Tomorrow is the Kentucky Derby, and I will be here in Richmond cheering on Irish War Cry with my good friend and Louisville native, Yllena. Two weekends ago, we took a road trip to her hometown in Kentucky where I finally met her parents and got to know this town she has been raving about for as long as I have known her. I have to admit, a huge part of me assumed she was mostly biased, as we all are about where we call home, but I truly fell in love with Louisville. There is something so delightfully personal about getting to know a new city by visiting with a good friend who calls it home. Of course, it also helped that we got to be there for the kickoff of the Kentucky Derby Festival and to witness Thunder Over Louisville, the biggest air and firework show in North America!
This girls’ trip of three was kicked off very similarly to our ski trip– iced lattes, loud music and an all-night road trip! We hopped in the car around midnight and arrived at Yllena’s parent’s beautiful home just before 9 am on Thursday. The long weekend was absolutely packed and I couldn’t fit it all into a single post if I tried. I will focus this first one on my top two recommendations for places to see, but make sure you check out my highlights of places to eat and drink for your next visit to Louisville!
The Kentucky Derby Museum
If there are two things that are synonymous with Kentucky, they would have to be bourbon and race horses. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to see any races, but we did visit Churchill Downs for a peak into the Kentucky Derby Museum. Here, we got to meet a beautiful retired race horse and see an impressive display of some famous over-the-top derby hats and costumes. If you love learning about the roots of old American traditions, the Kentucky Derby Museum will be right up your alley.
The Woodford Reserve Distillery
Conveniently for us, the drive home is positively littered with distilleries. We opted to take our favorite Kentucky bartender’s advice and stop by the picturesque Woodford distillery on our drive back to Virginia. The easy 15-minute drive off the interstate to the distillery is through beautiful thoroughbred horse pastures with striking painted black fences. The Woodford distillery is sitting on the oldest distilling site in Kentucky where in 1812 Elijah Peper began making whiskey. You can’t help but be impressed by the striking grey stone buildings, towering smokestacks, and rich bourbon history. We did a bourbon tasting and snagged an engraved bottle of Woodford Reserve for Daniel before getting back on the road. I can’t wait to go back and do the full 70 min tour with the hubs! Even if you’re not a big bourbon drinker, the Woodford Reserve Distillery is well-worth a visit!