Kentucky: A Trot in the Country
The horse farms and rolling hills make for a delightfully genteel road trip—but it's a lot more fun to ogle Corvettes and spar against the Greatest.
- Proof on Main21c Museum Hotel, 702 W. Main St., Louisville, 502/217-6360, cosmopolitan $9
The first thing you notice aboutChurchill Downs is the scent of old money. And the higher you climb in the complex during the tour of the bettors' club rooms, the stronger the smell becomes. On the fourth floor, we visit the Aristides Room, where a seat runs about $600 during the Kentucky Derby. Oil portraits of jockeys hang in gold frames on the walls, and leather-padded chairs are arranged around elegant tables where the bettors sit on race day.
Near the Millionaire's Row dining room is a 30-foot-long model of Churchill Downs with 4,000 handblown glass figurines. I'm just glad it's not my job to dust it.
Louisville gave the world the best--and most famous--boxer of all time. While some of the exhibits at theMuhammad Ali Centerfocus on Ali's fighting career, the rest are dedicated to his views on public service, self-improvement, and peace. Cathy lies on a chaise lounge and stares up at the ceiling, where a larger-than-life image of Ali talks about the importance of charitable work.
In another corner, a silhouette of Ali in the ring is projected on a screen so visitors can shadowbox against the Greatest. I throw some punches, and Cathy snaps a photo of me appearing to get knocked out. I could blame the doughnuts, fried chicken, and bourbon over the past few days--but that probably wouldn't be fair to Ali.
- Churchill Downs/Kentucky Derby Museum 704 Central Ave., Louisville, 502/637-7097, derbymuseum.org, tour $10
- Muhammad Ali Center 144 N. Sixth St., Louisville, 502/584-9254, alicenter.org, $9
Finding Your Way
State Route 60 runs parallel to Interstate 64 between Louisville and Lexington and is a much more scenic drive. In the spring, traffic on the two-lane roads around Versailles can be unpleasant because that's peak season for visiting the area's horse farms.