A Guide to Biking in Louisville, KY
City Guide written by Duncan Hurd. All photos by Mary Beth Brown.
When it comes to getting around Louisville, KY, a bicycle may not be the first option that comes to a visitor’s mind. However, with recent pushes to make the downtown area more walkable and bikeable and the planned Louisville Loop – a 110-mile (180 kilometer) trail connecting parks and neighborhoods circling the city – a major shift is underway. “For the seemingly endless variety of experiences Louisville has to offer,” said Louisville resident and bike commuter, Mary Beth Brown. “[Louisville] is a very concentrated city. I live in Old Louisville, and if I drew a radius of three miles (4.8 kilometers) around my house, it would include just about every hot spot in the city.”
Within this increasingly bike-friendly city, the options for visitors to explore by bike are plenty. “Our arts and culture scene is incredible: local theater productions, visual art, music, dance, museums. We have it all,” said Brown. “Our Olmsted Parks system is stunning. The Big Four walking bridge and Waterfront Park are a huge draw for visitors and locals alike. Churchill Downs is best seen the week before the Kentucky Derby, at dawn.” Brown continued, “There are jewels of new and established locally-owned businesses in the Portland, South Fourth, and NuLu areas – all in downtown or within a mile of the central business district.”
When it comes to events in Louisville, there is one that can’t be missed. “The Kentucky Derby Festival,” said Brown. “It’s cliché, but no matter how you feel about the race itself, the city really comes together to throw this huge celebration of our history and heritage. It’s just as much about the weeks leading up to Derby as the actual two-minute race: the parties, the parades, the fashion, the hot-air balloons, the fireworks, the food, the drinks.” The city hosts CycLOUvia open street events and the Riverwalk, connecting Waterfront Park and Shawnee Park is a popular draw for walkers and riders.
“If you eat at a chain restaurant while visiting Louisville, you’re doing it wrong as our food scene is out of this world,” said Brown. Sunday brunch is often locally-sourced at The Rudyard Kipling in Old Louisville. Not to miss on the menu are Hot Browns, Nord’s doughnuts, made-to-order omelets, and salads made from ingredients grown by the owners and their family. Drop in for a drink at the Haymarket Whiskey Bar.
21c Museum Hotel is a short walk from downtown trolleys and has bicycles on hand for guests. The Brown Hotel is a historic building with first class accommodations and is home to the famous Hot Brown, an open-faced turkey sandwich with bacon and Mornay sauce.
A public bike share system is currently in the works for Louisville. A variety of bikes can be rented from Wheel Fun Rentals in Waterfront Park. Bike Couriers Bike Shop offers rentals as well as guided city tours.