Louisville Rocks

Why Louisville Should be Your Next Home

Louisville, Kentucky is a great place to visit, but an even greater place to live. Whether you are a single person looking for a place to start the best years of your life, or a married couple looking for an established and wonderful place to raise your kids, Louisville definitely fits the bill. He when you think of calling Louisville home.

The Louisville Zoo

You don’t have to be a kid to enjoy seeing the different animals at the zoo. There is no greater attraction than nature and seeing the animals in their habitats. The Louisville Zoo has won multiple awards over the years, and is conveniently, yet remotely nestled on 135 acres. It is close to I-264 (the Watterson Expressway) and the Poplar Level area in Louisville. The zoo is open to the public 362 days a year, and is also referred to as the Louisville Zoological Gardens. There are always multiple exciting exhibits to check out while you are there, including the award winning, amazing Glacier Run; an Artic location featuring a beautiful, imaginary gold mine town with Polar bears and Grizzly Bears. They even keep zookeeper experts’ in the exhibit to answer questions, teach, and show you about life in the Tundra! The Louisville Zoo is a great way to spend your day.

The Outdoor and Active Life

There is plenty to do for those who love to become one with the outdoors while keeping fit. The 27 mile long bike path along the Ohio River at Waterfront Park is perfect for novices and experienced riders alike. You can not only enjoy your ride, but are able to catch a cooling mist too. The largest park owned by a municipality is located in Louisville; Jefferson Memorial Forest is 6,200 acres of adventure open to the public. It's a great place to take a family hike, picnic, or even just a walk for a little solitude. You can visit a different part of the forest every time you visit because it is so large. Cherokee Park is another place that athletes, families, and children love to frequently visit. The park has lush greenery, wooded areas, bike trails, walking trails, a playground, and picnic areas. There are over 140 parks in the Louisville Metro and surrounding areas, some are managed by Louisville Metro Parks, and some are privately managed.

Art Lovers & Culture

If you are a lover of the fine arts, you will certainly not feel left out in the Louisville area. The cultural corridor stretches along West Main Street and offers attractions such as the Frazier International History Museum, the Kentucky Art and Craft Gallery, and more. Art lovers will never get bored in Louisville, KY between all the performances, shows, and live productions that take place in the theater, the opera, the ballet, and even some parks. The Kentucky Center for the Performing Arts is conveniently located on West Main Street, and is home to some of the finest in the arts. Performances not to miss are available throughout the year from The Louisville Orchestra, The Louisville Ballet, Kentucky Opera and Broadway Across America. There are also astounding artwork displays from some of the world’s most famous artists to be seen at The Kentucky Center for the Performing Arts, such as Jean Dubuffet and John Chamberlain.

The Day and Night Life

If you are looking for a little quiet romance, a cruise on the Belle of Louisville makes for quite a memorable date. If you are looking for more of a party atmosphere, the 4th Street Live Entertainment Complex is where you want to go. The Urban Land Institute has commended this $72 million entertainment center for the great fun it delivers to so many. Louisville has some of the hottest and best dance clubs there are, plus there is no shortage of live music concerts, sports bars, sports entertainment, and piano bars to hit up. In fact, Louisville is home to some of the world’s very best bourbon bars, and even has the Urban Bourbon Trail; featuring more than 50 various kinds of bourbon brought to you in a collection of the city’s bars. Whether you are on a date, out on the town with your friends, or just looking to meet new people, you will find that there is always someplace very entertaining to go.

The Neighborhoods

There are an extensive variety of housing and neighborhoods in the Louisville area. Now that the home buying rates have gotten better, it is definitely the time to start looking for your new home in Louisville real estate. The school systems are wonderful in the city and surrounding counties, from elementary to the college level. No matter the housing style that you like, whether a house with character in the historic area of the Highlands, Germantown, or St. James Court or you desire a brand new home with all of the modern bells and whistles, you can count on the fact that you will not be disappointed with the real estate market in Louisville.

Once you visit Louisville, KY, you will never want to leave.

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Louisville Apps

The common form of communication in today’s day and age is far more than a simple device to relay messages. The modern telephone is not only a tool for making phone calls but is a computer, television, camera, and complete link to the World’s information. “Smart Phones” as they are called, give owners the opportunity to gain information anywhere at anytime.

Aside from the internet, applications, or apps as they are better know, provide the owner the most specialized and greatest wealth of information. There are apps for everything available, but my favorite apps are the ones personal to my hometown. Believe it or not, there are over one-hundred apps, varying in sub-topic, and most of them are free. These apps give travelers an easy way to gain inside local knowledge on their own, and give locals unlimited access to every view of their city. I tested several different types of free Louisville apps, some I have found to be helpful, others not so much.

There are several free Louisville sports apps available, each designed with their team or school in mind. Although each app is slightly different, most have the same purpose; to keep you up-to-date with sports news and give you game times. My two favorite Louisville sports apps are WHAS11‘s Louisville College Sports app and (because I am a UofL fan) the “LouisvilleCards Mobile” app. Both apps are easy to use and lay out all the important information. “LouisvilleCards Mobile” covers the news, schedules, scores, and displays videos of all UofL athletics, while the WHAS11 app covers all college sports in the State.

