Road Trip: Return to Louisville, KY

02/28/2018 2:22 PM | Ron Presley (Administrator)

History, Culture, and Southern Hospitality

As the sport of catfishing grows, so grows tournament trails and events like Catfish Conference. Louisville, KY was the location of Catfish Conference 2018 for the second year in a row. My return to the Derby City gave me an opportunity to recall a few of its many attractions. Catfish was the theme of the conference, but history, culture, and southern hospitality are the theme of this great American city.

Louisville is one of the oldest cities west of the Appalachian Mountains. It was founded in 1778 by George Rogers Clark. The city was named after King Louis XVI of France. Never mind its actual age, because today, Louisville is a modern American city, looking to the future, with new construction all over the place.  

Louisville offers plenty of interesting attractions, so bring the family and see the sights depending on your own personal interests. There is literally something for everyone. Personally, I can’t think about Louisville without thinking about the Kentucky Derby and Louisville Slugger baseball bats. I visited both of these attractions and recommend them to everyone. I also took in the Muhammad Ali Center, another top attractions you won't want to miss. 

The Kentucky Derby

The Kentucky Derby Museum/Churchill Downs is an amazing complex representing years of sports history. It is hard to imagine that the first race took place on May 17, 1875. That is 145 years of excitement. Somewhere in the 1960s extravagant lady’s hat became the fashion on derby day. Today’s TV viewers are treated to what now is a southern tradition of colorful hats and delicious mint juleps.  

I recommend starting with “The Greatest Race.” It is a theater-in-the-round type of media event that tells the story of the Kentucky Derby. Participants set on swiveling stools while the story is told in greater than life-size proportions around the oval screen above the arena.

Watching the movie sets the stage for a 30-minute walking tour that reveals the history and pageantry of Churchill Downs Racetrack. Following the tour, you can leisurely explore two floors of family-friendly interactive exhibits. All this is included in the admission to the facility.

Louisville Slugger

When I hear the name Louisville Slugger my thoughts drift back to my childhood. I fondly remember swinging a few wooden bats in those days growing up in Kansas. Everyone should take the tour of the factory where the legendary Louisville Slugger baseball bat is made. It is sure to conjure up some memories of baseball legends of your youth.

Visitors can admire the world’s largest bat and discover a prehistoric baseball glove. You can also count the home run notches that Babe Ruth carved into his Louisville Slugger. I picked up a few bats that brought back memories of some of my baseball heroes. They included the actual bats used by such baseball legends as Micky Mantle and Johnny Bench. You will find baseball bats from your heroes as well. As a visitor you will receive your own baseball bat sample to remind you of one of Louisville’s most iconic attractions.

I took a step back in time and took a few swings with one of Mickey Mantle’s bats. It felt good to be back in the batter’s box again. 

Muhammad Ali Center

I also recommend a stop at the Muhammad Ali Center. This award-winning museum celebrates the life and legacy of the world-class boxer. It is housed in a six-story multicultural center. Here too, I recommend starting with an orientation film. Take the escalator to the fifth floor for the video and then work your way back down to the entrance.  

The museum features exhibits that spotlight the six core values Ali strived to live by throughout his life. Ali’s ethical norms included confidence, conviction, dedication, respect, giving and spirituality.

Highlights of my visit included a mock boxing ring, Ali boxing memorabilia, a theater that screens a short film showcasing Ali’s life, and a full-sized boxing ring, where a large projector displays ‘The Greatest,’ his signature fight.

I was highly impressed by the content of the many interactive displays that chronicle the life of Ali. You can spend as little or as much time as you want perusing the exhibits, many supported with historic video footage. Depending on your age, your visit will be either a walk down memory lane or an education related to the life of this incredible athlete and humanitarian.

Places to Eat

Don’t forget to take in a restaurant/bar on the famed Urban Bourbon Trail. As most folks know, Bourbon is a whiskey that has long been associated with Kentucky. The Urban Bourbon Trail consists of 34 bars and restaurants that showcase Kentucky’s best.

You can also visit an actual distillery. There are several on Whiskey Row – Evan Williams Bourbon Experience, Peerless Distillery and Angel’s Envy, one of the newest one to open.

Some of the Urban Bourbon Trail restaurants are located on “Whiskey Row.” They include the Bristol Bar & Grill, O’Shea’s Downtown, Sidebar @ Whiskey Row, Troll Pub Under the Bridge, Proof on Main, Jockey Silks, Down One Bourbon Bar and Doc Crow’s.  All of these are good. Check them out and you can decide which menu sounds the best to you.”

The restaurant that caught our eye was Merle Haggard’s Whiskey Kitchen. We spotted it downtown on our way to the Ali Center. It had outside dinning and the place was packed. We decided that would be our lunch spot after our visit to the center. It was great food and constant streaming of Merle Haggard music didn’t hurt. We left very content and rested for our visit to the Catfish Conference, a story in itself, that I will save for another day.

The numerous attractions available in the Louisville area make it a trip to be remembered. Although the Catfish Conference was my reason for being in Louisville, there are many other reasons to visit. I was taken by the atmosphere of friendliness and the amenities of the city. The truth is, you don’t need any other reason to visit, the city itself is reason enough!

For more information on Louisville visit the website at

For more information on Catfish Conference visit their website or follow and like them on Facebook.

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