Top 5 Must-Do’s in Louisville, Kentucky

Over Veterans’ Day Weekend, I visited the state of Kentucky for the first time and spent three days in Louisville. I felt like three days was the perfect amount of time to see all of the highlights. I would recommend an extra day if you plan on going outside of the city and hitting up some distilleries along the Bourbon Trail or if you just need more time to eat more good food!

These are the five things I would consider must-dos on a first time visit to Louisville.

Live Horse Racing at Churchill Downs

While Churchill Downs is most well-known for hosting the annual Kentucky Derby, it also has live horse racing throughout the year. I’m not much of a betting person, but I couldn’t pass up a visit to Churchill Downs to try my luck.

Per usual, my luck was not much to write home about and I lost all of the money I betted. Boohoo! However, it was a lot of fun and excitement to watch the races!

If you are partaking in alcohol, don’t forget to enjoy a mint julep while you are at the tracks. This preggo lady, sadly, had to do without. 

Louisville Slugger Museum and Factory

The Hillerich & Bradsby Company has been producing the famous Louisville Slugger baseball bats since 1884. A visit to the Louisville Slugger Museum and Factory gives visitors a glimpse into the bat making process as well as a look into some baseball history. 
Visitors are greeted by the world’s largest baseball bat right outside the entrance to the museum. At 120 feet tall, it is definitely is the biggest bat I have ever seen. 

Inside the building are exhibits featuring baseball memorabilia as well as changing exhibits. During my visit, there was a Ripley’s Believe It or Not exhibit which I found to be very unrelated to baseball!

The Bat Vault is where models of every Louisville Slugger bat are held.

The highlight for me was going on the factory tour. The tour lasts around 30 minutes and you get to walk through the actual factory and learn about every step in the bat making process: from how the bats are shaped, branded and painted. 

At the end of the tour, all visitors get a mini-bat to take home as a souvenir. We found out that the mini-bats are not permitted in your carry-on luggage, so keep that in mind if you plan on visiting the museum!

Bourbon and Booze

Kentucky is famous for producing bourbon whiskey, and there are many options for sampling some in and around Louisville. I am not a huge bourbon drinker to begin with, so being pregnant did not make me feel like I was missing out on too much. We wound up visiting a few places, so my friend could do some sampling and purchase items to bring home. 
The Kentucky Peerless Distilling Company only opened in 2015, so their first batch of whiskey is not available yet. However, they do have Lucky Moonshine for tasting and purchase in tons of flavors, including lemon drop and chocolate pie. I loved all of the colors of the bottles. So photogenic!

We also dropped by the Evan Williams Bourbon Experience located on Main Street. They have the coolest two-story “whiskey” fountain.

The Jim Beam Urban Stillhouse is also located right in downtown, if you need another option. 
Around the city, you can find painted horses and these painted mint julep cups. At first I had not idea what they were, I thought it was grey popcorn! So if you see one of these, hopefully, it will remind you to try a mint julep. Also, many of the restaurants we visited had bourbon slushies available as an option! Boozing seems to be a favorite pastime in Kentucky!

Eat, Eat, Eat

One of the most important things to do in Louisville is eat their amazing food. We enjoyed some stellar meals during our short time in town.

A meal at Royals Hot Chicken is rather simple, but it was so delicious. I had never tried hot chicken before and it did not disappoint. We ordered a Royals Fried Chicken Sandwich, which comes with a potato bun, mayo, iceberg lettuce and dill pickles. You also have a choice of heat level. We chose hot, but I wish we had gone hotter. I guess living in New Mexico, I am afraid of how hot “hot” really is.

Another memorable meal was had at Feast BBQ in the Nulu area. We ordered a half rack of baby back ribs, which comes with two sides. I loved that you could select dessert as a side as well as regular sides. We picked mac and cheese and the salted caramel banana pudding. The plate also came with a roll, pickles and red onions.

The one dish you have to try in Louisville is the Kentucky Hot Brown at The Brown Hotel. I don’t think you can find a more regional dish than the Hot Brown. When I first saw pictures of the hot brown, I thought it looked like a heart attack waiting to happen, but I was pleasantly surprised by how well-balanced the dish was.

