"Congratulations! Today is your day. You're off to Great Places! You're off and away! You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. OH! THE PLACES YOU'LL GO! Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting. So…get on your way!" – Dr. Seuss

Annapolis, Maryland

I love when business-related things send you to places that are actually worth visiting.

I have the wonderful opportunity of teaching at an Expeditionary Learning school next year. Because I previously had no idea what “Expeditionary Learning” meant, my school graciously sent me to a conference in Annapolis, Maryland, to help shed some light. My conference ended each day at 4:30pm, so I had the time to sight-see, as well! If you’re headed up the New England way and find yourself near Annapolis, here are some places (besides just seafood restaurants) that you’re going to want to check out.

Ceremony Coffee

As an admitted coffee snob, I researched before this trip and found out that there is only coffee roastery in Annapolis. Conveniently, it was located between my hotel and historic downtown, so that made for a fairly easy trip (and I found a fellow snob to come with me!). They serve pour-overs, and they won America’s Best Espresso in 2014. I had a cup of coffee and a shot of espresso, and both were delicious! I had to go back right before my flight home, too, in order to try their Nitro Cold Brew. DELICIOUS. This is going on the list as one of my faves, for sure.


Joss Sushi

Right off of Main Street, this place is a definite must if sushi is your of fresh-from-the-bay seafood of choice. I would recommend the Joss Roll (scallions and asparagus) or the lobster roll (super yummy sauce!). I also tried sake for the first time, and the “Snow Beauty” went great with the sushi!

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Pussers Caribbean Grill

Don’t be misled by the un-appetizing name, the food here is VERY yummy. (The name actually came from a sailor. He created a special rum drink, too.) It’s right across the water from City Dock, with outdoor seating and an outdoor bar right on the water (there’s also indoor seating, but what’s the fun in that?). Food can be a *little* bit pricy, but if you have a little money to spare, I’d recommend that you go there (rhyme!).

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Storm Bros. Ice Cream

This adorable storefront is found right in the center of historic downtown Annapolis. Be warned, there are a TON of ice cream flavor choices, so some tough decisions must be made. Also, it’s cash only, so make sure you’re prepared!

(p.s. I also heard good talk about Annapolis Ice Cream Company but I didn’t get a chance to go check it out!)


Naval Academy

I love touring different military bases. I think it’s amazing how each branch is it’s one unique subculture, and everything is so structured and organized and themed. The Naval Academy is very colonial in layout and architecture, with cobblestone sidewalks and old-timey buildings. Every decoration or embellishments has something to do with boats, water, knots, anchors…you get the picture. The chapel is beautiful and solemn – it’s an unspoken rule that you must whisper. Below, you’ll find the crypt of John Paul Jones – and even if you’re like me and are unfamiliar with his name, I encourage you to check it out! It’s never too late to learn some more history.

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Historic Downtown

Cobblestone streets, narrow sidewalks, colorful historic homes one after another after another. There isn’t a shortage of cute shops, boutiques, restaurants, or ice cream shops. Just take a stroll down Main Street to the Capitol, taking as many detours as you’d like. It’s like stepping back into time.

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Annapolis City Dock

In the morning, you can sit and sip some coffee and watch the boats go out. In the afternoon, you can savor an ice cream and watch the ships come back in. In the evening, the water is so still and peaceful. Couples take romantic strolls, and old friends sit by the bay and chat. Boats and Annapolis are practically synonyms, so this spot is a must.

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City Dock Coffee

What better place to get coffee for your City Dock sitting, than City Dock Coffee? It’s locally owned and operated, and located right in the main square surrounding the dock. Friendly staff and friendly customers. Just a heads up, it’s a $5 minimum to use a card for payment.

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The Annapolis Bookstore & Cafe

SO. CUTE. SO. PICTURESQUE. If you are a book lover, you’ll walk into this shop and think that you died and went to heaven. That’s all I’m going to say about that.


Nautical North

I stumbled upon this little downtown shop, which is right across from the visitor’s center. They are masters in woodwork, creating maps and stadiums and golf courses on clocks and trays and plaques!


For those in the mood for a drive….

Ocean City Beach

Beautiful East Coast Beach…not too crowded, not too crazy. You can walk out on piers that are reminiscent of a Nicholas Sparks novel. There are also rides and several spots for food along the beach, if just laying out isn’t all the excitement that you need.