If you are looking for Louisville apps that will help you decide what to do, there are plenty. I reported a while ago on the “Louisville Lush” app, and it is still one of my favorites. “Louisville Lush” lays out all the happy hours and restaurants with specials in your area. The app tells you what places are having deals right now and what you can look forward to. “Louisville Lush” has helped me make the tough decision of where to go for dinner several times. The “Louisville Mobile” app is an essential app for every Louisvillian to have. This app spells out everything from Louisville parks to restaurants, and news to events. This app even allows you to sign up for emergency alerts. “Louisville CitySave” is another must-have app. After entering your neighborhood into the app, dozens of coupons will show up on your screen. Louisville CitySaver gives deals on restaurants, attractions, and retail. The app always has coupons for a night at the theatre, a day of golfing, or discounts at your favorite stores. Right now Playthings Toy Shoppe is offering $5 off $25, and Louisville Stoneware is offering 10% off.

There are endless apps available to Louisvillians. Oldham County, Churchill Downs, and the Urban Bourbon Trail even have their own helpful apps. All the major news stations, radio stations, and traffic centers have apps, keeping you linked in to local media wherever you go.

After trying out dozens of apps all about Louisville, only a few extremely helpful Louisville apps remain on my phone today. “Louisville Lush”, “Louisville Mobile”, and “Louisville CitySaver” are must-haves. These apps help on rainy days, when you’re the only one at the party who didn’t watch the news that day, and can help you save some serious money. Go download these apps now...must I remind you, they are free?

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Louisville Free Public Libraries are not just for Reading Anymore

Louisville is filled with excellent resources for families and community members that are often taken for granted. I myself, am guilty of not taking advantage of some of Louisville’s greatest amenities.

Just one block from my street is Mid City Mall, which houses one of the Louisville Free Public Library branches. It is not the biggest, newest, or most beautiful library in Louisville, but like the other LFPL branches, it offers tremendous value to the neighborhood. The library offers extensive resources for families with children varying from infancy to high-school age. My toddler and pre-schooler love the free story time and the occasional musical guest that follows.

There are eighteen Louisville Free Public Library locations scattered throughout the city, each offering wonderful learning opportunities to it’s members. For young library members, the library has put together several programs to help parents and kids enjoy reading together. Each branch puts on a story time for various age ranges at various times during the week. Children love to be read to, especially by a professional librarian. The Read With Me Program and Summer Reading Program are designed to encourage young children to read at a young age. These programs are also designed to teach children to enjoy reading and to read for fun rather than to read because they have to. For the parent who wants to go a step further, all library branches have “Family Fun Backpacks” available to check-out. These backpacks are packed full of material to help your child develop good reading skills.

For teen-age library members studying for middle school to college entry level exams, the LFPL branches have you covered. Each branch is equipped with computers containing a program called the “Learning Express Library.” This program gives members a chance to study and take practice exams for free. The Learning Express Library helps students pass such tests as the SAT, ACT, and even the GED. Writing a paper, or researching a foreign country for geography class is simple when you come to the LFPL. Free access to online journals, an online encyclopedia, and endless online reference books are available at each branch.

All adult Louisvillians who aren’t aware of the amount of interesting and helpful resources that are available at our local Louisville Free Public Libraries are absolutely missing out. The library offers dozens of programs to help you become a more successful and well-rounded person. At the library you can do everything from listen to a guest author speak about their book to learn how to use a computer on a free program. Adults can even become part of the Mayor’s Book Club. Meeting every third Wednesday of the Month from noon to 1:00pm at the Main Library, the club discusses 50 books throughout the year, all with international themes.

Our Free Public Libraries are incredible resources for our community and incredibly overlooked. I encourage everyone to use them more often. For more information on our Louisville Free Public Libraries or to find the closest branch to you, go to www.lfpl.org

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Louisville Parks’ Best Sledding Hills

Every time the snow starts to fall outside I turn into a young child again and get excited about playing in the impending winter wonderland. Some of my best childhood memories were made after waking up in the early morning for school only to find out it was a snow day. After climbing back into my warm bed and getting a few extra hours of sleep, I was always eager to get outside and spend the day in the snow. Dressing up in countless layers of snow gear, building igloos in my front yard, and warming my freezing hands with a cup of hot cocoa after hours dredging through knee deep snow are some of my fondest memories of Winter. Above all my favorite snow day rituals however, is getting together with my best friends and spending hours sledding down some of Louisville’s best hills.

No matter what your age, sledding is always a good time. For the beginner sledder a simple slide down a hill is enough to stir up a day of giggles, but the more experienced sledder may turn things up a notch with ramps or “creative” sledding materials (one of my favorite things to sled on is a blow up mattress). Whatever your sledding level there is no shortage of sledding hills to choose from in Louisville.

My favorite place to sled in Louisville is Cherokee Park. When the weather permits, and the snow is deep, Dog Hill is the place to be not only for sledders but for watching sledders. Dog Hill is not for the faint of heart, it is steep and long and you will be in for a wild ride. There are surrounding hills in Cherokee Park that are less intense and are more appropriate for children and beginners. Cherokee Park is also one of my favorite places to take a winter walk through the snow. The walking paths are beautiful when snow covered and you can get views of the sledders from many of the paths.

Now that I have children, Cherokee Park’s Dog Hill is often too crowded and too wild to bring them, so I prefer Tyler Park. The hill at Tyler Park is still a nice size and has two levels so you can choose how far you want to ride. The Park is smaller so you don’t have as many hill choices but it is generally not as crowded at Cherokee Park.