The Hot Brown is a open-faced turkey sandwich with tomato and bacon, covered in Mornay sauce and parmesan cheese. Healthy, right? It was invented at The Brown Hotel in the 1920s and has been a staple ever since.

Finally, we had to pay a visit to Milkwood while we were in Louisville. For those of you who watch Top Chef or Mind of a Chef, the name Edward Lee is familiar with you. I absolutely had to try his version of  southern-inspired Asian food.

We started with the grilled Kabayaki eel with puffed rice, smoked coconut and green ginger zest. Then we shared two entress: the MW Ramen with spicy tare, porkbelly, shiitake, scallion, and country ham and the Bibimbap with carrot, kimchi, cucumber, pickled corn, shiitake and egg. We also ordered a side of collards and kimchi for good measure.

The bibimbap was probably the most flavorful bibimbap I have ever had. It was so tasty. The ramen was okay, but the appetizer and collards and kimchi was excellent. I could have kept eating them if we hadn’t run out!

With barely any room left, we also shared the chocolate chess pie with peanut butter ice cream, caramel corn and sea salt. So yummy and so full!

I feel like I could have used a day or two extra just to eat more! So much good food!

See Some Art

For a city of its size (250,000 residents), I was surprised by how much good quality art is available. By comparison, Albuquerque has 550,000 residents and no where near the level of access to national and international art.

We spent one afternoon at the Speed Art Museum to see an exhibit on sneaker culture.

In addition to this special exhibition, the museum also featured regional artists and was hosting Ai Weiwei’s Circle of Animals Zodiac Heads.

The first 21c Museum Hotel was opened in Downtown Louisville in 2006 and now 21c Museum Hotels can be found in six different states. The concept of 21c is to combine a boutique hotel with a contemporary art museum.

21c is probably the most hip and fashionable hotel in Louisville and their rotating collection of contemporary art has a wide array of interesting pieces.  

Lastly, you don’t have to look hard to find public art pieces like murals that brighten up the city and make it unique.

Pregnant with Twins – Week 18

Well, I’ve announced my pregnancy on Instagram and Facebook, but I haven’t really discussed it on this blog. Since I want to be able to look back at my pregnancy in the future, I figure why not do it here. I am hoping to post every week until I deliver. 
Since I am having twins, my doctors are planning to schedule my c-section at 36/37 weeks. That means, we are just about half way there! I am so excited!

Symptoms: Tired, back pain, digestive issues.

Babies’ size: Sweet Potato 

Appetite: I haven’t been eating a ton because of my digestive issues, and I don’t feel hungry most of the day. I feel like I have been eating pretty normally. I was craving alcohol, but I think that had to do with my trip to Louisville last weekend. So much booze everywhere you turn! I also really miss sushi and salami sandwiches. I have been craving carbs, pickles and sweets. 

Workouts/weight gain: I haven’t been working out a ton. This week I walked a little more than 5 miles but no other workouts. I’ve gained 9 pounds so far.

Medical: I found out that my acupuncture benefits have been used up for the year, so no more acupuncture until January. This makes me sad. I had my fourth OB appointment on Wednesday. Everything looks good and my doctor gave me a thumbs up for my weight gain over the last month! We also got a letter in the mail from our perinatalogist’s office saying that our babies tested negative for open neural tube defects. Hooray! 

Happenings: We picked out the nursery theme. Sold my car and are looking for a new car. I had a 2005 RAV4 so we were going to look for a new car for me anyway. Worked on the baby registries. Put up the Christmas decorations. I can’t believe that this will be our last Christmas as a couple. My belly button is quickly disappearing. 

Stupid things people have said to me/us:
Person: I heard you’re having twins. Do you know what you’re having? 
Us: Two boys!
Person: Wouldn’t one boy and one girl be better though?
Us: We’re expecting and it’s twins.
Person: Oh, I’m so sorry. 

Traveling Made Easier with Lewis N. Clark

For almost 20 years, Lewis N. Clark has been making travel and outdoor adventures more comfortable and secure through their wide-range of products. Their product line includes everything from comfort accessories like neck pillows and eye masks, outdoor gear such as dry bags and duffel bags and packing solutions.

