Louisville is named for Louis XVI of France, the French King who met a bad end during the French Revolution. The city named after him in America however, has flourished. Now home to more than 600,000 people, the city is the largest within Kentucky. Louisville is the site of one of the most prestigious events in the world. This is the home of Churchill Downs, one of the most famous horse racing tracks in the world and site of the Kentucky Derby. This event pulls tourists from all over the world to Louisville every May. Other professional sports are also very important to the locals, including golf, but the real passion seems to be for college sports. The college basketball and football programs both enjoy incredible support from the community.
When to Search
Like other cities with major tourist events, the time you want to avoid looking for apartments is during the Derby. Although the larger properties owned by companies will have suites available, many private landlords will try to rent out their suites at inflated rates during the Derby. The event is held in May of each year, so June becomes a very good time to look for an apartment.
Staying in the Know
Don't be surprised if a landlord asks for further documentation beyond a simple application. It is normal for landlords to ask to run a credit check, and to require confirmation of your enrolment as a student or as a worker at a job. Whether you're a student or an employee, having a letter on hand to confirm your status is a good way to be a step ahead during your job search.
Life in Louisville
The TARC system is the operator of busses in Louisville. As long as you're staying within the city center, the bus is practical. However, service to the suburbs is sparse. The bike racks on the bus provide a decent way to get close enough to your destination to bike the rest of the way though. If you live in an outlying district, you will likely find navigating the city without a car or bike frustrating.
Where to play
You might find it hard to get tickets, but the Louisville Cardinals college basketball games are attended like crazy by the locals. Even if attending the Derby itself isn't on your radar, the two weeks prior to the race comprise the Kentucky Derby Festival, where the town is absolutely ablaze with activities and festivities. Baxter Avenue is home to a good collection of local pubs like Molly Malone's and Dublin's cellar.
To learn about one of the most prestigious events in the entire country, and possibly the world, you should visit the Kentucky Derby Museum. However, nothing compares to visiting Churchill Downs itself. The most famous horseracing track in the world is a site to behold, and taking in an event there is a once in a lifetime experience for many. Many of the other local attractions share one thing in common. That is to say, they’re the collection if Bourbon makers in the area, most of which offer tours and tastings at their facilities.
Farm to table food is becoming more and more popular as people become ethically concerned about what they eat, and as they realize the increase in food quality that you get when your ingredients don't have to travel halfway across the world. In Louisville, the Harvest Restaurant provides a great example of what farm-to-table fare is all about. Decca is recognized as one of the coolest newer restaurants in the city. Again, the focus is on local food, but Chef Annie Pettry transforms simple ingredients into something uniquely stylish and delicious. Seviche is a Latin-fusion restaurant that is as creative as it is fun.
Beer lovers all spend some time at The Holy Grale Inside in Louisville. Beer is the only alcoholic beverage served here, and the taps are constantly rotated to ensure that the regulars always have something new to try. Bungalow Joe’s Bar and Grill is a friendly sports bar where you can feel free to bring your family to watch an early game. The Back Door is a much more rough and tumble bar, but with an atmosphere born out of decades of history. Whiskey, particularly bourbon, is surely the drink of Kentucky. The Haymarket Whiskey Bar pays tribute to this drink in an establishment that is all about two things: great times, and the love of great whiskey.
The largest museum in this part of the country is certainly the Speed Gallery. While already an impressive institution, the gallery was undergoing a multi-million dollar expansion plan during the time of this writing, and will surely be even more impressive going into the future. The 21c Museum Hotel is a cool way to cover your accommodations and to get a bit of culture in the process, as the boutique hotel chain combines their facilities with an art museum. The Louisville Orchestra is the local provider of classical music, and has a history going back over 80 years. The orchestra has been recognized across the country for it's quality, and has even been invited to participate at a “Festival of the Arts” at the White House in the sixties.
The largest event to take place anywhere in Kentucky is the Kentucky Derby Festival, which leads up to the most important sporting event in the state. The festival leading up to the Derby takes a week, and includes balloon races, marathons and more. The culmination of all this is of course the Derby itself, which attracts the world’s rich and famous to Kentucky to witness the legendary event. The local love for bourbon extends to the festival season, and the Kentucky Bourbon Festival is always popular with lovers of the local speciality.
The Mall St. Matthews offers great food and great shopping in Louisville. The mall includes a movie theatre and several dining options in addition to the hundreds of stores. If you prefer to support locally owned businesses however, there are several great enclaves of local stores to be found in the city. The Highlands area and East Market street are both very good options if you're looking to keep your money in Louisville. Both are also excellent areas for walking, providing for a great way to enjoy the day rather than just a venue for running your necessary errands.
The Kentucky Derby is of course considered the preeminent sporting event in town, but there are several other sporting events that the residents of Louisville get enthused about. Primarily, these are the games played by the teams of the Louisville Cardinals, the NCAA teams affiliated with the University of Louisville. Basketball is the school’s strongest sport, and the teams are so popular that it is sometimes next to impossible to get a seat at the game. The football team plays at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium, and is also certainly popular. The football program has produced a number of talented NFL players, but none so famous as Johnny Unitas.
The Louisville area is home to some truly stunning golf courses. The Bobby Nichols Golf Course, the Charlie Vettiner, and the Cherokee are just a few of the beautiful courses in the area. The parks in the city are equally spectacular, largely because the entire system was designed by Frederick Law Olmstead, who is one of the foremost authorities on landscaping to ever work in the field. The city also has an excellent network of bike paths that facilitate both recreational cycling, and cycling as an efficient means of transportation within the city. If you like to fish, try heading out to Carrie Gaulbert Cox Park, which provides a good spot for tossing a line in the Ohio River.