Some of the best sledding can be found in your back yard or right in your neighborhood. If you feel more comfortable going to a designated Louisville Metro Park sled hill, there are six of them in the city. When the weather permits, the hills are maintained for safety by the city. Two of the hills are at Cherokee and Tyler Parks while the others are located at George Rogers Clark Park, Joe Creason Park, Charlie Vettiner Park, and McNeely Lake Park. These hills were chosen as the best and safest hills in our parks and will always be marked open or closed in snowy weather. Park staff will also light bonfires when appropriate. For more information on our parks’ sledding hills go to http://www.louisvilleky.gov/MetroParks/outdoors/sledding.htm.

Sledding is always a fun adventure but can be dangerous if you aren't careful. Have fun this Winter and take advantage of our excellent sledding hills, but be smart about it!

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Louisville is a friendly city but hard to make friends

I am one of Louisville’s biggest fans and rarely have anything to complain about when it comes to my hometown. There is however one thing about this city that frustrates many new residents. Whenever you have an extreme positive, like the tight knit community that makes Louisville so unique, there is often a negative that comes along with it. Many new residents that I have spoken to have all had similar complaints; that it is difficult to make new friends. Louisvillians are not unwelcoming people, in fact they are some of the most welcoming people I have encountered. Friends are hard to make in this city because social groups are loyal and circles hold on to each other for a long time.

I myself have experienced this problem even as a native Louisvillian. After moving back home after college, I found myself alone in the city that used to be filled with familiar faces. All of my friends had decided to stay in their college towns or move away to other cities. I was back in Louisville by myself. As a Louisvillian, you hold on to your circle of friends and are not very good at making new ones. I was stuck and didn't know what to do with myself. Luckily, I broke out of my self-pity fueled shell and found sources around town to create my new social life. Now, I am happy to pass along my insight to those struggling with the same problems
My first tip to making new friends is to know where to go. You don’t always have to have a partner to go out with if you are going to the right place. There are plenty of places that you can visit alone and not feel out of place. Pool halls are excellent places to meet people. Playing pool automatically gives you an excuse to meet and have a conversation with new people. It is absolutely fine to walk up to a pool table and ask to join the existing players, and who knows you may hit it off and have easily made some new friends! Louisville has several nice pool halls, such as The Back Door, Diamonds, and Barret Bar.

I would also suggest using my favorite website that addresses this problem head on. New2lou.com is an excellent resource for new resident to Louisville looking to meet other new Louisvillians in the same boat. New2lou.com keeps you informed on the important events coming up as well as valuable information about the city. New2lou also puts on a social event every second Wednesday of the month allowing anyone interested in meeting new people to come out for a good time. For information on this month’s social event go to new2lou.com.

My third tip is one that I have not used personally but I have a friends that swear by it. Reddit.com is a self proclaimed “website about everything.” If you have an interest in golf, needlepoint, or cooking, you can chat with people on reddit.com about your similar interests. Normally I wouldn't recommend meeting people online and meeting them in person, but a friend of mine has actually made several real-life friends through the website.

If you are struggling to make friends in Louisville don’s get frustrated. Many of us have been in the same position but there are ways to find great people with similar interests to you in this city.

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Is Louisville a 'Big City'

For those of us who have grown up in Louisville, it is hard to think of our hometown as a “big city.” Louisville has always been our secret treasure; a town filled with diversity, culture, and a close sense of community; a town where everyone somehow is linked to one another. Within the past several years, with the growth of Downtown Louisville and the reincarnation of many of Louisville’s neighborhoods, Louisville has quickly become a popular place and dare I say it...”big.” 

When I say “big” I'm not referring to the population or the number of high-rise buildings in our downtown area, but I'm basing my judgment on national popularity, corporate interest, and travel statistics. In the last year, Louisville has been recognized in several top rankings, being called things such as “The Most Livable City In America” by the U.S Conference of Mayors, “The Best Place to Retire” by U.S News and World Report, and my personal favorite, the “Manliest Town in America” by GQ Magazine. Louisville’s popularity in rankings and recognitions is at an all time high gaining interest from every angle including food, tourism, and community. Louisville’s well-rounded popularity is making it look like a big city to me.

Corporate interest in the city is also at an all time high. With the addition of the KFC Yum Center in 2010, corporations are finally looking at Louisville as a “big city.” When Anthropologie, a huge National chain, came to Oxmoor Mall in 2010, female shoppers were ecstatic. The retail excitement is buzzing again with the recent news of the trendy and affordable clothing chain H&M coming to Oxmoor Mall in the near future. To make room for the new H&M, Oxmoor Mall officials just announced they will be doing a complete overhaul of the mall’s mezzanine and food court as well. Not all the corporate retail chains to recently come to Louisville have been welcomed with as much excitement. Urban Outfitters moved in to the Highlands neighborhood in June of 2012 and was met with some major hostility from the community. The Highlands is a “shop local” kind of place and the big dogs that moved in seemed to urk everyone around them. The store is still open and doing very well, but it just goes to show, other might want Louisville to be big but Louisville just might want to stay small.

Louisville was named the “Top Travel Destination of 2013” by Lonely Planet. WIth the NuLu District producing amazing food from a variety of new restaurants and Downtown Louisville's paradox of immense history and brand new development, Louisville has never had so much to offer it’s visitors. The fact that we were named the number one top place to go makes us a “HUGE” city.

