Hear about travel to Louisville, Kentucky as the Amateur Traveler talks to Jason Falls, social media author, and speaker about his hometown.
Jason says, “Louisville is a fantastic city, it also has a lot going on from a tourism standpoint. The bourbon industry is cradled here. Not only are many of the corporate offices in or around Louisville but also Bardstown, which is 45 minutes south, is where a lot of the master distillers were born and raised. That’s where the Beam family lives, of Jim Beam fame. The bourbon industry has had a boom in the last decade. It is America’s native spirit. We celebrate it here and make 95% of the world’s supply of it”.
“We are obviously also known for horses. The Kentucky Derby was just last week as we record this. It is always the first Saturday in May. For a month prior to that Louisville celebrates the Derby festival, it’s Derby season. We have Thunder over Louisville a couple of weeks before which is one of the largest fireworks displays in North America. It’s an all-day airshow down on the riverfront. There’s the Pegasus parade. There’s the steamboat race. The month of April is a good time to be in Louisville. We are the only city in the world that parties for 2 weeks for a race that lasts 2 minutes. Horse racing is big here.”
Louisville is also known for the Louisville Slugger baseball bats and the factory and museum are a must-stop for baseball fans. Jason also recommends some of the other museums in the downtown area such as the Kentucky Science Center, Frazier History Museum, and Kentucky Museum of Art & Craft in addition to the Evan Williams Bourbon Experience and Kentucky Derby Museum.
Car buffs should travel further south to the Corvette factory and the Corvette Museum. And fans of national parks won’t want to miss a visit to Mammoth Cave. Some will also want to visit the Hillbilly Days or Creation Museum.
Jason also gives us pointers for enjoying the food and drink scene in Louisville as well as the nearby Bourbon Trail. Whether you like caves, cars, horses, or hors d’oeuvre, Louisville is a good bet.
DK Eyewitness Travel Guides – One of my favorite guidebook series
Thunder Over Louisville
Louisville Mega Cavern
Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory
Kentucky Science Center
Frazier History Museum
Kentucky Museum of Art & Craft
Evan Williams Bourbon Experience
Kentucky Derby Museum
Urban Bourbon Trail
Mint Julep Tours
Bristol Bar & Grille
National Corvette Museum
Bowling Green Assembly Plant
Mammoth Cave National Park
Road Trip from Kansas City to Cincinnati including Little Rock, Memphis, Nashville, and Louisville
I first discovered the AT podcast at the end of 2013 while planning a trip to Europe for September 2014 with my then boyfriend, Nate. I had never listened to podcasts before but you made me an avid listener. I would play them on my commute and during my workday so I quickly made it through all the podcasts covering the European locations. I then moved on to the episodes that covered locations that I one day hope to visit. Along the way, I learned of This Week in Travel. Since, that is less location based, I would just play episodes back to back. I listened to every single episode of TWIT. Yup, every.single.one.
Nate has his degrees in computer science and electrical engineering so you may guess he is a bit analytic and likes things to be well designed/planned out. He is very particular about listening to podcasts when it comes to content, audio quality, layout and editing of the show. He needs the host to be articulate, smart, and current/knowledgeable on technology. Amateur Traveler exceeds these requirements by far. In other words, you are awesome!
I used the advice from the podcast when planning the Europe trip and I would bookmark the AT episodes that covered the locations of our trip. We flew into Munich and rented a car to drive through Germany , Austria, Italy, France, and Switzerland. A bit of a sampler platter spending a few days in a select few cities, visiting friends we have living in the area and enjoying the scenic drives. It basically gave us an idea of where we need to go back to (small towns in Switzerland) and where we don’t need to spend more time (Paris). I would always play the podcast covering the next location as we drove there. So here we are driving through these beautiful lands listening to you and your guests prep us for our next stop. Oh and we always jam out to the theme song!
Sorry this email is so long! I am writing you to say thank you for all the great shows and also to say that you (without knowing) have been along for the ride of some big points of our life. It was during this Europe trip that Nate went from boyfriend to fiancé (in the Cinque Terre). When we decided to do a destination wedding (Outer Banks, NC), your podcast was one of the first resources we used to pick the spot. Lastly, we are now just planning our honeymoon and your last few podcasts could not have been timed more perfectly (Charleston, SC and Asheville, NC). Please keep up the amazing work. Inspired by you, I have now made my employment to be less location dependent (like Nate’s) so we are ready to travel the world. We just need to make it past those, “I do’s” first!
