Signature City Louisville

Dive into Louisville to discover its heritage of baseball and bourbon, and learn about the legendary Kentucky Derby with an exclusive visit to the massive Churchill Downs racetrack.
Rating (4.5)
Program No. 22629RJ
6 days
Starts at

At a Glance

Louisville is a classic Southern city with three great pastimes — baseball, bourbon and horseracing. Join local experts as you delve into baseball heritage at a Louisville Slugger factory, and taste the city’s signature smoky bourbon as you learn about the art of distillation. In an exclusive visit, discover the grandeur of Churchill Downs, the legendary racetrack where 160,000 people gather every year for the Kentucky Derby. Trace the city’s development from an 18th-century settlement into a bustling Southern metropolis to get a taste for the distinct flavor of Louisville.
Activity Level
On Your Feet
Walking 1-2 miles a day over varied terrain. Standing in museums for lectures. Stairs in historical structures/no elevator.
Small Group
Small Group
Love to learn and explore in a small-group setting? These adventures offer small, personal experiences with groups of 10 to 24 participants.

Best of all, you'll ...

  • Get an insider’s look at Churchill Downs as you enjoy breakfast at the exclusive Track Kitchen and watch racehorses in their morning workouts.
  • Venture to the new Muhammad Ali Center where you’ll explore the renowned boxer’s life and legacy, and reflect on the impact that individual values, inner strength and character had on his inspirational story.
  • Explore Louisville’s unique blend of old and new architecture, featuring historic Victorian homes and hyper-modern skyscrapers.
Featured Expert
All Experts
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James C Claypool
Dr. James Claypool, professor emeritus of history at Northern Kentucky University, holds a PhD in European history from the University of Kentucky. A well-known public speaker in Kentucky, he has been a featured speaker with the Kentucky Humanities Council for fifteen years. He is a nationally recognized authority on thoroughbred racing, especially the Kentucky Derby, and on Kentucky music and published in both fields. He and his wife, Sharon, reside in Park Hills, Kentucky.

Please note: This expert may not be available for every date of this program.

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James C Claypool
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Visit the Road Scholar Bookshop
You can find many of the books we recommend at the Road Scholar store on bookshop.org, a website that supports local bookstores.
The Architectural History of Louisville 1778-1900
by Samuel W. Thomas
An overview, arranged by style, of the architecture of Louisville, Kentucky, from 1778-1900. From log cabins and shotgun houses to mansions and commercial structures, Louisville's early built environment is documented and examined. Many of the structures featured are no longer standing. The Architectural History of Louisville, 1778-1900 is a comprehensive look at the building styles that formed the city's streetscape and residences from its earliest days right up to the 20th Century. With hundreds of photographs collected over many decades, The Architectural History of Louisville 1778-1900 is the signature achievement of its author, well-known historian Samuel W. Thomas. Published to mark the 125th anniversary of The Filson Historical Society, "this volume approaches each of the distinctive architectural styles discussed by providing examples in the chronological order of their construction. The result is an indispensable guide to Louisville's early architectural history and a reference book for generations to come."
Hidden History of Horse Racing in Kentucky
by Foster Ockerman Jr.
Horse racing and the Commonwealth of Kentucky are synonymous. The equine industry in the state dates as far back as the eighteenth century, and some of that history remains untold. The Seventeenth Earl of Derby made the trip from England to Louisville for the famed Kentucky Derby. Many famous African American jockeys grew up in the area but fled to Europe during the Jim Crow era. Gambling on races is a popular pastime, but betting in the early days caused significant changes in the sport. Author, historian and Lexington native Foster Ockerman Jr. details the rich and the lesser-known history at the tracks in the Bluegrass State.
Sweet Spot: 125 Years of Baseball and the Louisville Slugger
by David Magee, Philip Shirley,Ken Griffey Jr
Away from the game and the players for which it was crafted, the baseball bat is a sleek but humble creation. Yet in the hands of batters both young and old who have been stepping to the plate on diamonds around the world for more than a century, the bat is a powerful tool, capable of yielding lasting memories or making legends of a lifetime. And no bat has had more impact on baseball and the players of the game than Louisville Slugger, the tool of the trade used by millions--from the major leagues to college and youth leagues. From the first hand-crafted wooden bat Bud Hillcrich made (in his father's woodworking shop) for professional player Pete Browning in 1884 to bats swung by Babe Ruth and Ty Cobb years ago and Lance Berkman and Alex Rodriguez today, Louisville Slugger has contributed to the evolution and popularity of America's game like few others. Greats like former major-league batting champion George Brett maintained an almost personal relationship with their specially made Louisville Slugger bats while young players fondly recall the emotional purchase and power of a new Louisville Slugger TPX. Still a family-owned American company based in Louisville, Kentucky, Hillerich and Brads-by's Louisville Slugger is both an icon and an enigma after 125 years. As a piece of sporting equipment that has changed how the game is played over a century, yielding more power and punch with each evolutionary design, the Louisville Slugger has consistently delivered to both players and fans beyond functionality. In accordance with Louisville Slugger's 125th anniversary, the complete history of the bat, its impact on the game, and the ongoing story of Hillerich and Bradsby's family business istold in these pages.

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