Travel is a priority for our family. It’s nice to be home and to have routines, but it doesn’t take long for us to move from settled to stir-crazy. Our appetite for travel exceeds our finances. But that doesn’t stop us. It only makes us creative.
That’s why it’s no longer crazy for us to think about sleeping on an air mattress at a church in Ireland for three weeks. It’s this creative spirit that had us arriving at a little farmhouse just outside of Louisville for a week’s stay. After a long day of travel, it was almost 4 o’clock in the morning by the time we got to the farm. Now we had to hope the gate codes and key codes worked to get into the house because I was not going to call our hosts at 4 in the morning. We were in and we crashed.
It took a few days to finally get adjusted. Thankfully, the next morning our son was as tired as we were and slept late. Around 1 in the afternoon we were making coffee and starting our day. We had a week to enjoy the area and were in no hurry to get started. Louisville would be there tomorrow.
Over the next few days, I unexpectedly fell in love with a city. I can’t say I would have gone to Louisville without such an opportune accommodation. But when it was time to explore we put the bikes on the bike rack and drove into town.
Explore Louisville by Bike
We love exploring a new city by bike. It allows you to cover a lot of ground and everything feels close. We rode from here to there and hit a few highlights, like the Louisville Slugger Museum and Factory. We had a drink at the historic Brown Hotel. And we hung out on Fourth Street Live, a very cool area of town with great restaurants, bars, shopping… and escalators (very popular with our 1 year old).
I was loving Louisville. Our stay here was not what you’d call typical. We weren’t in a downtown hotel so at the end of the day we were back out on the farm and cooking dinner in our own kitchen. Before sunset, we’d take a few rides around the farm on the four-wheeler. Get our son to bed and have a glass of wine on the porch. And talk about tomorrow.
Of course, you cannot go to Louisville and not visit Churchill Downs. We arrived just a few days after the Kentucky Derby. While there were no races the day we visited, the winning horse, Mine That Bird was out on the track “stretching his legs” before making the trip to Maryland for the Preakness Stakes and hopes of Triple Crown glory.
You don’t have to be a horse-racing fan to be taken in by the aura and mystique of Churchill Downs, to look up at the stands, to look across the lawn and down the track. And little kids love all the pictures and statues of horses in the museum.
Throughout our time in Louisville, we continually found ourselves returning to Waterfront Park. These 85 acres adjacent to downtown Louisville and right along the Ohio River have so much to offer! This oasis alone puts Louisville in a special class among cities! Cruising along the park on our bikes we could stop for any variety of activities. We could find a quiet, tranquil spot and sit on a swing (yeah right, we’re traveling with kids). There is awesome equipment for the kids to play on. Restaurants and bars adjacent. Even water park areas with shooting water and little pools. All free. And it all rocks!
I grew up in Indiana, but as I looked across the river to the Hoosier State I once called home I felt like Indiana was a world away. Louisville was so different. There was a southern class in the city. I don’t know what others would say, but to me, Louisville is the gateway to the South.
Louisville Slugger Field
As the afternoon began to fade into the evening we were riding our bikes around Louisville Slugger Field, home of the Minor League Baseball Team the Louisville Bats. In a promotion, we got free tickets! I love minor league ballparks and this is a great one. Jackson rode the Merry-Go-Round and we had fun eating popcorn and cracker jacks.
The next day was Mother’s Day and we had a little picnic underneath a big, beautiful tree on the farm. Our time in Louisville was coming to a close.
We visited in mid-May, the perfect time of year to be in Louisville. We had great weather. Sunshine for most days. A few isolated thundershowers, which we watched sitting on our front porch. But as we left I gave Louisville my ultimate compliment. “I could live here.”