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Holiday Guides for North America - United States

Louisville Holiday

An undiscovered city where north meets south, Louisville has plenty to offer the traveller in search of an authentic American experience.

Often regarded as a city in which the traditions of the deep south meet the fast-paced life of the northern cities, Louisville, Kentucky is a city with a huge amount to offer the casual visitor passing through, or even a holiday maker hoping to stay longer and experience this town rich in American history and tradition.

Many people will know Louisville best as the home of the world's most well-known and admired boxer Muhammad Ali, who famously threw his Olympic gold medal into the Ohio river on the banks of which the city stands.

And Louisville looks to be anticipating many more Ali-inspired tourists, with the new Muhammad Ali Centre, opened in 2005, providing visitors with a comprehensive telling of the Ali story and his rise to become one of the most respected sportspersons of modern times, told in the city where that story began.

However, Louisville also has other notable claims to fame, with literally thousands of punters gathering at the city's Churchill Downs racetrack every year for the world famous Kentucky Derby. The horse race is known as the longest running sports event in the United States, with the event having been staged every year since its inception in 1875.

Known as 'the most exciting two minutes in sport', the Derby marks the climax of the Kentucky Derby festival – an annual event that encompasses much more than just horse racing, with fireworks displays, live concerts, parades and other sporting events all on offer, making the month of May a good time to be in Louisville on a family holiday.

But even when there are no horses to be seen at other times of the year, there is still plenty to see and do around town, particularly if you're looking for that authentic deep southern states experience. And it doesn't come much more authentic that taking a trip on the 'Belle of Louisville' – the worlds' oldest working steam boat.

Cruises on the Belle of Louisville, which was built in 1914, can provide visitors with the ideal way to view the city's impressive skyline from the Ohio river, with the operators offering everything on board from narrated tours to full dining experiences.

But away from the more popular historical tourist attractions, Louisville has a huge amount to offer the visitor looking for a good time with a slightly southern twist.

The recently redeveloped and revitalised downtown district is host to many bars and clubs specialising in the blues and jazz music that is so distinctive of the Deep South, and this in contrast with a number of more modern venues, ensures that all musical and entertainment tastes are catered for. And for those looking for perhaps a little more sophistication, Louisville is well known for its vibrant theatre scene, with legend stating that the city got its first theatre before its first church.

With so many attractions geared towards visitors from both home and abroad, a planned day trip to Louisville could easily end up turning into a much longer stay.