I’ve heard more than one native Louisvillian say that they hope the good word about our fair city doesn’t travel too far, or all the outsiders will flood in and ruin it for us. The wonder that is Louisville must be kept a secret, in other words.
All the same, I think the secret is out, based on the fact that Louisville has been racking up a long list of awards from all around the country. It doesn’t mean that the city will be ruined, but I’ll bet the list will continue to grow, as will the rest of the country’s esteem for our home city.
2014 is still very young, but Louisville has already been named one of CNNMoney’s 2014 breakout cities , in part for the music and food truck scenes. We’re among the top 20 American cities with “economic momentum,”  based on GDP growth, job growth, median household income growth and unemployment, according to NewGeography. Our strong economic position led Nerd Wallet to name Louisville one of the top 10 cities for home ownership , as well. And did you know that the AARP named Louisville to its top 10 list of low-cost U.S. cities in which to retire ?
Now here’s where all those visitors (with their lovely out-of-town dollars to spend) really start pouring in. In the last year or so, Lonely Planet said we’re a top travel destination , The Travel Channel said we’re a top 10 cycling city , Priceline.com named Louisville one of the top pet-friendly cities for travelers , and under30CEO.com put Louisville on its list of the top best 30 cities for young entrepreneurs . And National Geographic Traveler magazine says Louisville is a “Best in the World” location , which sounds pretty darned comprehensive to me.
Our dining scene is the envy of many a metro area, right down to our water (best tasting in the country, thank you very much ). Merely a sampling of awards finds Sunergos on Zagat’s United States of Caffeine 50 Must-Try Coffee Shops , MilkWood on Southern Living’s List of 100 Places to Eat Now , Garage Bar on Food & Wine’s list of Best Pizza in Unexpected Places , and The Silver Dollar on GQ’s list of the 10 Best Whiskey Bars in America .
Zagat’s says Louisville is one of its Seven Up-and-Coming Food Cities Around the U.S. , naming the 21C Hotel’s Proof on Main (one of USA Today’s Reader’s Choice Best Hotel Bars in America ) and chef Edward Lee (three-time finalist in the James Beard Foundation Best Chef: Southeast Awards ) as key local influencers. The publication also pointed to NuLu in 2013 as one of its 20 Hot Food Neighborhoods in 12 U.S. Cities .
And, of course, the Hot Brown is one of America’s best sandwiches . So says Travel and Leisure magazine, and so say we all.
Out and about, we have The KFC Yum Center, one of Rolling Stone’s Best Arenas and Stadiums in America ; The Mega Cavern’s Mega Zips, one of The Active Times’ World’s 15 Craziest Zip Lines ; Waterfront Park, winner of the Rudy Bruner Award Silver Medal for Urban Excellence ; and the 21C Hotel which, with its art galleries, spa, restaurant and bar, has won just about every tourism award  available each year that it has been open, including Conde Nast Traveler Magazine’s Number One Hotel in the South Award and Number One Hotel in the U.S.
So what is left? What award do you think Louisville deserves to win?
Photo: Shutterstock Copyright: Melinda Fawver