What to Do in Louisville: The Black Book


What to Do in Louisville: The Black Book

Photo Courtesy Tyler Bliss



By Rebekah Raisor

June 8, 2019

Ask anyone what that town is called where the grass grows blue and the horses race in May and you’ll get a variety of answers from Looeyville, Lewis-ville, Lou-a-vul, or the correct pronunciation (at least to the locals), Luhvul.

Louisville, Kentucky, famous for Churchill Downs, Muhammad Ali, bourbon, and fried chicken is the gateway to the south and quickly gaining ground as one of the country’s most loved, small-ish cities to visit. A weekend in Louisville is just what city slickers need to slow down, reboot, and fill up on what this friendly city has to offer. Despite its growing popularity, Louisville retains that small-town feel. Want to have drinks on one side of the city and dinner on the other? No problem! You’re likely no more than fifteen minutes away from anywhere. From locally roasted coffee, artisanal brunches, eclectic shopping, and a highly rated food scene, you’re sure to learn what Louisvillians have known all along—this city has it all.

Louisville Lingo:
Yer fine: You're welcome, It's ok!
Nah'm good: A proper response to "Anything else I can getcha?"
Well I'll be: What a surprise!
I'm pickin' up what yer puttin' down: I understand.


In the land of grits and gravy, it would be wrong not to stage your trip around food. For the coffee enthusiast (read: me), head to Heine Brothers’ Coffee on Bardstown Road for an almond milk latte. Get it to go and step next door to Carmichael’s— Louisville’s oldest, independent bookstore. Traveling with little ones? Carmichael’s Kids is just across the street.

For heartier fare, check out the Bardstown Road Farmers’ Market. Nope, this isn’t a hip, new restaurant moniker— it’s where the locals pick up their weekly produce and farm-raised protein. Local restaurants partner with vendors and whip up the freshest omelettes, grits and greens, baked goods, and locally roasted coffee. They also feature a Chef’s Tasting Series where professional chefs share samples and tips on how to use up your newly acquired blueberries and collards. Stick around for some live music while you shop or peruse the area— the most walkable (and shoppable) part of town. For the more refined palette, head to Butchertown Grocery for their gorgeous coffee service or a little hair-of-the-dog. Follow up with the basil-fed escargot and house-cured salmon board.

For dinner, Wiltshire on Market is a must. Owned by restaurateur Susan Hershberg, Wiltshire is a reflection of her international travels. Color, texture, and flavor define the space and its food. With a maximum seating capacity of forty, copper and natural wood details, and a combined staff of five, the experience is intimate and every aspect is crafted with graceful intention. Pro tip: Share a bottle of the Vinsobres and order the flatbread. The ingredients will change, the deliciousness will not.

Photo courtesy of Wiltshire on Market


JEFF RUBY’S STEAKHOUSE: Live Ella Fitzgerald-style jazz and bourbon cocktails come together in this art-deco-inspired eatery. Cozy up to the horseshoe-shaped bar and order a Blanton’s Manhattan or Boulevardier. Stay next door at The Galt House, and you won’t even need an Uber.

Local Tip:
After Jeff Ruby's take the two-block stroll over to Jimmy Can’t Dance-
an underground, speakeasy-style jazz club just two blocks away.
With live music, a burlesque-meets-dive bar vibe,
and a closing time of 4a, it may be a battle of wills. Who quits first,
you or the band?

CHURCHILL DOWNS: Wage a bet and drink in style at Downs After Dark— the jazzier, sexier cousin of that famous May race. These special events are held a few times a year and feature live music, a themed dress-code, and stakes races.

THE SEELBACH HILTON: Famous for the inspiration it provided to F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, this hotel is still just as elegant as it was in 1918. Be sure to check out the Old Seelbach Bar where cocktails are made with limestone seltzer and Kentucky bourbon.

THE BROWN HOTEL: Luxury and classic southern charm meet turn-of-the-century architecture in the heart of downtown. For the quintessential Louisville experience, head to the English Grill, the hotel’s featured restaurant, and order the famous Hot Brown.

Pro tip: There are no trains or hail-style taxis here. 
LouLift (the Hop Trolley Downtown) is a free bus that
makes stops along Main Street.
For everything else, there’s Uber.


FRANKFORT AVENUE AND BARDSTOWN ROAD: “Keep Louisville Weird” is basically the city’s independent business mantra. Here you’ll find handmade pottery, eclectic art, and funky textiles.

JOE LEY ANTIQUES: Located in a three-story former schoolhouse, Joe Ley is a local favorite. From the sophisticated to obscure, you’re bound to be inspired.

Photo by Rebekah Raisor


The Kentucky Show: Frazier History Museum

A performance by The Louisville Orchestra

Live theatre at Actors Theatre of Louisville


OLMSTED PARKS: In 1891, Frederick Law Olmsted, designer of New York’s Central Park, was commissioned to design Louisville’s park system. Today, the Olmsted Parks Conservancy consists of seventeen parks, connected by fifteen miles of parkways. Cherokee Park in the Highlands offers hiking, playgrounds, a spray park, and sports fields. Ultimate frisbee is popular here, and in the spirit of southern hospitality, you’ll likely be asked to join in on a game. Jump in! It’s the polite thing to do.