Louisville will always be a special town no matter how big it gets. The community is what makes Louisville a unique city and that will never change. I’m still not ready to call my hometown a “big city,” although I’m afraid we are on our way. I know I need to embrace it, but give me a little more time.

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Bootlegging Still Exists...And Right At My Back Door

Last night, while spending some much needed down time at my neighborhood bar, the Back Door, I was surprised to find a table full of folks that looked a little out of place. Upon further review and because of the whispers around the bar, I learned that excitement was brewing in the bar over a reality star in the building. Tim Smith, a moonshining legend and star of the Discovery Channel’s hit reality show Moonshiners was sitting right in the middle of our humble Back Door. Complete with overalls and his signature khaki hat, Tim was just as lively and passionate about ‘shining in person as he appears on the show. In town for two days on a promotional tour for the show’s new season, Tim came to the Back Door to watch the new episode of Moonshiners among friends and fellow distillers. 
Moonshine is part of our American heritage. Although it is considered illegal, in many parts of Appalachia, there are those that choose to distill their own shine, following in the footsteps of those that came before them. The Discovery Channel goes inside the day to day life of a moonshiner and discusses their trials and tribulations. NASCAR even has it’s roots based in moonshine. The first race cars were designed by moonshiners who were constantly trying to build faster cars and become more skilled as drivers in order to escape from the law. Over time these cars were used not only to outrun the police but to race each another. Eventually these humble races turned in to what we know as NASCAR today.
Kentucky has deep roots in moonshine. If you have grown up or lived in Kentucky you have most likely been in some sort of contact with illegal moonshine. I have been on several trips to Eastern Kentucky, Harlan County in particular, where although the “apple pie” shine comes in milk cartons, it sure will keep you warm on a cold night.
If you don't want to travel to Eastern Kentucky to taste moonshine, or if you feel more comfortable trying the legal stuff, their is some good news for you. Along with Tim Smith, I had the pleasure of talking to Steve Beam, owner of Limestone Branch Distillery. This distillery, located in Lebanon, Kentucky, creates varieties of legal moonshine like apple pie and 100 proof Sugar Shine. The moonshine sold under the T.J Pottinger label can be bought in town at such major retailers as Liquor Barn and Party Mart.
Whether you are a bourbon, vodka, or tequila, drinker, if you are from or are visiting Kentucky you have to try moonshine. Moonshine has historic and cultural meaning in this region and you can taste it in every sip. Moonshiners on Discovery channel is a great way to learn a little bit about the ongoing struggles that bootleggers still face today and is an entertaining way to gain insight into a lifestyle that not many people get to see first hand. Moonshiners airs on the Discovery Channel Wednesday evenings at 10pm.  
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Bourbon Makes Me Feel Like Home

Over the holiday season, I was lucky enough to reconnect with several of my friends that currently live all over the World. Home for the holidays, and often away from the warmth and comfort of the things that remind them of home, most of my friends were eager to jump back into their old habits and looked to me to show them the way. Not surprisingly, bourbon was at the top of many of their lists. Bourbon is relatively easy to find in most places, but good bourbon and several varieties of bourbon are only found here at home. Of course, being a bourbon lover myself, I was happy to lead my friends around to some of my favorite new spots.
One of my favorite nights consisted of drinks and dinner at St. Charles Exchange followed by more drinks at the bar Meat. St. Charles Exchange has a lengthy bourbon menu, but the reason I took my friends there was for the Old Fashioned. The St. Charles Exchange Old Fashioned is hands down the best Old Fashioned I have had in the city to date. The St. Charles Exchange bartenders know what they are doing; the bourbon is the star of the cocktail and every sip is heavenly. There are several other cocktails at St. Charles Exchange that feature bourbon in ways that are unique and exciting. Every time I try a new cocktail at this restaurant I am surprised by the depth of flavors. The food at St. Charles Exchange is always delicious too. The same care that goes in to each cocktail goes in to each dish. You can always count on St.Charles Exchange to put forward creative, forward-thinking, good-feeling food, and no matter what, you are always guaranteed to have a great time.  
After dinner, full with amazing food and slightly tipsy from our heavenly cocktails, I decided to keep with the prohibition-style theme as we headed to Meat on Story Avenue. Meat has recently been named one of the 50 best bars in the World. It is located on the second floor of the Blind Pig Restaurant in Butchertown and has a very unique vibe. Modeled after a 1920s speakeasy, Meat combines a laid back scene with a butcher’s torture chamber vibe. Meat and butcher tools hang from the ceilings adding to a playful but dark atmosphere. Meat doesn't have the best bourbon list, but it does have excellent cocktails. At this point in the night, my friends didn't care what they were drinking to be honest.
The next night everyone was ready to do some real bourbon tasting. They all headed to Bourbons Bistro on Frankfort Avenue to enjoy a bourbon-inspired dinner menu and all the bourbon they could get their lips on. Bourbon’s Bistro is the place to go in Louisville for anyone trying to learn about bourbon or try new bourbons. With the longest bourbon list in town and a professional staff that knows their stuff, you wont leave disappointed.
Most restaurants and bars in Louisville have a decent bourbon list, but if you want to find which restaurants have lengthier menus, a good way is to follow the Urban Bourbon Trail. You can visit louisville.com to find all the restaurants participating. If you want to take it a step further, you can grab an Urban Bourbon Trail “passport” and collect stamps at each restaurant you visit. After you collect six stamps you can receive a free gift.
Bourbon makes my friends feel at home and I couldn't have been happier to celebrate it with them. There are so many other wonderful places I could have taken them if only we had more time. We are so lucky to have a city filled with excellent restaurants and delicious bourbon cocktails, so get out there and enjoy them!
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'Happy Birthday' has Louisville Roots