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Assateague Island

“The island of free horses.” No, really. Horses roam free here. You can drive, you can park, you can get out and walk. You may have to wait a while to see some horses, or some may walk right past you on the beach. It’s beautiful to see them in an un-owned context.

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If you make the 40-minute drive in, make sure to check out my separate D.C. blog here!



Colorado Springs, Colorado

When I was a kid, my family always got “Adventures in Odyssey” books on tape for us to listen to on long car rides. And at the end, the narrator would always announce, “Hi, I’m Kris!….You can send mail to us at Adventures in Odyssey, Colorado Springs, Colorado, 80995!”

Yup. I still have it memorized.

So that was pretty much all I knew of Colorado Springs for a very, VERY long time. (p.s. if you’re interested in learning more about Adventures in Odyssey, click here. And if you go to check me on that address memorization…they have since moved offices. But I WAS right.)

I had the chance to actually visit Colorado Springs back in April, spending a weekend of my first-ever trip to Colorado there. Here are some cool things that I did!


Downtown CO Springs is small, but quaint. When I went in April, trees were blooming, and families, couples, and college students were out strolling along the sidewalks and visiting the various shops and restaurants. Savory Spice Shop was just kind of unique and fun to look around in (it’s more spices than I realized existed). There’s also a cute coffee shop, The Perk Downtown, that sits on the corner with a lovely view of Pikes Peak in the distance behind it. You’re going to want to park on Tejon Street, because most of the places you’ll want to visit are there.

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Garden of the Gods

Red rock beauty. They call it Garden of the Gods because the people who discovered it deemed it fit for the gods to assemble there. There a various paths in and around the rocks, and if you’re a serious rock climber with your own gear, you can do it there. Parking is limited anywhere outside of the visitor’s center. But, the visitor’s center is really nice, with a restaurant and large souvenir shop, plus movie showings that explain more of the history and information about the rocks.

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The Broadmoor Hotel

I went online today and saw they’re running a special for as low as $325 per night…so if you’re anything like me, you will never stay the night here. But the good news is that it’s free to walk around and gape and “ooo” and “aaahhh.” The day I went there, there were jazz bands set up in various places. You can explore both of the hotel buildings, walk around in the expansive courtyard, and stroll between the private condos for those that would rather stay there than an actual hotel room.

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Air Force Academy

I 100% know that being in any branch of the military is hard, grueling work. I have so much respect for the men and women who serve our country in that way. The good news – at least for the Air Force Academy cadets – is that they have a BEAUTIFUL campus/base on which to live as they receive their training. Probably one of my more favorite places that I went, just because it was new and different and gorgeous. Definitely highly recommended.

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Pikes Peak & the Olympic Training Center

No, these are definitely not the same things. I just grouped them together because they are the two major tourist attractions that I did not get a chance to see when I was there. However, from what I’ve heard, I should definitely recommend them! (And I’d love to go back and see them myself some day.) Pikes Peak is on of the “fourteeners” in Colorado – over 14,000 feet about sea level! If you want to get to the top, you have the choice to hike it, bike it, take a train, or drive your car. Whichever adventure you feel most able and willing to complete! The U.S. Olympic Training Center is, obviously, where our Olympic athletes train (it makes sense, because working out in higher elevation is much more work). Make sure you check the website for scheduled tours and/or open tour times! Maybe I’ll just have to come with you to check it out 🙂

Washington, D.C.

I have to admit something.

I never actually desired to visit D.C. In my mind, the city was boring, political, and just a bunch of monuments. THANKFULLY, I got a glimpse of the city in 2012 with my family. Then, in 2013, three friends and I had the opportunity to spend a week in the Virginia/D.C. area with a woman I admire very much.

Two notes about transportation/streets before I begin my VERY long list of amazing places to visit here: First of all, they have the whole public transportation thing down to a science. The Metro is super easy to operate, had convenient stops close to nearly all the places we wanted to visit, it felt safe, and we never had to wait too long for a train. I would definitely recommend just using that and then walking whenever you plan your trip.

Secondly, can we just take a minute and applaud the people who named the streets in downtown D.C.? Seriously. Streets running west-east are named alphabetically. Streets running north-south are named numerically. Give any a newbie an address, and they could find it without a map.

I would not be opposed to the other big cities in our country re-naming their streets by the same system.

