Home » Louisville and Southern Indiana tourism prompts better amenities

Louisville and Southern Indiana tourism prompts better amenities

By Kathie Stamps

MRGLSI-2016-300x402Tourism’s 2015 economic impact for Louisville was $1.7 billion, and the city is adding $1 billion in infrastructure. The 12.7 million annual visitors to Jefferson County are in for one treat after the other for years to come, to see the old (Belle of Louisville steamboat) and the new (Jim Beam Urban Stillhouse).

The Kentucky Exposition Center, adjacent to the Louisville International Airport, is the sixth-largest convention center in the nation. Churchill Downs, Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory, the Muhammad Ali Center, the Louisville Zoo, the Louisville Mega Cavern and 4th Street Live are among unique attractions that continue to impress visitors and convention-goers.

More than $180 million is at play in the renovation and expansion of the downtown Kentucky International Convention Center. When KICC re-opens in summer 2018, national meeting and convention opportunities should increase 25 percent – thanks in part to a national marketing campaign promoting a new 40,000-s.f. ballroom and 200,000 s.f. of exhibit space.

KICC will have a stunning new high-rise neighbor, the Omni Louisville Hotel, which broke ground in January 2016. Set for a target opening of May 2018, the 30-story hotel has an estimated cost of $274 million and will be the city’s tallest hotel. General contractor Brasfield & Gorrie, headquartered in Birmingham, Ala., is constructing 612 guest rooms and suites, two restaurants, a lounge, café, bowling alley, a 20,000-s.f. Fresh Market and grocery, and 70,000 s.f. of meeting and event space. Omni Hotels & Resorts company is based in Dallas.

Meanwhile, the motorcoach market is transitioning from bus trips for seniors to specialty travel for affinity groups, a group niche that Louisville is strongly positioned to attract, particularly after hosting the American Bus Association in 2016. This organization’s travel and tourism show had a record number of attendees from across the globe and typically boosts business subsequently over a multiyear period.

From hotel space to greenspace, visitors to Greater Louisville dare welcome inside and outside. The newly expanded Speed Art Museum has larger spaces for special exhibitions plus an art park and public piazza that will engage the artistic abilities of University of Louisville students and faculty.

Beautiful greenspace also abounds in Louisville and the region throughout 120 parks. Louisville’s park system was designed by prominent 19th century landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted, creator of New York’s Central Park. The 4,000-acre Parklands of Floyds Fork comprises four major parks linked by a park drive and trail systems. Waterfront Park is part of the Louisville Loop, an in-progress project that is connecting 100 miles of bike paths around the city.

The culinary scene is another reason leisure and group travelers rave about Louisville. National publications and rating entities have named the area to “top” lists for foodies and culinary tourism. There are 50 independent restaurateurs known as the Louisville Originals, award-winning restaurants, locally made products, craft beers collectively referred to as Lou’s Brews and, of course, bourbon.

Often called “bourbonism,” the tourist attractions surrounding bourbon are abundant with the ever-expanding Urban Bourbon Experience. Along a block of Main Street known as Whiskey Row, Kentucky Peerless Distilling, the Evan Williams Bourbon Experience and the Jim Beam Urban Stillhouse have opened since 2013. Within the next couple of years there will be Michter’s and Angel’s Envy distilleries. Also, 146-year-old Old Forester bourbon, Brown-Forman’s founding brand, has a new distillery and bourbonism experience in the works to include a welcome area, fermentation room, cooperage, tasting room and bottling line. The 60,000-s.f. distillery is set to be complete by the end of 2017.

The historic Brown Hotel is a must-see for visitors to Louisville, thanks to the opulent, unmatched classic English Renaissance architecture and of course, great food. It is the birth place of the Kentucky hot brown sandwich.

