I know people judge me when I tell them I’m trying to visit all 50 states. That’s just so cliché, they think and I know it is. But I can’t sit around and work my eight to five with only my retirement to look forward to thirty years from now. No, I need something exciting on my calendar every few months- something equally spontaneous and attainable. I’ve been on another continent, been in other countries. But I wasn’t able to say I had really truly seen my own country. So that’s my goal: explore my country now, and see the rest of the world later.
I started my journey in Louisville, Kentucky. I can’t remember why I picked Louisville to start with, maybe because it’s on a state line and I could easily check off Indiana from my list too. And I did. Indiana has terrible food in my opinion, based solely on the one meal I had there, but at least I can say I’ve been there. And yes, I have more to say about the terrible food in Indiana so there will be a blog post about that soon.
Picking a seemingly random state off a list of 35 options (I had already been to 15) was exhilarating. And honestly, why not Kentucky? I would have had to go there anyway so it’s as good a place as any to start. After one year of consistent time off requests and three-day weekends, I went to eight new states and Kentucky remains my favorite. What’s so great about Louisville, Kentucky? they wonder. It’s hard for me to explain. Of course I could talk about the food, the incredibly nice people, and obviously the iconic Churchill Downs. But really, the reason I liked that place more than any of the other places I traveled to last year, is because Louisville reminded me of my hometown. It’s bigger, and prettier, and older. But it has the same charm, the same homey feeling you get when you feel comfortable and at ease in a place.
It’s a big city with a small town feel, just like Tucson, Arizona. What’s green or built out of red bricks in Louisville is dehydrated or covered in stucco in Tucson. For every hat shop in Louisville, there’s a Sonoran hot dog stand in Tucson. While the locals in my hometown look forward to the Tucson Rodeo, almost everyone in the country looks forward to the Kentucky Derby. They have bourbon and we have prickly pear margaritas. In no way are the two cities the same, but for me there’s just something about big cities with small town feels and Louisville is exactly that.
In Louisville, Kentucky Part 1 I talked about bourbon, the infamous hot brown, and my conversations with the locals, but I definitely have more to say and more to share! Louisville is beautiful! The local art was a hoot. This city is very proud of any celebrity who considers Louisville home. They have murals of Jennifer Lawrence and Diane Sawyer just to name a couple, and even have bourbon drinks named after them like the “Girl on Fire” from the rooftop bar 8UP. My favorite murals though were of the more artistic type that shows off a street artist’s creativity.
We found many of these murals because we walked EVERYWHERE. This trip was so memorable because I went with my friend Allison who also is trying to visit all 50 states (it might be cliché but at least we’re going for it!). So, when we decided to walk from our hotel to Churchill Downs, we decided to take the scenic route through the University of Louisville. That’s how I discovered there’s more than one “The Thinker.” Did you know there was more than one? I didn’t. Then, after walking through multiple neighborhoods, were arrived at Churchill Downs.
This should be on everyone’s bucket list. When you walk into Churchill Downs you instantly feel like you should have owned a racehorse in a previous life. We bet on some horses, drank some mint juleps, and ate the best fried chicken I’ve ever had in my life. Turns out, if my Food of Disneyland post wasn’t already a hint, I don’t like mint juleps. But when in Rome right?
Of course going to Churchill Downs was the highlight of the trip, but right next to it was the haunted neighborhood tour of Old Louisville. David Domine was our host. His storytelling and personal experiences with the paranormal are enough to completely draw you in to the mysteries that this neighborhood holds.
Louisville, you are a gem. One day I will return.