The thing that makes Louisville so unique is that we are a big city comprised of small neighborhoods. When you ask someone here where they are from, they’ll say — “Germantown” or “Old Louisville” or “The Highlands”, not “Louisville”… which I think is pretty neat.These very conversations inspired me to make neighborhood guides.
The Highlands is known for its nightlife, eclectic shopping, and upscale/local restaurants. The primary roads are Bardstown Rd and Baxter Ave; the smaller neighborhoods that comprise the Highlands include the Original Highlands, parts of Phoenix Hill, Irish Hill, Cherokee Triangle, Tyler Park, Deer Park, Bonnycastle, Highlands-Douglass, and Belknap. We refer to it as the Highlands because it sits atop a ridge between the middle and south forks of Beargrass Creek.
I am a proud resident of this neighborhood; accordingly, here are my top ten things to do in the Highlands.
I. Catch A Show At Headliners
Headliners Music Hall (1386 Lexington Rd) is my favorite place for live music in the city. It’s small, cheap, intimate. The acts vary greatly; thus, there’s truly a show for everyone.
II. Enjoy the Fine Dining
A lot of people come to the Highlands to enjoy our food scene. I have three recommendations for you:
Lilly’s (1147 Bardstown Rd): “Refined, romantic Southern bistro serving local farm-to-table food, plus pouring from long wine & bourbon lists.” This is my favorite upscale restaurant in the city. You MUST go!
Jack Fry’s (1007 Bardstown Rd): “History-laden, circa-1933 eatery with high-end Southern fare & cocktails in an old-world setting.”
Seviche (1538 Bardstown Rd): “Modern Latin American menu & craft cocktails, served in a large, stylish surrounding.” Chef Anthony Lamas is a genius and has been featured on Food Network!
III. Have A Cocktail/Beer
Cocktails – Big Bar (1202 Bardstown Rd): Gay bar with a big personality and a small space. Great prices!
Beer – Gravely (514 Baxter Ave): A semi-recent, yet very welcome, addition to our neighborhood. Grab some of their delicious beer and enjoy food from the Mayan Cafe Food Truck!
IV. Explore Cherokee Park
Cherokee Park is one of the city’s proudest gems – a 409-acre park designed by Fredrick Law Olmsted, the father of landscape architecture. According to The Trust For Public Land, “Cherokee Park has 500,000 visitors annually, making it tied for the 69th most popular municipal park in the United States.” One of the most notable features of the park is the 2.4-mile scenic loop, which is gorgeous. This is also a great place to take pics (see one that I recently snapped above).
V. Admire the Architecture
The homes in the Highlands are stunning – both classic and historic. We are most notably known for our victorians and bungalows, though the housing is just as eclectic as the rest of the neighborhood. To take in all of the beauty, a good starting point would be to walk down Cherokee Rd and Cherokee Pkwy.
For a more unique architectural experience, visit Cave Hill Cemetery (701 Baxter Ave) – a 296-acre Victorian era National Cemetery and arboretum. If you are intrigued by cemeteries, this is one that you cannot miss. While there, you can visit the graves of Colonel Harlan Sanders (KFC) and Muhammad Ali.
VI. Stop For A Photo Op
For the photography-obsessed (trust me, I understand), there are a multitude of great photo ops. My favorite, however, is on the side of the Wine Market (1200 Bardstown Rd).
VII. Have Coffee (and buy a book)
While we have a multitude of coffee shops in the Highlands, I strongly encourage that you visit Highland Coffee Company (1140 Bardstown Rd), Safai (1707 Bardstown Rd), and the original Heine Brothers (1295 Bardstown Rd, attached to Carmichael’s – the best bookstore in the city). The Heine Brothers location is going to move across the street, occupying the now vacant Dunkin’ Donuts.
VIII. Walk Down Bardstown Rd/Baxter Ave
Trust me, you never know what you will see. Stunning Architecture. Interesting People. A shop that you must visit. A bar with an amazing patio. A popsicle shop. An amazing vintage store. Someone that is a graduate of your high school/college. This is where the life is at – don’t miss it.
Brunch is the most important meal of the week (yes, I know I am a millennial). My top recommendation is Le Moo (2300 Lexington Rd). Make sure you get the candied bacon! Also, if you are down for a good time, book a seat at the Le Moo Le Femme Drag Brunch. Good food & drag queens – hard to beat, if you ask me.
X. Move Here!
I’m biased, but I think this is the greatest neighborhood in the city. It’s weird. It’s independent. It’s proud. It’s a great place to call home. You won’t find another neighborhood with the same quirkiness, unique shopping, density of amazing restaurants, personality, or proximity to downtown in Louisville.
This mural can be found on the side of HopCat (1064 Bardstown Rd).