Late days in Louisville feature events at Churchill Downs (complete with big hats), while group outings to visit champion horses are common in Lexington. Further southwest, you can take a class to learn how to make pie in Bowling Green.
These are just a few of the classic offerings Kentucky nights can offer to groups. Whether meeting in northern Kentucky or its biggest city, read on for all the ways to incorporate the spirit of the Bluegrass state into your event agenda after sundown.
Late Days in Louisville Feature Horses and Bourbon
Churchill Downs, home of the Kentucky Derby, is available for after-hours events, according to Rosanne Mastin, marketing communications manager for Louisville Tourism.
Groups can customize an experience utilizing the racetrack’s exclusive locations, including the famed Millionaires Row. Kentucky Derby-style hats can also be part of the program.
“Often groups will have a ‘fashion station’ during the day at the conference so attendees can make, design or purchase headgear to wear to the evening track event,” Mastin said.
Crowd Dressed in White Attire at a Churchill Downs Event, Louisville
Louisville is also known for its horse farms, including Hermitage Farm and Ashbourne Farms located just outside Louisville. According to Mastin, both offer luxury dining experiences.
Hermitage Farm’s current expansion project will add a restaurant housed in a dairy barn with event space in the hay loft and Ashbourne Farms has a 15,000-square-foot restored barn that’s perfect for after-hours events.
“Add a local bluegrass band for entertainment to complete the authentic Southern experience,” Mastin said.
Grand Gala at Hermitage Farms, Louisville
Toasting over a shot of Kentucky bourbon is another great way to end the day in Louisville, which is known as Bourbon City and has several distilleries that accommodate private group events, tours and tastings.
The portfolio of bourbon purveyors here includes:
“Each distillery features unique experiences, from rooftop bars to speakeasies, for after-hours events,” Mastin said.
Distillery Tours and Dinners on the Farm in Lexington
Bourbon tours and tastings promote camaraderie at the end of the day in Lexington, too.
Located in downtown Lexington in the heart of the Distillery District is James E. Pepper Distilling Co., which opened for tours in July 2018.
Buffalo Trace Clubhouse Event Setup, Lexington
Located up the road in neighboring Frankfort, Kentucky, are Buffalo Trace Distillery, a National Historic Landmark that accommodates events with up to 350 attendees, and Castle & Key, a distillery that opened to the public for tours in September 2018.
Castle & Key also has an on-site botanical trail and hosts off-site group events.
“Known around the world for producing smooth bourbon and fast racehorses, Lexington offers a variety of unique experiences centered around these two signature industries,” said Niki Heichelbech-Goldey, director of communications for VisitLEX.
Spring Bourbon Tasting at Taylor Made Farm, Lexington
Taylor Made Farm, home to champion horse California Chrome and birthplace of Triple Crown Winner American Pharoah, offers a variety of options for corporate meetings and events for 50 to 700 people.
“The events team at Taylor Made will gladly work with meeting planners to create an evening dinner event attendees will talk about for years,” Heichelbech-Goldey said.
Baking Pies and Motorsports Outings in Bowling Green
In downtown Bowling Green there are many eateries with banquet space for groups to share a meal after a busy day of meetings, including 440 Main and Mariah’s.
Beth Noffsinger, communications director for the Bowling Green Area CVB, recommends winding down after a meal with a drink and a sweet treat at The Derby Piano & Dessert Bar in The Kentucky Grand Hotel and Spa.
“We are also home to the Southern Kentucky Performing Arts Center and Capitol Arts Center,” Noffsinger said. “Maybe your group will want to take in dinner and then a show.”
Pie Queen of Bowling Green Piemaking Demo, Credit: Brie Golliher
An immersive culinary experience is available with Brie Golliher, the “Pie Queen of Bowling Green,” who offers baking demonstrations and classes at her Alvaton, Kentucky-based restaurant, Boyce General Store.
“Brie is a fabulous baker and she’ll teach your group how to make some of her famous mini pies,” Noffsinger said. “If you’d prefer to keep your group closer to town, have Brie lead a class in the SoKY Marketplace Community Kitchen.”
National Corvette Museum Motorsports Park, Bowling Green, Credit: National Corvette Museum Motorsports Park
Beyond food, Bowling Green also offers an adrenaline-raising teambuilding experience at National Corvette Museum’s Motorsports Park.
“There’s nothing more fun than bonding with your colleagues over a friendly go-kart race,” Noffsinger said. “You can also host a catered meal at the track.”
Team Bonding Over Bowling and Brews in Northern Kentucky
Fun after-hours group activities in Northern Kentucky include bowling, team-bonding scavenger hunts, breweries and yes, more bourbon-tasting.
Newport, Kentucky-based Axis Alley offers customizable teambuilding events complete with bowling, a DJ and karaoke entertainment, classic American cuisine and drinks.
Axis Alley Bowling Interior, Newport, Kentucky
According to Sydney Clancy, tour travel and marketing coordinator for the Northern Kentucky CVB, Axis Alley is located in the Newport on the Levee entertainment center so attendees can explore shops, restaurants and bars before or after a bowling tournament.
Also located in Newport is New Riff Distilling, an up-and-coming distillery on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail that facilitates group tours and tastings and has two event spaces for private receptions.
In Covington, Kentucky, there are many murals that groups can explore after meetings on a public art walk through the city. Clancy recommends turning this into a scavenger hunt, with each team snapping photos of the art and concluding the game with a beer at Braxton Brewing Co.
Braxton Brewing Interior, Covington, Kentucky
Braxton Brewing, Clancy added, has two spaces available for private parties and will soon be opening a rooftop entertainment area.
Restaurants, Museums and Art in Paducah
Paducah Signature Experiences was designed to introduce meeting groups to the city’s rich heritage and inspiring creative culture.
“This series of local experiential tours at some of Paducah’s key cultural attractions was designed exclusively with groups in mind, and thus create ideal after-hours, after-the-meeting options,” said Lynda Peters-Jones, director of convention sales for the Paducah CVB.
Among the experiences are visits to the National Quilt Museum and Paducah’s “Wall to Wall” Murals.
Wall to Wall Murals in Paducah at Night
The variety of restaurants, breweries, distilleries and cocktail bars in historic downtown Paducah makes it easy for planners to create a customized dine-around or pub crawl, according to Peters-Jones.
An evening outing could include stops at venues including The Old Dusty Dog Bar & Grill, which often stages live music, Freight House, a the farm-to-table restaurant owned by Top Chef season 16 runner-up Sara Bradley, and Market House Square, a collection of locally-owned restaurants in close proximity.
Freight House Cocktail Displayed on Bar, Paducah
The dining options at Market House Square include JP’s Bar & Grill and Cynthia’s Ristorante.
“There are even more local venues available for cocktail receptions, live entertainment or other interesting evening events,” Peters-Jones said.
Among them are Yeiser Art Center, Maiden Alley Cinema and The Carson Center for the Performing Arts.
Kentucky CVB Contact Information
Bowling Green Area CVB
meetNKY | Northern Kentucky CVB