Abbey Road on the River
World’s largest Beatles festival

Abraham Lincoln Birthplace
National Historic Site
Symbolic cabin of Lincoln’s birth
Hodgenville, KY – nps.gov/abli

American Printing House for the Blind
Factory and museum

Beck’s Mill
Restored late 1800s mill
Salem, IN – becksmill.org

Belle of Louisville/Spirit of Jefferson

Bernheim Arboretum
and Research Forest
Nature preserve
Clermont, KY – bernheim.org

Blackacre State Nature Preserve
and Historic Homestead
Home dates to 1785

The Brennan House
Historic home and gardens

Bullitt County History Museum
In old courthouse
Shepherdsville, KY – bullittcountyhistory.org

Carnegie Center for Art & History
Includes multimedia experience
New Albany, IN – carnegiecenter.org

Cave Hill Cemetery

Churchill Downs
Home of the Kentucky Derby

Conrad-Coldwell House Museum
Home celebrates Edwardian Age

Corydon Capital State Historic Site
Indiana’s first state capital
Corydon, IN –

Culbertson Mansion State Historic Site
Built by Indiana’s wealthiest man in 1867
New Albany, IN –

Falls of the Ohio Foundation
Ancient fossil beds
Clarksville, IN – fallsoftheohio.org

Farmington Historic Plantation
Home to prominent Speed Family

Flame Run Glass Studio and Gallery
Glassblowing studio

Forecastle Festival
Music, art, activism

Fort Duffield
Union stronghold during Civil War
West Point, KY

Fourth Street Live!
Downtown dining, entertainment, shopping

Frazier History Museum

General George Patton
Museum of Leadership
Cavalry and armor history
Fort Knox, KY – generalpatton.org

George Rogers Clark Homesite
Replica of cabin built in 1803
Clarksville, IN – fallsoftheohio.org

Gheens Science Hall
and Rauch Planetarium
At the University of Louisville

Harvest Homecoming Festival
Family-oriented activities
New Albany, IN – harvesthomecoming.com

Historic Old Louisville
Neighborhood of Victorian architecture

Howard Steamboat Museum
Located in mansion built in 1894
Jeffersonville, IN – howardsteamboatmuseum.org

Huber’s Orchard, Winery & Vineyards
Starlight, IN – huberwinery.com
Ironman Louisville triathlon

John Hay Center
Washington County, IN, history
Salem, IN – johnhaycenter.org

Joe Huber Family Farm & Restaurant
Taste of the farm
Starlight, IN – joehubers.com

Kentucky Center for
African American Heritage
History, heritage, cultural contributions

Kentucky Crossroads Harvest Festival
Springfield, KY –

Kentucky Derby Festival
Two-week community celebration

Kentucky Derby Museum
At Churchill Downs

Kentucky Museum of Art and Craft
Promotes traditional arts

Kentucky Railway Museum
22-mile train excursion
New Haven, KY – kyrail.org

Kentucky Science Center
Hands-on science center

Kentucky State Fair

Lanier Mansion
Greek Revival showplace
Madison, IN –

Light Up Louisville
Downtown holiday activities

Lincoln Heritage Trail
Sites connected to U.S. President

Lincoln Heritage Scenic Highway
Explore Kentucky history

Lincoln Homestead State Park
Site of Lincoln’s parents’ marriage
Springfield, KY –

Louisville Bats
Triple A affiliate of the Cincinnati Reds

Louisville Mega Cavern
100 acres of underground passageways

Louisville Palace
Concert venue opened in 1928

Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory
Interactive baseball exhibits

Louisville Zoo
Home to more than 1,700 animals

Madison Regatta
Boat race on Ohio River
Madison, IN – madisonregatta.com

Maple Hill Manor
Built in 1851
Springfield, KY – maplehillmanor.com

Marengo Cave
U.S. National Natural Landmark
Marengo, IN – marengocave.com

Mt. Zion Covered Bridge
Built in 1871
Springfield, KY –
www.kentuckytourism.com/ things_to_do/

Muhammad Ali Center
International education center

Museum Row on Main
Nine downtown attractions

My Old Kentucky Dinner Train
2-hour train excursion
Bardstown, KY – kydinnertrain.com

My Old Kentucky Home State Park
Bardstown, KY –

Oscar Getz Museum
Whiskey and Bardstown history
Bardstown, KY – whiskeymuseum.com

Patriots Peace Memorial
Honors fallen servicemen/women

Schimpff’s Confectionery
Look at candy making, packaging, advertising
Jeffersonville, IN – schimpffs.com

Scribner House
Built in 1814
New Albany, IN –

Squire Boone Caverns & Village
Cavern tours, village crafts
Mauckport, IN – squireboonecaverns.com

Thomas Edison House
Inventions on display

Thomas Merton Center
Writings of famous monk

Whitehall House & Gardens
Victorian mansion

Home of 3 governors
Bardstown, KY – visitbardstown.com/wickland/

Zachary Taylor National Cemetery
Burial site of 12th U.S. President