles. Both were incredible. We loved the restaurant so much that we went twice, once for dinner and once to sit on the patio and drink Mexican cokes.
On our last day in town, we stopped by Gralehaus for brunch. They serve really good lattes and biscuits, and the outdoor seating area looks like it came right out of an issue of Kinfolk. Again, a combination of everything I love. I would definitely recommend stopping by not only for the good food and coffee, but the cool atmosphere and Instagram opportunities. Sweet Surrender
You can bet money that if there’s a dessert store in my general vicinity, I’ll make a visit. You can bet even more money that if there are fairy lights on the deck of said dessert store, I’ll definitely, no doubt about it make a visit. I was pretty full after my dinner at Silver Dollar, but I couldn’t resist picking up a macaron from Sweet Surrender.
I love record stores and listening to music on my record player, so I had to browse Guestroom Records, right next to Sweet Surrender and across the street from Silver Dollar. They have a $1 record section, where I picked up a Nat King Cole record and Elton John’s Greatest Hits. They also have free stickers, and if that doesn’t convince you to go, I don’t know what will.
Nord’s Bakery is a donut shop. Need I say more? If you tell them it’s your first time visiting, they’ll give you a box of free donuts in addition to your purchase, which is such a nice gesture. I ate way too many donuts over the course of the trip, but they were just so good. Way better than Krispy Kreme. Seriously, have you ever heard of a bacon donut? Quills Coffee
Probably my favorite thing about Louisville is its coffee scene. Y’all know that I love coffee and independent coffee shops, of which Louisville has several. Our first morning in town, my friend and I stopped by Quills upon recommendation, and we weren’t disappointed. I ordered the Cafe Miel, which if I understand correctly, is specific to Louisville. The decor is also right up my alley. On the walls, there are prints from a local letterpress and band posters. 21C
21C is a modern art gallery on the bottom floor of a hotel in downtown Louisville. It’s open 24 hours, so you can walk around at any hour of the day. There’s also a restaurant on the bottom floor, so if you’re into really expensive, really small meals, you could do that too. We went on the night of the Derby, and it was packed. Some sections were blocked off for Derby parties, so we couldn’t see everything, but the things we did see were really cool. Below I included pictures of my two favorite pieces.
The Derby was the whole reason for the trip, so of course I had to include it. I don’t know very much about horse racing, but getting dressed up and hanging out at Churchill Downs is a fun experience regardless. My friend and I brought blankets and found a grassy spot where we could watch the races. It was an all-day event, and I, of course, got a sunburn, but I think the Derby is definitely worth doing at least once, if only to feel really fancy for a day. What are your favorite places to visit?