Visitors often find it hard to decide on the most attractive aspect of this charming Southern city. It could be the gentility embodied by its lovely Victorian homes, the largest collection in the country, or possibly it's the world-class drama of the Kentucky Derby, the oldest continuously run horse race in America. Perhaps it's the presence of a replica of Babe Ruth's bat, the world's biggest baseball bat at 120 feet tall and 68,000 pounds that dominates the entrance of the Louisville Slugger Museum. It could even be the Belle of Louisville, the nation's oldest functioning steamboat, still plying the waters of the Ohio River. With more than 120 attractions and 2,500 restaurants, Louisville promises to capture the heart of any visitor regardless of interest or age.
Louisville is clearly a place of superlatives, including one that's never mentioned in the guidebooks: most user-friendly event locale in the United States. Located in the center of the eastern United States off interstate routes I-65, I-71 and I-64, Louisville is a supremely accessible city. One can drive to Louisville in a single day from around 60 percent of the cities in the continental United States. The airport, which sees almost 100 flights every day, is less than a 10-minute drive from downtown and across the street from one of Louisville's two world-class convention facilities.
The Kentucky Exposition Center, at over one million square feet, is one of the 10 most spacious public convention centers in the country and can seat 19,000 guests in its indoor arena. Meanwhile, the 300,000-square-foot Kentucky International Convention Center contains a ballroom of 30,000 square feet and 52 meeting rooms with various capacities. From the exposed brick and sunlit skylights at the convention center to the 300 acres of space on the Southern terrain at the exposition center, both facilities offer attractive settings and state-of-the-art amenities flexible for large-scale events.
Louisville offers a range of non-traditional facilities as well. Choose the iconic Churchill Downs for a true taste of the city's horse racing culture, whether with a banquet for up to 54 guests in the Jockey Club Suites or a reception attended by up to 400 people in the Jockey Club Grand Foyer. The popular Frazier History Museum, the only place in North America displaying a collection from Britain's Royal Armouries, offers an elegant roof garden and galleries for groups ranging from 150 to 500 people.
Take a step off the beaten path by opting for lesser known, but no less grand, Louisville event venues . Glassworks, a one-of-a-kind facility featuring glassblowing studios and galleries, is a memorable spot for cocktails on the roof garden or a glassblowing demonstration followed by a reception in its foyer. Guests also marvel at restored historical sites, from the 1928 movie theater Louisville Palace to the exquisite mansion housing the Conrad-Caldwell House Museum.
Not only does Louisville offer a wide range of event spaces, it also offers a broad selection of accommodations. The city itself provides planners with over 17,000 hotel rooms across more than 100 hotels ranging from boutique properties to big name brands such as Marriott and Hilton. Regardless of event requirements or budget restrictions, planners are sure to find lodging that meets their needs.
Louisville is becoming a hub for the health care and medicine industry, and two of the Fortune 500 companies located in the city are medical in nature: Kindred Healthcare Incorporated and Humana. Other Fortune 500 companies include Yum! Brands, Inc. Louisville also has a number of universities and colleges, including University of Louisville, Bellarmine University, Spalding University and Sullivan University.