Thank you very much,
Chris: Amateur Traveler episode 467. Today, the Amateur Traveler talks about baseball bats and bourbon, corvettes and caves and horse racing as we go to Louisville, Kentucky. Welcome to the Amateur Traveler.
Chris: This episode of Amateur Traveler is sponsored by DK Eyewitness Travel Guides. These colorful guidebooks are filled with great information and are one of my favorite guidebooks. I have 25 of them right here on my bookshelf. Learn more at DK.com.
Chris: I’m your host, Chris Christensen. We’ll hear more from our sponsor in a bit, but first, let’s hear about Louisville. I’d like to welcome to the show Jason Falls. Jason is a social media author and speaker and the unofficial ambassador, or an unofficial ambassador for Louisville and the state of Kentucky.
Jason: That was pretty good.
Chris: That I got close with Louisville.
Jason: You got pretty close. I tell people if you want to pronounce it right or the way natives pronounce it, it’s Lou and Vol with an uh in the middle, very slight. Two and a quarter syllables.
Chris: You mock me a little bit, but of course it’s spelled Louisville. So that’s how people are going to look for it when they’re Googling it.
Jason: That’s true.
Chris: So why should someone go to Louisville?
Jason: Louisville is a fantastic city. It’s also got a lot going on from a tourism standpoint. Obviously, the bourbon industry is sort of cradled here. Not only are many of the corporate offices either in or around Louisville, but Bardstown, Kentucky, which is about 45 minutes South, which is a very small town is where a lot of the master distillers were born and raised. That’s where the Beam family lives.
Chris: Of Jim Beam fame here?
Jason: Yes, of Jim Beam fame, yes. The Beam family though, there are Beam cousins and whatnot that are actually the master distillers at many of the other distilleries, the competitors. So the Beam family runs throughout the bourbon industry.
Chris: Oh, interesting.
Jason: The bourbon industry has really had a boom in the last decade. It is America’s native spirit, as officially declared by Congress. Bourbon is one of the only spirits that’s truly native to the United States. We celebrate it here and make 95% of the world’s supply of it here. That’s one big reason. Really good bourbon tourism going on in Kentucky. We’re also obviously known for horses. The Kentucky Derby was just last week as we record this.
Chris: We’re recording this in May, so it was the first week in May?
Jason: It’s always the first Saturday in May, the running of the Kentucky Derby. Obviously for a month prior to that, Louisville actually celebrate the Derby festival. It’s Derby season. We have thunder over Louisville a couple of months before, which is one the largest fireworks display in North America. It’s an all day air show down on the riverfront. There’s the Pegasus Parade. There’s the Steamboat Race. There’s all sorts of things that are part of the Derby festival. For basically three, four weeks prior to the first Saturday in May, so the month of April is a good time to be in Louisville because you’re right in the middle of that Kentucky Derby celebration. We’re the only city in the world that parties for two weeks for a race that lasts two minutes.
Chris: Well, I was wondering about that as you’re saying that it went on for a while. Is there any real reason? It’s not like the horses come a couple weeks earlier, so they just started historically to party? Or is it just an excuse for a party?
Jason: I think it’s probably a combination of everything. Yes, it’s an excuse to party. But derby season, when the thoroughbreds start running, people in Kentucky get excited. The horse industry is big here. There’s also another racetrack an hour down the road in Lexington, Kentucky called Keeneland, which has a Spring Meet as well. So horse racing’s big here. The anticipation leading up to the Derby is an international thing. People come in from all over the world for this race, and the horses do get here a few weeks early to start training. People will come in a couple weeks to go out in the morning at Churchill Downs and watch the horses exercise and get warmed up for the race, so it’s a lot bigger deal than many people think.
Chris: Now, obviously the Derby is not the only race they do at Churchill Downs during the whole year. Does the horse racing season start then or did it start earlier in the year?
