We all have work to-do lists, but in-house event experts Marcella Kragel and Ina Miller keep fun to-do lists of local sites and experiences. Here, they take them public along with some planning advice that should help you stop making excuses and just have a blast.
If you live where we do, you don’t have to get out of town to relax or revive. There are so many critically-acclaimed restaurants, unusual stores, intriguing points of interest and distinctly different geographic areas to be explored that you can take a break from everyday life without hopping on a plane or into a car. We know, because we keep a running to-do list of enjoyable Louisville experiences.
However, if you’re like us it often takes longer to cross these items off our list than it does to finish the much less exciting work tasks and chores. So, for those of you who are driving by that great restaurant or shop or museum for the tenth time without going in, we have one word for you, “Staycation!”
Sure, it sounds easy to stay home and have fun, but for some of us it’s much harder than it seems. You will remember a forgotten errand, or inevitably answer an urgent call, but we say, “Stop!” To take a staycation, you must stick to your guns. You are on vacation and you must think that way. Treat it like any other vacation, without the stress and big spending.
Consider finding the perfect outfit or outfits just to make it official. (Wouldn’t you come up with a wardrobe for that beach trip?) If you’re hiking or enjoying a leisurely meal, bring along that book you’ve been meaning to read. Try something you’ve never done before in the safety and convenience of your own home town. Embrace the experience and make it special and you’ll remember it as fondly as any trip that involved jet lag.
Below, our suggestions to creating a perfect staycation. The most important advice is to stop stalling.
Where to Stay
Stay + Wonder: Locally owned and operated, this group of twelve AirBnBs offers guests beautifully-curated spaces in exciting neighborhoods. Each property has its own unique feel and all are decorated with artwork from local artists and furniture from area stores. They even come with suggestions for things to do and places to eat that you might not have thought of. Let the hosts of Stay and Wander show you their Louisville (check out their Instagram for a preview @stayandwanderlouisville).
Hotels: Who doesn’t love room service, a swimming pool, fresh towels and sheets? Our city is now home to some sparkling, new hotels opening just in time for your summer staycation. Check in to the brand-new Omni Louisville (200 S 2nd St), AC Hotel NuLu (727 E Market St) or visit the newly renovated Marriott Downtown (280 W Jefferson St), and check out from your everyday routine. Do it by yourself, with a partner, girlfriends or the kids for completely different types of breaks.
At home: nothing is better than your own home, but to make it feel better have it cleaned professionally before your staycation, that way it feels fresh for you and no work needs to be done
What to Do
Get historic. Did you know Thomas Edison once called Louisville home? Have you ever actually made the drive to the strikingly beautiful Shakertown? Want to see where “My Old Kentucky Home” was written? Visiting area historical landmarks during the week can often be less crowded, allowing you more time to explore and learn! The list is long so let the folks at Louisville Convention and Visitors Bureau help you decide (www.gotolouisville.com).
Spend a day at the races. You know that you can see horses race at Churchill Downs on other days than the first Saturday in May? We recommend an evening at Downs After Dark. They are themed throughout the summer and are always a good time. (Go to Churchilldowns.com)
Go for a bike ride. Did you know that you can literally bike 25 miles on the Louisville Loop along a smooth, paved road? By the year 2020 those miles are expected to quadruple, nearly circling our entire city in a protected scenic path.Don’t have a bike? Not a problem, LouVelo Bike Share has locations all around town; you can rent and return! (Go to louvelo.com)
Try something—anything—new. A staycation is the perfect opportunity to try something you always wanted to and just never had the time. In terms of potential new and thrilling experiences, there’s rock climbing at Climb NuLu, mixology and bourbon 101 at Moonshine University; painting, hat-making, jewelry and pottery shopping at Mellwood Arts and Entertainment Center, aerial yoga at Suspend Louisville. The list goes on. Start your own. And use it.
Where to Eat
There are simply too many top-notch restaurants to name or choose, so we suggest a different approach to help you narrow the field and steer clear of old standbys. Try these approaches to broaden your culinary horizons and discover your new favorites.
Mix it up. Let’s not forget one of the things that put us on the map for out-of-town tourists: bourbon! Take a weekend and visit the city’s best mixologists at locations like Mr. Lee’s (935 Goss Ave), The Silver Dollar (1761 Frankfort Ave), Hell or High Water (112 W Washington St) and Proof on Main (702 W Main St).
Theme it out. If you were traveling to the beach you might focus your meals on seafood. Why not do that here? The Seafood Lady (103 W Oak St) or River House Restaurant and Raw Bar (3015 River Road) both specialize in delicious seafood. The same idea can be applied to almost anything. For example, if you were on a ranch in Montana we’re pretty sure a hearty steak would be on the menu. Search for the best steak in Louisville at Rye (900 E Market St) or the Omni’s new restaurant, Bob’s Steak and Chop House (200 S. 2nd St).
Look for the hidden gems. Nothing like crowd sourcing on the internet to look for the best taco, pho or middle eastern food in town. Go beyond the closest Chinese takeout that you order for convenience and find something you’ve never even heard of before.