So. Now that I’ve praised the transportation in and around the city, let’s get down to the fun stuff! One of my favorite things about D.C. is almost everything that you’d want to visit, is free! So, let’s start with the best (in my opinion) national monuments and institutions to visit:

The White House

Do I really need to even list this one? Of course you’re going to go to the White House. The 1600 block of Pennsylvania Avenue is pedestrian-only, so meandering around and taking pictures is easily done.There are a billion tourists and there is nearly always some sort of protest or rally going on. It’s kind of amazing to think that the person who lives in that house gets to be in charge of our whole country.

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Library of Congress

This building is majestic, inside and out. The decoration and ornamentation makes you feel like you’re in a palace. There are so many interesting original documents and photos to be viewed. I loved seeing the Gutenberg Bible!

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My favorite memorials: Jefferson, Lincoln, and World War II

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Old Post Office

I don’t know when this stopped being a functioning post office (or if it did…maybe it still is?)…but what I do know is that you can go in for free, ride a glass elevator to the top, and get unbeatable views of the city. I’ve never had to wait in a long line, and there’s a food court in the lobby – this place is definitely worth the stop!

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National Gallery of Art

Beautiful art inside, lovely landscaping outside, and it’s all free. This gallery is perfect for an afternoon museum stroll.

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The museum is huge, and you could spend multiple days just trying to see every building and every exhibit. The Smithsonian Castle is actually just the visitor’s center, but it’s beautiful and still worth checking out. Otherwise, I can personally vouch for the Air & Space Museum, the American History Museum, and the Natural History Museum. Any of these choices will lead to a day well spent! (And don’t forget, they’re free!)

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United States Botanic Garden

We. LOVED. This. It’s like a movie where you magically walk into the greenest and loveliest forest, surrounded by streaming rays of sunlight and bright flower blooms. And it just keeps on going…I don’t even know how long we walked around, but I gained a new appreciation for the serenity of nature – right in the middle of downtown D.C. Who would’ve thought!

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National Mall

This two-mile stretch between the Capitol and the Washington Monument is an extremely walkable route with both historic landmarks and picnic and ultimate frisbee grounds scattered about. Seriously, we passed I don’t even know how many games of ultimate frisbee being played by the locals, and it was all I could do to not scratch my sight-seeing plans and just join a game. Plus, plenty of food trucks are around for when you’re in dire need of a quick bite!

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United States Holocaust Museum

This one is not “fun,” not lighthearted. I am so impressed, though, at the historic detail and just the expansive information found here. As someone who has been to Aushwitz, I will say that this museum was almost as impactful as actually being in the camp – just because you really are able to see and understand what went one. Like I said, it’s a sobering trip, but I’d definitely recommend it.

Potomac River Cruise

This was a suggestion of our local tour guide, my dear friend Poorna. We spent a relaxing afternoon cruising along the Potomac, basking in the sunshine, and seeing the sights by water rather than by land!
(p.s. there are lots and lots of companies who provide tours….so the link above is just to the river itself!)


Georgetown Cupcake

If you like TLC, you will like this place (It’s the featured shop from the show DC Cupcakes). Heck, if you have any sort of sweet tooth at all – you will like this place! Sometimes (often, actually), the line goes out the door and all the way down the block. Cupcake flavors change often, so check online for the current menu. If you don’t feel like standing in line forever for a cupcake, order ahead and just go in to pick up!

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Killer E.S.P. 

This coffee and dessert shop has a special place in my heart, because this was where I heard of “affogato” for the first time. For those of you who are missing out on this slice of heaven, an affogato is shots of espresso over soft serve ice cream. The shop itself is located in quaint Old Town Alexandria, VA, and has a very eclectic vibe.

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The Capitol Hill Flea Market

An outdoor flea market on Capitol Hill…it’s huge, and we spent an entire Sunday afternoon there without even seeing everything. It’s really refreshing to be outside and see some locals in such a large and governmental city!

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P.S. It turns out that if you go to D.C., you actually get to be President! Vote for Whitney Mclean in 2028. She lifts.


Providence, Rhode Island

So, when I write about a city, I usually base it on my experiences and recommendations (places I’ve been), and I feature my own photos.

However, I have a good friend moving to Providence, and I have been commissioned to scout out the city from afar. Below is my list of places I’d try to hit up if I was visiting/moving to this lovely New England town.

P.S. The photo credits in this blog go to Mike Moeller.