Jason: It starts a little earlier in the year. Obviously, the three-year-olds have to run in several qualifying races to get to the Derby. There are a few of them start in the more Southern locations like Arkansas, Santa Anita, down in Florida, California, so on and so forth. There are races in February, March, and April leading up to the Derby. But Churchill Downs, which is obviously one of the bigger race tracks in the horse racing industry has a Spring Meet, which starts in April. They also have races that run throughout the summer and then they’ve just added one in the fall. Not only is the Kentucky Derby not the only race that’s run at Churchill Downs, it’s not the only race that’s run that day.
Chris: Two minutes of racing would be.
Jason: Yeah, that’d be crazy to have 150,000 people partying all day for a two minute race, which is kind of by definition what everybody does. However, there are typically 12 to 15 races on a given days card. Quite frankly, for people who live in Louisville, most of us let the tourists go to the Derby. We host Derby parties at our house. We go to the track on Friday for the running of the Oaks, which is the fillies race.
Chris: So that’s one-year-olds?
Jason: That is two-year-old female horses. That’s a Louisville insider tradition. We go on Friday. Let all the tourists go on Saturday.
Chris: I would have to say, I’m almost completely ignorant of the horse racing scene, specifically at Churchill Downs or in Kentucky. What is the best way to experience that part of Louisville? How do I do it?
Chris: I know in England, you dress up when you go out to the racetrack.
Chris: What is the experience like?
Jason: The experience is really fantastic. There’s really two options if you want to go to the Derby on Derby day. One option is you get dressed up in your Sunday best. If you’re a female, derby hats are a big thing. So you have to go get the big derby hat that matches your outfit.
Chris: And a derby hat, it’s not a special type of hat. It’s just a fancy hat?
Jason: No, it’s just a fancy hat. Imagine you’re going to a wedding in the Deep South and you need a hat to keep the shade out of your face.
Chris: Okay. I’m guessing I want to keep the shade in my face in the sun out of my face.
Jason: Yeah, that too. But derby hats are just fancy hats. The women typically dress up really nice. They wear fancy hats. The men will dress up in a more colorful, spring-colored suit, seersucker or whatever. You sip on mint juleps all day. You bet on the horses and have a good time. Those tickets in the grandstand, the seats under the Twin Spires are typically a little bit more expensive. The higher up you go in the grandstand, the closer you get to Millionaires Row. The seats get much more expensive. Those are kind of the exclusive box seats. That’s one way to do it. Spend a little money, dress up real fancy and have a swanky day out at the track. The other way to do it is to pay 40 bucks to get in the infield with all the people who run around in flip-flops, T-shirts, and shorts. When it rains, they create their own little mudslides in the infield and there’s a lot of alcoholic intake going on. It can be a little wild and raucous in the infield, but it’s a good time. It’s cheaper, and that’s for the folks like me. More of the common folk.
Chris: Do you have an insider Kentucky secret for picking a winner in one of the races?
Jason: Honestly, what I do is I typically pick the three horse, the six horse, or the nine horse. The ones running out of those slots in the gate. I like three, six, nine. Every time I bet that, I’ve done okay, but there’s really no secret. You can read the racing form and try to get tips from people and understand. I’ve heard everything from, “You always pick the horse that finishes strong” to “You always pick the horse that takes a dump in the paddock before he goes out.”
Chris: I’ve heard that one.
Jason: So there’s lots of different theories on it. There’s no one theory that works. In fact, one year, my wife, she always picks the one that she likes the name the best.
Jason: Of course everybody rolls their eyes at people who pick horses like that. One year, she picked Giacomo, which went off at 50 to 1. If we’d have bet on it, we would’ve won a lot of money, so you never know.
Chris: Excellent. Besides the Derby festival and that period of time, any other great times to go to Louisville?
Jason: Yeah, Louisville is a really interesting community year-round. There’s not a whole lot of other festivals going on. There’s a really nice innovation and technology conference called Ideafest, which happens in September every year. There’s lots of conventions and whatnot that go in and out of Louisville. We have a really nice Fourth of July celebration. We have a mega cavern, a cave underneath the Louisville zoo, which has a really interesting Christmas lights display. So there’s lots of interesting little odds and ends. But the thing about Louisville that I feel really compelling is it’s a very eclectic community for restaurants, and it also has a surprising number of parks, bike trails, lots of outdoor things to do, even in an urban environment here. It’s one of those places where, whether it’s with the museums we’ve got, whether it’s the bourbon trail, which you can go to anytime of the year, or whether it’s the culinary scene here, there’s always something interesting to do in Louisville.
