Big Fun in the Bluegrass
You can have a great time in Louisville without spending a lot of money. Go visit the Louisville Zoo, where the first daffodils of spring turn the pathways into a yellow-brick road. This one-time cornfield now bursts forth with five major exhibit areas spread over 134 acres. Don't miss the "Gorilla Forest," one of the most popular spots in the 1,300-animal menagerie. Trip Trivia: Buy a ZooTram ticket for $2.50, and ride all day. (Admission: $10.95 adults, $7.95 ages 2-11.)
Take a shopping-and-dining break at the hottest new venue in town. Fourth Street Live occupies an area of downtown once filled by a sleepy indoor mall. Open now for a year-and-a-half, the lively space has enticed visitors and locals alike back to the heart of the city. Don't miss a pin-popping game of bowling in Lucky Strike Lanes, and grab a gigantic burger at Hard Rock Cafe ($9). Peruse Borders for books by local authors, and then plan to come back in the evening, when lights and live music fill this place with a rollicking crescendo of fun.
But before the music starts, take in a Louisville Bats baseball game at Slugger Field (home games begin April 14). You'll love the stadium, with its friendly feel and excellent food. Browning's, one of the restaurants in the ballpark, serves up a great pulled-pork barbecue sandwich ($7.25) and a plate of miniature cheeseburgers ($7.50).
Now, head back to Fourth Street Live. Just follow the sound of music and laughter. Have a drink at Maker's Mark Bourbon House & Lounge. Toast the town with a perfectly made mint julep ($8), or just sip on a smooth Woodford Reserve bourbon ($6). They have Late Night Bites and drink specials after 11 p.m. every Friday and Saturday. Walk on over to the Marriott Courtyard Downtown or Galt House for a night of sweet Kentucky dreams.
Head over to The Speed Art Museum, where you'll see a special exhibit that includes works by Rembrandt. Permanent exhibits feature bronze sculptures by Henry Moore and paintings by Cézanne, Picasso, and Chagall. Have lunch in the museum's Café Bristol, where their chicken salad sandwich ($5.75)--spruced up with celery, raisins, and pecans--is pretty and delicious.
After browsing the Speed's museum shop, continue that same trend at Kentucky Museum of Art and Craft. Not only will you find wonderful exhibits, such as innovative woodwork and textile creations, but you'll also discover terrific gift items by 200 different artists. The gallery shop holds its derby hat show every spring, with lots of fancy toppers to try on (starting at $150). Trip Trivia: Pick up a pair of handcrafted earrings for $20.
More art and shopping await at Glassworks, where you can watch the glassblowers at work and then buy a finished piece. Discuss your evening activity choices over dinner at Artemisia. Try Chicken Marchan de Vin ($17). The New Orleans-style dish comes with a red wine sauce and aromatic veggies.
This month (March 7-April 8) features the Humana Festival of New American Plays at Actors Theatre, which showcases new productions each year. Or take in an event at The Kentucky Center, where you'll see a ballet, symphony, or Broadway play.
For a perfect ending, check in to The Brown hotel, with its large rooms and picture-perfect lobby. Sleep well, and dream of places yet to see.
It's a sure bet that you'll love Louisville in the spring.
For more information: Call (502) 582-3732, or visit www.gotolouisville.com.