Nearly three decade ago, New Orleans transplant Sharon Potter became so enamored with her new hometown of Kentucky that she raised 1.2 million dollars to assemble and present her own 4,000-image slideshow, KentuckyShow!, which celebrated the state’s unique beauty, culture, and history. In 2003 Potter was approached by the Louisville Convention and Visitors Bureau about the possibility of updating the visual spectacle and rose to the challenge with the help of seasoned producer Donna Lawrence and graphic designer Julius Friedman. The updated 32-minute documentary now amazes audiences with new high-definition images of the Bluegrass State, as well as narration by Hollywood starlet Ashley Judd and director’s commentary by Kentucky’s state bird, the northern cardinal.
Today, local and out-of-state visitors—enjoying jaw-dropping views of Kentucky’s gorgeous landscape and meeting some of the commonwealth’s most memorable characters from past and present—come to the Kentucky Center for the Performing Arts to feast their eyes on KentuckyShow!. Renée S. Gordon of the Philadelphia Sun referred to the majestic video tour as “an outstanding overview of the state’s multicultural history.”
With its rustic architecture and soft, rolling hills of vines, Chrisman Mill Vineyards brings a little taste of Tuscany to the Bluegrass State. Amidst hand-painted murals of Tuscan landscapes, guests in the tasting room pair ciccetti, or Italian tapas, with sips of local wine made from the best Kentucky grapes. The laid-back environment encourages visitors to savor the small pleasures in life, as do the staff, who entertain with amusing anecdotes and enlightening descriptions of how each wine is made. At the winery in Hamburg Pavilion, guests can also browse Kentucky-made goods as well as more than a thousand winery gift items, including customized gift baskets.
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Built in Amsterdam, The Thirsty Pedaler’s 16-passenger bicycle moseys around the city during two-hour historical tours and pub crawls. For the Main/Market tour, riders choose up to three bars—some of which include drink and appetizer specials—to stop at during a ride through Whiskey Row and the Museum District, as well as the scenic Kennedy bridge and the Kentucky Center for the Performing Arts. The Old Louisville tour focuses on sightseeing, as pedalers power past the University of Louisville, St. James Court, Central Park, and Victorian homes inhabited by creepy 1960s television families.
Each tour includes a pilot, who mans the bike as passengers run in to watering holes or hop off their seats to snap photos of landmarks. Twelve bicycle seats line the sides of the vehicle (10 of which actually pedal), and a bench across the back seats three additional riders. One final person can stand in the middle, dishing out nonalcoholic drinks and BYOB snacks that groups can tote in small coolers. Though the top speed is only about 7 miles per hour, riders should still anticipate the possibility of minor injuries such as falling and scraping knees or bruising their egos when smug turtles overtake them in the passing lane.
Belle of Louisville and Spirit of Jefferson garners its name from its two historic ships. The Belle of Louisville was originally built in 1914 and has floated down rivers throughout the country as a passenger ferry, tramp steamer, oil barge tow ship, and floating nightclub for troops during WWII. She was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1989 and recognized as the oldest river steamboat still in operation. She continues to give river tours, still equipped with steam power and her turn-of-the-century paddlewheel. The Spirit of Jefferson conducted cruise trips for 36 years under a variety of guises, including the Mark Twain and the Huck Finn, until she was caught and forced to reveal her secret identity.
Today, both ships are owned and operated by the Louisville Metro Government and conduct a variety of river cruises on the Ohio River, including fireworks, dance, and harbor history tours. Their historic design and modern conveniences—such as full-bar service and air conditioning—create a unique portal to the past during tours or special events including the Battle of the Belles steamboat race and the Kentucky Derby.
Built on the more than 40-acre site where Pond Station Asylum allegedly burnt to the ground, Asylum Haunted Scream Park remains haunted by tortured spirits of past patients’ and the lingering presence of cult activity. Additional petrifying figures, such as a chainsaw-wielding menace and a crazed butcher, haunt the woods’ mile-long indoor and outdoor displays. Nearby, the military has placed a small rural city under quarantine, after an unknown contagion surfaced and spread throughout the area. Aptly labeled Zombie City: Mutation, reports of mutations and zombies have leaked out of the quarantine zone as residents are urged to remain calm and indoors. The Carnivale of Lost Souls treats those that survive Asylum Haunted Scream Park’s three immersive attractions to free sideshow routines from freaky performers such as a fire-eater, a human pincushion, and a child happily eating vegetables.
The charming, old-time trolley buses of Trolley de'Ville ferries sightseers, wedding parties, and birthday parties on narrated tours to some of Louisville's most celebrated attractions and hidden local gems. Fire-engine red trolley cars carry guests to sites such as Whiskey Row, the Louisville Slugger Museum, the Downtown Wharf, and the Victorian mansions of Old Louisville.