Since we first started dating, we’ve always had a weekend trip around Valentine’s Day. The first year it wasn’t intentional, the second year I decided to make it into a gift (cheesy, over-the-top homemade travel brochure and all), and by the third year this weekend trip gained it’s “tradition” status. It’s nice to take a few days to get a change of scenery and explore a little together. Despite some seriously wet and gross weather, we still thoroughly enjoyed ourselves and found some great spots in the city. We’ve even talked about coming back when it’s warm to try places we didn’t get to this time, and I can’t wait! I’m excited to share things to do in Louisville KY with you based on our experience as first-time tourists in this brief yet memorable trip.
While I don’t get super into Valentine’s Day, I do enjoy holidays and love, so why would I not celebrate it a little? Truth be told, we would take a weekend trip regardless of there being a holiday or not. I just like the fact that it has a theme. Everything in life should have a theme in my opinion, but that’s a discussion for another time. I also love gift-giving. I don’t necessarily like to receive gifts, but I enjoy making others happy through a thoughtful offering. The best gifts, in my opinion, are those that inspire a feeling, create a memory, or allow an experience for someone I love.
Since I still enjoy the element of surprise in planning this trip, I booked our hotel in Louisville, KY and planned out just one activity—visiting the Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory. Bryan would prefer to figure it out as we go, but I would have an itinerary in place for every weekend if I knew it wouldn’t drive everyone around me crazy. Since this weekend was my gift to him, I decided to only have a loose agenda. This agenda included: check in at the hotel, eat lunch, explore, eat dinner, explore, sleep, eat breakfast.
THINGS TO DO IN LOUISVILLE KY: FOOD
Our hotel was on 4th street, and there are so many restaurants on that street at this one intersection that also has an outdoor stage. There are chain restaurants (Hard Rock Café and Brazeiro’s, to name a couple) and some locally owned places that looked delicious that we simply didn’t get to. Guy Fieri also has a restaurant in this area. There are several more seemingly good choices in the NuLu area. Obviously there are a lot more food choices than we could have dreamed to try in one weekend. I will share our experiences at the two restaurants that we were able to visit.
Lunch: Mi Cocina on Fourth
We skipped breakfast on Saturday and were SO HUNGRY. Mi Cocina on Fourth is right across the street from the hotel and has great reviews on Yelp. Good reviews and the shortest possible distance from our location at the time were all it took. I feel like the goal here is to make a less casual Mexican option while still offering standard Mexican restaurant menu items. It’s a success. The décor is interesting and bright (can I get some of those star pendants over the bar for my own place, please?!), service is fast, and the food is delicious. I honestly can’t explain to you what the difference in the rice is that sets it apart from others. We both think it’s better than any we’ve had at a Mexican restaurant before. Is it butter maybe? That’s the only thing I can think of. Regardless of the game-changing ingredient in the rice, it’s definitely worth your time and money.
Dinner: Feast BBQ
We went to Feast BBQ based on a recommendation from one of Bryan’s friends. Even knowing where we were going, we were not prepared. No restaurant has ever served me this much food as a single entrée meant for one person before. I didn’t think about them living up to their name as far as portion sizes goes. Next time (it’s too good to not go back) we’ll split a plate. Bryan had a pulled pork sandwich with tater tots (which were perfectly cirispy), I had a pulled pork plate with baked beans and potato salad, and we split an order or fried macaroni and cheese balls. The only thing I didn’t enjoy was the roll they served with the plate. If it’s a BBQ meal, give me cornbread or give me nothing. This is a personal preference, I know. If you like generic dinner rolls, it’s perfectly adequate. They also serve bourbon slushies? I state this as a question because I’ve never heard of such a thing. We didn’t order one, but I am intrigued and impressed by this option. Feast BBQ does not disappoint, but be prepared for a heavy meal and make sure you have a big appetite to match it.
We are breakfast at the hotel. We were honestly disappointed by the lack of breakfast/brunch options (that weren’t chains). Surprisingly, the hotel breakfast was delightful. Embassy Suites has a dining room and a chef that will make omelets. You can also help yourself to a hot buffet line or the typical continental hotel breakfast items like cereal, bagels, etc. We would’ve liked to try out something local, so hopefully next time we’ll be able to find something. Leave a comment if you know of a place that we missed out on!
