When you’re hosting out-of-town guests, it is easy to get caught up in meal planning, dish washing, home presentation and keeping everyone happy. But remember to get people out into our great city. There are so many holiday events and festive attractions in Louisville, so why not let those things be the star of your guests’ holiday experience for a day?! Here are our top 10 suggestions for a day on the town with out-of-towners.
10 Holiday Events & Local Attractions
1. See the underground lights of Lights Under Louisville.
It’s the perfect kid-friendly activity that your little ones are guaranteed to enjoy: Lights Under Louisville. Drive 1.7 miles through underground passageways that have been transformed into a Christmas light spectacular. Boasting over 850 Christmas light displays and over 3 million points of light, there is no other show on the planet quite like this one. Lights Under Louisville runs Monday through Friday, 6 p.m. to 10 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday, 5 p.m. to 10 p.m., until December 31.
2. Scale a wall or practice yoga at Climb NuLu.
Santa’s not the only one who got into the cookies this year. Work off those dreaded extra pounds at Climb NuLu, a bouldering and yoga facility where you can climb without ropes or harnesses over a large foam pad or simply take a yoga class on said foam pads! This is the perfect spot to burn off some energy for little ones as all ages are welcome! You’ll probably work up quite the appetite afterwards, so walk across the street to grab a pulled pork sandwich from Feast BBQ or a delicious burger from Grind Burger Kitchen. Your tummy will thank you. Climb NuLu is open Monday through Friday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.
3. Museum-hop along Museum Row.
Add a little cultural education to your holiday vacation. Spend the day on Museum Row (a.k.a. Main Street), and hit some of Louisville’s greatest attractions. Start with the award-winning Muhammad Ali Center, then head to the creative KMAC Museum. Enjoy a delicious lunch at Atlantic No. 5 (open Monday through Friday only), then finish the day with the historical Frazier History Museum or, if the kiddos are with you, the Kentucky Science Center and the Louisville Slugger Museum. All that education can really tire your brain, so grab a craft cocktail at Proof on Main’s Proof Bar, where, if you’re still hungry for even more fine art, you can peruse the stunning, ever-changing exhibitions at the adjoining 21C Museum Hotel.
4. Shop, eat and play in NuLu.
NuLu is rapidly becoming one of Louisville’s most exciting neighborhoods and one that us locals love to show off. Start your day with a coffee and a delicious scone from Please & Thank You’s quaint shop. Next, get to shoppin’! Some of the city’s best and most eclectic shops are on this main strip. In fact, you might want to save all your money for them because they are that good. Our favorite, not-to-miss stores include: Scout, Revelry Boutique Gallery, Red Tree Furniture, Six Sisters Boutique and Mahonia. Have a laid-back lunch at the farm-to-table restaurant Harvest or grab a quick bite at one of our most loved restaurants, Royals Hot Chicken or Feast BBQ. And, if it’s a girls’ shopping day, pamper yourselves with an eyebrow wax from Dollface, a stylish spot that specializes in the artistry of brows and lashes.
5. Take a cooking class at MESA.
Louisville’s food scene is teeming with talented and creative chefs. Now, it’s your turn to wow your house full of guests! Take a cooking class and learn from the professionals at MESA, a state-of-the-art collaborative kitchen-classroom offering cooking classes and demonstrations. Learn everything from Southern cooking to wine pairing from your favorite chefs in the city. In addition to cooking classes, MESA also features a bookstore, to-go cooking dinners and a kitchen essentials boutique. They have several classes to sign up for or you can book a private event. You’ll be on your way to your best culinary self in no time.
6. Taste the spirit of Louisville along the bourbon trail.
Perhaps one of the best things to do in Louisville is to learn about our city’s drink of choice: bourbon. Though, with an overwhelming amount of distilleries in the state, it’s hard to choose just one to learn about. Luckily, Louisville is at the beginning of the bourbon trail with two great options. Book a tasting tour at Angel’s Envy, one of the city’s newest distilleries that has claimed its spot on Whiskey Row (a.k.a. Main Street). Next, head a little further down Whiskey Row to the Evan Williams Bourbon Experience, another exceptional bourbon brand and Kentucky’s first commercial distiller. And we highly recommend a visit to the Brown-Forman Cooperage, the only spirits company in the world to make its own barrels. Their barrels are hand-crafted from American white oak for the aging of spirits such as Jack Daniel’s, Coopers’ Craft, Woodford Reserve, Old Forester and more. Tour their cooperage through Mint Julep Tours.
Already been to these distilleries? Experience an interactive bourbon-tasting experience in three different bars in NuLu and Butchertown. Through Sour Mash Tours, you can book a private tasting or tour for a more curated experience or join the NuLu Bourbon Tasting Tour on Saturday, December 30 or Saturday, January 6 from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m., starting at Galaxie Bar.
7. Throw an axe at Flying Axes.
Get your axes ready! Experience the art of axe-throwing at Flying Axes, one of Louisville’s newest downtown attractions. Sound risky? Don’t worry — each of its 16 lanes comes with a throwing coach to help you through the axe-throwing learning curve. Safety is of the utmost importance here. Grab a soft drink or canned beer at the bar and practice your newfound axe skills. Drop in Tuesday through Thursday, 2 p.m. to 10 p.m.; Friday, 2 p.m. to midnight; Saturday, noon to midnight; and Sunday, noon to 10 p.m. or book your group!
8. Paint pottery at Stoneware & Co.
Talk about a soothing way to spend an afternoon: painting pottery. Louisville favorite Stoneware & Co. offers a wide selection of pottery pieces ready to be painted with the same tools and glazes that Stoneware’s artists use. Not only is this the perfect activity for you and the kiddos to get creative, but the resulting pottery will make for fabulous holiday gifts or mementos for next year’s holiday table. After you’ve painted your masterpiece, do some shopping in Stoneware & Co’s shop. And if all that creativity has you feeling peckish, head across the street to The Café, one of the city’s best hidden secrets. (Be sure to save room for one of their to-die-for desserts!)
9. Experience holiday cheer at Holiday in the City.
This one is for the kids. Head down to 4th Street Live! for Louisville’s annual month-long event, Holiday in the City. Hang out in the North Pole with Santa Claus, and let your little ones tell Santa what’s on their lists this year — hopefully they are on the Nice List! Next, grab your skates and hit the ice-skating rink at Holiday Square on 4th and Jefferson. Finally, grab a hot chocolate at Heine Brothers’ to warm you back up! Holiday in the City is open until Monday, January 1. Be sure to check out their website for the various hours.
10. Get “hoppy” on Louisville’s craft brewery scene.
Louisville is known for far more than bourbon and horse racing. We have a pretty great craft beer scene too. Spend the afternoon eating and bar-“hopping” your way through the city’s great breweries. Start on Main Street and enjoy a brew and lunch at Against the Grain, then head to BBC. Next, stop at Akasha Brewing Company in NuLu. From there, you should probably be thinking about a snack. Head to Gravely Brewery in the Highlands, where you can grab a Cowboy Dan from the bar and some guacamole from the Mayan Street Food truck. Next, hit one of Louisville’s beloved biergartens, Holy Grale, housed in an old church with a number of unique rotating taps. Still thirsty? Finish out the day at Cumberland Brewery. Now, take an Uber home and have a nap!
Enjoy your time with your out-of-town guests and discover a new corner of our fair city while you’re at it!