One of my favorite go-to gifts to give my close family and friends is a personalized calendar complete with meaningful photographs and reminders of special events. My family in particular is so large that before my calendars no one could remember each other’s birthdays. Embarrassing belated birthday calls had become the norm for my family, and it was becoming a problem. Now, every New Year, my family members look forward to receiving the newest edition of my calendar because without it they would be lost.  

These calendars are not only excellent gifts to give someone else, but make personal organization beautiful enough to hang on the wall. There are several websites that make creating calendars like mine, very simple and inexpensive. My favorite website is Shutterfly.com. All you need to know before starting your calendar are the special dates you want to include and what photos you would like to feature in your calendar. Shutterfly will walk you through step by step in creating your calendar and make it utterly fool proof. You can create all different kinds of calendars, like desk and poster calendars, starting at $9.99 per calendar. Wall calendars start at $21.99 but there are always sales and coupon codes available so make sure you take advantage of them! 

My 2013 calendar is hanging in my kitchen right now and I don’t know what I would do without it. Ten members of my family have birthdays in January and without my calendar I would never remember each of them. January has been named “Birthday Month” in my family (for obvious reasons) and we always do something special to celebrate. One year we went on a cruise, another year we took a trip to Vail, Colorado, and another year we rented out our favorite pizza place, Luigi's Pizza on Main Street in Downtown Louisville. No matter what you do to celebrate your Birthday, there is always one constant; the singing of the “Happy Birthday Song.”   

Many people don’t realize when they are reciting those happy words, that they originated right here in Louisville, Kentucky. Yes, it’s true, the same “Happy Birthday” that has been translated into numerous languages and is sung all over the World to celebrate Birthdays around the globe, was written by two Louisvillians. Mildred Jane Hill and Patty Smith Hill, who are both buried in Louisville’s Cave Hill Cemetery, are credited in 1893 with writing the very first version of “Happy Birthday to You.” Next time you are Downtown, drive by 920 West Main Street and check out the “Happy Birthday Lot”, a parking lot named after one of the top three most famous songs in the English language. 

Louisville is filled with inspirational people and fun historical facts. Our city has clues to these interesting facts all around us, we just have to learn to open up our eyes and look for them. Next time you attend a birthday party and sing those famous “Happy Birthday” words, maybe you will sing them with a little more pride! 

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Why Are There Fleurs-De-Lis Everywhere Anyway

Everywhere you look in Louisville, whether it be in our local boutiques, at our various art fairs, or throughout our historic architecture, a similar theme can be noted; the fleur-de-lis. The fleur-de-lis is the city of Louisville’s official seal and more importantly, has become our cultural icon for Louisville’s close knit community. 

Most Louisvillians know the importance of the fleur-de-lis to Louisville, but may not necessary know why. In the United States, the fleur-de-lis is most famous for being the official seal of New Orleans. Following Hurricane Katrina, the fleur-de-lis took on another job as promoting grassroots support to the recovery. So how did the fleur-de-lis become the official seal of Louisville then?  The fleur-de-lis is a french symbol with it’s earliest uses in the French Monarchy. It’s questionable whether or not the fleur-de-lis is modeled after an iris, a lily, or it could be a holy trinity. The fleur-de-lis became the official seal after the Revolutionary War to represent the french aid given to Louisville and subsequently, Louisville was named after King Louis XVI. Because of Louisville’s roots, it is in fact pronounced “Louie-ville,” but try to say it that way around town and you will get plenty of eye rolls.

If you are proud of living in Louisville, or like our beloved city, then hop on the fleur-de-lis train if your not already on it. Fleur-de-lis jewelry, home goods, and even fleur-de-lis inspired businesses are easy to find around town.  

Regalo, Scout, and Why Louisville are just a few of the locally owned boutiques that carry fleur-de-lis jewelry and accessories for the home. Some of the most popular fleur-de-lis merchandise range from serving platters, tea towels, to ice scoops. Sterling silver fleur-de-lis jewelry is also very popular. Fleur-de-lis earrings, watches, and necklaces are a great way to show your Louisville pride while looking modern and stylish. Regalo is located on Barret Avenue, Scout is part of the Nulu District, and Why Louisville is located on Bardstown Road.

Many local businesses have taken on the fleur-de-lis name and symbol to market to the local community. Restaurants such as the Fleur De Lis Cafe on Bardstown Road serve the local community with comfort food in a casual atmosphere. Fleur De Lis Events and Design is a high end special events company that specialize in making everything from the lighting to the floral arrangements on your special day beyond perfect. The fleur-de-lis name is even being used in the local real estate industry. Fleur De Lis on Main is one of the newest downtown residential and commercial developments. Complete with 82 condos, and over 20,000 square feet of retail and commercial space on the first floor, Fleur De Lis on Main is making a big mark in the every changing downtown community. 

