When you think of Louisville, Kentucky, chances are you think of the world famous Kentucky Derby. This legendary horse race run at Churchill Downs has put this town on the map, but it’s just one of their many attractions. Louisville is home to incredible culture, museums, restaurants, distilleries, and so much more. While you could easily spend a week in this booming town, 48 hours is enough time to be charmed and dazzled - and leave wanting more.
Here’s what we think you should do, if you only have the weekend in Louisville:
Kick off your weekend with dinner at Neighborhood Services, one of Louisville's newest culinary hot spots. They take a modern twist on old Kentucky favorites, like “Hot Brown Tots”, “BBQ’d Shrimp & Cheddar Grits”, and their signature “NHS Fried Chicken Sandwich”. Wash it all down with some Kentucky Bourbon or one of their house cocktails (we loved the Barrel Aged Old Fashioned), and you’re off to a great start!
If you’re in the mood for another drink, walk a couple blocks down to the Haymarket Whiskey Bar, where you’ll find one of the most extensive whiskey lists in town (nearly 400 whiskeys, and 250 bourbons)! Set in a building that dates back to 1885, this lively bar is a favorite among locals, and has been named a top whiskey bar by Thrillist and Travel + Leisure.
Located in the heart of the downtown, Omni Louisville is our pick for a central and stylish place to stay. From the grand and opulent lobby of this 612-room luxury hotel, to the spacious rooms and stunning rooftop pool, it’s an urban oasis. Not to mention they’re home to some incredible restaurants (including Neighborhood Services) and even a speakeasy bowling alley (but we’ll share more about that later)!
Louisville knows good coffee, and one of the best spots in town for a strong cappuccino or oat milk latte is Please & Thank You. It’s the perfect pick me up after a night on the town, and the eclectic ambiance doesn’t hurt either! (We suggest grabbing one of their famous chocolate cookies for later, too.)
Across the street from Please & Thank You is Wild Eggs, a breakfast institution that’s famous for their egg dishes (obviously) and decadent breakfast options. Grab a table or a spot at their circular breakfast bar, and be sure to try their “Everything Muffin”, it’s like the bagel - but better!
No trip to Louisville is complete without a visit to Churchill Downs, even if it isn’t racing season! The Kentucky Derby Museum gives a comprehensive look at the history of the Kentucky Derby, through hands-on exhibits, a 360 degree video experience, and a walking tour around the property. You’ll leave inspired and in awe of this iconic sport, and if you’re like us, you’ll be adding the Kentucky Derby to your bucket list!
One of the newest distilleries in downtown Louisville is Michter’s Fort Nelson Distillery. Their Discovery Tour is $20 and lasts about an hour, and gives guests the ability to see the whiskey production process first-hand, and enjoy a whiskey tasting and cocktail demonstration. Their facility is state-of-the-art, their guides are knowledgeable, and the whiskey is strong… what more could you want? (You can make a reservation in advance here.)
Just down the street is the Mussel & Burger Bar, where you can grab a late lunch of some of the finest burgers in town! We recommend the “C.E.O”, a burger topped with Gruyere cheese, truffle aioli, caramelized onions, baby arugula, and oven roasted tomatoes. It’s served with some of the largest fries we’ve ever seen - and it’s finger-lickin’ good!
Walk off your lunch with a tour of the Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory - where you’ll learn about the history and the making of the famous Louisville Slugger Baseball Bats! You can hold bats used by baseball superstars like Mickey Mantle and Derek Jeter, see the world’s biggest bat, and take a swing for yourself in their batting cages!
One of Louisville’s most iconic culinary specialties is the “Hot Brown”, and while many-a-restaurant serve it, the best and original Hot Brown sandwich can be found at The historic Brown Hotel. Their Lobby Bar is elegant and classy, and makes for the perfect setting to enjoy this classic comfort food. What’s a Hot Brown, you ask? It’s an open-faced turkey and bacon sandwich, baked in a heavenly Mornay sauce. It’s rich, and hearty, and the portions are large. We highly suggest sharing one!
Head back to the Omni Louisville for drinks and late night bowling at their in-house speakeasy, Pin & Proof. We won’t tell you where it is (that’s part of the fun), but we will say that they make a mean old fashioned. And it’s definitely one of the most unique and innovative bowling alleys we’ve seen in awhile!
Brunch and sunday morning is like peanut butter and jelly. It just makes sense. So start your Sunday morning at Porch Kitchen & Bar, where they dish up a delightful mix of decadent comfort food and fresh and healthy cuisine. Order a glass of the Lean Green to counteract their “Everything” Cake Donuts, and then try their Egg White Omelet or Quinoa & Green Veggie Scrambled Eggs… all of it is delicious!
Let your food settle for a bit, then make a b-line for the Louisville Mega Cavern, home to the world’s only fully underground zip line - the Mega Zip! You’ll fly through six underground zip lines, scale two challenge bridges, and learn the history of this man-made cavern. There’s over 17 miles of underground passageways deep beneath Louisville, and it’s truly a marvel to witness - especially by zip line!
Chances are you’ll have worked up an appetite after braving the Mega Zip, and we know the perfect spot! Indulge in some fried chicken and fixings at The Eagle, in the trendy and eclectic Highlands neighborhood. Make sure you try their Spoon Bread and Mac & Cheese, and if it’s a nice day, sit outside on their patio!
After you’re done with lunch, take a walk along the Highlands neighborhood, where you’ll find several murals, local bars and shops, and picturesque tree-lined streets with colorful (and historic) homes.
Make your way back to downtown Louisville, for an Old Forester Distillery Tour. Not only will you learn about their distilling and bottling process, you’ll also see first-hand how their oak barrels are made. And, of course, you’ll get to taste some of their award-winning craft bourbons for yourself! (You can make a reservation in advance here.)
We can’t think of a better meal to end the weekend, then good ol’ Southern BBQ at Doc Crow’s! They have everything from BBQ ribs, brisket, collared greens, hushpuppies, grits, and more… and it’s a lively and casual environment no matter what night of the week it is! “The Perfect Old Fashioned” is not to be missed here, but make sure you save room for at least one more cocktail at...
Hell or High Water is a speakeasy located around the corner from Doc Crow’s, and it’s definitely worth a visit. Look for a small Curio Shop (there’s no signage), and knock on the door. You’ll be escorted into an underground labyrinth that will have you feel as though you’ve stepped back in time. It’s a cocktail experience unlike anything else in town, and reservations are strongly recommended. (You can do so here.)
This 48-hour itinerary is barely scratching the surface of all that there is to do in and around Louisville, but it’s a great place to start. Leave a comment and let us know what we’ve missed, and what we should do when we return!