John Brown House

Stephen Hopkins House



Cliff Walk

Providence Athenaeum

RISD Works

DePasquale Plaza

Rustic Drive-In

Block Island

Rose Island Lighthouse

La Gondola

Kennedy Plaza Skating

Providence Place Mall Center


Roger Williams Park

Water Place Park & Riverwalk

Roger Williams Botanical Garden


Federal Hill

Benefit Street


Thayer Street

Wickeden Street

Wickford Village 



Chez Pascal

The Duck & Bunny 

Iggy’s Doughboys & Chowder House


Ellie’s Bakery

Scialo Bros. Bakery

Palmieri’s Bakery & Cafe

Seven Stars Bakery

Cafe Zog


New Harvest Coffee & Spirits

Dave’s Coffee Co.

Small Point Cafe

Brooklyn Coffee & Tea House

The Shop

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Chicago, Illinois

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Ever since I discovered that I could get a $20 roundtrip Megabus from Louisville to Chicago, I’ve taken many a road trip (and several day trips) to this wonderful city that Mr. Frank Sinatra calls, “My Kind of Town.” From skyscrapers to parks, to shopping and coffee, this big town has easy-to-operate public transportation so that you can see it all.

Millenium Park

This park is almost always my first stop in the city. It’s right off Michigan Avenue, with skyscrapers on one side and Lake Michigan on the other. Is it a place that tons of tourists go? Yes. Is it still worth going? Absolutely. You can’t go to Chicago without seeing “The Bean.” In the summers the park is full of runners, couples, and families whose children are playing in the ground fountains. In the wintertime, the plaza bordering Michigan turns into a magical Christmastime ice skating rink. Skate rentals are $12. Skating around with Christmas music playing in the middle of downtown will most definitely make you feel like you’re in a movie.

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Macy’s on State

While Macy’s is not a store unique to Chicago (and there’s actually more than one Macy’s within walking distance of each other in Chicago, too), Macy’s on State is easily my favorite Macy’s, and favorite department store, to visit while I’m in Chicago. The store has 9 floors. NINE. The ceilings are high and ornately decorated. Around Christmas time, you can walk around the outside of the building and watch a story unfold from window to window.



*DISCLAIMER* – This is another tourist trap. In all my trips to Chicago, I’ve only done this once, and I probably won’t do it again. But I’d suggest you do the same – do it once. It’s a little pricey and the wait is 2-3 hours long. However – the end result is you, standing in a glass box, protruding over the city at the height of the 103rd floor of a skyscraper. Definitely worth it to do it once. This is not for those of you who find that heights make you queasy. Looking down 103 stories with nothing between you and the ground is not exactly the most comforting feeling. But it’s exhilarating, so I say, do it!

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Grand Lux Cafe

I love this place. The brunch is good, the lunch is good, the dinner is good. I’ll vouch for it all. It’s a fancy interior but non-fancy prices. The menu is large and varied, and completely changed every few months. It’s smack in the middle of all the shops on Magnificent Mile, so you can just stop in when you get hungry from all that shopping. If you want dessert, you have to order it first thing, because they hand-craft each dessert specially for you.


Magnificent Mile

Michigan Avenue, a mile of shops. It’s magnificent. Even if you’re broke, like me, it’s an incredible stretch to window-shop and people-watch. There’s a Starbucks about every 2 blocks. There’s also a Ghirardelli store where they give you a free piece of chocolate just for walking inside. Just bring good walking shoes, because you can literally shop till you drop.

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Only open November 20-December 24, Christkindlmarket is inspired by the Christkindlesmarkt that takes place in Nuremburg, Germany. It’s an outdoor holiday market located on Daley Plaza. You can buy authentic goods from Poland, Germany, and numerous other countries. Also for munchies are German roasted nuts, schnitzel, and warm spiced wine, among other things. If you wish you were in Germany for the Christmas season, this quaint market is the next best thing.

