Louisville print by Capow at Etsy
Our Louisville City Guide comes to us from native Kentuckian and avid Design Sponge reader, Lee Ann Massey. When not immersed in the medical world as the administrator of a surgery center, Lee Ann hangs out with her minature daschund, Moxie, learns photography and is working her way through the “Top 100 Best Books of All Time” as a reading project. Today she shares with us some of the magic that is Louisville with a wonderful list of antique shops, local festivals and historical accommodations. Thanks Lee Ann for such a great guide! –Stephanie
CLICK HERE for the full guide after the jump!
The city of Louisville is home to about 600,000 residents and is the largest city in Kentucky. It is separated from Indiana by a bridge and the Ohio River giving it a Mid-Western identity by geography. However, its influences are both Southern and Appalachian in a city and state that hosts the Kentucky Derby, produces world famous bourbon, and creates bluegrass music. But it’s not all roots and boots here. Whether its down home or down right sophistication your’re looking for, Louisville’s got a lot to offer!
Andrew Gentile Antiques Sizeable selection of well-curated 18th, 19th and 20th century French and English Antiques as well as some contemporary, classic pieces. Walls of beautifully framed vintage botanicals…I shall stop coveting now. 1287 Bardstown Road
Architechtural Salvage Missing parts and pieces for things you have and design inspiration for a home you don’t have. Several stories of antique salvaged glass, mirrors, tiles, furniture, fixtures and a veritable museum of widgets both substantial and not. 618 East Broadway
Elizabeth’s Timeless Attire Vintage clothing taken from a 1930’s starlette’s closet or from an 1880’s prairie home. Elizabeth’s isn’t ever predictable but it’s always beautiful.
2050 Frankfort Avenue
Hudson Home Sophisticated but unfussy store specializing in green and sustainable products. Owned by designer Andrew Hudson who can give you a lesson on eco-friendly furniture and show you some of his great design work and one of a kind vintage finds.
806 East Market Street
Dandelion Fresh, contemporary home and gift store with items hand selected by interior designer and owner Andie Frisbie. Great selection of jewelry with leather and semi-precious stones from local designers from a little sophisticated to a lot funky. Baby items too. 3729 Lexington Road
Discoveries Unique jewelry from around the world, busts of Frida Khalo and hilarious clay El Dia de Los Muertos artifacts don the walls of this colorful boutique that has been mainstay for the accessory needs of Louisvillian’s for over 15 years. 1315 Bardstown Road
The Deal Mostly mid-century modern finds and probably that perfect stylized chair you’ve been looking for to give your room an added dose ‘what is it’? 1004 Barret Avenue
Dover House Antiques
A mix of European antique and upscale new, the practical make take liking the selection of Dash and Albert rugs, the decorative to the walls of John Derian decoupage’d plates.
2000 Frankfort Avenue
Dreamlight Antiques With most of its inventory jumbled inside an adjacent abandoned church-cum-storage shed, Dreamlight has the most extensive selection of Arts and Crafts and Mid Century Modern furniture in the city.
1140 South 3rd Street
Oxenrose Home Antique, new and repurposed furniture designed in-house with elaborate storefront designs created by the talented co-owner Jonathan Thornton. The store features the work of Louisville jewelry designer and mixed media sculptress Amanda Hofmann.
623 Baxter Avenue
Scout Scout is both a fun home store and personal accessory bonanza. Features local cabinet makers who create original casement pieces for Scout only. And, you may have never wanted a Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams sofa until you’ve sat on a velvet one here.
742 East Market
Why Louisville? Dozens of original screen printed t-shirts by local artists with sayings like “Someone in Louisville Loves Me,” vintage Kentucky novelties and an art gallery featuring the work of locals. It’s hard to walk out of here empty handed. 1583 Bardstown Road
TO EAT AND DRINK:
El Mundo Teeny tiny box of a restaurant with Mejicano memorabilia like tarot cards and skulls dangling from brightly colored but dimly lit bar serving $4.00 ‘ritas on Wednesday and Thursday nights. The other nights people pack in for a fresh take on Mexican in this very popular hangout. 2345 Frankfort Avenue
Heine Brothers Coffee Genuinely nice baristas who aren’t overly caffeinated serving up fair trade, organic coffee in the local chain. Featuring Louisville-made Kizito baked goodies like pumpkin chocolate chip muffins. Try the neighborhood hangout in the Crescent Hill Location.
