Moving to Louisville, need some general advice
August 1, 2013 10:22 AM   Subscribe

I'm starting a new job as of next week in the Ville and my lease will be up in my current apartment as of the end of August. Need advice on where to look for houses for rent and also what there is to do -- specifically good bookstores, museums, movie theaters, other wacky stuff, etc.

I will be staying at a friend's house at night when I'm not working and in this period of time, I need to find a place to stay. I'm hoping to find a house for rent within driving distance of the Ville but not in it -- and I'd prefer to stay on the Indiana side of the river if possible since it's closer to my job.

Where should I be looking? Also, very interested in knowing the best bookstores, theaters, malls, antique shops, or any other weird little shops in the area (can be on either side of the river). Also, no need to mention Bardstown Rd. It's one area I'm already very familiar with and I'm seriously hoping there's more to the Ville than just that strip.
posted by camylanded to Travel & Transportation around Louisville, KY (14 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

Howdy. Welcome to my home. Born and raised in Louisville, moved away twice. Live in New Albany now that I'm married, someday I'll fix that. But it's not a battle worth fighting.

Bookstores, you're pretty much stuck with Carmichaels. You're undoubtedly familiar with the one on Bardstown Road, but the Clifton area one is arguable nicer. And that strip of stuff is really nice. Also west Main street, from 6th to 9th or so is filled with museums and coffee shops, and historical buildings.

Is your job in Jeff(ersonville, not jeffersontown, as that's a 'burb in the east end of Louisville, not Indiana) or New Albany? Downtown New Albany has become quite the destination. I really like it. Though there's not much in the way of bookstores (welcome to the 21st century). I wish I wasn't out in the 'burbs, but it could be worse. Downtown Jeff is likely to get a lot nicer as the walking bridge is completed, and the desire to milk some money from people increases.

Keep in mind, that river is a GIANT border to people around here. It's really hard to motivate people on either side to actually cross it.

Tune your radio to WFPK (91.9 and you'll keep up with a lot of local goings on.) but if you want surreal music, listen to the WNAS channel, 88.1 I think, it's highschoolers, and they are magnificently horrible at the job.
posted by DigDoug at 10:33 AM on August 1, 2013 [2 favorites]

My job is in Jeffersonville and yes, I've definitely realized by several accounts that people from Indiana tend not to cross the river and vice versa but I am only interested in living on the Indiana side since I'm more familiar with it and will definitely be crossing that river on weekends. Thanks for the info though there, DigDoug and welcoming me to the city! :)
posted by camylanded at 10:37 AM on August 1, 2013

Finding a house to rent in IN won't be hard. And you'll get way more space than you would across the river. Finding likable landlords, I got no advice on that.

A couple of locals from twitter do bliggity blogs that are worth following.

Also, you're an hour from Bourbon.. I like to drive down to Bardstown KY (just keep going down Bardstown Road.. for about 50 miles) and mill around once a year or so. My first date with my wife was at an 18th century Tavern there. Tablott Tavern

But you won't need to drive an hour to find fun and interesting stuff for at least a few months. Any town as old as Louisville has layers of interest piled up.
posted by DigDoug at 10:54 AM on August 1, 2013

Heya! I grew up in Louisville. Here's some fun stuff:

Science Center
Haven't been here in years, but I enjoyed every visit. Multiple levels of sciencey fun.

Frazier Historical Arms Museum
Well, that used to be its name, anyway. Looks like they've rebranded and now have an exhibit about mythical creatures? Anyway. Should still be lots of old weapons and historical goodness here.

Center for the Arts
Lots of national acts come through here, and they also have a black box theater (the MeX) which hosts some interesting local theater.

Theater 502
Louisville has a longstanding history of local theater, and in the last few years there's been an effort to organize the community under one umbrella in order to better the quality and experience for everyone involved. Theater 502 is that umbrella.

Actors Theater
Major regional theater. Their mainstage shows are hit or miss, depending on your taste. Most important thing here is the annual Humana Festival of New American Plays.

Bourbon Trail
As someone else mentioned, you're close to Bardstown, KY. This is where a LOT of the world's bourbon is made. Go visit a distillery or twelve.

Local breweries
I'm not personally familiar with this website, but it seems to be a decent index of the local breweries. Lots of good beer in the city, some of which wasn't even there when I moved away.

