Updated 2 p.m.

While we would say that Louisville is Louisville, not the “new” anything, we’re certainly tickled that Lonely Planet has declared our fair city the top travel destination for 2013.

The majority of the remainder of Lonely Planet’s top ten list are cities in the far reaches of the country: Fairbanks, Alaska (2); San Juan Islands, Washington (3), Philadelphia (4); American Samoa (5); Eastern Sierra, California (6); northern Maine (7); Twin Cities, Minnesota (8); Verde Valley, Arizona (9); and Glacier National Park, Montana (10).

With the fiscal cliff looming, travelers are sticking closer to home. And while we’re an airline connection away from most major U.S. cities, we’re still within a day’s drive of more than half of the country. Certainly a more comfortable road trip than Fairbanks, AK.

Considering last year’s number one was the US Virgin Islands, we should be shouting this from the rooftops for the next twelve and a half months.

Both the NuLu and Highlands neighborhoods were singled out by the publication. Gill Holland, president of the NuLu Business Association told Insider Louisville:

We continue to be proud of all the good work of the DDC [Downtown Development Corp.] and the CVB [Convention and Visitors Bureau], as well as our neighborhood association members, that has gone into developing and promoting NuLu, and that we as a city continue to get positive national recognition.  Our goal here in NuLu is to be an internationally known and appreciated arts, local food, “mom-and-pop” retail and sustainability district.  The recent $10M appropriation from Frankfort to connect NuLu with the Nucleus Research Park will be  crucial in enhancing this.

From Lonely Planet:

Could it be that the new Portland is in… Kentucky? Louisville has asserted itself as a lively, offbeat cultural mecca on the Ohio River. New Louisville, also known as the East Market District or NuLu, features converted warehouses used as local breweries, antique shops and the city’s coolest restaurants. On Bardstown Rd in the Highlands you’ll find a hipster strip of shops and bars, not to mention many ‘Keep Louisville Weird’ stickers. Bourbon reigns in Louisville. This is the traditional jump-off for the Bourbon Trail; with bourbon’s current wave of popularity, new upstart microdistilleries, including some in and around Louisville like the small-batch Angel’s Envy, are giving the old names in bourbon a run for their money. Try for the first Saturday in May to witness the ‘greatest two minutes in sports,’ the Kentucky Derby.

The coolest hotel in town is 21c Museum Hotel, an edgy contemporary hotel with scissor chandeliers and loft-like rooms.

From the CNN article:

Louisville is the new Portland?

Louisville, Kentucky was named the top U.S. destination for 2013, following travel publisher Lonely Planet’s discussions among its group of U.S. editors and authors. While they tend to debate entries into each year’s Top 10 list, everyone agreed on Louisville, said Reid.

While many horse lovers descend upon this Southern town the first Saturday in May to witness the Kentucky Derby, also known as the “greatest two minutes in sports,” there’s more to Louisville than one horse race.

With its hip bourbon scene (including micro-distilleries), fine dining and emerging East Market District, also known as NuLu, Louisville may just be the new Portland, Oregon, Reid said. Consider exploring the city via the Urban Bourbon Trail for a powerful introduction to Kentucky’s famous spirit.

20 thoughts on “Lonely Planet says Louisville is THE Top U.S. Travel Destination for 2013

  1. I love Louisville but this is ridiculous. Louisville has a long way to go to be in the top 20 of US travel destinations. We have the potential here to be a major regional and somewhat major national travel destination but at this time we do not have the infrastructure or amenities in place. Look at our central business district riverfront for instance. You cannot compete with a image defining gateway that is dominated by outdated, disruptive, and unmarketable infrastructure. The lack of mass transit is another factor that will eventually harm Louisville;s ability to market itself to young professionals. No you do not need trolley/light rail everywhere, and there are large sections of the city that will never be transit friendly, but it will come to a point where the city will suffer economically if unable to provide a variety of life-style options. Given the KY State budget problems and the States anti-Louisville attitude it is difficult to see how the necessary resources materialize..

  2. I love Louisville but this is ridiculous. Louisville has a long way to go to be in the top 20 of US travel destinations. We have the potential here to be a major regional and somewhat major national travel destination but at this time we do not have the infrastructure or amenities in place. Look at our central business district riverfront for instance. You cannot compete with a image defining gateway that is dominated by outdated, disruptive, and unmarketable infrastructure. The lack of mass transit is another factor that will eventually harm Louisville;s ability to market itself to young professionals. No you do not need trolley/light rail everywhere, and there are large sections of the city that will never be transit friendly, but it will come to a point where the city will suffer economically if unable to provide a variety of life-style options. Given the KY State budget problems and the States anti-Louisville attitude it is difficult to see how the necessary resources materialize..

  3. As soon as we get an “international” airport and a functioning amusement park. Four months ago, this item would have been ridiculed on these pages. But it says NuLu, so it’s all good.

  4. As soon as we get an “international” airport and a functioning amusement park. Four months ago, this item would have been ridiculed on these pages. But it says NuLu, so it’s all good.

  5. Four months ago, I didn’t work for Insider Louisville. I certainly would not have ridiculed this news four months ago. I’ve been lauding this city as the most under-appreciated city in America for years. So I’m tickled that finally other people’s opinions are catching up to my own.

  6. Four months ago, I didn’t work for Insider Louisville. I certainly would not have ridiculed this news four months ago. I’ve been lauding this city as the most under-appreciated city in America for years. So I’m tickled that finally other people’s opinions are catching up to my own.

  7. I disagree with you about Louisville not being a great destination, but am behind your other comments 100%. My fear is that this article will just validate in the minds of the powers that be, that they must be doing something right, when in reality, they are doing the exact opposite of what needs to be done to create a truly vibrant city.

    The only way Louisville can really become the ‘New Portland’ is if they emulate that city; which means tearing down the waterfront expressway and funding light rail from the savings incurred from not buidling the Downtown Bridge.

  8. I disagree with you about Louisville not being a great destination, but am behind your other comments 100%. My fear is that this article will just validate in the minds of the powers that be, that they must be doing something right, when in reality, they are doing the exact opposite of what needs to be done to create a truly vibrant city.

    The only way Louisville can really become the ‘New Portland’ is if they emulate that city; which means tearing down the waterfront expressway and funding light rail from the savings incurred from not buidling the Downtown Bridge.

  9. Actually it’s not that difficult to see how the resources materialize. This city must embraces its cultural history and pushes for local-option gaming laws that allow for a track based and downtown casino that extend pro-sports wagering to competitors on 2 legs. This strategy is not a panacea for all that ails the city but it is a prerequisite to developing a vibrant diverse regional economy.

  10. Actually it’s not that difficult to see how the resources materialize. This city must embraces its cultural history and pushes for local-option gaming laws that allow for a track based and downtown casino that extend pro-sports wagering to competitors on 2 legs. This strategy is not a panacea for all that ails the city but it is a prerequisite to developing a vibrant diverse regional economy.

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