Historical Downtown 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, becoming the official hotel of the Kentucky Derby and the KFC Yum! Center, home of the University of Louisville basketball team.
A massive crystal chandelier twinkles above the expansive lobby, setting an elegant tone that extends from the foyer to the 25th-floor penthouse. There, a section of the Rivue Restaurant and Lounge slowly revolves to display 360-degree views of downtown Louisville and the Ohio River. The hotel also has a glass-dome conservatory modeled after Victorian England’s famous Crystal Palace. There, Al J's Lounge connects the Galt House Hotel's two towers, and patrons can order a cocktail at the 30-foot aquarium bar while enjoying the conservatory’s tropical gardens and colorful birds. At the end of the day, guests retire to executive suites that encompass 720 square feet, including a separate bedroom with one king-size bed or two queen-size beds.
The hotel's annual Christmas at the Galt attraction commemorates the holiday season with luminaries and lighted sculptures, including a grove of abstract Christmas trees. In Christmas Village, kids 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 mini pumpkin tartlet.
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 (many wearing exquisite hats) descend on Louisville, headed to Churchill Downs to witness the country's most iconic horserace. Though the derby lasts only a few days, the track hosts other horseraces 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. You can learn more about the manufacturing process with interactive exhibits and take an opportunity to stare down a 90-mile-per-hour fastball. Post-tour, each visitor receives a miniature souvenir bat with which to swat away falling acorns.