After pride, you may want to go to Play (1101 East Washington Street. Tel: 502-882-3615. www.playdancebar.com) a large-scale dance club that hosts multiple themed events every month, including drag performances.
We surveyed a bunch of gay nightlife that night, including Tryangles (209 South Preston Street. Tel: 502-583-6395. www.facebook.com/mytryangles) a basic, old-school gay bar with multiple pool tables and a pricey juke box. The largest concentration of LGBTQ nightlife is on Bardstown Road in the Highlands, where many bars offer indoor and outdoor seating during the warmer months. Our favorite spots include Chill Bar (1117 Bardstown Road. Tel: 859-913-8679. www.chillbarlouisville.com), which is set in a former house, with a small bar and tiny dance floor graced with heavy doses of pop dance music.
Also fun are Nowhere (1133 Bardstown Road. Tel: 502-451-0466. www.facebook.com/nowherelouisville), a gay-friendly nightspot that packs people of all genders and orientations onto its dance floor, and Big Bar (1202 Bardstown Road. Tel: 502-618-2237), a tiny and delightfully misnamed gay bar where two giant chandeliers are the only things “big.”
Sunday was recovery day from the festivities of Kentuckiana Pride and bar hopping in the Highlands. Unfortunately we overslept and missed the weekly drag brunch at Le Moo (2300 Lexington Road. Tel: 502-458-8888. www.lemoorestaurant.com), so that will have to go on our “must-do” list for the next visit.
In the afternoon, we visited Cave Hill Cemetery (701 Baxter Avenue. Tel. 502-451-5630. www.cavehillcemetery.com), a gorgeous, Victorian-era cemetery that covers 300 acres. Its ornate sculptures and tombs helped place this park-like attraction on the National Register of Historic Places. Visitors most often head to the final resting places of Mohammad Ali and Colonel Harland Sanders, the man who brought the world Kentucky Fried Chicken.
For lunch, we dived into hearty servings of the Hot Brown, a satisfyingly filling local dish that consists of toasted bread, thickly sliced turkey, bacon strips, and Mornay sauce. We headed to the historic Brown Hotel, where the dish was invented, and dined at J. Graham’s Café (www.brownhotel.com), a casual-yet-elegant eatery on the hotel’s first floor.
The Brown Hotel sits on Fourth Street, a downtown retail artery where, many decades ago, my mother used to wear high heels, a beautiful dress and gloves to go shopping. Today, the Brown and the equally historic Seelbach Hilton hotel (which served as inspiration for F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby) are bookends to a sparsely populated pedestrian strip with a handful of noteworthy and unique shops, including Regalo (562 South Fourth Street. Tel: 502-583-1798. www.regaloart.com), which sells cool T-shirt designs and home décor; Craft(s) Gallery & Mercantile (572 South Fourth Street. Tel: 502-584-7636. www.craftslouisville.com), which stocks contemporary art and décor with a vintage twist; and the Mysterious Rack (558 South Fourth Street. Tel: 502-653-9440. www.mysteriousrack.com), which creates elaborate, custom-made hats and “fascinators,” designed to attract attention at the derby or while out on the town.
We also accidentally found another great source of custom hats while wandering around a Kroger supermarket just before our departure. Angel and I were looking for bourbon balls, a popular Kentucky treat made with bourbon and dark chocolate. A uniformed woman wearing a nametag that said “Margie” offered to help us look, but when I mentioned that I was writing a travel article about Louisville, she lit up. “My daughter makes hats for the Kentucky Derby, you’ve got to see her work!” she exclaimed, giving me a card for the Hat Girls (Norton Commons, 10708 Meeting St. Tel. 502-619-3460. www.thehatgirls.
com), a locally based duo that designs fanciful hats and fascinators. In Louisville, you never know where a bit of Southern friendliness and hospitality might take you.