The Louisville Advantage - OLD
Louisville is a place of beauty that defies description. Not exactly southern and not exactly midwestern, Louisville is home to people of kindness, people of greatness and people of character. Often, you'll even meet someone who’s all three! (Louisville is also home to people of good humor.) A big city with a small-town feel, Louisville consistently ranks high on lists of the USA’s most livable, most affordable and most entrepreneurial cities—it’s a place where you’ll find every manner of arts, entertainment, sports and commerce, but still get a smile and a “hello” from a complete stranger.
Greater Louisville, pronounced “LOU-a-vuhl,” is a thriving city of about 1.2 million people. Our city offers all of the benefits of a contemporary city on the move, along with the gracious hospitality that has made this region legendary. Our area boasts:
- an award-winning arts scene with top-level theater, music and visual arts; an awesome sports scene that features the world famous Kentucky Derby, professional baseball and frequent major touring events in golf, racing and extreme sports;
- a parks system designed by Frederick Law Olmsted that is the envy of cities nationwide;
- a vibrant downtown life, featuring Fourth Street Live, Waterfront Park, Big Four Walking Bridge, Louisville Slugger Field, waterfront hiking and biking trails, and the Falls of the Ohio;
- and the breathtaking natural beauty of Kentucky, home to spectacular lakes, stunning mountains, mysterious forests, Mammoth Cave and the Red River Gorge.
Louisville has also won quite a few honors over the years, including being named one of the nation’s friendliest cities. Visit our Louisville Accolades page to learn more.
The Highlands’ Charm
Located right on the edge of downtown Louisville in the city’s first suburb, The Highlands, Bellarmine is within walking distance of some of the city’s most popular public parks, shops, restaurants and clubs. Funky and bustling with energy, the Highlands is home to art galleries, consignment stores, book stores, record stores, coffee shops and boutiques.
Some of the great Bardstown Road landmarks familiar to BU students include Twig & Leaf Restaurant, Heine Brothers’ Coffee, Carmichael’s Bookstore, Doo Wop Shop, Qdoba Mexican Grill, Dot Fox, O'Shea’s Irish Pub, Book & Music Exchange, Wick’s Pizza, Graeter’s Ice Cream, Baxter Avenue Theatres, Homemade Ice Cream & Pie Kitchen, Dundee Candy Shop and El Taco Luchador. Between the parks and the shopping/dining corridors, there’s not much you can’t do in the Highlands.
In downtown Louisville, you’ll find a museum-lover’s paradise. The waterfront is home to the world-famous Muhammad Ali Center, a fascinating interactive museum dedicated to The Champ’s vision of creating a more respectful world. Just west on Main Street, you’ll also find the Kentucky Science Center, the Frazier History Museum, 21c Museum and the Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory, where you can watch craftsmen create the Louisville Sluggers that Major League Baseball players use to knock ’em out of the park. Just around the corner, you’ll find Glassworks, a complex of glass studios and galleries dedicated to the art of glass.
A few blocks east of those attractions, you’ll find outstanding performing arts at Actors Theatre
, on the Belvedere overlooking the river or at Waterfront Park
, which is home to rock, alt-rock, folk and indie concerts during the summer. Main and Market Streets—the Nulu
district—are also home to dozens of clubs, boutiques and top notch dining. The Fourth Street Wharf is also home to the world-famous sternwheeler Belle of Louisville
, which hosts Bellarmine’s Halloween dance, “Ball on the Belle.”
South of Main a few blocks, you’ll find Fourth Street Live, a dining and entertaining complex that’s home to Hard Rock Cafe, Maker’s Mark Bourbon House and numerous other shops, restaurants and nightclubs. Travel east a few more blocks and you'll find Louisville Slugger Field, home to the Triple-A Louisville Bats and Louisville City FC, Kentucky’s only fully professional soccer club.
Food, Festivals and Fun
In the Highlands, you can find anything from seviche to the classic Louisville Hot Brown if you don’t know, just wait life changing! We’ve got more styles of pizza than fingers to count them on and award winning street tacos. It’s all within walking distance or hop on one of the electric scooter options you can find on most any street. We take our food scene seriously which is why Travel & Leisure magazine named us one of America’s best cities for food!
Sticking around the city for the summer? Be sure to grab your Forecastle passes before they sell out. One weekend in July, every year, music fans converge on the waterfront of the Ohio River in downtown Louisville to experience what Rollingstone calls “one of the coolest festivals in America!” Louisville has been home to Forecastle Festival since 2002. It’s the convergence of the biggest names in music like Sam Smith and The Avett Brothers and up and coming local artists (fun fact: Dr. Dundiff, a 2015 Bellarmine grad, was surprised when he was asked to play on stage with My Morning Jacket). The festival isn’t just about the music, it also focuses on environmental activism, and outdoor recreation.
Louisville is home to more than 111 festivals, parades, and public events. There is something for everyone: Waterfront Wednesday is a free summer concert series on the Big 4 Lawn; an annual Chili Cook Off on Frankfort Avenue; and a Zombie walk down Bardstown Road every August. We get fancy with Broadway shows, free Shakespeare in the Park, art and cultural museums, and we host the “Most Exciting Two Minutes in Sports” every May at Derby-with a 3 week festival in preparation! If an outdoor life is more your speed we’ve got hiking in Jefferson Memorial Forest or the incredible Olmsted Parks system, biking in a 100 mile loop around the city, and a world famous skate park.
Vibrant Business Climate
Louisville boasts a strong economy and a fabulous job market for Bellarmine’s graduates. In fact, a recent article by ZipRecruiter designated Louisville a “Top 10 Best City for Job Seekers” for 2017. In addition to Louisville Slugger-makers Hillerich & Bradsby and Churchill Downs, Louisville is home to many other major employers, including Brown-Forman Corporation, Hilliard Lyons, Humana, Kindred Healthcare, Norton Healthcare, Yum! Brands and UPS.
And there’s also a zeal for small business in the Metro Louisville area. More than 28,000 small businesses call Louisville home. In 2018, SmartAsset named Louisville a “Top City for New College Grads”
A couple of miles south of downtown, you’ll find several other must-see attractions, including Churchill Downs, home of the Kentucky Derby and the Kentucky Derby Museum. For two weeks each spring, the Louisville area hosts one of the world’s great parties: the Kentucky Derby Festival. Farther south, on the edge of town, the 6200-acre Jefferson Memorial Forest is the largest urban forest in the United States. Still haven’t had enough nature? Check out the Falls of the Ohio State Park, just across the river in Indiana, where you can explore the 386-million-year-old fossil beds and contemplate time, nature and your place in the universe.
Most of the exciting attractions described above are within a ten- to fifteen-minute drive of Bellarmine or within a 20-to 30-minute walk or bike ride. The city bus system—TARC—is also a great way to get around town, with stops at each of the above locations.
Louisville’s location in the center of the United States makes travel to other destinations easy. We’re within a comfortable drive of many other major cities, and the Louisville International Airport is a 15-minute drive from campus.
Come visit us!
See for yourself Louisville’s unique mixture of easy access to everything a big city has to offer, along with the comfort, safety, beauty and ease that usually resides only in small towns. Make a visit to Bellarmine University your first stop! Schedule a visit now.