All eyes will be on Lexington this fall for the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games, but the states largest city also can boast of an impressive variety of attention-grabbing attractions. From the arts to sports to history, Louisville offers much to do and see.
The arts scene includes both performing, Actors Theatre of Louisville, and visual, the Speed Art Museum.
A Tony Award-winning regional theater, Actors Theatre of Louisville offers something to please everyone with this seasons lineup whether it be pathos (The Kite Runner, through Sept. 25), comedy (The Mystery of Irma Vep, Oct. 5-30) or romance (Barefoot in the Park, Nov. 16-Dec. 18.) The ever-popular A Christmas Carol returns for the holidays (Dec. 7-23.)
Speed Art Museum, considered one of the top art museums in the mid-South, has plenty to see any time of the year, with more than 13,000 works spanning 6,000 years. However, regular museum-goers who think theyve seen everything will be happy to hear that a major exhibition, Monet to Sargent: Landscape From the Age of Impressionism, will be on display Feb. 4 to May 22, 2011. Organized by New Yorks Brooklyn Museum, it features more than 40 paintings, offering an in-depth look at landscape painting through the works of Monet, Courbet and other leading French impressionists.
Louisville is as popular with sports fans as it is with art lovers, and one of the citys most eagerly awaited reopenings was that of the Kentucky Derby Museum. After being closed for nine months as a result of heavy flooding in August 2009, the museum near Churchill Downs Gate 1 once again opened its doors in April following a $5.5 million renovation. In addition to such past favorite exhibits as the Derby Time Machine and Riders Up, visitors will see many new exhibits.
Of course, you cant leave without taking a tour of Churchill Downs itself. Home to the Run for the Roses the first Saturday in May, Churchill also will play host to the Breeders Cup in 2010 and 2011. Dates for this years races are Nov. 5-6.
Sports aficionados dont need to stop with Thoroughbred racing. Louisville lures baseball lovers with the Louisville Slugger Museum youll know it by the six-story-tall baseball bat outside the entrance and boxing fans will surely want to spend an afternoon at the Muhammad Ali Center, which pays tribute to the illustrious career of the Greatest.
However, the biggest sports news in Louisville this year is the October opening of the KFC Yum Center. The 22,000-seat, $240 million arena will be the new home of the University of Louisville Cardinals mens and womens basketball teams. But before the hoopsters take to the court, the arena will be inaugurated with a concert by the Eagles on Oct. 16.
The River Citys favorite family attraction, the Louisville Zoo recently celebrated the opening of its newest attraction, the Seal and Sea Lion Habitat at Glacier Run. Currently home to four California sea lions and a harbor seal, the state-of-the-art exhibit will be welcoming more residents in the coming months. But in the meantime, Bart, Cicely, Triton and Kahula are finding relief from the heat in their swimming hole with its 108,000 gallons of recycled salt water in the main pool.
Most visitors to Louisville are familiar with the zoo, but they might not be unaware of what lies beneath it.
Louisville Mega Cavern, whose corridors extend for 17 miles underneath the zoo, is one of the largest (and least known) caverns in the United States. Its list of superlatives is mind-boggling: enough rock has been quarried there to erect all three of Egypts great pyramids and build four Empire State Buildings; it served as the nations largest civil defense shelter during the Cuban missile crisis, with enough room for 50,000 people; and its the largest recycling center in Kentucky, with tons of concrete, brick, rock and dirt brought in each year to be buried. The cavern is open for tours that are rich in geology and history.