Team Dwellsy was incredibly lucky to catch up with Rachel, a transplant to Louisville, KY last week. Rachel is quick to admit that she was reluctant to move to Louisville five years ago, but since she moved she has become a super-fan! Let’s hear what’s converted her…
1. The Parks
Whether it’s the Pumpkin Blaze in October (OMG – have you seen the photos?!?), the car-free days throughout the year, or summer movies in the various parks, Rachel and her family find themselves in the Louisville parks constantly and it’s a cornerstone of what makes Louisville the city for her.
If you haven’t heard of Frederick Olmsted, we highly recommend a quick read about him. Olmsted was a landscape designer and architect and he has been responsible for massive and notable parks like Central Park in Manhattan, Prospect Park in Brooklyn, the Capitol Building in Washington, DC, Stanford University in Palo Alto, the University of Chicago – and the entire park system in Louisville.
The Louisville parks aren’t just a few gems like Iroquois Park, they are an interconnected system of parks and boulevards that spans the entire city, uniting it around the natural beauty of the local geography.
As you might expect, this incredible foundation has made the parks system central for Rachel’s experience of Louisville. She loves the way she can explore so many different communities across the city via the parks and how each neighborhood has made their parks their own.
2. Art & Music Scene
So, it must be said that Rachel is a lover of the arts. And as such, she is a big fan of the world class art and music opportunities that abound in Louisville.
On the fancy end of the spectrum, there is an amazing Orchestra – one of the world’s best – and a wonderful Ballet. “The Speed” is Louisville’s premier art museum, which boasts an enviable collection of Rembrandts, Picassos and more.
It’s not just the fancy stuff in Louisville’s art and music scene, though. Louder than Life is the largest rock music festival in the country and a four day extravaganza that attracts audiences from around the world each fall. Forecastle Fest attracts tens of thousands of fans each summer for its unique celebration of music, art and advocacy. And of course, Louisville is the home of Bluegrass music, which means you can catch established performers and up and coming musicians performing all around the city year-round.
3. Food, Glorious Food
In Rachel’s words, Louisville is a typical big city in that it has “everybody’s food” from around the world. But it doesn’t stop there. Louisville has its own unique food culture too, including the incredible Chef Ed Lee, who has spawned an incredible array of restaurants directly and through those who’ve worked with him. And, of course, Louisville is on the border of the U.S. south, so the influence of southern cuisine on the city is profound and the southern food options are wide ranging and delicious!
4. Muhammad Ali’s Legacy
Ali’s boxing career and his post-boxing life made him a legendary figure for all of us. For those in Louisville, his home, his legacy is much more direct and part of the texture of the city that they love. Rachel, for one, sees her experience with Louisville over the past five years as having been positively shaped by his legacy in ways she couldn’t have anticipated.
Of course, there’s the Ali Center and all of the amazing programming that they do – films, professional development, storytelling, educational opportunities and more. But more broadly, there’s the city’s embrace of the six principles by which he lived his life: confidence, conviction, dedication, giving, respect and spirituality. Rachel sees these six principles and other aspects of his legacy live on in the culture and in the values that Louisvillians live every day and in the sense of identity they feel in themselves and their city. Quite a legacy.
5. The Derby
For most of us, The Kentucky Derby is the most exciting two minutes in sports, but for those like Rachel who live in Louisville, it’s so much more.
The Derby season starts in March with “Run for Rosé” and other restaurant-based celebrations around town. There are rubber ducky races (The Ken-Ducky Derby, if you can believe that) and a host of other philanthropic activities as the city gives big in celebration of the upcoming big day.
By the time “Thurby” rolls around, the city is fully shut down and focused on a three day Derby extravaganza with live music, bourbon and racing themed events all around the city. “Oaks” is the Friday before the Derby and for that, the city is so fully focused on the main event that schools are closed. Worried you have to take care of your kids and can’t join the party? Don’t worry – Louisvillians have thought of that. There are Derby camps available for those who need to drop kids off so they can have a more grown up Derby experience.
And, then of course, the glorious Derby! We’ll have mint juleps and fabulous hats here at Dwellsy HQ for that for sure.
6. University of Louisville
No discussion of Louisville is complete without talking about the University of Louisville – U of L to locals. The university brings great culture to town, Rachel’s kids have taken advantage of great classes, and of course, Cardinal Pride is huge for those in Louisville. The Cardinals, Rachel tells us, are a very big deal, and from her descriptions of their games, we have got to go to one!
7. Urban Bourbon Trail
This one’s very close to our heart over here at Dwellsy HQ. Kentucky’s bourbon is, of course, known the world over as one of the very best drinks one can consume (not that we’re biased or anything). Rachel was quick to point out that while most of the biggest and most famous distilleries are 60-90 minutes out of town, the Bourbon Trail actually begins in Louisville.
Starting in the heart of Louisville’s Downtown, you can find Michter’s, Old Forester and Evan Williams, and close by in the East Market District, you’ll find Angel’s Envy and Rabbit Hole. And, just a little bit out of town (with a friend as your designated driver, of course), you can find Jim Beam and Bulleit amongst many, many others.
So, in case you haven’t already figured this out – when you move to Louisville, you’ll find us on the Bourbon Trail…looking forward to seeing you there!
Not sure if Louisville is the place for you? Check out our other local guides here. The right home for you is out there, and we’ll help you find it.