Jan 19, 2016

Louisville is Bourbon and more

 I try to make sure every trip includes something interesting to see and do.  John and I were invited to a wedding in Louisville, Kentucky so we arrived a day early so we could explore Louisville.  It was our first trip to the city.  We headed to the West Main District that has some of the oldest structures in the city including some with cast iron facades. It is also the district that features Museum Row with several museums within walking distance of each other.   

We toured the Evan Williams Bourbon Museum. It is located on Louisville’s Whiskey Row across from the riverfront location where the Evan William’s distillery once stood.  I am not a bourbon connoisseur but I like to know the history of everything. Williams was the first commercial distiller.  I thought it was going to be a talk and sip tour but it was very well done.  The tour combines videos, dioramas, and displays to explain the history and distilling bourbon starting in 1783. I learned that all bourbon is whiskey but not all whiskey is bourbon. By law bourbon
must be aged in brand-new, charred white oak barrels, and it must be distilled in the United States to be called bourbon. Our tour ended in a “tavern” for a tasting.  Three different bourbons were sampled and we were taught how to sip bourbon like an expert. It is very well done. Dedicated bourbon sippers can go on the Bourbon Trail; pick up a passport, get it stamped at all the places and at the end you get a t-shirt. We passed on that. There were too many other things to see. 

Just down the street was the Frasier History Museum. I started on the top floor to explore the Lewis and Clark Experience.  I have always wanted to follow the trail of Lewis and Clark.  I admire people who explore the unknown. There was a cut-away replica of a keelboat, a Sioux tipi, and a Mandan earthen hut along with hands-on learning
displays. We had time to listen to one of their free daily historic interpretations.  It was called “Free Frank” and told about Frank McWhorter, a former slave who moved to Kentucky and worked to free the rest of his family from slavery. There were sections devoted to America’s wars. And, as you might expect, there was a section on the history of bourbon. Museums always have unique displays such as the Frazier’s Toy Soldier Collection. There are more than 10,000 figures making it one of the largest public displays of toy soldiers in the United States. 

On the way back to our hotel we drove through the one of the city’s Olmsted-designed parks. Frederick Law Olmsted, Sr. and his sons John and Frederick Jr. designed 18 parks and six parkways in Louisville creating an amazing amount of green space for the city.  Cherokee
Park was on the way to the hotel so we drove through it.  It was perfect.  We drove along the tree-lined 2.4 one-way Scenic Loop past beautiful residences.  There were several walking trails but we didn’t have time – next time. We stopped at a statue of Daniel Boone and at Hogan’s Fountain topped with a statue of the Greek God Pan and designed as a dog- and horse-watering fountain. The 409-acre park is has scenic stone bridges and plenty of recreational areas. It was a great way to end the day.