Nicholas DeRenzo

Much like the bourbon that practically flows through Kentuckians’ veins, Louisville is a city steeped in tradition, from the cuisine (Hot Browns and benedictine) and the cocktails (mint juleps over crushed ice) to the pageantry of the Kentucky Derby. In recent years, however, the city has become a model for a progressive-minded New South. Institutions like the newly expanded Speed Art Museum and the growing 21c Museum Hotels chain, which opened its first location here, are putting Derby City on the art-world map, while the restaurant scene has exploded thanks to celebrity chefs such as Edward Lee and Anthony Lamas, who pair local seasonal ingredients with culinary influences from around the globe. And in perhaps the most Bluegrass State sign of the city’s renewed vigor, the craft bourbon distilleries that long ago abandoned Whiskey Row are making a triumphantly spirited return.