Known for its historic charm, Southern hospitality, horse racing and bourbon, Louisville is a fabulous city to explore during the day. But it really comes alive once the sun goes down. From live bands playing in stylish clubs to quaint little pubs and upscale bars, the action around the city doesn’t slow down after dark. If anything, it speeds up!
If you’re looking to explore more of Derby City at night, we know all the hot spots. Some of the best include:
1. Fourth Street Live!
Located in the heart of downtown Louisville, Fourth Street Live! is a must-visit destination. This 350,000-square-foot outdoor entertainment complex has a wildly impressive array of restaurants, bars and music venues. Check out “Whiskey Wednesdays” at Guy Fieri’s Smokehouse, or gather up your gal pals for “Girls’ Night Out” every Thursday at Pizza Bar. Fourth Street Live! is also conveniently within walking distance of plenty of charming hotels and the Kentucky International Convention Center, making it an ideal place to plan a bachelorette party, a stag night or a reunion with friends.
2. Howl at the Moon
Located inside the Fourth Street Live! district, Howl at the Moon gets a special mention because it’s an interactive music experience that you just have to experience in order to understand. Billed as “part nightclub, part dueling piano bar,” the energy is nonstop. With their signature 86-ounce buckets of booze, it’s no wonder that the dance floor is always hopping.
3. Holy Grale
This aptly named church-turned-gastropub has a stunningly beautiful inside, an upstairs dining hall for parties and lavish outdoor seating in fair weather – but the real allure of the place is the atmosphere and the drinks. While the Holy Grale only offers a limited menu of gourmet dishes, what they do have is beer, beer and more beer! You can sample some of the 21 taps of hand-chosen craft beers from all over the world, as the owners say that finding the perfect ale or lager is truly a religious experience.
Are you looking for an out-of-this-world experience? Galaxie plays host to DJ dance parties every Friday and Saturday night, and local bands play throughout the week. There’s plenty of finger food available, including their famous Wakatakas, or flatbread tacos – but you don’t want to leave without trying one of their signature drinks. Give the “Outta This World Margarita” or the “Purple People Eater” a try to lift your spirits right into outer space!
5. Headliners Music Hall
Music lovers will find their haven at Headliners Music Hall, an iconic venue that has played host to nationally known musicians and emerging local talent over the years all the way back to the dark, dry days of Prohibition. They celebrate everything from rock ‘n’ roll to blues and jazz, so check the schedule regularly to see who is going to be playing. While drinks are served, the music is really what it’s all about when you’re at Headliners, so expect an up-close and personal concert experience when you go.
The trendy, affluent NuLu district is packed with vintage stores, contemporary art galleries, quirky gift shops and plenty of fine dining – and NoraeBar. If karaoke is your thing, this is the place to go. Catering strictly to the 21-and-over crowd, the bar serves everything from good, old-fashioned Kentucky bourbon to sake and signature cocktails. Groups are encouraged to book a private room in advance, so gather up your pals and grab a mic – it’s time to show off your pipes! This is Louisville’s number-one karaoke spot for a reason.
7. Play Dance Bar
For the LGBTQ+ community and allies, Play Dance Bar is the ultimate destination for a night of celebration and inclusive fun with a phenomenal sound system and world-class lighting. Themed nights are regular events, and the cocktails are amazing. The “Breakfast of Champions” or a Lemon Drop will definitely get you up on your feet and ready to dance.
If you’re a fan of arcade games, live music and loads of fun, Zanzabar is the place for you. This trendy little spot combines a vintage-style arcade with live music and a cozy bar, creating a one-of-a-kind experience. Challenge your friends to beat you at Pac-Man or pinball before you head over to the concert area to check out the latest live performances. They claim to have the best burgers, hummus and wings in all of Louisville, which pair up perfectly with the fine selection of beer, bourbon and whiskey on their menu.
If you prefer spots that are off the beaten path and a little lost in time, you’ll love Meta. It bills itself as “the fanciest dive bar, or diviest fancy bar you’ve ever been to,” and the city’s oldest cocktail bar. Intimate and artfully decorated with vintage decor, Meta is all about “craft bartending.” This is the sort of speakeasy-style place you can go to get a real Old Fashioned, but don’t forget to try some of their specialty drinks, like “Nonsense” (which is served in a chocolate shot glass) or the spicy, salty “High Street Thrills.”
10. The Back Door
If you want to party like a local, head to The Back Door Bar & Grille near Mid City Mall. This 5,000-square-foot lounge takes pride of place when it comes to being one of the most welcoming bars in the city. The Back Door has a low-key vibe, 13 high-def televisions to watch sporting events, a game room with pool tables, darts and skeeball, and mouthwatering wings. This is the perfect spot to relax after a long day when you want to hang out without pressure or expectations.
From the sophisticated and elegant to the vibrant and fun, Louisville, KY, has nightlife spots that provide for every taste. Whether you prefer sipping handcrafted cocktails while you talk mixology with the bartender, dancing to live music, challenging your friends in an arcade or just celebrating being alive, the city has it all – so don’t be afraid to venture into the night and let the magic unfold!