On two of my recent trips, I got to test out some of Lewis N. Clark’s latest travel products.

RFID-Blocking Mini Cross-Body – $49.99

Lewis N. Clark offers a variety of travel bags, document organizers and wallets that make use of RFID-blocking technology. Unauthorized RFID signals can be transmitted without the victim being aware of the crime being committed and can lead to identify theft. 
I was so excited to try an RFID-blocking product after watching one too many news segments on electronic pickpocketing. The Lewis N. Clark RFID-blocking mini cross-body is roomy, has a ton of pockets and sets your mind at ease with its RFID-blocking features. 
The bag is compact but has so many pockets, making it easy to stay organized wherever you are going. The largest interior pocket has a zippered pocket, two cell phone slots and a key keeper. Plus, there are an additional three exterior pockets, including two on the flap and one on the back of the bag. 
The rear pocket contains RFID-protected card slots where you can keep your credit cards and ID cards away from RFID signals. 

Other features are an adjustable cross-body strap and soft, easy to clean fabric. The bag is a great size for all of my travel needs. I was able to comfortably fit my wallet, cell phone, sunglasses and camera into the largest pocket. This is a great bag that is both functional and gives you peace of mind!

ElectroLight Expandable Packing Cubes (2-pack) – $43.99 

As you all know, I travel frequently and rarely check luggage due to the fact that I have luggage separation anxiety and I lack patience. Packing cubes have really made packing for my frequent trips more organized and less stressful. 
While I have been using packing cubes for years now, I had never used expandable packing cubes before. The ElectroLight expandable packing cubes set from Lewis N. Clark features one large (12″ x 14.5″ x 2″ to 5″ expanded) and one medium (8.5″ x 11″ x 2″ to 5″ expanded) packing cube. The cubes themselves are super light and are made of a water- and stain-resistant fabric.
The cubes’ mesh panels provide visibility and allow your garments to breathe, so the cubes are not trapping any stinkiness inside of themselves. They also have handy carrying handles that are useful for moving them in and out of your luggage. 
The thing I wanted to test out the most was the expandable feature of the ElectroLight packing cubes. I love having the extra 3 inches of space as an option to use if I needed to. 
Here is a pile of clothing ready to be organized for a trip to California.

All of my garments fit comfortably inside the expandable packing cubes. I actually expanded the cubes while I was packing and then zipped them back up after putting all of my clothese inside. This is such a great feature because not only are the packing cubes expandable, but they are also compressible. I frequently like to purchase clothing during my trips as gifts and for myself, so having the peace of mind that I can fit more than I originally packed is very helpful for me.

As you can see the packed packing cubes fit with plenty of extra space in my hard side carry-on bag.

I loved testing out both of these products and can’t wait to take them with me on my next trip!

DisclosureI received products from Lewis N. Clark for the purpose of this review. No compensation was provided for this post. All opinions are my own. Read my full disclosure here

Meow Wolf’s “The House of Eternal Return” in Santa Fe, New Mexico

In 2016, no trip to Santa Fe is complete without a stop at Meow Wolf. Meow Wolf is an art collective based in Santa Fe. In March of this year, its permanent art complex opened in a former bowling alley, with help from George R. R. Martin (yes, that George R. R. Martin), the city of Santa Fe and a Kickstarter campaign.

I have had the good fortune to be able to visit twice this year. The first time was over Memorial Day weekend and the venue was so incredibly crowded that the experience was not ideal. My second visit was just a few weeks ago and the crowds were much more manageable.
Meow Wolf’s current exhibit is called “The House of Eternal Return,” and it is so hard to describe. I like to think of it as a fun house for kids of all ages. There is an actual house inside the art complex and as you go through each room, you can access other parts of the house or you can be swept away into a whole different place. 
Here I am about to step through the refrigerator. Where it leads no one knows! Okay, I do know, but I don’t want to give it away. 

On top of not knowing what is around the next corner, the exhibit is fun because many of the pieces are interactive.

This mastodon skeleton is musical, for example.

The other part is how colorful and whimsical the pieces are. Can you say sensory overload?

If you are making a trip to Santa Fe, make sure you take the time to visit Meow Wolf. There is nothing like it.