About a month and a half ago, Alex and I traveled to Lexington, Kentucky with our friends Dennis and Kristy to watch the Gators play the Wildcats. Alex and I flew into Louisville, so we decided to spend a few hours there before driving to Lexington. I have been to Louisville, but not for several years, so I was delighted to find some areas that were just absolutely charming and unique. I have wonderful friends who gave me tons of amazing recommendations for our trip. We unfortunately only had time to take advantage of a few, but I hope we can return soon to explore some more soon!
The area we mainly spent time in is called “NuLu,” meaning “New Louisville.” NuLu is an up and coming, trendy area with art galleries, boutiques, antique shops, and restaurants. Many of the buildings are examples of historic restoration, which is my favorite type of architectural design. Yay, sustainability!
Alex and I had been planning to eat at Ghyslain, an adorable French bistro, but as soon as we saw Taco Punk, we immediately decided to have lunch there and just get dessert at Ghyslain. It was a great decision. Taco Punk bills its tacos as “quick service gourmet tacos” and they are not joking. The line was almost to the door when we arrived, but the service is very efficient and we only waited for a few minutes before ordering. The tacos are all handmade using natural and local ingredients. Our favorites were the “Bar-beer-coa”, a taco with grass-fed beef braised in beer with sautéed peppers and onions, the “Pineapple Pork”, and the grilled “Adobo Chicken”. We also ordered a side of guacamole which was delicious and oh-so-fresh, sampled some salsas, and finished everything off with local beers.
Our next stop was to Ghyslain for some gourmet chocolates and coffee. As you can tell from the pictures, the presentation of candies is beautiful and the detail and handiwork that goes into each one is just amazing. Try a bourbon pecan ball since you’re in Bourbon country. You won’t be disappointed! Ghyslain also features pastries and gelato, but we were unfortunately too full to try them. If you are interested in the menu, click here.
While in Nulu, you will definitely want to spend time browsing the shops. Use this map to guide you. All of the shops are unique, but I had a few favorites. I loved Rellek, a home decor consignment and retail store with beautiful pieces at great prices! I wanted everything and wished I lived nearby to take some pieces home. Scout is an adorable boutique with home accessories, furniture, art, gifts, jewelry, scarves, and bags. I bought myself a souvenir, but I easily could have spent a lot more money there. I loved everything in the store and if I lived nearby, I am sure I would do all of my holiday and gift shopping there. Finally, Why Louisville is a fun mix of t-shirts, souvenirs, gifts made by local artists, and oddities. It is officially accredited as a roadside attraction by Roadside America! When you go, look for the bowling pin with a drawing of The Dude by Jeff Bridges (not for sale).
I love old historic buildings, so when I heard about The Seelbach Hotel, I knew we had to go. It was opened by the Seelbach Brothers in 1905 with the intent of imitating the old-world grandeur of European hotels. It has been frequented by many notable Americans, U.S. presidents, celebrities, and even gangsters. My favorite famous visitor is F. Scott Fitzgerald, who used it as the location of Tom and Daisy’s wedding in The Great Gatsby (one of my favorite books ever, before it was trendy to like it!).
Churchill Downs speaks for itself, but it should definitely be on your list when you go to Louisville. Even if you aren’t in Louisville for the Kentucky Derby, you can still visit Churchill for other live racing, to see the stands and track and place bets on a non-race day, or visit The Derby Museum nearby. If you enjoy watching (or going to) the Derby as much as I do, Churchill Downs is a great place to visit!
Taco Punk, 736 E. Market St, Louisville, KY 40202
Ghyslain, 721 E Market St, Louisville, KY 40202
Nulu Shops, East Market District, see map here
Seelbach Hotel, 500 South Fourth Street, Louisville, KY 40202
Churchill Downs, 700 Central Ave, Louisville, KY 40208