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The ultimate road trip to Louisville, KY

Hit the road and head to Louisville, KY — we’re sharing all the details about what to do and eat, plus where to stay.


The Louisville skyline. | Photo via Louisville Tourism

Table of Contents

Itching to get out of town? Skip those pesky airport security lines and jump in your car for a road trip to Louisville, KY instead. From your Churchill Downs itinerary to a must-try dish at La Bodeguita De Mima — we’re spilling all the details on how to have an unforgettable time in Derby City.

Essential info
Drive time: ~2.5 hours
Est. population: 628,594

🎟️ Experience

Churchill Downs + the Kentucky Derby Museum

Aside from the Kentucky Derby, Churchill Downs hosts horse racing and other events throughout the year. Plus, visit the museum for an in-depth look at the history of Thoroughbred racing. Pro tip: The Superstars & Spires Tour will take you to exclusive areas of Churchill Downs.

Bourbon experiences

Craft your perfect weekend in Bourbon City with distillery tours, museum stops, and other themed activities. Start with the Frazier History Museum’s “The Spirit of Kentucky” exhibition, then embark on the Urban Bourbon Trail, a mobile-friendly passport with 30+ bars and restaurants, for bourbon tasting around town.

Kid-friendly activities

Bringing the whole family? Put the Louisville Zoo + the Bernheim Arboretum and Research Forest on the agenda. Other notable attractions include the Muhammad Ali Center, Waterfront Park, and the Kentucky Science Center.


We’re off to the races at Churchill Downs.| Photo via Louisville Tourism

🍔 Eat

La Bodeguita De Mima

Located in the NuLu neighborhood, the classic Cuban restaurant and rum bar pays homage to the matriarch of Chef Fernando Martinez’s family, “Mima.” Try the Barquitos de Malanga, crispy bite sized tarot root boats filled with black beans, beef, and queso fresco topped with guacamole, chives, and cilantro.


This Highlands cafe serves breakfast, lunch, and craft espresso drinks. Some notable menu items include biscuits and gravy, the shroom n’ grits, and a slice of coffee cake. Fun fact: You can book a stay in the “bed & beverage” located on the top floor.

Ollie’s Trolley

Need lunch on the go? Order a burger and seasoned fries from this landmark take-out joint located in an old trolley car.


A stay at The Brown Hotel isn’t complete without the Hot Brown. | Photo via Louisville Tourism

🛎️ Stay

The Brown Hotel

This 16-story, Georgian Revival-style hotel in downtown Louisville is steeped in history. The 294-room hotel celebrates its 100th anniversary this year and is lauded for being the birthplace of the Hot Brown sandwich.

Hotel Distil

When you arrive at Hotel Distil, you’ll be given a “prescription card” for a 7:33 p.m. toast in the lobby each night — which in military time is 19:33, the year prohibition was repealed.

21c Museum Hotel Louisville

This 91-room boutique hotel doubles as a contemporary art museum with 9,000 sqft of gallery space. It’s within walking distance of many distilleries, restaurants, and entertainment venues + the Louisville Slugger Museum. Visit the hotel’s restaurant, Proof on Main, for breakfast, brunch, or dinner.

Wait a minute. Before you head out the door, find the cheapest places to fill up your gas tank and stock up on road trip snacks from the Turnip Truck. Also, bookmark this map so you have no trouble finding all of our recommendations while visiting Louisville.

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