Fun Facts About Louisville, KY

Bourbon, disco balls, baseball bats, and more

 TripSavvy / Alison Czinkota

If you've never been to Louisville or don't know much about it, you may vaguely associate it with horse races or bourbon. And while both of those things are hugely important to Louisville, Kentucky's biggest city also has so much more. Whether you're getting ready for an upcoming trip or just looking for some inspiration in the Bluegrass State, read up on some practical and quirky information about visiting Louisville.

Planning Your Trip

Louisville is not Kentucky's capital city—that would be Frankfort—but it is the biggest city in the state. If you're arriving on a domestic flight, there are many direct options to Louisville Muhammad Ali Airport, while most international flights arrive at Cincinnati International Airport, which is on the Kentucky side of the border just outside of Cincinnati, Ohio, and about 90 minutes from Louisville.

If you're visiting the city in early May during derby season, make sure to finalize your travel plans as early as possible. To say that the Kentucky Derby is the biggest event of the year in Louisville would be an understatement, and the nickname of "Derby City" gives you an idea of how the locals go crazy for the races. The festivities aren't limited to the racetracks at Churchhill Downs, since the spirit of the Derby runs through all of Louisville with firework shows, mint juleps, and full-blown parties.

Fun Facts About Louisville

Fun facts aren't just about learning some obscure trivia. If you're planning a trip to Louisville, use these interesting tidbits of information to help inspire your travel itinerary.

  • It's pronounced like "Louie," not "Lewis."
    Don't commit the most basic faux pas by calling it "lewis-ville," like St. Louis. Locals refer to their home city as "loo-ee-ville," and you'll immediately out yourself as a tourist if you pronounce it any other way.
  • Ninety-five percent of the world’s bourbon is produced in Kentucky.
    It's a stunning statistic, to be sure. The best way to experience it all is to complete the Kentucky Bourbon Trail, with many distilleries conveniently located right within Louisville's city limits. To explore even more, the Trail covers the route from Louisville to Lexington, so there is plenty of bourbon to try.
  • Disco balls reign. In fact, 90 percent of the disco balls in the U.S. are produced in Louisville.
    Most of the mirror balls are made by National Products on Baxter Ave. The company has been in the disco ball business for over 50 years.
  • Louisville is home to the biggest baseball bat in the world.
    There may not be an MLB team in all of Kentucky, but baseball fans know that Louisville Sluggers are the best bats in the business. At the Slugger Museum in Louisville, you can see a 120-foot tall and 68,000-pound baseball made of steel as you walk in that's designed to be an exact scale replica—albeit significantly enlarged—of the bat used by Babe Ruth.
  • Over 100,000 Mint Juleps are served during the Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks.
    A classic Mint Julep is served with bourbon and is the official drink of the Kentucky Derby, so it should come as no surprise that come Derby Day (and Oaks, the day before Derby when the fillies run) the Mint Juleps are flowing freely.
  • Tourism is the third-largest revenue-producing industry in Kentucky.
    Yup, Kentucky welcomes visitors with open arms and people come because there is plenty to see and do. Kentucky is known for horses, bourbon, Southern food, Mammoth Cave, and more. 
  • Kentucky Derby Winners are covered with 554 roses.
    Yes, the winning Run for the Roses horse is literally covered with roses. 554 roses are used in the garland presented to the winner of the Kentucky Derby. Kentucky Oaks winners are blanketed in lilies, which is why the race holds the nickname Lillies for the Fillies.
  • The oldest operating Mississippi-style steamboat in Louisville.
    Yup, the Belle of Louisville is over 100 years old! Belle has been a National Historic Landmark since 1989 and is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. She moved around the country a bit before calling Louisville home and you can still cruise the Ohio River on this lovely historical boat.
  • Louisville has the largest annual fireworks show in the country—and it's not for Independence Day.
    The launch of Derby season comes in with a bang with plenty of things to do. Each year, people from all over flock to the Ohio River for Thunder Over Louisville, a pyrotechnic display involving 60 tons of firework shells. It's one of the biggest firework displays in the world, and there's no more appropriate way to kick off the city's most important event.
  • Louisville is an LGBTQ+ mecca within Kentucky.
    The American South usually doesn't come to mind first when thinking of destinations for LGBTQ+ travelers, but don't overlook Louisville. The colorful city is home to more than one annual Pride event and has a number of gay bars to appeal to locals and visitors alike.