The Ultimate Travel Guide to Louisville and the Kentucky Derby

Posted by Jaclyn Harris on Thu, Dec 18, 2014 @ 09:00 AM

Nestled in the heart of the "Bluegrass State," Louisville is a vibrant city offering an array of attractions and activities, fun for all ages. Referred to as "loo a vul" by locals, this Kentucky city is rich in history and culture, and is no stranger to masses of tourists coming to visit.

Churchill DownsWith the city's major attraction, Churchill Downs, drawing more than 100,000 people from around the globe in for its annual spring meet featuring the Kentucky Oaks and Kentucky Derby, Louisville knows how to entertain its visitors.

From the festive nightlife and official Kentucky Derby parties, the plethora of tours catering toward Kentucky industries, historical landmarks, and restaurants offering a selection of delectable dishes signature to Louisville, there will be no shortage of activities for you to partake in while in town.

But, rather than telling you of all the variety of events the city offers and sending you off to get more information, I'd compiled a list of places you should visit and activities you should participate in while in town. So without further ado, check out the ULTIMATE Travel Guide to Louisville, Kentucky!

Get a Taste of Kentucky

Louisville is home to some restaurants and events which share the delectable tastes native to the city. Here are a few local hotspots you should check out while in town:

  1. Doc Crow's - If you're looking for savory entrees that will melt in your mouth, Doc Crow's Southern Smokehouse and Raw Bar is where you need to be. With selections such as fried oysters, beef brisket, catfish, and po-boys on the menu, there is something for everyone!
  2. Proof on Main - Whether you're seeking breakfast, brunch, lunch, dinner, or dessert, you can find delectable dishes at Proof on Main. With items such as egg white fritattas, shrimp 'n' grits, bison burgers, fresh scallops, and gelati on the menu throughout the day, you can't go wrong.
  3. Jack Fry's - With tasty options paired with live music on the weeknights, Jack Fry's knows how to bring you in with great performances and make you stay for the fantastic food. There's not much better than the delicious, local Louisville dishes on the menu.
  4. Taste of DerbyJeff Ruby's - If you're looking for a classy, but Louisville-true restaurant while in town,
    Jeff Ruby's has what you're looking for. From duck ravioli, filet mignon, fresh lobster, or sushi, there is enough variety for any tastebud. 
  5. Taste of Derby - While it's not a restaurant per se, if you have the opportunity to attend the Taste of Derby Party on Thursday to kick-off the Derby weekend, make it happen! Masterful chefs from around the US will culminate in one location making some of the most mouth-watering dishes you'll ever taste!

Experience the Nightlife & Score Invites to Epic Derby Parties

Louisville is known for it's live music scene and happening nightlife, and when you combine that with the official Kentucky Derby parties coming to town in May, you have all the elements for a night to remember. See a few of the popular evening destinations and the Kentucky Derby parties you don't want to miss:

  1. Fourth Street LIVE! - Located on Fourth Street between Liberty and Muhammad Ali Boulevard, it's the heart of Louisville. From the Hard Rock Cafe, to the Maker's Mark Bourbon House & Lounge, to the Fourth Street LIVE! stage, top musicians come to perform during Derby week.
  2. Kentucky DerbyFillies & Lilies Party - Held immediately following the Kentucky Oaks, Sara Evans will take the stage at the Fillies & Lilies Party performing her top hits LIVE. Guests will be invited to enjoy the open bar and mingle with celebrities as they dance the night away.
  3. Winner's Party - You can't come to Louisville for the Kentucky Derby and not attend the Winner's Party if given the chance! Be there as the winning owner, jockey, horse, and trainer are celebrated and presented with their rings!

See What Louisville, Kentucky is Known For

If you're going to make the trip to Louisville, you can't leave without seeing the two things the Bluegrass State is most known for: its horse farms and its bourbon distilleries! 

  1. Backstretch Tour at Dawn at Churchill Downs - Exclusive to Derby Experiences' clients, the Backstretch Tour will take you to the stables where you can get up close and personal with the horses, trainers, owners, and jockeys.
  2. Private Horse Farm Tours - If you want to know how a working horse farm operates, see their famous stallions or tour the ivy covered grounds of Keeneland, you don't want to miss the opportunity for a private horse farm tour to get behind the fences.
  3. Bourbon Distillery Tours - For more than 200 years, Kentucky's legendary distilleries have crafted the world's finest bourbons. Discover the art itself and taste a few on a
    Bourbon Distillery Tour.
  4. The Best of Kentucky Tour - Want to combine a horse farm tour and a bourbon distillery tour? The Best of Kentucky is what you're looking for!

Get Your Dose of Horse Racing

Last, but certainly not least, if you're planning on making a trip to Louisville and you don't already have attending the Kentucky Oaks and Kentucky Derby on your list of "things to do," it's time to change that. You can't visit the home of the first leg of the Triple Crown Series without attending the Run for the Roses!

With Derby Experiences' Official Ticket Packages to the 145th Kentucky Oaks and Kentucky Derby, we can pair together tickets to both days of racing and VIP in-track hospitality access complete with open beer, wine and soft drinks, complimentary gourmet fare, celebrity jockey meet-and-greets, and much more together for the ultimate Derby experience!

Get more information on how you can plan the trip of a lifetime to Louisville, Kentucky for the 2019 Kentucky Derby by calling 1-888-384-7088 to speak to a representative or visit
Derby Experiences' website for more information.

2020 Kentucky Derby Official Ticket Packages

Topics: Kentucky Derby

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Kristen Doolan

Kristen Doolan was born and raised a Florida State Seminole. Making her way from Florida to North Carolina, Kristen achieved her B.S. in Business Administration, Marketing at The University of North Carolina Wilmington. She is an avid traveler, college football addict, beach bum and loves spending time with her family and friends. 


Jazzy Morgan

Jazzy Morgan is originally from London, England and a die-hard Manchester United Fan. She grew up in Connecticut and made the move down south in 2011 where she attended Winthrop University and received her B.S. in Family & Consumer Sciences and a minor in Marketing. Jazzy enjoys traveling, working out, reading her monthly Vogue & Cosmo and keeping up with fashion trends.


Evan Chronis

Evan Chronis was born in Omaha, Nebraska but has made his home in south Charlotte for almost two decades. A Tar Heel born and bred, Evan received his B.A in Media and Journalism from UNC-Chapel Hill. He is an avid Boston sports fan thanks to his family’s New England roots, and a fanboy of Wes Anderson films.