Posted May 1, 2008 -- If you ever go to Louisville for the Kentucky Derby, find a way to peel yourself away from the races and parties and all the bars and Broadway. There are a few attractions close enough to all the action that will give you a good reading on the history, culture and local character of the charming southern city.
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Who knows? You might meet somebody cool that you want to spend some QT with away from the betting crowd and partygoers. Or, you might need a quick minute to regroup, play tourist and pick up some real souvenirs (the airport gift shop does not count).
We’ve come up with a list of a few things you can do in your downtime that will make your trip to the Kentucky Derby all the more memorable.
Louisville Slugger Museum – What made the Louisville Slugger the world’s most famous professional baseball bat? Find out that and more for under $10 on a tour of a museum dedicated to the bat, baseball and great sports moments in American history. Get a personalized bat and make sure you take a picture by the landmark: an oversized bat that leans on the side of the building.
Kentucky Derby Museum – Learn all about the history of the event that drew you to Louisville in the first place. Your trip won’t take much effort because the museum is located at Churchill Downs. See pics from the early years of the race and get info on the African-American jockeys that once dominated the event.
Louisville Horse Trams – They’re like New York City’s horse-driven carriages with an elegant southern finish. Take a ride through town or show up at an event or party in grand old style. They can transport up to 100 people.
The Slave Pens – Even with its emerging cosmopolitan chic, Louisville is still very much a southern town and with signs of its past – proud and painful – everywhere. For a little sobering Black history of the city, drive down First Street. Where it crosses Main and also at Jefferson, you’ll see the Arterburn and Garrison slave pens. Both were places where Blacks slaves were held before they were sold between owners. Take a camera.
Speed Art Museum – With growing collections of African-American, Native American and African art, the Speed Art museum, will round off your Louisville tourist adventures. Kentucky’s oldest and largest museum also has an impressive variety of works, from European to ancient Egyptian.