Wanderlust: Louisville, KY

Celebrate the regions barbecue and bourbon traditions with a healthy dose of culture to boot.

 

 

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IN ITS GENTLE AND OH-SO-SOUTHERN WAY, Louisville upends the touristy temptation to “do” a city by packing in as much as possible. It’s a city to contemplate, not conquer, starting with the best-known attraction: whiskey. A third of the world’s bourbon comes from the Louisville area, and properly enjoying the spirit takes time‰ÛÓthink sips, not shots. Case in point: The recommended time to drive the nine-distillery Kentucky Bourbon Trail is three days.

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Once the contemplative mindset takes hold, it’s easy to carry it with you to other Louisville landmarks. There’s horse racing at Churchill Downs, baseball (and baseball bat production at the famous Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory), the nation’s largest urban forest and more than 100 picturesque parks, especially along the scenic Ohio River. The quintessential Southern cuisine, barbecue, spends hours in the smoker‰ÛÓgiving creative chefs plenty of time to think about innovative combinations like the Asian fusion at MilkWood. Right next to fried chicken is butternut mapo tofu, a spicy Chinese dish with edamame and rice

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It’s less time-intensive to visit the Urban Bourbon Trail, an app-guided bar crawl through downtown’s best drinking establishments. One mile-marker is Proof on Main, located inside of 21c Museum Hotel and featuring more than 75 bourbons‰ÛÓsome of which are bottled exclusively for the restaurant. While contemplating the whiskey, customers can gaze at exceptional art exhibits also in the hotel (more on that in a moment). For a different kind of art experience, visit Proof on Main’s sister establishment, Garage Bar, where an installation depicting a slow-motion car collision is a commentary on action-packed moments and the viewer’s own mortality. It’s best observed over a bourbon, but the former mechanic shop stocks a vast array of bottled and draft beers too.

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Once the contemplative mindset takes hold, it’s easy to carry it with you to other Louisville landmarks. There’s horse racing at Churchill Downs, baseball (and baseball bat production at the famous Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory), the nation’s largest urban forest and more than 100 picturesque parks, especially along the scenic Ohio River. The quintessential Southern cuisine, barbecue, spends hours in the smoker‰ÛÓgiving creative chefs plenty of time to think about innovative combinations like the Asian fusion at MilkWood. Right next to fried chicken is butternut mapo tofu, a spicy Chinese dish with edamame and rice

 

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