Bottoms up!

Louisville is a 2024 travel trendsetter you didn’t see coming

Louisville, Kentucky, USA downtown skyline on the Ohio River at dusk.
Louisville, Kentucky, USA downtown skyline on the Ohio River at dusk.

As the world turns its gaze toward new and exciting travel destinations for 2024, one city is emerging as a beacon of inclusivity, diversity, and undeniable charm. Yes, we’re talking about Louisville, Kentucky, a southern city that’s quickly climbing the ranks to become the No. 1 trending destination on Airbnb for all the right reasons.

With its vibrant LGBTQ+ scene, rich cultural tapestry, and a calendar packed with events, Louisville is setting the stage for an unforgettable experience.

Why Louisville is on everyone’s radar

According to Airbnb data, Louisville isn’t just making waves; it’s creating a ripple effect across the travel industry, securing its spot as the top trending destination in the U.S. based on first-quarter searches in 2023. It was also named one of the 50 best places to travel in 2024 by Travel + Leisure.

Bourbon and belonging: A cultural melting pot

"The Barrel" is a piece of artwork meant to celebrate the bourbon renaissance in Downtown Louisville and showcase the cities heritage to whiskey.

Louisville’s uptick in bourbon tourism is nothing short of remarkable, drawing over 140,000 tourists to events like Bourbon & Beyond. However, it’s the city’s dedication to inclusivity and diversity, particularly within the LGBTQ+ community, that sets it apart. This year, the city is even hosting Bourbon & Belonging: Kentucky’s Queer Bourbon Week—which is actually the first LGBTQ+-inclusive Bourbon festival in the country!

In recent years, Louisville and its surrounding Jefferson County have become more racially diverse with its white population dropping from 71% to 63%. And despite not being the gayest state, a sizable 4.9% of Kentucky’s adults identify as LGBTQ+.

From downtown Louisville’s Whiskey Row to the trendy neighborhoods of NuLu and The Highlands, a palpable sense of welcome permeates the streets.

Dive into the LGBTQ+ scene in Louisville

Fourth Street Live at night. The area is an entertainment and retail complex located in downtown Louisville Kentucky

Now, let’s explore what gay Louisville has to offer beyond the statistics. Whether you’re here for the history, the nightlife, or the inclusive atmosphere, Louisville rolls out the rainbow carpet for everyone.

Stay in style

The hotels in Louisville are perfect for any type of traveler, whether you’re looking for a budget-friendly option or a luxurious stay. Hotels like the 21c Museum Hotel Louisville in the heart of Museum Row in downtown Louisville’s historic district, offer guests a luxurious experience complete with an award-winning restaurant, 90 rooms, and an impressive collection of contemporary art.

The Aloft Louisville Downtown and Hilton Garden Inn Louisville Downtown are both on Louisville’s historic Whiskey Row and blocks from NuLu, as well. Meanwhile, the Culbertson Mansion in Old Louisville is known for its charming and gracious atmosphere, combining Victorian splendor with a casual southern vibe.

Sip and savor

Louisville takes its bourbon seriously, but the broader cocktail and restaurant scene is equally impressive.

Hell or High Water and Tartan House welcome all with their friendly vibes and expertly crafted cocktails. Trouble Bar offers an inclusive atmosphere for whiskey aficionados to enjoy their favorite spirits. When hunger strikes, Proof on Main, Jack Fry’s, and Jeff Ruby’s Steakhouse are just a few of the many LGBTQ+-friendly restaurants ready to tantalize your taste buds.

Louisville’s gay bars include Chill Bar Highlands, Magnolia Bar, and Big Bar, among many others. Each one offers a unique atmosphere and selection of drinks, making it easy to find the perfect spot for a night out with friends.

Embrace the culture

From the Muhammad Ali Center‘s celebration of activism to the Kentucky Derby Museum‘s nod to diversity, Louisville’s attractions go beyond mere entertainment. Don’t miss the Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory for a slice of Americana, and be sure to check out Play Louisville for unforgettable drag shows and a night of dancing.

Wrapping it up

As Louisville continues to trend as a top destination for 2024, it’s clear that this city is much more than a stopover on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail. It’s a place where history meets modernity, where culture thrives, and where the LGBTQ+ community is not just welcomed but celebrated.

So, whether you’re drawn by the allure of bourbon, the promise of unforgettable experiences, or the chance to be part of a community that champions diversity, Louisville awaits you with open arms.

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