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Louisville is the largest city in Kentucky and 17th largest in the United States. Louisville is also the namesake of the Official Bat of Major League Baseball - the Louisville Slugger.
A major city located on the Ohio River in North Central Kentucky across from Southern Indiana, Louisville exists at the confluence of Southern and Midwestern attitudes and cultures. Known historically as the 'Gateway to the South', Louisville has long been a transportation center for the region. Other local nicknames include 'River City' and 'Derby City', in addition to the myriad of ways the name can be pronounced, depending on one's accent. More or less any pronunciation is acceptable except 'Lewis', an error which will not offend anyone but definitely marks one as an out-of-towner. While it only borders on the region, tourists will probably find a bit of the famous Southern hospitality here, along with its varied cuisine and a relaxed attitude toward life. The city also boasts a vibrant arts and music scene and a world-class municipal parks system.
Louisville's biggest draw are the horse races at Churchill Downs (with the famous Kentucky Derby always the first Saturday in May), but the city is making a concerted effort to draw tourists year round. The architecture in Old Louisville and the Highlands is one-of-a-kind, and the people are very friendly.
The Downtown, Old Louisville, Highlands, and Frankfort Avenue areas are walkable and it is possible to take the city bus between one or all four without much difficulty, with a downtown hotel as base. Outside of this part of town though, you will almost certainly need a car.
Aside from Downtown, a must-see for many is the Highlands shopping district, on Bardstown Road roughly from Broadway to the Douglass Loop. Often described as "bohemian", it includes art galleries, bars, coffeehouses, midrange to upscale restaurants, and is ideally navigated by foot or bike. You can meet some locals on the sidewalks without much trouble, if you are interested. The street life here is particularly active on weekends when the weather is warm.
Louisville International Airport (SDF) serves all the major American airlines though it is only a spoke for most. The one terminal holds two concourses. Concourse A holds all the Skyteam (Delta, Northwest, and Continental Airlines) carriers (which dominate SDF as far as passengers carried) plus American Airlines (which moved from concourse B to the old TWA gates) and Midwest Airlines, while Concourse B holds United Airlines, US Airways, Southwest Airlines, and Frontier Airlines. The terminal is small and easy to navigate.
With all of the airlines listed above, direct flights are available to most of the their hubs, including Chicago, Dallas, Atlanta, New York, Detroit, Philadelphia, and popular tourist destinations such as Orlando and Las Vegas. The airport is "International" in name only — there are once a week flights from Montreal and to Toronto! Too bad you can't fly with UPS whose huge all-points international "worldport" is located in Louisville just south of the passenger terminal.
Formerly served by Amtrak's Kentucky Cardinal, Louisville presently has no passenger train service.
Several Interstates pass through Louisville: I-65, I-64 and I-71.
I-71 (North-South) begins in Louisville and heads Northeast to Cincinnati and Cleveland.
I-65 (North-South) will carry you from just outside Chicago, through Indianapolis North of Louisville and to the south through Nashville, Birmingham, Montgomery, Alabama, all the way to the coast at Mobile.
I-64 (East-West) travels east through Lexington, West Virginia, on into Richmond, and ends at the Atlantic Ocean in Newport News. To the west you'll find its beginning/end in Saint Louis, the "Gateway to the West"
Greyhound, 1-800-231-2222, services Louisville. Their depot is located at 720 W Muhammad Ali Blvd which is near the center of town. Service is frequent but it is inadvisable to arrive at the bus station late at night unless someone is coming to pick you up.
Louisville's public transit service, TARC , operates bus lines in all parts of Metro Louisville (Jefferson County). Fares are $1.25 for adults (60 cents for children between 6 and 17) with a possibility for two transfers in two hours. Tickets can be purchased at some banks and government offices but this will not really save you much money unless you are going to be staying in the city and getting around by bus for at least two weeks. Buses generally run from about 6AM-10PM, some later on weekends, but it is a good idea to check the schedule for each specific route. Timetables are only posted at major stops. The buses are also rather impractical in the suburbs, as they are infrequent and the stops are far apart.
Car rental services are available at the airport. Louisville is encircled by two beltways, I-264 (locally referred to as 'the Watterson') and I-265, (the Gene Snyder). Traffic is generally moderate except at peak hours on I-264 and in downtown. In particular, try to avoid 'Spaghetti Junction', the downtown freeway interchange, between four-thirty and seven on weekdays.
The city streets are laid out in a grid pattern in downtown and a wheel-and-spoke system farther out. Frequently, the streets are named after outlying towns they eventually reach (Shelbyville Road, Taylorsville Road, etc.) Some of the urban neighborhoods, notably Germantown, Portland, and Cherokee Park, can be confusing for non-locals. Fortunately most neighborhoods are quite safe and passers-by will be more than happy to give you directions.
Louisvillians generally do not honk their horns unless there is real danger imminent. If this is not the case it is liable to be viewed as aggressive behavior.