2714 Frankfort Avenue
The Blind Pig Gastropub appropriately located in Butchertown serving more than just beer and piggy: spicy sangria made with jalapeno and local honey, bison patty melts, pan roasted cod. Housed in a historically preserved 1870’s residential complex, the building and neighborhood is bringing back part of Louisville’s past. 1076 East Washington Street
Proof on Main Restaurant located in the lobby of 21C Museum Hotel. Southern influenced cuisine, great seasonal cocktails from the bar, cotton candy for desert! The museum features national and international art and installations as well as cultural exhibitions. 702 West Main
North End Café Local favorite in the Crescent Hill/Clifton neighborhood and good for any meal of the day but I prefer sitting on the patio for brunch and eating the Fruit French Toast. Many organic and veggie options.
1722 Frankfort Avenue
Toast on Market
Open only for extending breakfast/brunch hours, the food is very hearty at this popular restaurant where you should call ahead for seating on the weekends. 736 East Market
European influenced cafe for quick lunch or full dinner. Try the pomme frittes or swing by for a coffee at the bar. 2144 Frankfort Avenue
Lynn’s Paradise Café Over the top décor with lamp shades dangling from the walls and ceiling and a gift shop called World of Swirl featuring every novelty item conceivable. Just save your money for the delicious, hearty food.
984 Barrett Avenue
Jack Fry’s Easily one of Louisville’s most prized restaurants and feels like you’re stepping into something timeless, treasured. Vintage photo collages of the city’s characters and history adorn the walls.
1007 Bardstown Road
Zanzabar Casual restaurant then nightspot after 9 pm with great local acts and your favorite national ones too, The Walkman, Toro y Moi, Ben Kweller. The building’s façade was recently renovated to its original look and sports the simple black tile ‘Z’ of the original Zanzibar once housed here. 2100 South Preston Street
TO SEE AND DO:
Old Louisville Louisville is home to largest preservation district of Victorian mansions in the country. The homes are unique, stately and worth a guided tour of the neighborhood or a drive down the main thoroughfare, 4th Street. Old Louisville Chamber of Commerce and Visitor Center. 218 West Oak Street
Humana Festival of New American Plays Lasting several weeks each year and featuring dozens of new plays, Actors Theatre hosts the internationally renowned festival which has premiered several Pulitzer Prize winning plays.
316 West Main Street
Muhammad Ali Center ‘The World’s Greatest,’ born in Louisville, KY shows the world not how not to fight butto live in peace and harmony in an inspiring educational center dedicated to finding our own greatness. 144 North 6th Street
Kentucky Museum of Arts and Craft Contemporary and traditional exhibits of our brethren’s handiwork beautifully displayed in an airy downtown space. Stop by the gift shop for the jewelry, pottery and other Kentucky-made goods.
715 West Main Street
Kentucky Derby Festival Kicks off the second weekend in April with one of the largest fireworks displays in the country and culminates with The Kentucky Derby the first weekend in May. In between, bed races (literally beds on wheels being pushed around a track), a spelling bee, hot air balloon races, The Chow Wagon (food festival), and enough drinking and eating to last until Christmas.
The Lebowski Fest Home of the original Lebowski Fest in an ode to The Dude as played by Jeff Bridges’ character in the cult classic Coen Brother’s film, The Big Lebowski. Fans have been gathering here to bowl, drink, dress in costumes and celebrate achievement in a weekend festival since 2002.
Speed Museum of Art Works from around the world but with a focus on Western art. The English Room with ornate carved paneling from a 17th century country home is a favorite of mine but I also love the contrasting children’s exhibit with a trippy, interactive video art screen. 2034 South 3rd Street
21 C Museum Hotel Voted by Conde Nast Traveler Magazine Reader’s Choice Awards as the #1 hotel in America. Modern boutique hotel with interactive art exhibits, even in the hotel lobby bathroom. Small but fun gift shop selling necessities like the 21C signature red penguin statue. 700 West Main Street
The Seelbach Hotel Located in downtown Louisville and built in 1903, the hotel served as the inspiration for F. Scott Fitzgerald’s, The Great Gatsby.
500 South 4th Street
The Galt House This two tower megalith of a hotel sits on the banks of the Ohio River. Rest your beer on top ofthe glass enclosed fish tank hotel bar. 140 North 4th Street
My Morning Jacket and fabulous lead singer Jim James
Will Oldham aka Bonnie Prince Billy aka Palace Brothers aka Palace Music–often seen riding his bike around town or in local coffee shops
Hunter S. Thompson, founder of Gonzo journalism, author of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas