Easily one of the most famous racing events in the world, the Kentucky Derby has been a constant staple in American Culture since 1875, even running through both World Wars. Since it’s that time of year again, of course Louisville, Kentucky is a must-see destination for the month of May, and while there, why not visit The Music City, Nashville? The perfect travel destination for any country music fan, Nashville is home to numerous museums dedicated to the genre. Both cities offer so much more, however, with plenty of history, outdoor activities and culture to enjoy.
Traveling Between Louisville, KY and Nashville, TN
How to get there: Louisville, KY – Nashville, TN with megabus, starting from $10.00
Go Out for the Races and Take in Some Culture in Louisville, Kentucky
Famous for hosting the annual Kentucky Derby, the month of May is the ideal time to visit Louisville not only for the horse races, but for the beautiful weather. People all over the country gather at the city’s iconic Churchill Downs race track, showing off some of the latest clothing styles. In fact, the fashion aspect of the event is so popular, that many throw “Derby Day” themed parties throughout the year as an excuse to get together and wear ostentatious hats.
Louisville is also brimming with culture, with several museums dedicated to the city’s unique place in the nation’s history. Muhammad Ali’s Childhood Home has been converted to a museum that walks guests through the boxing champion’s life and achievements. Another museum dedicated to a famous resident is the Thomas Edison House, which showcases several original phonographs, light bulbs, and other inventions. See how the other half lives by visiting the Conrad-Caldwell House, surrounded by other mansions in the affluent St. James Court. The Frazier History Museum houses tons of artifacts and hosts live performances related to Kentucky’s history. Prominent exhibits include the Daniel Boone’s family bible, General Custer’s pistol and the bow thought to belong to Apache warrior Geronimo.
The city also celebrates the role that bourbon had in its founding. The Evan Williams Bourbon Experience allows visitors to take advantage of top of the line craft distillery while getting a deeper insight on what the beverage means to Louisville’s history. The Urban Bourbon Trail is made up of a series of bars that give out collectable stamps which can even be exchanged for a free T-shirt. It’s definitely worth checking out!
If you haven’t been overloaded with history yet, the Locust Grove is a beautifully restored mansion which was visited by Presidents Monroe, Jackson, and Taylor and was even a stopping point for Lewis and Clark. Baseball fans must visit the Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory, which features guided tours, a chance to view the production process of the famous bats, and a 120-foot replica of Babe Ruth’s Louisville Slugger bat. For a taste of European culture, the Speed Museum is one of the city’s most cherished museums, and houses 17th century Dutch and Flemish paintings, French art, Renaissance tapestries and a sizable American collection as well with frequent temporary exhibitions on display.
Explore the History and Industry of Country Music in Nashville, Tennessee
Also known as Music City, the first thing that comes to mind for most when thinking of Nashville is its thriving country music scene. Back in the 1950s when Dan Maddox built the RCA Studio B, Nashville was eventually put on the map as prominent artists, such as Elvis Presley, the Everly Brothers and Dolly Parton recorded their famous music. The studio offers regular tours, and with Nashville’s abundance of museums dedicated to iconic country stars, including former residences, such as Barbara Mandrell’s Fontanel Mansion, the city is a mecca for any fan of the genre.
The Ryman Auditorium, nicknamed “The Mother Church of Country Music,” was built in 1892 and hosted the Grand Ole Opry from 1943 to 1974, and appeared in several films, including the Academy Award winning Coal Miner’s Daughter (1980). On the first floor of the Historic Nashville Municipal Auditorium, you can find the Musicians Hall of Fame & Museum, which also features plenty of exhibits, educational programs and the best collection of country music artifacts around. It’s also known as the “Smithsonian of Country Music.” The Johnny Cash Museum honors one of the genre’s greatest legends, and brings visitors through the musician’s life story with innovative multimedia technology.
Aside from its musical legacy, Nashville is an amazing city to visit in its own right, and the beautiful spring weather makes May the perfect time to stroll through the city’s scenic Cumberland Park. Early in the month, the Nashville Shores will open, which is a massive water playground, with slides, wave pools, a water treehouse, multiple pools, and a massive raft ride called the “Big Kahuna.” It’s a refreshing good time in the hotter spring and summer months, and is very popular with children. May is also when the annual Nashville Film Festival is held, where guests gather to view over 280 films from all around the world, with a variety of genres features, from documentary to animated shorts. On the second Saturday of each May, the Iroquois Steeplechase is held in Percy Warner Park as Nashville’s local springtime tradition. The event attracts over 20,000 spectators who don their most stylish spring-time outfits.