Chris: Let’s take a break here and hear from our sponsor DK Eyewitness Travel Guides. I was curious to see what the DK Guide, the U.S.A guide had to say about the region that we’re talking about today. I found this reference for Bardstown, the self-proclaimed bourbon capital of the world. Bardstown is surrounded by the state’s largest whisky distillers, which have earned Kentucky it’s legendary reputation as the whisky making center of the U.S. Bourbon is made from corn, malt, and rye, and is aged in charred white oak barrels. The most popular distillery, James Beam, is known in countless country songs as Jim Beam, lies 14 miles west of Bardstown, while a 20 mile drive south leads to the famed Makers Mark Distillery, Kentucky’s oldest distillery operating in the same side. However, Bardstown’s most popular attraction is My Old Kentucky Home State Park. Here, guides lead visitors through the historic mansion that according to legend, inspired composer Steven Foster to write “My Old Kentucky Home,” the state’s beloved anthem. The park also hosts outdoor musicals. That kind of information plus wonderful pictures and illustrations are one of the things that make these my favorite guidebooks. To get your own DK Eyewitness guide, go to DK.com.
Chris: Now you named a couple of different things we’re going into more detail with. Let’s start with museums. You mentioned the museums you’ve got.
Jason: Sure, just on Main Street, we have The Louisville Slugger Factory And Museum. Louisville Slugger is the famous baseball bats used by 80% of major league baseball players. That’s a Louisville brand, obviously, made right here in Louisville. You can see how they’re made. If you go on the tour, you can see a shipment and allotment that is being made for an active major league baseball player being put together right there on the floor. You can’t touch ’em, but you can see ’em.
Chris: My wife and I did that tour just last summer, and as baseball fans, thoroughly enjoyed it. You’re underselling it a little bit. In addition to the factory tour, which I think you should do, the museum there is almost like a little Cooperstown. A little hall of fame for baseball, especially for hitting. Of course, this is a place that celebrates the crack of the bat and the home run more so than the pitching.
Jason: Yup, and like any other museum, they also have some traveling exhibits too. The last one I went to was a couple of months ago, and they had a Lego display of major league baseball stadiums built out of Legos, which was phenomenal. My son loved it. We had a great time at that. The one thing about the Slugger Museum, if you go on the tour, at the end of it, they’ll give you a mini slugger bat, a little, miniature wooden bat. You can’t take those on airplanes. So put that in checked luggage or they’re going to take it away from you. They even have a display case of all the confiscated bats they’ve pulled out.
Chris: Oh funny.
Jason: So that’s one. This is just on Main Street. We have a science museum, which is spectacular with an IMAX theater. We have the Frazier History Museum, which always has fantastic traveling exhibits. We have an arts and crafts museum on Main Street as well. And then you get into the bourbon stuff. We’ve got the Evan Williams Bourbon Experience, which is a museum in and of itself, talking about the bourbon process. Right now, we have a total of nine spirits related distilleries that are being constructed in downtown Louisville that will be open in the next couple of years to go along with all that.
Chris: Traditionally they were weren’t in Louisville. They were out in the countrysides.
Jason: Back in the day, there were some distillery operations in Downtown Louisville. When I say back in the day, I mean late 1800’s. But they moved most of them out into the rural parts of the state after prohibition. But now, they are creating basically distilleries downtown as part of a tourism experience for the industry. Next door to the Frazier Museum, they just announced a couple of weeks ago that in the next couple of years, they’ll be opening the bourbon experience museum, which will be the starting point for the bourbon trail. So you check in there, go through the museum, and then you get maps and instructions on how to get to all the distilleries and all that good stuff.
Chris: Of course you say “the bourbon experience” and I’m not thinking of a museum experience.
Jason: Your own personal bourbon experience is separate from the official tourism portion of it, but there’s plenty to do here for that. So outside of downtown, there’s always also the Kentucky Derby Museum next door to Churchill Downs, which is fantastic and open most of the year. So you don’t have to come on the first Saturday of May to enjoy and appreciate the Kentucky Derby as well.
Chris: Excellent, and then you mentioned a couple times the bourbon trail.
