We spend so much of the year talking up the incredible outdoor activities in Louisville—from catching the races at Churchill Downs, to shopping and dining in funky neighborhoods like NuLu, to hiking around our impressive parks. But don’t let cooler temperatures deter you from your next Louisville vacation! Here is our list of the hottest places worth a visit, even on our coldest days. Plus, we’ve included a bourbon-infused hot beverage recipe below so that you have something nice to fill your thermos while you explore.
Holiday Hot Spots in Louisville
If you’re feeling in the Christmas spirit, then we have two must-see spots for your next Louisville vacation this winter. The first is the Fete De Noel, which runs from November 24 through early January. Enjoy the classic Kentucky Christmas experience with Louisville’s only outdoor skating rink and a concession stand selling Maker’s Mark Kentucky hot cocoa, because bourbon will almost certainly make you a better skater. Fete De Noel is decked out in plenty of holiday lights and décor and features a holiday market for some unique gift shopping and delicious food sampling. It’s like a slice of Europe here in the US.
But if you’d rather see something out of this world, you’ll need to go underground. Lights Under Louisville at Mega Cavern is the only underground holiday light show in the world. Drive your own vehicle through as you experience over 40 themed displays, 900 characters, and 6.5 million points of light. Want to leave the driving to someone else? Grab your tickets for their Christmas Express so that you can enjoy the full viewing experience while you relax in an open-top trailer. The Cavern is open daily for tours, with shortened hours on Christmas Day.
Warm Meals for Cold Days
Who doesn’t love a hot and satisfying food or beverage on a chilly winter day? We have two recommendations that rank high on our lists for the local Louisville experience. First, swing by the J. Graham’s Café in The Brown Hotel for Kentucky’s iconic Hot Brown sandwich. Created by Fred K. Schmidt in the 1920’s, this hot piece of Louisville history was originally made to feed weary guests after hours of dancing. This dish of Texas Toast layered with hot sliced turkey, tomatoes, bacon, cheese, and Mornay sauce is guaranteed to warm you from the inside out… no dancing required!
If you’ve got a sweet tooth, then making a trip to one of Louisville’s three Please & Thank You locations is a MUST! Please & Thank You is the 2023 winner of “The Best Chocolate Chip Cookie in the U.S.A.” according to USA Today’s Reader’s Choice. Plus, each Please & Thank You location has its own funky vibe and eclectic décor. Throw off your mittens, grab a steamy mug of hot coffee (just not decaf), pile on a cookie or three, and pull up a chair for the perfect winter snack break experience. If it’s love at first bite and you’re sad to say goodbye, don’t worry. They deliver across the country!
Indoor Fun in Winter Weather
Louisville has no shortage of museums to explore on chilly days. Whether you are into contemporary art, US history, or a sports fanatic—Louisville has a museum for you. Baseball fans cannot skip town without a tour of the Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory. Open seven days a week, you could spend hours strolling through the many areas of the museum, including touring the factory and visiting the bat vault. If you are a serious baseball superfan, then sign up for their All-Star Experience which includes a private tour of the facility, access to behind-the-scenes areas, and your very own personalized bat. The All-Star Experience requires you to plan ahead with reservations made at least two weeks in advance.
If art is more your speed, then hurry over to the Speed Art Museum. Founded in 1925, it is Kentucky’s oldest and largest art museum with an impressive collection of pieces that span over 6,000 years of human history, cultural identity, and artistic expression. Even if you’ve visited before, there are always new exhibitions to explore including their current “Stories Retold: American Art from the Princeton University Art Museum” which is on display through January 7, 2024. Check their events calendars for unique museum experiences including Pilates and movie nights.
Your Cozy Home Away from Home
We would love to welcome you at the Inn at Woodhaven as your home-away-from-home on your next Louisville vacation. From our plush bedding to our crackling fireplaces, private bathrooms for a nice hot shower to our curated bourbon tastings—we’re here as your warm and cozy place to chill out. But while you’re perusing our various rooms to choose the one that is right for you, why not whip yourself up a quick batch of our Winter Bourbon Hot Chocolate to get you in the spirit? We hope to see you soon.
Inn at Woodhaven’s Winter Bourbon Hot Chocolate
Ingredients (serves 2):
- 2 cups whole milk (though non-dairy milk works too)
- 2 oz bittersweet chocolate chips or chunks
- 1 TBSP honey or maple syrup
- 1/8 cup or more Evan Williams flavored bourbon (we like honey, cherry, or fire)
- 1 tsp vanilla extract (optional)
- Whipped cream (optional)
- Heat milk in a small pot over medium heat until hot but not boiling. (If bubbles start to form around the side of the pot, you’ve reached the right temperature).
- Whisk in your chocolate chips, sweetener, and vanilla until the chocolate has completely melted and everything is well-blended.
- Remove from heat and add in your bourbon. Divide between two mugs and top with whipped cream and/or more bourbon. We won’t judge.