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Giordano’s and Gino’s

You can’t go to Chicago without getting deep-dish pizza. It’s simply a crime to go to the home of the pizza pie without indulging a little (or a lot). For those of you who have not been blessed with the experience of true Chicago-style pizza, let me try to explain. It is a pie. The crust and the top of the pie are, of course, pizza crust. The entire inside of the pie is filled with cheese. SO MUCH CHEESE. The top of the pie is coated with marinara sauce and any toppings you want (my favorite is always ham and pineapple, because it is the best kind of pizza). You can’t go wrong with Giordano’s or Gino’s. Here’s the deal – I personally prefer Giordano’s. I think their pizza has a richer and more flavorful taste, and every experience I’ve had there has been great. Gino’s, however, is more well-respected as the official home of Chicago-style pizza. And don’t get me wrong, it definitely is good. I’m just telling you my personal bias. If you go to either of these places, however, I’ll warn you that Pizza Hut will never again satisfy your pizza cravings in quite the same way.

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Buckingham Fountain

Confession – I haven’t been here. It is always on my list of places to go, but for some reason, I never make it over there. It’s just slightly south of Millenium Park off Michigan Avenue (most of the shops are north of Millenium). Still, not a far distance, definitely walkable. Just follow the link above or google pictures, and you’ll see why it’s on my list. If you’re looking for a photo op and The Bean is a bit too crowded for you, make the trek over to Buckingham Fountain. And then send me your pictures so I can be jealous.

Lincoln Park Zoo

Lincoln Park Zoo is open 365 days a year, and is free for 365 days as well. It’s north of Magnificent Mile, a pretty decent ways north, actually, so I’d suggest a train/bus/taxi. They have a “farm” area that’s especially geared toward children. The zoo itself is a pleasant little walk, not too large. You also have an amazing view of downtown from the zoo. I once saw a wedding taking place in the grounds outside the zoo and creeped on it for quite a while, marveling at the greenery as well as the big city backdrop. I may have taken a lot of pictures and wished that I could get married there. Also, around Christmas time the zoo lights up with carol-coordinated strings of lights. They sell kid hot chocolate and grown-up hot chocolate. It’s far enough from the skyscrapers that you can see the stars, see the lights, and feel the Christmas magic. (If you haven’t noticed, I like Christmas a little bit.)

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Wormhole Coffee and Ipsento Coffee

It’s actually been hard for me to find craft coffee in Chicago, since I primarily stick to Michigan Avenue, where Starbucks pretty much owns the city. To find Wormhole or Ipsento shops, you have to go up north a little bit, close to the zoo and Wrigley field. They’re in an area that’s more low-key, with eclectic shops and more locals than tourists. To see a different side of downtown and get a good cup of joe, these two shops are the places to go.


Ed Debevic’s

“Get in here!” The building yells at you before you even open the door. Ed Debevic’s is a 50’s-style diner where the employees are just plain mean. In a good way. They also occasionally break out in song, and throw things at you. It’s a quirky place full of quirky people, good burgers, and delicious shakes. For a good, family-friendly laugh, and dinner that is not deep dish pizza, you’d better get yourself to Ed’s.

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Louisville, home of my heart

While I’m still a few months away from moving, it hits me every so often that I’m going to be leaving Louisville, Kentucky. The place I call home. And I start to get really nostalgic and think of memories and stories and friends and places. But regardless of where I go or where I end up, this city will always be home. Certain places will always have my heart. For anyone who wants a little peak at why I love this city so much, here is a list, my own attempt at a travel guide, of my favorite spots in the Ville:


This coffee shop is locally owned, has three locations, and is also a roastery, so you know the beans are fresh and you’re getting a darn good cup of coffee. They also have the best Dirty Chai on the planet. The Woodlawn location is spacious and homey, and my favorite spot is somewhere in the big semi-circle couch. More often, however, I end up at the eclectic Preston Street location, with the yellow speckled table and vinyl green chair. Its proximity to UofL keeps it alive with a mix of studious and hipster students – and donuts from its next-door neighbor Nords are almost always present among the customers.

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The bag says, “You Deserve a Donut,” and I always believe it. Nords is a local bakery with donuts that will make you never settle for Krispy Kreme again. Its trademark donut is the maple bacon – a long john with maple icing and a fully cooked crispy strip of bacon on top. Yours for the helpful-to-college-students price of 95 cents. While this donut and the chocolate long john are basically all I get because they’re addicting, Nords has a variety of donuts, danishes, muffins, and cookies, plus you can order cakes and other pastries from them for special events. They’re always hoppin early in the morning, but the long line is totally worth it, and it’s also your only shot at getting that maple bacon.

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Dairy Kastle

This old-fashioned ice cream stand is a lesser-known local favorite. It’s cash-only, but trust me, your stop by the ATM will be totally worth it. Soft serve ice cream, sundaes, frozen bananas, and hot dogs. Just go. You’ll be happy you did. *disclaimer: not open in the winter because who wants to go to an outdoor ice cream stand when it’s freezing?

Dairy Kastle times with Collier, Colson, and Katie


Another local coffee shop (who recently extended their influence with one shop in Indianapolis), Quills is also a roastery and its coffee has its own unique fresh taste. They often host latte art competitions, and you know their baristas are “crushing it.” They have a large location right off of UofL’s campus, and while the store has normal business hours, the lobby area is open all night for students who need a place to study or hang out. The Baxter Avenue location is smaller but very hip, located in the heart of the “Keep Louisville Weird” Bardstown Road.

Quill's in Cardinal Towne (UofL)

Ramsi’s Cafe on the World

Speaking of Bardstown Road, this restaurant is one of my favorites. Reasonably priced, it has delicious well-portioned options from tacos to pasta to burgers, all with a unique cultural take. The outdoor patio is my favorite in the summers, and it’s great for people-watching, too.

The Highlands: Bardstown Road

“Keep Louisville Weird” is the motto, and they do that quite well. This strip of shops and restaurants is a mix of consignment shops, tattoo parlors, coffee shops, bicycle and running stores, hookah bars, dancing bars, karaoke bars, costume shops, Baxter Avenue Theatres, zombie walks, and more. While visitors tend to go to 4th Street downtown for night life, this is where all the locals are. It’s an extremely walkable and bike-able area, there’s always good coffee and food, and the shops all offer something different. There’s too many places to make a list of recommendations, so I guess you’ll just have to go check it all out.

Bardstown Road

Cherokee Park

Just down the road from Bardstown is Louisville’s largest, most beautiful, most confusing park. Designed by the same guy who designed NYC’s Central Park, it has a 2.4 mile “scenic loop” with driving lanes and a biking/walking lane. The rolling hills and trees are absolutely beautiful in the fall. When it snows, you can be sure that Dog Hill will be overcrowded with anxious sledders ages 5-65. In the summer, people will be wading and swimming in the creek and jumping off of Big Rock. Picnics and parties are always happening at the top of the hill in the Witch’s Hat pavilion. And if you want a good pickup game of ultimate frisbee, look no further than the flat grassy areas. (Seneca Park is another good one for frisbee too! Definitely a favorite summer pastime.)

Walking Bridge

Hands down, the view of Louisville from the Big Four Bridge over the Ohio River is my favorite. The Indiana side is finally completed, so now you can walk from Waterfront Park in Louisville to downtown Jeffersonville, Indiana. Sometimes I just go up there and breathe in the fresh air and pretend I’m in a movie. There’s always families, couples, runners, and bikers enjoying the picturesque scene. If you’re lucky you’ll hear some jazz music, or dance under the broken “strobe” light, or enjoy the music from a happy-go-lucky guitarist.

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Waterfront Wednesday

There’s this wonderful tradition that started happening a few years back. It’s called Waterfront Wednesday and it’s sponsored by the local radio station 91.9 WFPK. Starting in April/May (it’s April 22 for the 2015 season), the first Wednesday of every month until October is an incredible free outdoor concert, packed to the brim with people, and it happens right under the Big Four Bridge. There’s food and beer and ice cream for sale, people of all ages come, and even if you have no clue who the artists are, it’s always a good time.

Waterfront Wednesday

Ohio River Greenway

For another breathtaking view of the city, Ohio River Greenway across the river offers a picture-perfect view of the skyline. So picture-perfect that on a good day, you will nearly always find wedding, engagement, or senior photo shoots happening. One good thing about this part of Indiana is that you have a good view of Kentucky (Louisville).

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Thunder Over Louisville

If you’re not from Louisville, you most likely have heard of the Kentucky Derby, which happens at Churchill Downs on the first Saturday of May. I personally couldn’t care less about the Derby, but I love all of the pre-Derby events put on by the city. One of my absolute favorites is Thunder Over Louisville. It’s a huge fireworks show over the Ohio River two Saturdays before Derby. Everyone spreads out blankets and picnics on Waterfront Park’s Great Lawn. There’s an air show and food and drinks and music, and then a fireworks show larger than most of those on the 4th of July (actually, this show is the largest annual pyrotechnics display in North America).