If you didn't know the history of the fleur-de-lis in Louisville, now you do. Fleurs-de-lis are beautiful and meaningful symbols but what makes them more meaningful is what we have done with them as a community. Louisvillians love using the fleur-de-lis to show pride in our city and I encourage you to jump on board.

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Louisville is a Secret No More: Lonely Planet Names Louisville Number 1 top US Travel Destination for 2013

It seems as though our beloved secret city is becoming a little less secret these days. For years, Louisville has been our hidden treasure of a town. Besides visiting for the Kentucky Derby, most travelers and those outside the inner Louisvillian circle, would never consider Louisville a place to visit and especially not live in year round. Recently however, with the revitalization of many downtown neighborhoods and the ongoing growth and expansion of central downtown, Louisville is becoming a popular destination for many visitors. Lonely Planet, the World’s most successful travel publisher, has named Louisville the number 1 top US travel destination for 2013.  

 Victorian Homes in Old LouisvilleLonely Planet’s editors and authors fell in love with Louisville’s multicultural neighborhoods and offbeat charm while doing their research for the top ten list.  The NuLu/East Market District, Urban Bourbon Trail, and the Highlands neighborhood were three aspects of our city that Lonely Planet claimed put us at the top.  

 Anyone who visits our new Louisville can see that it is alive and vibrant, filled with good food, friendly people, and beautiful architecture. Louisville has a thriving art community, a diverse cultural community, and a passionate college sports community. Louisville is not only full of incredible travel options for a weekend, but  keep all of what the city has to offer in mind if you are considering Louisville as your permanent home. There is a reason Louisville earned Lonely Planet’s number one spot. 

Louisville and it’s surrounding areas are full of day trips and family friendly activities for out-of town visitors or locals who want to spend a day out of the house. The Falls of the Ohio State Park is located just across the bridge in Clarksville, Indiana. The expansive limestone shelf holds fossils dating back 400 million years. The limestone shelf and accompanying museum are considered one of the areas most important landmarks. Other museums and day trips in the area include the Louisville Science Center, Louisville Zoo, JB Speed Art Museum, and the Louisville Slugger Museum where they craft the official bat of Major League Baseball. Louisville also has annual car, craft, neighborhood, arts, music, and cultural shows that pop up year round.  

Louisville is a city with amazing architecture.It is only second to Boston on the “National Register of Historic Places,” and second to New York City’s SoHo in buildings with cast iron fronts. The Downtown Louisville neighborhood of Old Louisville has the largest assembly of Victorian mansions in the country. Walking tours are available to take through community, and I highly recommend going. 

There is so much to do in Louisville that it is no surprise that it is number one on anyone’s list. I have always known how great this city is and that it was only a matter of time before other people started to catch on. Now we have to worry about everyone else trying to get in on our wonderful secret city.


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Take Advantage of Your St. Matthews Parks Before the Freeze

Fall is the perfect time to get outside and enjoy the last days of bearable weather before the harsh Winter sinks in. In fact, these next few weeks when there is a chill in the air and the last leaves are falling off of the trees, are the best days for bundling up in your cold weather gear and heading out to your local parks for some fun. This is my favorite time of year for enjoying the many outdoor amenities that our city has to offer. These days spent playing outside not only bring with them the obvious excitement of a day at the park but often lead to some of the best memories.  

St. Matthews has several parks within the community. The heart of the St. Matthews neighborhood is the award winning Brown Park. Brown Park holds many of the community events such as next month’s Light up St. Matthews and the recent 15th annual St. Matthews Halloween Festival that was a huge hit. When Brown Park isn’t hosting a huge neighborhood blow out, you can always find someone you know at the park using it’s many amenities. Brown Park has beautiful asphalt walking trails through the woods and next to Beargrass Creek, creating scenic but walkable paths.  There is a pond on the East side of the park that has become the home of several species of wild duck. Children love to come to the pond and check out the ducks. Although there are posted signs saying not to feed them, I have seen many Grandmas allowing their happy grandsons to throw the ducks some crackers. Brown Park is also equip with playgrounds, picnic tables, barbeques, and a large pavilion for entertaining.  

Seneca Park is one of Louisville’s most popular parks and is right on the outskirts of St. Matthews. Seneca Park was designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, the same “landscape architect” who designed New York City’s Central Park. Seneca Park is a 500 acre park that offers many amenities, including soccer fields, baseball fields, tennis courts, running paths, and an 18-hole golf course.

If you are a sports lover than Community Park is the place for you to go. Community Park is a 45.8 acre park located just off of Shelbyville Road by the Ten Pin Lane Bowling Alley. Community Park is home to the St. Matthews Little League so it is filled with league quality baseball fields. In addition to the baseball fields, the park has basketball courts, tennis courts, playgrounds, asphalt walking trails through wooded terrain, and picnic tables with barbeques. This park has everything you need if you are going to watch a game with your family or if you want to play your own game!

Arthur K. Draut Park is a simple park located on Bowling Boulevard just several blocks from Brown Park. This 24.2 acre park is intended for walkers, runners, or joggers and offers a scenic trail for interesting ambiance. No restrooms are offered at this park, so it is purely a place to enjoy the view. 

Warwick Park is located off of Virginia Avenue and has many amenities for all ages. There is an asphalt walking trail around the perimeter of the park, creating a track and open green space in the middle. Barbeques, picnic tables, playgrounds, and basketball courts are all available at the park as well as a baseball diamond that is available to be reserved for free.  A large pavilion can also be reserved for large parties at no cost.