THINGS TO DO IN LOUISVILLE KY: LODGING
Bryan likes to use AirBnB and I prefer hotels. Again, since this was for him, I deferred to his preference in the beginning and tried to find a unique AirBnB rental. I found squat that was an appropriate size, in the area I wanted, and available for the time frame. I moved on to hotels and settled on Embassy Suites by Hilton Downtown Louisville. The hotel was one of my favorite parts! Anytime I am booking any lodging, I always look for a modern, tile shower to appeal to Bryan. He’s a sucker for a tile shower. I’m explaining all of this to convey that the shower was lovely, along with the rest of the suite. It was clean, quiet, breakfast was amazing, and the lobby could have been a destination all in its own. They also offer a complimentary cocktail hour around dinnertime with free cocktails and light snacks. We would stay again given the chance.
THINGS TO DO IN LOUISVILLE KY: MUSEUMS
Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory
Alright, I’m not even a die-hard sports fan, and I really enjoyed myself here. Our tickets were $15 for a tour through the factory, which included a mini Louisville Slugger bat as a souvenir. I’m a little surprised that it’s not more expensive given all we got to experience. The museum section had a lot to look at and had interactive areas, as well. Bryan is a Yankees fan and, more specifically, a Derek Jeter fan. I was happily surprised that there was a lot of memorabilia relating to Derek Jeter, along with other notable Yankees players. They have a short film to watch in a little theater, too, but the film is pretty dated. I honestly didn’t know this (aside from picture quality) until Bryan told me. I still thought it was a nice break to sit down. In the dark. With a full belly and fighting a nap. Anybody else already enjoying weekend naps in their late 20’s?
We would definitely recommend spending some time on the tour and museum.
After we left the Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory, we walked up and down Main Street to see what we could find to get into. This was a relaxing, more cultured stop than we planned for, but we enjoyed it just the same. The three floors showcased two artists and art from local school students. The staff were very knowledgeable and friendly, it was clean, and, above all given the weather that day, dry and warm. When we return in warmer months, I would like to go back and see whatever exhibitions they have at that time. I wholeheartedly encourage everyone to take a few minutes to stop in and appreciate the creativity to be found here, or at any local art museum for that matter.
THINGS TO DO IN LOUISVILLE KY: SHOPPING
Art Eatables is probably my favorite thing that I know of about Louisville. They totally won me over with Star Wars chocolates. As glorious as those Star Wars chocolates were, they are not the store’s specialty. Art Eatables’ claim to fame are their bourbon truffles. I’ve had other alcohol flavored chocolates before, and you definitely get more for your money with these. Bryan bought a sampler box with 8 different bourbon infusions, and I could barely chew and swallow it the bourbon was so strong. He enjoys bourbon, so he loved them. I don’t drink much anymore which I’m sure is why they seemed so strong to me. Texture and chocolate flavor were amazing. Caramels are my favorite and they had a table with about a dozen different caramel flavors, so I got a sampler sleeve of the caramel variety. Some of those were bourbon flavored, as well, but were much milder. They didn’t make it back to Knoxville. If you like chocolate and/or bourbon, you’ll love this spot!
We knew Feast BBQ was a couple of miles away from where we were spending most of the afternoon, Main Street, so we put off going there until close to dinner time. We should have left for that area so much earlier! For about 45 minutes to an hour we just walked around in the cold drizzle to kill time. There are so many neat shops in NuLu! We visited three that stood out to us in particular.
I had never had macaroons before, so we stopped in to get a sampler box. The storefront is simple, modern, and bright and they have a variety of flavors. Bryan’s favorite was the Fahrenheit 513 and mine was Birthday Cake. We fought a little over the Black Raspberry Chocolate, so don’t leave that one out of your sampler! In fact, go ahead and get one for every person visiting so that no one has to share.
Revelry Boutique Gallery
This shop sold locally made items and art. I’m still kicking myself for not picking up a particular Han Solo/Princess Leia watercolor piece. Aside from that, my favorite items were plastic dinosaurs repurposed into succulent planters in all different neon colors. I wanted one so bad but failed to justify the purchase. Maybe next time I’ll just go for it and figure out later what I’ll do with it. Revelry also has lots of jewelry, the best coaster selection I think I’ve ever seen, bath products, and home décor.
Peace of the Earth
Peace of the Earth offers recycled products or products that are at least environmentally concerned. Bath products, home décor, and accessories were the most common inventory at the time that we visited. I picked up a really fun birthday gift for my mom here and think others would find this a good store to purchase gifts, as well.
If you’re looking for a gift to give someone or need a reason to get out of town for a minute, I encourage you to gift a weekend trip. They are fun to plan, and everyone involved will get so much fulfillment out of creating memories together. Obviously this isn’t feasible for every holiday or birthday, but it’s nice to do something different (and maybe unexpected) every now and then. I hope all of you have a lovely Valentine’s Day and enjoy appreciating those that you love!
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