Review of PossibiliTour: Free walking tours in Downtown Louisville, KY
Back on a scorching hot, humid day in July, I ventured downtown to try out one of the added Wednesday morning walking tours put on by the Louisville Visitors Center. The tours start at 10:30am and I had to call the day before to reserve a spot. They are completely free and it was very enjoyable. I did spend about $2 in quarters to pay to park at a street meter, which I luckily found on Liberty Street just a block away from the Visitors Center.
I arrived at the Visitors Center at about 10:15am. The person I spoke with on the phone when making my reservation said to be sure to arrive a few minutes early because the tours leave promptly on time. I walked around the Visitors Center until the tour guide started. It was neat to look at everything from a visitor’s standpoint. I’ve lived in Louisville for over 20 years and have actually never stepped foot inside this space! That’s one of the reasons why I love doing these types of activities in our city because I’m on this quest to rediscover Louisville, especially now with a family and two children.
I had my toddler in his stroller the day I went on the walking tour. We hit the concrete right on time at 10:30am and were with a fairly good group of others, mainly older adults and one grandmother who was taking the tour with her two grandsons. I met a couple who was visiting Louisville and had just happened to walk into the visitor’s center right as the tour was getting going. The tour guide for our adventure was a woman who is a volunteer for the visitor’s center, and worked in downtown Louisville for 20+ years. She knew the ins and outs of the city and had such great information, history, and tidbits to share with us about the city of Louisville. For instance, did you know if you drive exactly 26 miles per hour down Main Street, you’ll never hit a red light? That’s according to her! We walked north on Fourth Street to Main Street and our first stop was at the corner near the Galt House Hotel. She also relayed to us the story about F. Scott Fitzgerald and his connection to the Seelbach Hotel. He wrote the beginnings of the classic, The Great Gatsby, on a napkin at the bar in the basement of the hotel! She talked about the history of bourbon and baseball and distilleries. Did you know that for bourbon to be given the official name “bourbon”, it must be made in America? Bourbon seems to be a big thing for the tourism industry in Louisville and the state; I saw many souvenirs in the gift shop at the center that were bourbon-related.
We continued walking west down Main Street and stopped in front of the American Life Insurance building to talk about three main buildings in downtown that line up the skyline of Louisville. She gave fascinating facts to the group about all three buildings and the designers and architects. We then ventured over toward the Belvedere and stopped at the foot of the Galt House near the fountain. She talked about George Rogers Clark, the Falls of the Ohio, and Clark’s connection with Locust Grove. I love history and learning about all of these pieces of the puzzle that make Louisville, Kentucky what it is, and our tour guide that day was very knowledgeable. We walked up to the outlook over the river right near the statue of George Rogers Clark and talked some more about the Ali Center and other prominent Louisvillians, businesses, and buildings. The walking tour left that area and stopped on the backside of the Kentucky Center for the Arts, where our guide continued to talk about the arts and culture of Louisville and about KentuckyShow!, a breathtaking short film. Click here for our review.
The tour continued a few more blocks west down Main Street, stopping to talk about the history of Main Street’s facade, Whiskey Row, Museum Row, and Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory. It lasted about 1 1/2 hours and was a perfect way to spend some free time. I recommend the tour for families, but especially those with older children. I think it makes for a great history lesson for homeschooling families. But since it’s free and you’re outdoors, you can’t go wrong with any of your children, and if needed, you can always politely cut out of the tour and head back to your car. The entire tour is about 10 blocks worth of walking, so keep that in mind for younger children. Try a new place to grab an early lunch around the Visitor’s Center. I saw several places that looked promising, and 4th Street Live is right there as well.
The PossibiliTours are every Friday and Sunday at 2pm and Saturday at 10:30am, May-October. Remember they leave from the Louisville Visitor’s Center, which is located at 301 South Fourth Street (corner of 4th and Jefferson). You can call 502-379-6109 to make a reservation a day in advance.
By guest contributor: Erin