Literary City Guide | LOUISVILLE, KENTUCKY


I am more than just a serious basketball fan. I am a life-long addict. I was addicted from birth, in fact, because I was born in Kentucky and I learned, early on, that Habitual Domination was a natural way of life.
— Hunter S. Thompson

Tour Guide: TERRI HUG

Terri is a creative with severe wanderlust. She is a writer, Yoga instructor and the creator of The Pyro Project. A transplant from Wisconsin, she currently resides in Louisville and refers to any open road as her true home.

Q&A

Relationship to Louisville: Going on 5 adventurous years.

Writer you’d like to invite to dinner: Hunter Thompson. It would have been followed by a motorcycle ride.

Chef you’d like to prepare the meal: Gordon Ramsey. The two of them together would have created an explosive conversation.

Writing soundtrack: Violent thunderstorms

Pen or Pencil: A pen that I wished had an eraser.

Coffee or Tea? Organic coffee

Paperback or Hardback? Paperback when traveling and hardcover when I’m curled up in bed. 


Good Reads


BOOKSTORES

Carmichaels Bookstore. Louisville’s oldest independent bookstore has two locations with a third dedicated to children. They host author readings, book signings, and cater to local book clubs. A special gem might be waiting for you here, ask to see their long list of autographed copies they keep on hand.  

A Readers Corner. This cozy little bookstore sells both new and used but specializes in rare, out of print, used and diamonds in the rough. The word on the street is the owners will offer a bowl of water to your four legged friends. 

LIBRARIES

Louisville Public Library. The main branch is a historic Carnegie library located downtown and has seventeen branches throughout the city. It first opened its doors in 1908 and hosts a variety of reading programs, book clubs, author events and workshops. Be sure to enjoy the Bernheim Gallery nestled down the hallway and gaze up at the ceiling near the York street entrance for artistic inspiration. 

READINGS & CONFERENCES

InKy Reading Series.  Louisville Literary Arts coordinates the Inky series, Louisville’s oldest independent reading series held every second Friday of the month September through May. Located at The Bard’s Town restaurant, theater and tavern this series showcases writers from around the country and it’s free of charge. 

Evolving Gallery. This gallery hosts poetry readings periodically throughout the year. This unique space is home to art and wellness on Mellwood Avenue. 

Gonzo Fest.  This annual festival honors Hunter Thompson and celebrates his impact on art, music & literature. Hunter and Gonzo Journalism fans turn the city of Louisville into a giant party as this festival evolves every year.  

Writers Block Festival. A celebration of reading and writing is done through a barrage of activities at this yearly festival.  Louisville Literary Arts coordinates this event and is open to the public.

OTHER FINDS

The Monkey Wrench. Kentucky is known for its bourbon and this bar can offer you a taste along with bar food that is better than bar food. A Hunter Thompson mural covers the north end of the building and Hunter’s wife Anita personally visited the mural giving her seal of approval on the artists’ portrayal of this famous writer. 

Paper Source. Find your next leather journal or favorite stationary at this charming boutique in St. Matthews. 

Trolley Hop. Explore historic Frankfort Avenue via the Friday night trolley hop. Discover galleries, bookstores, coffee shops and restaurants year-round on the final Friday of every month from 6:00pm-10:30pm for free.

Cave Hill Cemetery. Located in the original Highlands neighborhood, this 296-acre nationally recognized arboretum is more than your average burial ground. You can drive through this majestic land but opt to walk at least a portion of it to absorb a sea of hidden symbolic images. Maps are given at the entrance and be sure to look for the massive ginkgo tree rumored to be two centuries old and the unmarked forest of bamboo towards the middle of these sacred grounds. The artwork found throughout can easily become a writer’s muse.

Good Eats


COFFEE SHOPS

Four Sisters. You can have sweet or savory here at this coffee and crepe shop. The best lattes and crepes can be found here along with Banh mi as a lunch option. This tiny shop is owned by four sisters on the historic Frankfort Avenue and worth every second you will spend here.