Thunder Over Louisville spectacular

Main Street

I’m a big fan of the big city feel, and for that reason I sometimes find myself strolling (or rollerblading) down Main Street. It’s mostly businesses, plus the UofL YUM! Center and Kentucky Center for the Arts, the Slugger Museum, the Bats stadium, and the Science Center. Hillbilly Tea is a super cute restaurant right off of Main on 1st, and I’d also recommend the Atlantic No. 5 cafe. A lot of the businesses are still run in the original buildings from Louisville’s founding. There’s also a bunch of facades with no actual building, and they look pretty cool. The city is working on doing some new artsy things with them, like the ReSurfaced initiative that launched this past summer. Even though this area is mostly for business people and tourists, I think it’s a staple of the identity of Louisville.

Walking into ReSurfaced, a re-purposed pop-up beer garden behind a main street facade

Toast on Market

Breakfast? Brunch? If you say either of those words (or “coffee”), you have my full attention. Toast on Market is just one of the many local and delicious restaurants in the NuLu area of Market Street. Toast is probably my favorite breakfast/brunch place in town. I usually get their Lemon Soufflé pancakes, but literally everything I’ve tried here is good so you really can’t go wrong. They have two main dining rooms, and the first is actually a converted patio so the floor is a unique cobbled brick. They are also open for lunch, and while I’m sure it’s delicious, this breakfast freak can’t really comment.

Flea off Market

The Flea off Market is an outdoor flea market/live music/food truck/beer garden event that happens the first weekend of every month, March-November. From a $10 Polaroid camera to a $20 ginormous tote made from a coffee bean sack, you’re sure to find some little knick-knack that will suit your fancy. And did I mention the food trucks? And the live music? Even if you’re not in the mood to shop, it’s a great place to come hang out on a nice day.

Flea Off Market

Trolley Hop

Also the first weekend of every month – the first Friday, actually, to be exact – is the Trolley Hop. It happens on Frankfort Avenue as well as Market Street. Everyone gets all dressed up and shops stay open late, restaurants are packed, and usually there’s some sort of art gallery or two or three to look at. Plus, the whole point of the “trolley” part of the hop is that Louisville’s very own trolley is roaming up and down the street for easy transportation from one location to another.

Garage Bar

This place is where I always end up whenever I trolley hop. I also end up here a lot of other times. They offer wood-fired pizzas and craft beer, outdoor seating at picnic tables, two outdoor ping-pong tables, and a huge firepit for chilly nights. Lots of long talks and laughter and “ping-pong around the world” has happened here.

Garage Bar - bonfire and ping pong

Four Pegs

Speaking of craft beer, Four Pegs is an absolute must. I’ve never had a bad drink. On Sunday nights you don’t want to miss a competitive game of trivia (which I am horrible at but play nonetheless). In the summer, sitting inside is only for those who didn’t get first dibs on the back patio with twinkly string lights strung up around the fence and overhead. Plus, chicken and waffles sandwich. If you’ve never had it, don’t judge – it will literally blow your mind. And if you’ve had chicken and waffles before, I swear they put something special in their sauce here because no other chicken and waffles even compares.

Shakespeare in the Park

One of my favorite summer traditions is walking or biking to Central Park in Old Louisville to watch a little Shakespeare. Depending on the season, they have shows almost every night and it is completely free (though there is an optional donation for the support of the arts). The Shakespeare set is up year-round, but when the show season starts, you’ll see trailers and actors and costumes as the prep for the various theatrical goodness that will take place under the summer stars. If you’re early for the show, take a stroll around St. James Court, one of the oldest and most beautiful Victorian neighborhoods.

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Anchorage Trail

While most of this list has consisted of downtown areas or the highlands, most of Louisville’s inhabitants reside in the suburbs. And while I haven’t listed a whole lot of things out there, there really are some beautiful parks, some delicious restaurants, and of course friendly people. However, I do have one favorite spot tucked inside a little area called Anchorage, where the streets are lined with trees and the speed limit is 25mph. It’s the Anchorage Trail that is always a peaceful getaway just to walk and be alone with your thoughts, or to swing from an old-fashioned seat hung in a huge tree. I’m also pretty sure that almost every Louisville native has gotten their senior pictures done here by the railroad tracks. While you’re there, make sure to check out Anchorage Cafe for a quick bite and, of course, some coffee.

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