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Old Louisville is one of America's finest neighborhoods. It is known to have some of the best examples of Victorian architecture in the entire country and walking along its charming streets is always a delight. The area roughly encompasses the area between Broadway in the north to Cardinal Boulevard at the University of Louisville in the south. Along the parallel 2nd, 3rd and 4th Streets visitors will see many preserved Italianate, Romanesque and Queen Anne homes and buildings, one of note is the Conrad-Caldwell House Museum. Other gems within the district are St. James Court, Belgravia Court and Central Park, where it literally feels as if you've traveled back to 1870.
Leaning like an all-American obelisk on its building, the Louisville Slugger Museum's signature giant-size baseball bat is recognized as the biggest piece of ash that will never see any action on the diamond. Inside the facility, visitors are treated to a baseball experience that details the history of this iconic Major League Baseball fixture since 1884. The best part is the 30-minute tour of the factory floor, where you'll see real Sluggers being crafted out of raw timber. When you enter, sign up for the chance to obtain your own signature bat, it will be ready by the time you leave.
The Kentucky Derby, held annually at the fabulous Churchill Downs, is often said to be 'The Most Exciting Two Minutes in Sports.' The museum, which is located just outside the racecourse, elaborately presents the history of this racing tradition through more than 20,000 items that have been collected since its inception in 1875. Exhibits include trophies, sculptures, photographs and paintings along with Derby souvenirs and the private collections of former horse trainers and jockeys. Tours can be made with the museum to visit the hallowed grounds of Churchill Downs as well.
A world-renowned racecourse commemorating Henry Churchill, the Churchill Downs is the holy grail for aficionados of horse racing. Spread across more than 140 acres (56 hectares), the track rekindled Louisville's hope for horse racing after two of the city's favorite venues were shut down. Since its inception in 1875, the Kentucky Derby has prospered on this track garnering many raves from jockeys and equestrian sports lovers from across the globe. Featuring more than 70 luxury suites, the interior of the site is decorated with murals of Kentucky Derby winners thus celebrating the augustness and exclusivity of the sport. A museum, stables and a clubhouse are also a part of the Thoroughbred racetrack's extensive layout.
Whether you are a whiskey connoisseur or not, if you want to try a bit of one of Kentucky's main exports, then the Evan Williams Bourbon Experience is a must visit. This establishment is named after Kentucky's pioneering distiller and offers an insight into Williams' life and work. A guided tour of the distillery features an audio-visual interactive exhibition on the history of bourbon and its how distillers turn corn into this smooth swill loved all around the world. At the end of the tour, sample some different varieties as well as some small-batch versions, then take home unique souvenirs like bourbon mustard, maple syrup and toffee.
The Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Historical Park is a must visit when in the city of Louisville. Even though its closer to the village of Elizabethtown, if you enjoy American history, the site merits the one-hour trip south of the city. On the premises, visitors can see a replica of the iconic log cabin where the country's 16th President was born back in 1809 as well different farm sites and a memorial building. In addition to remembering this honorable president, the natural wonders of Knob Creek and Sinking Spring are remarkable places to visit if you enjoy American whiskey.
Explore Louisville Mega Cavern in a historic tram where you ride through 17 miles (27 km) of dark passageways beneath the city of Louisville. Learn about geology, history, mining techniques, recycling and green business technology as well as witness where 50,000 people would have sheltered during the Cold War Era. You can also go on 'Mega Zips', an adventure tour that features five underground zip-lines, three challenge bridges and over two hours of adrenaline. Another great tour only offered from November through December is 'Lights Under Louisville'. This underground holiday light show is perfect for the season, where guests drive through an underground passageway festooned with holiday lights.
The Louisville Zoo is quite possibly one of the most underrated zoos in the world. Though somewhat modest in size, in is nonetheless home to a bevy of beautiful beasts. Some include camels, baby elephants, tigers, rhinos and even polar bears. The zoo also features different special exhibits. 'Glacier Run' presents arctic animals while 'Gorilla Forest' and 'Lorikeet Landing' are self-explanatory. The tiger feedings are also an attraction that highlight the nature of this apex predator. Here, guests are invited to walk a few yards away from a mesh-covered opening as the animal feeds on its lunch.
The largest independent producer of bourbon in the United States, this distillery provides whiskey lovers an opportunity to explore the history of America's very own grain alcohol made almost exclusively from corn. In today's market, a larger conglomerate holding group owns nearly every distillery, yet Heaven Hill remains one of a few lone wolves in Kentucky that still run things according to 'ma and pa's' methodology. The distillers follow the same time-honored traditions just as they did when they filled their first barrel in 1935, albeit in more modern conditions. Moreover, the distillery is not only known for bourbon, here guests can also find vodka, rum, brandy and even tequila.