Highland Coffee Company. Locate this trendy shop off the famous Bardstown Road for a laid back vibe. Whether seated inside or out, this is a great place to people watch while you snack on their homemade treats and warm sandwiches. 

Quills Coffee. This is a hip and sleek shop locals love to hang out at. Feel free to ask questions when perusing their intense menu, these cats know their coffee! There are two locations in Louisville; the Highlands location on Baxter Ave is a Sunday favorite. 

Red Hot Roasters. Travelers unwilling to leave their vehicles can go to Red Hot Roasters located in the historic Irish Hill neighborhood. This drive thru only coffee shop serves organic coffee and muffins that were worthy to be featured in Food Network Magazine. 

Heine Brothers. This fair trade and organic coffee shop has 13 locations including a mobile shop and their solitary sister shop, Vint. Their mobile shop is a converted 1963 airstream that circulates throughout the city and Vint is located on historic Frankfort Avenue where you can grab coffee, beer or wine. Most Heine Brothers locations have drive thru service and Vint has an indoor/outdoor fireplace you can snuggle up to. 

A PROPER MEAL

Harvest Restaurant. Located in the downtown NuLu arts district of East Market Street, the farm to table menu is the go-to dining destination in the city. This is the place to venture to if you are seeking “Southern-style comfort food.” 

Meridian Café. Although they serve delicious meats, vegetarians can easily fill their tummies here for breakfast or lunch. This casual gem is nestled in the heart of St. Matthews and one will never leave hungry from this local favorite. Their daily specials are always unique and sublime.

Gralehaus & Holy Grale.  Gralehaus is a coffee house and café located inside an original Highlands Victorian home with three guest bedrooms on the 2nd and 3rd floors for travelers.  The marriage of steel and wood provide a beautiful atmosphere to have an intimate affair with their remarkable food and creamy lattes. If you crave a beer walk outside through their backyard patio to step into what was a former church dating back to 1905 that has now been converted to a beer lovers den. Holy Grale offers a light menu and if traveling with a group call ahead and reserve the choir loft.    

North End Café. With locations on Frankfort Avenue and Bardstown Road this is a trendy hot spot serving up breakfast, lunch or dinner. Hungry locals fill both locations quickly on the weekend with Sunday morning brunches a true favorite. 

Mayan Café.  An infusion of Mayan flavors with local, sustainably-farmed ingredients produces an original food experience. Be sure to order the Tok-sel Lima Beans. 

El Mundo. Made from scratch, this is a casual favorite for Mexican food. Place quick walk up orders near their open kitchen on the first floor or go around back and climb the outside metal staircase to dine inside on the second floor. This place has an eccentric outdoor patio if you are willing to share a cocktail with the signature Frankfort Avenue train that slides by your table. Don’t forget to notice the dumbwaiter behind their quant bar when ordering their signature margaritas. 

TREATS

Cake Flour Bakery. Void of artificial anything; treats are made with natural and organic ingredients. Grab one of their high back sofa chairs to enjoy their famous Flourless Chocolate Cake as seen on the Food Network. 

Please and Thank You. This unique café boasts itself as a small batch southern bakery, coffee house and record shop selling the best chocolate chip cookies in town. Located in the NuLu district they also have a walk-up window only shop in the Portland neighborhood. Expect chocolate on your fingertips, cookies arrive warm. 


TERRI's 5 Favorites


1. Favorite bookstore: Carmichaels, a small and local shop. 

2. Favorite place to write: Anywhere I can curl up with my cat and a cozy blanket. 

3. Favorite museum: The 21C Hotel Museum. I like to arrive at odd hours, knowing I could just sleep there if I wanted to. 

4. Favorite coffee shop: Four Sisters. I’ve had a long love affair with their almond milk lattes that arrive in comfy stone mugs.

5. Favorite thing about Louisville: The Big Four Walking Bridge. A former railroad truss bridge that crosses the Ohio River, connecting Kentucky and Indiana. Visit two states in one day with a brisk and healthy walk.