Discover Louisville at #AACTE19

The 2019 AACTE Annual Meeting in Louisville is an opportunity for you to not only invest in your own professional development but also come away feeling both energized and refreshed. Chief executive officer of Louisville Tourism, Karen Williams, took time to share what Louisville has to offer Annual Meeting attendees in a short Q&A session. Here is what she had to say:

How has Louisville grown beyond being known solely for its bourbon to The Spirited City?

Ironically, there was a long period after Prohibition until the last decade that Louisville had lost its reputation as an epicenter of bourbon. While once thriving as a “Wall Street of Whiskey,” America’s grand experiment altered the reputation of Louisville quite a bit and left the once booming “Whiskey Row” a memory until the resurgence of American Whiskey in the last 10 years. Louisville has recaptured its industrial heritage as a birthplace of bourbon while also adding for the first time ever an actual bourbon tourism experience. This renewed spirit has played into the city’s brand overall and helped shine a spotlight on other cultural assets outside of bourbon, such as icons like the Kentucky Derby and horseracing, the Louisville Slugger and Muhammad Ali. Bourbon gives many people their first “taste” of the city’s culture and Louisville’s spirit in a hospitality sense helps them dig deeper into everything she has to offer.

How is Louisville increasing its status as a destination city?

Louisville’s nationally acclaimed culinary scene features hundreds of independent restaurants with a focus on locally sourced ingredients, which is why it was named one of the “Nation’s Best Local Food Scenes” by USA Today. Bourbon City has plenty to do besides distillery tours with one-of-a-kind attractions including legendary Churchill Downs & the Kentucky Derby Museum, Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory along with the Muhammad Ali Center focusing on Ali’s life as a humanitarian, in addition to his sports accomplishments.

For outdoor enthusiasts, Louisville has four major parks designed by Frederick Olmstead, the creator of New York City’s Central Park, along with over 120 other parks across the city for biking, hiking, and exploring. The city has a vibrant arts scene as one of only 11 cities that has the top five performing arts—opera, orchestra, ballet, theatre, children’s theatre in addition to the symphony and chorus. For festivalgoers, Louisville took first place in 2015’s “Top World Festival & Events City” chart by International Festival & Events Association. All of these attributes contribute to Louisville capturing a spot on the “11 U.S. cities perfect for a weekend getaway” by Conde Nast Traveler.

What makes Louisville one of the top places to visit and the friendliest city in America?

The city’s warmth, spirit, and unique brand of “southerness” has made Louisville one of the most authentic destinations in the country. The city continues to be recognized with accolades that speak to our southern hospitality charm being named Travel + Leisure’s “America’s Favorite Cities Overall” and “America’s Friendliest Cities.” Louisville is inclusive. In 2011, Mayor Greg Fischer, signed the Compassionate Louisville resolution followed by the LGBT Hospitality Task Force—an organization that works with the Mayor’s office, hotels, attractions, Pride organizations and key LGBT stakeholders. Today, Louisville is the largest Model City of Compassion in America, and for the last four years, it’s one of the only cities in the South to score a perfect 100 in the Human Rights Campaign Foundation’s Municipal Equality Index.

Louisville is home to more than 220 distinct neighborhoods with a focus on walkability. From the hip Highlands, a dining mecca with an eccentric collection of shops and local nightlife, to Old Louisville with nearly 48 city blocks of quaint bed and breakfast inns surrounded by the beauty of mature magnolia and oak trees boasting the third largest National Preservation District containing the largest collection of Victorian-era homes in the country. Wandering around The East Market District of downtown, NuLu (for New Louisville), will showcase unique art galleries, specialty stores, antique shops along with a hot culinary scene. All have great walkability, including the city’s downtown corridor with Museum and Whiskey Row, along with iconic attractions and art galleries. The free zero emissions bus, LouLift, helps visitors navigate downtown with stops throughout the city center, Old Louisville and NuLu making the city easy to navigate.

Register now for the premier educator preparation conference in the nation—the AACTE 71st Annual Meeting in the “Spirited City,” February 22-24. Get the discounted registration rate and receive AACTE’s special hotel rates when you make your reservation and register by January 28.

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Jerrica Thurman

Director of Marketing & Communications, AACTE