CAVE HILL CEMETERY: Visiting a cemetery may seem peculiar, but Louisvillians regard Cave Hill as more of a park and arboretum than resting place. Immaculately kempt and full of flora, it is best visited in spring when the tulips are in bloom. Be on the lookout for Colonel Sanders’ grave, as well as George Rogers Clark’s and Muhammed Ali’s.

Photo by Rebekah Raisor


EVAN WILLIAMS BOURBON EXPERIENCE: Take a classic tour, complete with three tastings, or book a Speakeasy Tour which includes four top-shelf tastings in a swanky, private vault setting.

ANGEL’S ENVY DISTILLERY: Book a standard tour that takes you through the entire distillation process and ends with a tasting, or choose a special bottling tour or cocktail class.

MINT JULEP LOUISVILLE: This Kentucky Bourbon Trail guided tour comes in three distinct packages— The Public Tour, The Customizable (build-your-own-itinerary) Tour, and the Elevated Tour— a behind-the-scenes bourbon and culinary excursion.

99 BONHAM: Hong Kong

Photo Courtesy 99 Bonham

Hong Kong, known for its impressive skyline, sparkling harbour, and colonial-era influences dispersed Pollack style around the city, can be a bit vertiginous, which is why posh 99 Bonham is so appealing. Its clean aesthetic and ultra-modern, spaceship-esque vibe offers respite from the hustle of the city. Located in the Sheung Wan district of Hong Kong Island, 99 Bonham is a fifteen minute walk to the Macau Ferry Terminal and Soho, and a three minute drive from the IFC Shopping mall and Financial District, rendering its location ideal for vacationers and business travelers alike.

A direct flight from New York’s JFK to Hong Kong International (HKG) airport clocks in at 16 hours, ranking it among the world’s longest flights in the world by time. Despite the long haul, weary travelers can revel in the ease of navigating their way out of the airport upon arrival. Consistently ranked among the top 5 airports in the world, HKG’s intuitive layout makes the shift from plane to train seamless.

The Airport Express train carries passengers from their terminal to Hong Kong Island’s IFC mall in just 24 minutes. Although Über is the simplest and most efficient method of getting around the city, taxis are cheap and always lined up just outside the IFC’s Airport Express terminal, making the quick ride to 99 Bonham a breeze.

*Tip: Screenshot your hotel’s address in Cantonese (the translation is usually listed in Google Maps) for your cab driver, as many do not speak fluent English.
Photo Courtesy 99 Bonham

Bonham’s 36 story building contains three apartment-style rooms per floor. Those on the upper levels can experience views of the city, Victoria Peak, and Victoria Harbour. Three suite styles are available; Standard, Premium, and Deluxe. I booked a Deluxe Suite for six nights, and was pleasantly surprised to be assigned the best room in the hotel (room 36C), located on the top floor’s southeastern corner. I arrived late at night, rendering my first impression of the room spectacular. Each corner room offers floor to ceiling windows on two, full walls. When I entered the room at 9p, I was greeted by Hong Kong’s famous, sparkling skyline. The outline of Victoria Peak contrasted starkly with the skyscrapers out the south-facing window, while the eastern window boasted views of Victoria Harbour.


Designed by Antonio Citterio, Patricia Viel and Partners, Bonham offers sleek elegance with elements of marble, metal, glass, and wood. Crisp linens and gray-toned furniture are welcoming and peaceful, while shiny surfaces and en pointe lighting feel luxurious against the backdrop of the city. Be sure to visit the rooftop both during the day and at night. At 37 stories, the breeze is strong and cool, and the vantage point is perfect for a birds’-eye view of the city, drone flight, or champagne toast.

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The staff were kind, and provided excellent service when my Über app quit working and I needed to call cabs multiple times per day (cabs are notoriously difficult to hail in HK).

I’d also requested extra pillows at booking, and was pleasantly surprised to find eight extra pillows stacked on my bed. Another perk of a boutique-style hotel is the size. Larger hotels often require a labyrinth-like walk to one’s room, but at Bonham, a ten-pace stride from the front door to the elevator is all that’s required after a cocktail or three.


  • Spacious rooms
  • Stunning views
  • All the expected amenities (Nespresso, refrigerator, laundry service, luxury toiletries)
  • 24/7 gym
  • Basic glassware, flatware, dinnerware
  • Premium linens
  • Excellent staff, fuss-free concierge
  • Central location


  • No pool
  • No room service*
  • All beds are queen size- no king size available
  • Only certain rooms have bathtubs, but they can be requested at booking

*There is a restaurant attached to the hotel. A complimentary bar drink and daily English breakfast is included with the room, and the restaurant can be accessed via the hotel lobby. Asian fusion is served for lunch, happy hour, and dinner.

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