Jason: Yes, so there’s two real components of that. There’s what people call the Bourbon Trail, which is there are a number of distilleries. I can’t remember the full count, it’s a couple of dozen distilleries in the state of Kentucky and about 75% of them have a tourist angle. Like you can go and you can take a tour. Some of them have full experiences and museums. Probably the best one, if I had to single any one out is Maker’s Mark. They’ve had a tourist experience there for several years. You get to go down the bottling line and dip your own bottle of Marker’s Mark. It’s signature red wax is dipped. Every bottle is handed dipped, so you can actually participate and dip a bottle of Markers Mark. It is the furthest away from Louisville in terms of if you’re going to start in Louisville and go somewhere and come back to a hotel in Louisville. It’s about a 45 to 50 minute drive out in the country, but it’s absolutely beautiful. Along the way, you can stop at the Jim Beam experience, you can stop at Four Roses, you can stop at Heaven Hill, which does Evan Williams and Elijah Craig and several other brands.
Then there’s the other part of the bourbon trail, which is on the Lexington, Kentucky side of the state, which is really only about an hour away. Frankfort and Lexington are 45 minutes and an hour respectively from Louisville, so you could do it from Louisville. That’s where you’re going to find Woodford Reserve, Buffalo Trace, Wild Turkey, and a couple of other distilleries. So the bourbon trail refers to going to the physical distilleries and checking out all the different brands and how they’re made. Then there’s the urban bourbon trail, which is a new marketing spin on things, which includes or will include the distilleries that will be opening up in Downtown Louisville, but then there’s several bars around town which are signed up to be official passport stops on the urban bourbon trail. There’s even an organization in town that issues a passport booklet, and you can get your booklet stamped if you have a bourbon at that particular bar. So it’s a fun way to celebrate the spirit.
Chris: Just to be clear, since we talked about Jack Daniels on a recent podcast and it happens to be in a dry county, the experience of these places are including tasting.
Jason: That is true, and to my knowledge and I think this is accurate, the distilleries that happen to be in dry counties in Kentucky have special permits to be able to sell the bottles to take home for gifts and special permits for tastings as well. Marker’s Mark, I believe, is in a dry county, but you do get to taste if you go on the official tours there.
Chris: And since we are potentially tasting assuming we’re a bourbon lover, with the wine county up here, you can sometimes get chauffeured or something where you don’t have to worry too much about driving between places. Are there those options as well?
Jason: Absolutely, Mint Julep tours is probably the most popular one in Louisville, but there are several other companies and organizations that you can hire a driver for the day, official tour guides to take you to those various locations.
Chris: Excellent, and then you mentioned the restaurant scene in Louisville. Got some recommendations for us? What should I have? What is the signature dish in Louisville?
Jason: The signature dish is the hot brown. That was actually created the chef at The Brown Hotel. The Brown Family is a long standing matriarchal family in Louisville, if you will. The hot brown is an open face turkey sandwich with bacon and a special sauce on it. It’s another thing that’s traditionally eaten at the Kentucky Derby on Derby Day. A hot brown is an interesting Louisville signature dish you would want to try when you come to town.
Chris: Is The Brown Hotel the place to try that?
Jason: I don’t know if I’d say The Brown Hotel is the place, but for nostalgia sake, absolutely. I would absolutely order a hot brown at The Brown Hotel just to say “Hey, I ate one where it was invented.” That’s kind of cool. The Brown Hotel is also a historic building, a historic hotel, and is one of those late 1800s hotels that’s just beautiful with great chandeliers and artwork on the ceilings and walls and whatnot. It’s just a fantastic looking place to be. An interesting place to stay or visit. As is The Seelbach Hotel, which is a similar hotel down the street which I believe is now a Hilton property. The interesting thing about Louisville that people don’t always remember is Yum Brands is headquartered here, which is Kentucky Fried Chicken, Long John Silvers, A&W, Pizza Hut, and Taco Bell. I think they spun off a couple of those, but anyway, Yum Brands is headquartered here. Kentucky Fried Chicken obviously being the cornerstone of that company, but we also have Papa John’s. Papa John’s is headquartered here. Papa John’s pizza and Texas Roadhouse. There are several restaurants who are actually headquartered here in Louisville and what that means is when you have executives or R&D folks who leave those companies and start other concepts, they typically start them here. So we have this interesting hodge-podge of culinary spins on things here in Louisville because we have an active large food industry here in town. So we’ve got everything from really interesting side-of-the-road barbecue joints to casual dining concepts to just mom and pop diners that are really good here in Louisville.