All of these St. Matthews city parks are open to the public from Dawn till Dusk and offer free parking. Bundle up in your coats, hats, and gloves, and enjoy your local parks even if it is a little chilly! Pretty soon it will be so cold the only thing you will be able to do at these parks is sled!

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Bardstown Road Not the Only Place to Be Anymore

Last week I ventured out on the town on a weeknight, which is a rare occasion for me. My sister-in-law is a new mom and was in desperate need for some time away. Last Thursday night, after about an hour of some skillful convincing on my part, I persuaded her to join me for a drink at the bar of her choice. In my opinion, it’s important for every mom to get out  every once in a while for some girl talk that has nothing to do with the kids. Once I rescued my sister-in-law from her diaper and bottle filled cave, we headed to Oshea’s Irish Pub on Bardstown Road in the Highlands to take advantage of their outdoor patio. 

Keep The Highlands Weird Louisville KYIt was 9:30pm at Oshea’s and the patio was about half full. We took a seat at a table in the back and got a couple drinks. The much needed girl talk consumed our conversation, but two women sitting alone at a bar are sure to be bombarded by any lonesome men. We met a couple men from Louisville, out for a drink with their buddies, but the most interesting conversation came from two men from Boston who were bourbon tasting at the bar. These men, in town for an engineering convention, were doing a poor job picking out their bourbons, so I was more than willing to help.  After about an hour at Oshea’s the bar became empty, those eating on the patio had finished, and we were ready to leave as well. We headed to Flanagan’s next. 

At this point in the night it was getting late and I was expecting the bars to become busy.  Back when I used to frequent them more often, Thursday nights were basically an extension of the weekend. When we entered Flanagan’s I could count the number of customers on both of my hands. I was shocked. We decided to stay and I was curious to learn what kind of people were at the bar. Most were out-of-towners and people who had just gotten off work. I spoke with the bartender at Flanagan’s who has worked there for over 20 years to ask him about the slow night. He told me that more and more people are frequenting the bars in St. Matthews and that is has really hurt their business as well as all the bars’ business along Bardstown Road. He also said that the economy has a great deal to do with the bars’ weekday night sales. Because of the economy more and more people are drinking at home on the weeknights, although it doesn’t seem to affect the weekend market. He did go on to say however that Flanagan’s and the other Bardstown Road bar/restaurant combinations like Oshea’s and Molly Malone’s food sales are up.  More people are coming to eat rather than drink on Bardstown Road. 

I guess any time different areas develop and time passes, neighborhoods grow and change. The last time I went out on Bardstown Road it was a young, vibrant, “drink till you get drunk” party street. St. Matthews is quickly becoming that new spot. I’m not saying Bardstown Road is going anywhere, because on the weekends, it is still one of the places to be, but the difference now is that it is ONE of the places to be, not THE place to be. 

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Louisville Urban Legends for this Halloween

When I think of Halloween the first few things that pop into my mind are the ridiculous costumes, trick-or-treating, and the frightening haunted houses. Halloween, although originally based on death and things far too mature for children, is a modern holiday built for kids. All about candy, dressing up, and imagination, Halloween today is far from the original All Hallows’ Eve that it began as.   

Pope Lick Bridge Louisville KYHalloween time or not, Louisville has plenty of haunted stories and urban legends, keeping it’s residents busy searching for answers year round.   While out the other night I spotted a man with a t-shirt with the words “The Goatman Lives” written on it. Unsure of what that meant I went over to his table and asked him who the “Goatman” was. He went on to tell me the urban legend of the “Pope Lick Trestle Goatman.”  There are varieties of the story, like most urban legends, but I will tell you the version he told me. The Goatman was the offspring of a farmer and his goat, making him half human half goat. Once people found out about him, rumors started to go around town. A circus eventually captured him mistreated him, and put him on display. When the train carrying him and the circus members was headed over the trestle at Pope Lick, lightening struck the train tracks, killing everyone on board, except the Goatman. Now at the trestle you can see the Goatman above the trestle as well as the ghost train.  For those who dare to walk across the tracks, it is said that the sight of the Goatman will cause you to fall the 100ft to the ground. Several accidental deaths have since occurred at the Pope Lick Trestle.

After hearing the Goatman urban legend, I decided to look in to some other Louisville urban legends.  I live right by Cherokee Park, go there every week, and had never heard of the “Legend of Pan.”  If you are familiar with Cherokee Park, you most likely have seen the Statue of Pan, which is more commonly referred to as Hogan’s Fountain. It is said that every full moon at midnight, Pan comes alive and causes mischief. Most of the damage reported has been to cars. 

If you frequent the Ohio River, listen up because the “Legend of the Captains Tomb” is an interesting one. According to Louisville legend, in the early 1800’s Captain Francis “Frank” McHarry was the leading businessman when it came to the Ohio River in Louisville. In 1850 he started the first Portland to New Albany Ferry. As technology grew however, the steamboat trade grew as well, which literally rocked his ferry business. McHarry had a temper and his anger grew. In 1857 he passed away and was said to have brought a curse down on the river with him. He was buried underneath a vertical tombstone overlooking the river with the curse “anyone who sees my grave will not make it back to the shore and the river will be their home.”

There are plenty more local urban legends to tell your friends this Halloween.  For a few more go to http://www.louisvilleghs.com.  

