16 things you need to explain to out-of-towners about Louisville
You live in Louisville, which means you will inevitably be visited by people who have not been to Louisville, but nonetheless “love the Derby”, or “really know their whiskey”, or “are your parents”. Helping to save you a little time, we’ve put together a cheat sheet of the things you’ll need to explain to them...
1. You’re probably not saying it correctly
It’s not said like “Louie” or “Louis”, or any other variant of Louis C.K.’s name. It’s more like “Lou-uhh-vul”, or “Lou-vul” if you’re more of a mumbler. Why? Because that’s how it’s always been, and we never change anything until we’re more than ready.
2. We’re half Midwestern
Many people active in our community actually live in Southern Indiana, which is mere minutes away from Downtown, often over bridges which, occasionally, work. (You can get from Kentucky to Indiana by crossing the Ohio River. Have fun with that one.) Part of our identity is Southern at times, but part of it is distinctly, politely Midwestern. But only TV newscasters are physically able to use the term “Kentuckiana” with a straight face.
3. Louisville is a MUCH more affordable city than many others of a similar size
You can buy a house in the (nice!) Germantown neighborhood for under $100,000. You can own an entire house with a yard for half of what a studio apartment rental in Queens might cost.
4. Our arts scene is seriously thriving
It includes, among many examples, the Humana Festival of New American Plays at our world-renowned Actors Theatre of Louisville, where hundreds of new plays have included several Pulitzer Prize winners over the past four decades. (There’s also the orchestra, the ballet, the opera, puppeteers, a jazz group made up of dozens of children, Bonnie “Prince“ Billy, the original Lebowski Fest and other lovable weirdos.)
5. About the Louisville Slugger...
When you see that building with the huge bat laid against it, you'll be tempted to go in, but just heed this warning: this is not a museum about baseball, this is a museum about a baseball bat. So you need to really be into your ball to go.
6. Hollywood’s biggest stars come out for us!
When it comes to Derby day, everyone from Jamie Foxx to the Real Housewives of New York (!) are likely to be seen here. Sometimes even the Real Housewives of Orange County! Seriously though, we do get some actual stars.
7. America’s sweetheart is from here
A 2013 federal law declared that any article about Louisville must mention Jennifer Lawrence, and that she was raised here.
8. The Derby is a bigger deal than you think it is
It’s bigger than a national holiday here. Celebrations for the first-Saturday-in-May event begin one month before. On the day before the Derby, a Friday, most people are excused from work and school. It’s almost as if partying is more important than work and school...
9. Yes, most bars are open until 4am
Have we really gotten this far without you learning that most bars here are open until 4am?!? (Except on Derby day, when they just don’t close.)
10. Oaks is like the Derby, but for locals
As an out-of-towner, you might be excited about going to the big race on Saturday afternoon. It’s because of you that locals prefer going on Friday -- Oaks day -- and lately, on Thursday (Thurby), and bringing an out-of-towner is frowned upon.
11. Not all of us have even tried a Hot Brown...
Our so-called unique, local delicacy is called a Hot Brown, but for the most part, you’re more likely to find a local drinking a mint julep in February than eating one. Instead, why not try a small treat called a Modjeska? It’s essentially a marshmallow smothered by slightly sticky caramel, and it’s cheap, easy, and unforgettable.
12. We actually love our airport
Despite being mostly landlocked, we still get fresh, delicious seafood -- from Maine or Alaska, no less -- and a large part of it is thanks to UPS establishing a hub here (which is also why Amazon has been moving in and taking over, too).
13. We have some great chefs, and some of them moved here to make it big
Some of our nationally recognized, most likely to write books and pop up on TV chefs include the Brooklyn-bred Korean-American Edward Lee (Top Chef) and former Californian Anthony Lamas, whose heritage has fueled his Nuevo Latino cuisine and further helped redefine the South’s image.
14. We do drink bourbon, we do not drink mint juleps
Spending $8 on a watered-down julep is just wrong, and the odds of you finding anyone here drinking one is preeeety slim. While you’re here, please jump on the bourbon bandwagon -- we’ve been awkwardly, slowly attempting to attract more of you tourists by selling our bourbon as a Napa Valley-esque destination, and we’d love to take your money.
15. How to find the real Kentucky fried chicken
Speaking of KFC, you can visit Col. Sanders’ grave (in Cave Hill Cemetery -- the Yum! Center is not literally a cemetery) and check for spinning sounds, then go and hit Harvest.
16. It's actually pretty small
Everything is less than 15 minutes away from everything else, and you can get most places in three songs or less. And yet, any true local will tell you that they never go to that place you just mentioned because it’s a four-minute drive from their house... which they think means it’s too far away.
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