While the lure of 10 tasting rooms along the only Urban Bourbon Trail in the United States (and the world) brings almost 19 million visitors to Louisville each year, business and city leaders have plans to grow the city to attract another type of visitor — the sports enthusiast.
In the past five years, Louisville experienced tourism growth, with key executives assigned to the task as the Louisville Sports Commission, which works closely with Louisville Tourism. The city’s affordable hotel rates, reasonable eateries for all budgets and central East Coast location have landed events and competitions including gymnastics, soccer, lacrosse and indoor track. Add to the mix several PGA events, USA Cycling, NCAA men’s basketball, women’s volleyball and the Breeders Cup — and, of course, the iconic Kentucky Derby.
Louisville’s success in sports tourism is supported by the new 10,000-seat Lynn Family Soccer Stadium and the Norton Sports Health Athletics & Learning Complex with 4,200 seats. The city’s Tom Sawyer Park offers 550 acres, including an Olympic pool, soccer and softball fields, tennis courts and a permanent BMX track. Doug Bennett, chief operating officer of the sports project, said,“We see this as one of the more resilient sectors of the tourism business. Even during the pandemic, these events have continued to be held.”
Meeting space and hotel rooms expanded as well, with 4,700-plus rooms adjacent to Mohammed Ali International Airport and the Kentucky Expo Center. Bourbon City added or has under construction more than 2,500 rooms. Many will lie within walking distance of the Kentucky International Convention Center, seven distilleries, two entertainment districts (Whiskey Row) and 130 restaurants. Total rooms: 21,722 and growing.
When the meetings are over and it’s a bit early to start tasting, Louisville offers several museums and attractions of interest — no sipping required. Plan a visit to the Mohammed Ali Center, a six-story multicultural center and museum that documents one of America’s greatest athletes. No visit is complete without a stop at the Kentucky Derby Museum, while the Kentucky Center for African American Heritage documents Black history. Get into the swing of things at the Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory, where you can see how the world’s most famous baseball bats are made.
NULU 2.0, the “New Louisville,” is a restaurant and entertainment district offering food and drink for every taste including, of all things, a craft brewery. right in the center of Bourbon City. On a cool evening, visitors stroll around the open marketplace for a bite, brew or bourbon, a great way to meet friends or make new ones. They can then grab a Bourbon City Cruiser and ride to a new distillery, attraction or back to their hotel. Night owls may make a stop at Kentucky’s oldest bar, Talbot Tavern, right next door to Old Jailers Inn.
LGBTQ+ visitors will find Louisville quite welcoming and more diverse than many Southern cities. In 2011 Mayor Greg Fischer signed the Compassionate Louisville resolution. In 2014 the LGBTQ Hospitality Task Force was created to work with the mayor’s office and business leaders to promote the city as an open and friendly destination. Today Louisville is one of the largest U.S. cities to hold the Model City of Compassion distinction and scored a perfect 100 in the Human Rights Campaign Foundation’s Municipal Equality Index.
For more than 200 years Bardstown, Kentucky, has held the title “The Bourbon Capital of the World.” Also named “One of America’s Most Beautiful Small Towns” by Rand McNally and USA Today, Bardstown lies just 45 minutes from Louisville, welcoming visitors with four tours and eight tasting rooms. In 1999 Bardstown launched the first Kentucky Bourbon Festival, now a destination in its own right, especially for the leisure traveler.
Many travelers begin their day with a visit to the Jim Beam Distillery, just as one exits I-65, followed by a stop at Barton 1792. Don’t miss lunch on the town square — maybe a “Hot Brown” sandwich, a local favorite — and then a real ice cream soda at Hurst Drugs. A lot of bourbon sipping awaits, but you might want to shop the square’s boutiques before pushing on.
West Palm Beach, Florida, recently welcomed AKA West Palm, a hotel residence offering long-stay accommodations. As AKA’s second South Florida property, AKA West Palm features 215 hotel residences comprised of studios, one- and two-bedroom spaces, and Penthouse suites. The five-story hotel blends modern luxuries with comfort and simplicity, with sleek kitchens, washers and dryers, and private terraces. Room furnishings contrast with a backdrop of stone, metal and wood to create simple, clean lines with minimal contrast.
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Birmingham, Alabama, was named for the city in the English Midlands that kept the fires burning, warmed the homes and made much of the steel for the United Kingdom’s industrial revolution. Decades later, the American city also made steel, so much of it, in fact, it became known as the “Magic City” for steel production, and the moniker stuck. But today’s Magic City makes more than steel, taking the raw product a few more steps to become a major center for automobile parts manufacturing and more, including Honda, Mercedes-Benz and U.S. Steel. Thanks to local leadership and long-term planning, the magic still works for Birmingham, as evidenced by its role hosting The World Games 2022 last summer.
As New York City’s leading Latino cultural institution, El Museo del Barrio welcomes visitors of all backgrounds to discover the artistic landscape of Latino, Caribbean and Latin American cultures. El Museo’s wide-ranging collections and exhibitions represent these cultures’ richness, complemented by film, literary, visual and performing arts series, cultural celebrations and educational programs. Ranging from pre-Columbian to modern and contemporary art, the permanent collection totals more than 8,000 objects.
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Fairmont Washington, D.C., Georgetown recently reopened its Fairmont Gold, introducing amenities, a contemporary new style in the Fairmont Gold Lounge and dedicated concierges. The 48-room, three-suite Fairmont Gold, positioned as an urban oasis, takes over the entire ninth floor of the hotel and delivers exceptional service to meet guests’ needs.
The results are in! For the 19th consecutive year, Global Traveler conducted its GT Tested Reader Survey, asking frequent luxury travelers to name the best in a variety of travel-related categories. More than 22,000 people responded. Global Traveler’s inaugural awards were celebrated in 2004.
Nashville’s once-modest skyline continues to evolve as its luxury market grows. Lavish hotel properties are added to the landscape while acclaimed chefs stake claim in the robust culinary scene and premier cultural offerings round out the city’s repertoire.
Originally a thriving Colonial seaport, Newport became the summer playground for the Gilded Age’s elite in the late 1880s. Today their mansions dot the coast of Aquidneck Island, and their favorite pastimes — sailing and tennis — still dominate the city’s recreational offerings. In fact, Newport hosted the first U.S. Open tennis championship in 1881 and golf tourna- ment in 1895 and hosted the America’s Cup from 1930 to 1983. You can experience most of Newport on your own, including the mansions, but don’t rule out a guided tour or two when you visit.