And yeah, Bardstown Road is still the "cool" area of town, but that also means it gets overrun on the weekends with a bunch of douchecanoes. I'd advise seeking out neighborhood bars and restaurants that are somewhat off the beaten path. There are a ton of them.
posted by lholladay at 11:07 AM on August 1, 2013

And as far as movies - the only theater I can remember that does anything outside of the normal first-run stuff is Baxter Avenue. Check out their midnight series.
posted by lholladay at 11:12 AM on August 1, 2013

A Reader's Corner, also on Frankfort Ave in Clifton, is a nice used/new bookstore, with a lot of local authors and a nice inventory. And we have the remaining chains, Barnes and Noble and Books A Million. And two Half Price Books locations.

I'll be adding the word "douchecanoes" to my vocabulary.

The Iroquois Park Ampitheatre has a lot of nice shows through the summer.
posted by Billiken at 12:08 PM on August 1, 2013 [1 favorite]

Welcome to Louisville!

For movies: Baxter Avenue and Village 8, also check out the Louisville Film Society

Museums: Frazier Museum, 21c Museum Hotel (the hotel has multiple gallery spaces with really interesting modern art)

The East Market district (branded "NuLu") is the new hot neighborhood in town. It's full of great restaurants and shops. Please & Thank You is a coffee shop/vinyl record shop on East Market that is fantastic. In that neighborhood check out Rye, Decca and Mayan Cafe for "nice" meals, Garage Bar for expensive drinks and pizza but a great atmosphere and really good food, and Taco Punk for, well, tacos.

WHY Louisville fits your "wacky" request, at least in terms of shopping.

Germantown/Schnitzelburg is an up and coming neighborhood with a good selection of bars and restaurants like Eiderdown, Zanzabar and the Nach Bar. Schnitzelburg also has the world's best doughnut shop: Nord's.

As Doug mentioned Frankfort Avenue is another area of town with lots of good dining and shopping options.

Since you're going to be living on the Indiana side of the river you'll quickly fall in love with the charms of Feast BBQ, Bank Street Brewhouse and the New Albany location of Quills Coffee.

I don't know much about living in Indiana but I have friends who live in New Albany, Jeffersonville and Floyds Knobs. All describe those areas as very affordable with an acceptable to them commute into Louisville.

Hope that helps.
posted by mjones at 12:45 PM on August 1, 2013

Being on the Indiana side of the river means you are that much closer to Holiday World, a small family run amusement park that many aficionados think has some of the best wooden roller coasters in the world along with a top 10 water park and some of the best and friendly customer service.

Last month, mrs. mmascolino and I drove down from Cincinnati and took park in their First Friday Trolley Hop which gives you free access to their downtown trolley buses that run in a rectangular pattern across a few miles of downtown stopping at many of the places listed above. It is a good time.
posted by mmascolino at 2:13 PM on August 1, 2013

The Indiana/Louisville transit is about to get more complicated what with whatever they're doing with the bridges; the long term plan might involve tolls, and the short-term plan involves a lot of closures surrounding the downtowns on both sides. I unfortunately don't know the north side of the river too well, but a lot of hot areas on the south side are pretty convenient to J-ville: East Market (the section of Market/Main streets to the east of downtown) and Clifton (even further east) are places which are definitely culturally on their way up.

Re theatres: Louisville has a rich variety of cultural experiences for a town of its size, including several different theater groups. In my estimation, Actors Theatre is the best—and certainly the most well-known—for straight-up drama, but there are also tremendously eclectic groups like Le Petomane and the Alley Theatre.

There are a good number of antique stores around: the antique mall in the old cotton mill at Shelby and Goss is one of the biggest, but the Crazy Daisy up north and the various consignments on Barrett are also notable.

There is a lot of good food around. When I moved to Louisville, I feared my days of eating interesting things were over, but the city is pleasantly diverse and cosmopolitan, with several of its own master chefs who have built up high concepts, plenty of wonderful dives, and everything in between. There are several excellent local breweries and roasteries too. My favorites are Apocalypse Brew Works and Sunergos Coffee respectively, but those are a personal taste.

I live in Schnitzelburg, which is quite central but obviously not the most suitable location for a commute to Indiana, so in spite of my home-neighborhood pride I'd have to suggest against living there in your situation.
posted by jackbishop at 2:52 PM on August 1, 2013

Welcome to Louisville! Let me see what I can add.