A couple of recommendations, restaurants you may want to circle and keep on your list if you’re coming to town, Jack Fries has been ranked over and over again as one of the best date restaurants, romantic restaurants in Louisville. I don’t know that I agree with that because Jack Fries is always crowded and always loud, so I’m not sure where they get the date, romantic thing, but the food is fantastic. They have great bourbon there. A great place to go. Ramsey’s Cafe is great for someone who has maybe more of a Mediterranean preference. They have a fantastic selection. But even . . . I just ate lunch today at one of our casual dining, sit-down places for lunch called The Bristol, which has a couple of locations in town and they have a green chili wonton appetizer which is absolutely one of the best things I’ve ever eaten. We’ve got an interesting array of restaurants here in town and it’s a great place if you want to go out to eat.
Chris: What’s going to surprise me about Louisville?
Jason: There’s probably 10 or 15 things that would surprise you about Louisville. I think, and course this takes being here more than a few days, the diversity in Louisville culturally is very interesting to me because when people think of Louisville and they think of Kentucky they don’t think typically of diversity. They don’t think of urban or metropolitan. Louisville is actually the 16th largest metropolitan area in the United States if you count the county and not just the city proper. So it’s actually a pretty decent sized community. In the metro area, I think there’s about a million and a half people.
Chris: And that’s crossing over the river?
Jason: That’s going into Southern Indiana, yes. There’s three medium sized cities right across the river in Southern Indiana: Jeffersonville, Clarksville, and New Albany. So about 1.5 million people in the metro area, which makes it a pretty nice size town. The diversity of interests and people, not just in the restaurant scene, but just culturally in town is interesting. We have a very active art scene. We have a couple of areas of town that are the hipster, trendy neighborhoods, which are always fun and fascinating when you’re out going to a bar or going to a restaurant. Someone told me a couple of years ago that there were over 90 different native languages spoken in Jefferson County Public School System. So we have an interesting immigrant community here, which always manifests itself in some interesting restaurant selections, and it’s just an interesting community. We have a very diverse group of people, a very diverse group of religions and it makes Louisville a lot more progressive than you might think for a city that’s associated with a Southern state.
Chris: If I’m basing in Louisville, where else might I want to go to nearby?
Jason: This is one reason U.P.S. chose to put it’s flight hub here. We are actually within a six hour drive, I think it’s a six hour drive, of 80% of the U.S. population. So you can come to Louisville and go to Indianapolis, Cincinnati, Lexington, Huntington, West Virginia, Evansville. You can be in St. Louis in four hours. Memphis isn’t far. Nashville’s three hours away. Birmingham is six hours away. Chicago is about five, five and half hours away. So it’s very centrally located. So if you wanted to anchor yourself here and take some day trips to some other communities, you can get to a lot of interesting places from here. I would encourage everyone, just because I’m from Kentucky, I was raised in Pikeville, which is way out in the far eastern part of the state, I would encourage everyone to make a trip down that way. The third weekend of April in Pikeville, Kentucky is Hillbilly Days, which will absolutely deliver you all the Eastern Kentucky stereotypes, but because you go there, it will absolutely turn them all away for you as well because you’ll realize “Hey, this is just like any other city in the United States. It just has mountains and they talk with a little twang.” They celebrate, in that festival every year, mountain culture, and bluegrass music, and mountain music and so on and so forth, but you’d be surprised at the education system, the innovation that happens in some of the businesses, and certainly the people are just like southern people. Very pleasant and welcoming, so you’ll get your fair share of overalls, model T cars, and moonshine, but you’ll also realize that those are stereotypes that are not necessarily what eastern Kentucky really is. If you’re a motor head, we make the Corvettes here in Bowling Green, which is about two hours down I-65 here in Kentucky, so it’s just a couple hours south. So if you want to go to the Corvette Museum, which a year and a half ago, they had a sinkhole, which happened in the middle of the museum. I don’t think they’ve repaired it. I think they’ve left it so you can see where the Corvettes have sunken into the Mammoth Cave areas down there, too, which is another great tourist attraction as well.
