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Beyond Churchill Downs
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Photo: Cathy Sheeter
With the British monarch and her husband in the stands, the Kentucky Derby drew the eyes of the world on the first Saturday in May 2007.

Many of us don’t know much about Louisville, Kentucky. According to the Chicago Tribune (April 15, 2007), there’s a lot more to the city than the Churchill Downs racetrack—“the oldest continually operating racetrack in the United States (it opened in 1875).” 

Excerpts:

 “...Pretty country, a lively and growing downtown, and a list of outdoor festivals....There’s major-college sports, courtesy of the University of Louisville Cardinals. The Actors Theatre of Louisville is a nationally known resident theater. The Kentucky Center provides a steady stream of opera, ballet, orchestra and Broadway-tour performances. Just about all the top touring musical acts stop here; indeed, the thing that had the town buzzing the weekend of our visit was the pending arrival of the Rolling Stones, who performed the first-ever major concert at Churchill Downs….Ninety percent of this country’s disco balls are produced in Louisville. What more do you need? And you gotta love a town that urges support for its independent businesses with the slogan, ‘Keep Louisville weird.’”

Some of the sights:

1. Louisville Slugger Museum and Factory—In addition to interactive exhibits at the museum and a tour of the bat factory, you can get a Louisville Slugger with your name engraved on it. For more details, check www.sluggermuseum.org.

2. Muhammad Ali Center—Born in Louisville as Cassius Clay, Muhammad Ali is remembered in his home town with a street named in his honor and a museum that opened in November 2005. www.alicenter.org

3. Steamboat cruises—The Belle of Louisville, a 92-year-old National Historic Landmark, and sister ship the Spirit of Jefferson provide excursion and dinner cruises along the Ohio River. www.belleoflouisville.org

4. Fascinating neighborhoods—Bardstown Road and Frankfort Avenue are multi-block districts “packed with funky retail shops, coffee shops and very good restaurants. On the last Friday of the month, TARC (Transit Authority of River City) operates a free motorized trolley along Frankfort Avenue. Old Louisville is a neighborhood containing Louisville’s oldest and largest homes, and [is] one of the largest concentrations of Victorian homes in the country….You also can find walking-tour maps at www.oldlouisville.com”

5. Louisville Science Center—hands-on exhibits and IMAX theater. www.louisvillescience.org

6. Glassworks—a gallery, glass-blowing classes and workshops. www.louisvilleglassworks.com

7. Kentucky Museum of Art and Craft—this free museum has a great gift shop. www.kentuckyarts.org

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