Want the skinny on Louisville? Then listen to these residents, who know just what you should do when you visit their Kentucky Derby–loving city.Kim Charney. Senior brand manager, Brown-Forman
Rodeo Drive is the hot spot [for finding] the perfect Derby dress and accessories. Sip the best Woodford Reserve Manhattan at Proof on Main, a truly happening bar. Embark on the Bourbon Trail, which connects several of the nation’s bourbon distilleries, and you can see bourbon-making as it’s been done for 200 years.
Chip Hamm. Real estate developer; vice president of retail and leasing, Jefferson Development Group
Remember that restaurant reservations need to be made weeks in advance if you’ll be in town during the Derby. The festivities last several days -- just like Mardi Gras’. The race lasts only two minutes, but the entire day is a party. Eating afterward is customary, and the best restaurant to spot celebrities at is Porcini. I love cozy Jack Fry’s for a filet and a glass of wine, and the intimate, well-serviced Le Relais, where I always order the special. The best place for drinks: Asiatique, which has a nice selection of bourbon.
Margue Esrock. Director, St. James Court Art Show
Breakfast lovers should go to Lynn’s Paradise Cafe. It has kooky decor and offers French toast with a Kentucky twist. To discover why Kentuckians love their horses, watch the 360-degree movie at the Kentucky Derby Museum -- you’ll want to own [your own] racehorse.
Angie Fenton. Columnist/TV reporter
We may be best known for bourbon, bluegrass, and the Kentucky Derby, but Louisville has a booming arts community too. At least once a month, I take a trip to 21C, a museum hotel with gallery space that’s free and accessible to the public 24 hours a day. ... On Derby night [the first Saturday in May], after the Run for the Roses, head downtown to watch the glitterati do the red-carpet walk at the Grand Gala. Then, if you’re still awake, be sure to hit Fourth Street Live!, which rocks until the wee hours.
Patrick Henry Hughes. Musician, student, and motivational speaker
My favorite place to eat at is John E’s. Order the petite filet or the prime-rib pepper steak and a salad with Green Goddess dressing. If you make it to the Kentucky Derby, get there in time to hear the [University of] Louisville marching band play “My Old Kentucky Home” just prior to race time. I also love the Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory.
Jack Conway. Attorney general, Commonwealth of Kentucky
Louisville has so much to offer young professionals. Whether I’m meeting friends at the Speed Art Museum for cocktails and art or going to Churchill Downs to watch the races, I always end the night at one of the great local restaurants in town ... [like] De la Torre’s, a great Spanish restaurant, and Club Grotto, an all-American bistro. If you’re in town in April or May, you’ll get to see the city at its best as we prepare to host the “most exciting two minutes in sports”: the Kentucky Derby.
Keith Ringer. CEO, Metromojo
Enjoy the casual Filipino flavors at Sari Sari restaurant in the historic Clifton neighborhood, [and] visit the eclectic mix of galleries and shops in the NuLu district on the eastern edge of downtown. To burn some calories, walkers and road bikers should make a trip to Cherokee Park’s Scenic Loop, while mountain bikers should hit the rugged wilderness trail in adjacent Seneca Park. Both parks were designed by Central Park architect Frederick Law Olmsted.
Sue Grafton. Author of the Kinsey Millhone mysteries, including T Is for Trespass
Louisville is a gem of a little city on the Ohio River, boasting special places like the Kentucky Museum of Art and Craft and Slugger Field -- the finest baseball stadium I’ve ever seen. Where else can you get a fried-bologna sandwich and an ice-cold beer? If your palate cries out for more sophisticated fare, try Lilly’s restaurant on Bardstown Road, where award-winning chef/owner Kathy Carey uses only the freshest of ingredients on an ever-changing menu of Kentucky favorites.
Nancy Norris. Vice president, JPMorgan Chase & Co.
Most people don’t realize that the two weeks leading up to the Kentucky Derby [which is the first Saturday in May] are more exciting than race day itself. We call it the Kentucky Derby Festival, and it offers 70 events, from the largest annual fireworks show in North America to concerts to wacky running races. It’s family friendly, [but] the festival does offer some adult-only options as well.