Chris: We actually skipped the Corvette Museum, but we went to the Corvette plant and did the tour there. As an engineer, that was thoroughly wonderful. I’m not that much a motor head, but if you are and you have the money for a Corvette, you can even pay an extra $5000 and assemble your own engine under the supervision. I feel like they should pay me for that, but you can be there as your car rolls off the plant and be the first one to put the key in and drive it over the test thing, so it’s real fun. It was great fun if you’ve never visited a large assembly plant. I have no pictures of it because you’re not allowed to bring cameras in, or at least no pictures that I took at least. Then we visited Mammoth Cave on the save day, so it was a busy day.
Jason: It’s all right down there in that same part of the state. Great place.
Chris: Mammoth was a surprise to me because I’m used to picturing something like Carlsbad Cavern with lots of stalactites and stalagmite. It’s the largest cave system, but it’s not necessarily like that.
Jason: Yeah, when they may Mammoth, they mean Mammoth. There are some tours you can take in Mammoth cave that will put you in those really tight, constricted spaces with a lot of stalactites, stalagmites, sure. But when you walk into the main tourist area of Mammoth Cave, you’re basically in what would amount to be an indoor football arena. It’s a huge cavernous place and you realize there’s an entire, or there could be an entire ecosystem of life underground in something like that. It’s very impressive. It’ll humble you real quick.
Chris: Yeah, interesting place. What do the guidebooks recommend I should do or the tourist boards recommend I should do that, “Eh, maybe not.”
Jason: I think the way I would answer that is it really just depends on what your tastes are. If you’re not a motor head, you’re not gonna appreciate the Corvette Museum or factory. If you’re not really into sports, The Slugger Museum’s not going to interest you much. We also have Northern Kentucky, about an hour or so from here, we have The Creation Museum, which as gotten a lot of publicity lately because they’re trying to build a replica of Noah’s Ark. So if you’re not really into the religious thing, then that’s not gonna be up your alley. I would just say you need to base where you don’t go based on where your interests don’t lie. I will say this though, if you are addicted to your device, if you need Wi-Fi, and you gotta have that thing on you at all times, Shakertown in Pleasant Hill is probably not where you want to go. Shaker Village, which is south of Lexington, is basically Shaker is an offshoot of the Quakers. They have a hotel there you can stay, but it’s really about getting back the way it was a long time ago with no reasonable electricity and none of the benefits of all this technology that we’re addicted to these days.
Chris: No municipal Wi-Fi in Shakertown would you say?
Jason: No, probably not. And then of course, as you get into the more rural parts of the state, you’re probably gonna be able to get a cell phone signal. But high speed Wi-Fi as you’re cruising down the mountain parkway, not really a possibility.
Chris: Excellent, before we get to say our last four questions, anything else you would recommend before we go to Louisville?
Jason: We have really, really comfortable springs, really comfortable falls. It gets a little hot in late July and August, but not like over 100, 105. I will say this, if you have allergies, the Ohio River Valley is not going to be good to you. So bring your extra medications and all that good stuff because there’s a lot of pollen here. We’re in the middle of the Ohio River Valley. Lots of vegetation, lots of trees, so people who suffer from allergies typically don’t like the spring or the fall in Louisville. Summer’s not all that bad. We do have snow in the winter time. We’re not a southern state in that we can’t deal with snow. We have a pretty mild climate and it’s a good place to come visit.
Chris: Excellent, last four questions for you. You’re standing in the prettiest spot in Louisville, in or around. Where are you standing and what are you looking at?
Jason: I am standing on the back side of Churchill Downs at about 7:30 in the morning watching the thoroughbreds warm up. That’s a beautiful scene because you’re looking at the Twin Spires. You’re looking at the empty grandstands of Churchill Downs. And on the right morning, depending on the temperature and whatnot, you’re seeing steam come up off the backs of these horses. If you’ve never seen a thoroughbred race horse up close and personal and seen the ripples on their muscles underneath their skin as they run, it’s a sight to behold. It really is.
Chris: Excellent, one thing that makes you laugh and say only in Louisville?
