The heart-pounding thrill of horse racing grabs attention in Louisville, but make time to appreciate more laid-back joys like smooth bourbon and Southern-style comfort food. Check out our picks for what to do, where to eat and where to stay in Louisville.

By By the editors of MidwestLiving.com
Proof on Main

Do

Bourbon trails and tastings In the heart of downtown, Evan Williams Bourbon Experience (evanwilliams.com) makes a logical start; the tour of Kentucky's first commercial distiller includes a tasting in an 1890s-style saloon and photo ops by a five-stories-high sculpture. The Urban Bourbon Trail (bourboncountry.com) features more than three dozen additional stops, including Proof on Main (proofonmain.com), for a taste of the city's bourbon heritage. If you've got time to roam, the Kentucky Bourbon Trail (kybourbontrail.com) connects nine bourbon distilleries on a meandering 200-mile route between Louisville and Lexington.

Evan Williams Bourbon Experience

Glass artists In the 1909 Glassworks building, home to Flame Run (flamerun.com) and Mark Payton Glass Center (paytonglasscenter.com), visitors see glassblowing demonstrations, buy glass art and make their own glass creations.

Kentucky Derby Museum Immerse yourself in the "most exciting two minutes in sports" at the museum and its track tours of Churchill Downs. derbymuseum.org

Churchill Downs

Louisville Slugger Museum and Factory This factory cranks out about 1.8 million bats a year. Visitors see life-size mannequins of baseball greats and bats used by the likes of Mickey Mantle in exhibits and a 30-minute factory tour. sluggermuseum.com

Louisville Slugger Museum and Factory

Muhammad Ali Center Multimedia exhibits illuminate the career, humanitarian work and complex legacy of the hometown's boxer. alicenter.org

Eat

Blue Dog Bakery and Cafe While you're biting into a toasted baguette topped with Serrano ham or a chicken salad sandwich on a croissant, others just pop in to buy loaves of artisanal bread. bluedogbakeryandcafe.com

Lilly's Bistro Savor fresh takes on Southern comfort food at tables with crisp white linen tablecloths. The menu might include crab cakes with a bourbon remoulade sauce or braised lamb stew. lillysbistro.com

Wagner's Pharmacy Since 1922, the racing crowd from nearby Churchill Downs has come to the drugstore's restaurant for fare like honey-glazed ham sandwiches and patty melts. Wagner's on Facebook

Stay

21c Museum Hotel Boutique hotel and art museum meld. Even if you don't stay, stop by to hunt for the 4-foot-tall red penguins, a symbol of 21C's public-art mission. 21cmuseumhotels.com/louisville

21C Museum Hotel

Brown Hotel In the dining rooms of this ornate 1923 hotel, try the Hot Brown. It's the bacon-topped turkey sandwich with Mornay sauce created here. Rooms feature mahogany beds with hand-woven throws. brownhotel.com

More information: gotolouisville.com

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