Grand Hotel Overlooking the Ohio River
Since its grand opening in 1835, the Galt House Hotel has hosted a long list of dignitaries, including Abraham Lincoln and Teddy Roosevelt; endured a devastating fire in 1865; and succumbed to insolvency and demolition in 1921. In its fourth incarnation, the iconic Louisville property has risen from the ashes—thanks in part to an $60 million renovation completed in 2008—and reclaimed its standing as a local treasure.
A massive crystal chandelier twinkles above the expansive lobby, setting an elegant tone that extends from the foyer on up to the 25th-floor penthouse restaurant overlooking the Ohio River. Executive suites encompass 720 square feet, including a separate bedroom with one king-size bed or two queen-size beds. Guests staying in the deluxe king or two-queen room are privy to views of the waterfront or city skyline in select units. Restful nights give way to fruitful mornings at Café Magnolia, where a breakfast buffet abounds with scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage, grits, cereals, pastries, biscuits, muffins, yogurt, and fresh fruit.
The hotel's annual Christmas at the Galt heralds the holiday season with luminaries and lighted sculptures, including a grove of abstract Christmas trees. In Christmas Village, tykes wander through the Snow Fairy Castle, opening secret doors and scribbling wish lists for Santa Claus. The 90-minute Colors of the Season variety show entertains with holiday songs as well as a three-course holiday meal with a baby-green salad, chicken breast with orange-and-cranberry stuffing, and a pumpkin mini tartlet.
On the 25th floor of the hotel, a section of the Rivue Restaurant and Lounge slowly revolves to display 360-degree views of downtown Louisville. Beneath the glass-dome Conservatory lies Al J's Lounge, a lounge that connects the Galt House Hotel's two towers. Patrons can order a cocktail at the 30-foot aquarium bar while engaging in light banter with its tropical denizens.
Louisville, Kentucky: Historical Southern City on the Banks of the Ohio River
Every year on the first weekend in May, throngs of well-dressed visitors descend on Louisville, headed to Churchill Downs to witness the country's most iconic horse race. The track hosts other horse races throughout much of the year and operates a museum seven days a week. Louisville's other bastion, the Louisville Slugger Museum and Factory, offers 25-minute guided tours through the bat-making factory. The attached museum expounds on the manufacturing process with interactive exhibits, including an opportunity to stare down a 90 mph fastball. Post-tour, each visitor receives a miniature souvenir bat to swat away falling acorns.