Jason: When someone in Louisville says to someone else in Louisville, “Where did you go to school?” They don’t mean college. It’s a high school thing here and where you went to high school often tells what your family’s background is, what part of town you lived in, what your socioeconomic status was. The public school system here in Louisville is vast. There’s lots of high schools and there’s several private Catholic and other independent religious private schools as well in Louisville. That’s a cute little thing that’s mainly a Louisville thing.
Chris: You have me now racking my brain because one other city and I want to say it was another southern city in the U.S. that we talked about, we had the same answer. So I’m desperate to remember where it was. I want to say it was St. Louis, but the listeners will have to correct me on that if I am wrong.
Jason: I had heard that I think about I want to say Portland, Oregon, but I don’t know that that’s absolutely correct. I thought it was a Pacific Northwest town, but yeah, I haven’t heard that about many cities.
Chris: Last two questions. Finish this sentence: you really know you’re in Louisville when, what?
Jason: You party for two weeks for a two minute horse race.
Chris: And if you had to summarize Louisville in just three words, what three words would you use?
Jason: Thoroughbreds, bourbon, and fun.
Chris: Excellent. Jason, thanks so much for coming on the Amateur Traveler and sharing with us your obvious love of Louisville.
Jason: I’m glad to be here, Chris. Thanks for having me.
Chris: And I heard from Molly recently who said, “I first discovered the Amateur Traveler podcast at the end of 2013 while planning a trip to Europe for September of 2014 with my then boyfriend, Nate. I had never listened to podcasts before but you made me an avid listener. I would play them on my commute during my work days so I quickly made it through all the podcasts covering the European locations. I then moved on to the episodes that covered locations that I one day hope to visit. Along the way, I learned of This Week In Travel since that is less location-based, I would just play episodes back-to-back. I listened to every single episode of This Week In Travel. Yep, every single one.”
For some reason, Molly, I feel like I should apologize for that.
“Nate has his degree in computer science and electrical engineering, so you may guess he is a bit analytic and likes things to be well designed/planned out. He is very particular about listening to podcasts when it comes to content, audio quality, layout, and editing of the show. He needs the host to be articulate, smart, and current/knowledgeable on technology. Amateur Traveler exceeds these requirements by far. In other words, you are awesome.” Some of you may be wondering why I read this email. “I used the advice from the podcast when planning the Europe trip and I would bookmark the Amateur Traveler episodes that covered the locations of our trips. We flew into Munich and rented a car to drive through Germany, Austria, Italy, France, and Switzerland. A bit of a sample platter, spending a few days in a select few cities. Visiting friends we have living in the area and enjoying the scenic drives. It basically gave us an idea of where we need to go back to, small towns in Switzerland, and where we don’t need to spend more time, Paris. I would always play the podcast covering the next location as we drove there, so here we are driving through these beautiful lands listening to you and your guests prep us for our next stop. Oh and we always jam out to the theme song. Sorry this email is so long.”
“I’m writing to say thank you for all the great shows and also to say you have been along for some big points in our life. It was during this Europe trip that Nate went from boyfriend to fiancee in the Cinque Terre. When we decided to do a destination wedding, the outer banks of North Carolina, your podcast was one of the first resources we used to pick the spot. Lastly, we are now planning our honeymoon and your last few podcasts could not have been more perfectly timed. Charleston, South Carolina and Asheville, North Carolina. Please keep up the amazing work. Inspired by you, I have now made my employment to be less location dependent like Nate’s, so we are ready to travel the world. We just need to make it past those ‘I do’s’ first. Thank you so much. Molly.”
Molly’s email wasn’t just the highlight of the day that I got it, but the highlight of the week. One of the things that’s really helpful for me is, I often don’t know how people are using this show. Not only is that just encouraging to me, but it also is something that I can go back to sponsors and tourism boards and such and say, “See, people are using this content to plan their vacations.” So thank you for the encouraging email and thank you for the [inaudible 00:34:53] email and I’m glad that Amateur Traveler has been of some use to you.
And with that, we’ll end this episode of The Amateur Traveler. If you have an email about how you have used Amateur Traveler to plan your trips, send it to host at amateurtraveler.com or better yet, leave a comment on this episode at amateurtraveler.com. You can also follow me on Twitter @Chris2x, also Instagram or Pinterest, Chris2x as well. And as always, thanks so much for listening.
Transcription sponsored by JayWay Travel, specialists in Central & Eastern Europe custom tours.