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Indian Hills Named Seventh Best City for Suburbanites

What is a Suburbanite? Would you want to be called a Suburbanite? Would you call yourself a Suburbanite? I think that there is a lot to say about life in the suburbs.  I grew up in the suburbs and loved every minute of it.  Granted I didn’t know life any different, I was comfortable playing with my neighbors across the street after my mom made a nice family dinner, walking the dog among private neighborhood streets, and  setting up kickball courts in the cul-de-sac behind my house.  Life in the suburbs is great if you like to commute to work, be part of a neighborhood, and actually see the stars at night.  There are many perks as well as disadvantageous that come with life in the suburbs, the same that you would get in any community.  

Recently, real estate company put together a “Best Places to Live” Survey, with one of the categories being for suburbanites. Wouldn’t you know it, our very own  Indian Hills, Kentucky came up seventh on the list.  Indian Hills is a beautiful, wooded community of roughly 1,200 homes and 2,900 residents.  Indian Hills was incorporated as a fourth class city in 1999 and includes the cities of Cherokee, Indian-Hills Country Club, Winding Falls, and Robinswood. Along with it’s neighboring communities of Glenview and Mockingbird Valley, the area makes up one of the most prosperous suburbs in the city of Louisville.  Over a third of the land in Indian Hills is left undeveloped, purposefully, lending to the scenic atmosphere.  Indian Hills is steeped in Southern history.  Originally named the “Indian Hill Stock Farm” in 1872 and one of the largest horse farms in Kentucky, Indian Hills still shows evidence of it’s original farming roots today.  The Georgian Style Veech House at 125 Indian Hills Trail, and Spring House at 119 Arrowhead Rd are still standing from the original Farm, and add historical relevance and Southern charm to the neighborhood.   

The survey chose it’s winners based on several factors including safety, gas affordability, number of college graduates, median disposable income, coffee shops, good schools nearby, cultural activities, outdoor activities, high number of people who eat in, and several others. Indian Hills is not only a beautiful community but offers convenience and a wide range of housing options for the affluent homebuyer. Most homes in Indian Hills are found on large lots with long drive ways and large green front lawns.  Homes in Indian Hills follow the hilly terrain of the neighborhood and offer a variety of style homes from Traditional to Ranch to Cape Cod.  Most of the homes in the area were built in the 1950’s and 60’s with a median price of $415,000 and a price per square foot of $190.00.  There is however an availability of beautiful 5000+ square foot estate-sized homes available in Indian Hills.

If I was the ultimate Suburbanite I could not think of a better suburb to live in than Indian Hills.If you agree or disagree, either way it’s pretty cool that one of Louisville’s oldest communities was recognized as an excellent neighborhood to live in!

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Louisville Is No Longer A Town To Get Out Of

When I was growing up, Louisville was sort of a means to an end.  For the privileged kids, once you graduated high school you were, without question, destined to go on to bigger and better things, far away from Louisville, Kentucky.  At graduation the number one question I was asked was “where are you going to college?”  When I answered, “York University in Toronto,” I was greeted with warm smiles filled with satisfaction.  I guess Canada was far enough away from the bluegrass state to make myself look accomplished. The bizarre thing about my ability to impress folks by saying I attended school in another country, was that I wasn’t even majoring in a highly impressive subject; I was going to theatre school.  At the time I was ecstatic because “I knew” that I would become an actor and York University was the place that would set me on my journey.  After a year of acting school in Ontario, I did learn something valuable, that maybe a BFA wasn’t the best choice in a degree for me.  After many months of weighing the pros and cons I decided to come closer to home for school, but not too close.  I had been subconsciously conditioned my entire life that it was just plain unacceptable to go to college at the University of Louisville, so I transferred to Indiana University, about an hour away from home.  I had all sorts of ideas about a new major and a new start to my college career, but after only one semester, I folded.  With my head hanging low, and feeling awful as ever, I did what I never thought I would do in my entire life and registered for classes at UofL for the Spring semester. Four years later and one year later than my original college graduation date should have been, I graduated from the University of Louisville with a degree in Psychology and I never looked back.  

Why do I tell you my shameful college story?  Because things are different now. Looking back on the way I felt about leaving Louisville and staying away from the city I love so much today is just a reminder of how far Louisville has come in just a matter of a few years.  Louisville was recently named the 2012 best city at luring and retaining educated young people according to a report by two Portland State University Professors.  Yes, I said retaining, not pushing them away.  Portland, Oregon used to be the number one hot spot for college graduates to settle, but Louisville has taken that title away.  I can personally attest to this transformation in Louisville’s attractiveness to the college educated, 20-something to 30-something crowd. Over the past several months I have been running in to more and more of my friends from the past who moved away only to come back to Louisville.  Some have opened their own businesses here in town, are running small recording studios, or are coming back to work for a family business because they missed the city.  Other friends who never left are making names for themselves opening restaurants and bakeries, coaching high school sports, and creating some of the town’s greatest original festivals.  We can probably attribute the growing attractiveness of the city to this age group on the ongoing revitalization of historic neighborhoods like Nulu, the amazing new restaurants and bars that keep popping up, and the affordability of living. Louisville is no longer the city you want to get away from after high school, it is the city you can’t wait to make a name for yourself in.  I love Louisville, I am not afraid to say it, and I’m not going anywhere.

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