Names of some local landmarks worth at least knowing about include Waverly Hills Sanitarium, Cave Hill Cemetary (yes, really), Cherokee Park, Waterfront Park, Iroquois Park, Muhammad Ali Center, Fraiser Museum, Kentucky Center for the Arts, Kentucky Kingdom (closed down amusement park, set to re-open under new management in 2014) and the Belle of Louisville.

We have a big boating crowd that's not to hard to become acquainted with, if that's your thing. Always open-to-join sports leagues (football, soccer, frisbee, etc.) going on on the Great Lawn by the river (exactly as it sounds, a big big lawn). Country clubs, go karting, laser tag, indoor/outdoor kickball/volleyball/anything you can think of leagues. It's definitely not hard to meet people here, and we're a pretty friendly bunch, for the most part.

Of course, there are a lot of events that revolve around the Kentucky Derby that are pretty cool and family friendly such as a firework show, parade, steam boat and hot air balloon races. You'll jknow when Derby Season is here, trust me.

If you like college sports, UofL plays Divison 1, Bellarmine has wonderful Division 2 sports and between the two there is always something going on.

Night life is very active. 4th St. Live is the place to get your dance on, usually a 22-32 age range. It's got g enerally the highest drink prices in town, but it can be fun with a group. St Matthews bars are a bit of a mix-up. Drakes, restaurant by day, "cougar club" by night. One side dance club, other side very loud sit-down bar. Molly Malones (St. Matthews, there are a couple) is a good mix of music and conversation. Further down the street you have bars like Dark Star, which tend to be the friendly, cleaned up hole in the wall type places. The highlands (Bardstown Rd. area) is the land of the Irish pubs. Peaceful, chat-with-strangers drinking by day, live music/dj's by night. They tend to be nice in that the dance floor is usually a pretty decent ways away from the main bar area, so they tend to attract a nice mix of people.

Food, you can't go wrong. Louisville's surprisingly well-known for our food. Check out and for all the details. I like breakfast at Toast on Main or Wild Eggs, lunch at a pub or grab a bite from Franks on Preston HWY (delicious in-house cut meats, home grown fruits and veggies, and a lunch you can munch on for a day or two will run you about $4), and supper at anything from one of a dozen amazing sushi places, to the few 4/5-star steakhouses, or anything in between. If ethnic cuisine is your thing, we have a great selection ranging from Vietnamese (Vietnam Kitchen) to Ethiopian (Queen of Sheba). There's no reason to eat at a national chain restaurant while in Louisville.

And food trucks. God, do we have food trucks.

Let's see, what else? Check out the First Friday Trolley Hop downtown if you can. A trolley carries passengers up and down East Market to check out shops, galleries and restaurants. There is usually a fair bit of live music and a very eclectic mix of things/people to see.

If you're willing to travel just a little, the Kentucky Bourbon Trail is a personal favorite that isn't too far of a drive. We also have a lot of wineries in the area, especially in Indiana.

If you want to get your geek on, there's the Great Escape Comic Book Store, Comic Book World, The Louisville Game Shop, and Empire Comics (in New Albany). Conglomeration and Derby City Comic Con are two small but fun geeky conventions if that's your thing.

Come to think of it, the NY Times's 36 hours in Louisville article is a decent guide to get you started.

Anyway, welcome again!
posted by magstheaxe at 3:49 PM on August 1, 2013 [1 favorite]

Seconding the recommendation for Please & Thank You. I ate there once, passing through town. It was quite tasty. I'd eat there again. That is about the entirety of my knowledge of Louisville though.
posted by eviemath at 5:19 PM on August 1, 2013 [1 favorite]

Seconding 21c and Holiday World. I also really enjoyed Thunder Over Louisville.
posted by BusyBusyBusy at 10:23 PM on August 1, 2013

Welcome to town! I too am a Louisvillian who is tired of everything always being all about the Bardstown Road/Highlands area.

My preferred strip is the Frankfort Avenue/Crescent Hill area. Starts downtown where it meets I-64, then heads south through just a ton of awesome stores, libraries, parks, restaurants, etc. It has a similar feel to the Highlands but more mature, IMO. Favorites include the Irish Rover (best pub in the city), Carmichael's Bookstore, and this amazing retail store called Just Creations, which sells handmade stuff from real artisans in the developing world.
posted by jbickers at 5:34 AM on August 5, 2013

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