The exquisite Brown Hotel lobby. photography courtesy of The Brown Hotel

Louisville

May in Louisville means only one thing: The Kentucky Derby.

WHERE TO STAY:
Straight out of a scene from Gone With the Wind, The Brown Hotel is Southern grandeur at its best: high ceilings, crystal chandeliers, and magnificent architectural details. Built in 1923 and renovated in the 1980s, this 293-room historic landmark has dazzled scores of well-known guests with its sophisticated service and plush accommodations. And, just a short walk from the convention center, it’s convenient as well (335 W. Broadway, 502-583-1234, www.brownhotel.com).

At 91 rooms, the modern 21c Museum Hotel is relatively small in size, but its list of luxurious amenities—including 42-inch flat-screen televisions, 500-thread-count sheets, and music-filled loaner iPods—is long. Yet the hotel’s real distinction is its flare for fine arts, centered around a 9,000-square-foot 21st-century-art museum (700 W. Main St., 502-217-6300, www.21chotel.com).

WHERE TO EAT:
You can’t leave Louisville without having a meal at the Seelbach Hilton’s legendary eatery, The Oakroom. What was once a billiards room where Al Capone played cards is now the only AAA five-star restaurant in the state of Kentucky (500 Fourth St., 502-585-3200, www.seelbach hilton.com).

Another upscale option is Vincenzo’s Italian Restaurant. The European eatery has a contemporary but welcoming feel with an award-winning menu (150 S. Fifth St., 502-580-1350, www.vincenzositalianrestaurant.com).

Looking for a quick mid-day lunch without sacrificing quality? Stop into Pesto’s, an Italian/Persian restaurant in the heart of downtown. The portions are big and the taste is unbeatable (566 S. Fifth St., 502-584-0567, www.pestositalian.com).

WHAT TO DO:
The Louisville social scene centers solely around one event in the month of May: the Kentucky Derby. But this legendary horse race—the first stop on a thoroughbred’s way to a Triple Crown—is more than just one day of fun. The two-week-long Kentucky Derby Festival leads up to the main event and includes the Great Balloon Race, the Great Steamboat Race, the Derby Marathon, and the Pegasus Parade—one of the largest parades in the country. The Thunder Over Louisville is one of the most popular pre-race festivities, featuring hours of air shows and a fireworks extravaganza come nightfall. Then, on May 3, head to historic Churchill Downs race track. Grab your ticket, a refreshing mint julep, and a bowl of burgoo while you cheer on your favorite at the Run for the Roses (700 Central Ave., 502-636-4400 for tickets, or www.kentuckyderby.com).

What’s Happening This Month:
Kentucky International Convention Center • 221 Fourth St. • 502-595-4381 www.kyconvention.org

May 16-18:
National Rifle Association 2008 Annual Convention
May 17-20:
2008 National Association of Credit Management Credit Congress

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