I love Louisville with a passion... I just wanna go ahead and get that out of the way. And as most of us are already well aware of, Louisville has a lot to offer in the way of entertainment, culture, outdoor activities, epicurean adventures, etc. We also are all too familiar with that silly "this side of the river, that side of the river" banter that further separates us (Louisville) from them (Southern Indiana). With jokes aside, I thought I'd make a post pertaining to some of the finer things that Southern Indiana has to offer. This list, of course, is far from being comprehensive or complete in hopes that others would weigh in add to the list of what gives Southern Indiana some added appeal. And yes, I officially had too much time on my hands today. Sportsdrome Speedwayhttp://www.sportsdromeonline.com/1207 Kopp Lane-Jeffersonville, Indiana
Easily my top pick for things to do in Southern Indiana. I started off going to Louisville Motor Speedway 10+ years ago, but ever since they closed down Sportsdrome is where it's at. They have weekly races, usually on Saturday nights April through October. Plan on getting there early enough to get a decent seat, because even though the place hold several thousand people, folks love to show up early. Definitely bring a blanket or stadium chair to sit on because the bleachers can be a bear after a few hours. I HIGHLY recommend going this Saturday night, July 3rd, for their annual Independence Day festivities.
The races will be comprised of the usual Figure 8 and oval, but in addition will feature the incredibly entertaining (if not absolutely ridiculous) School Bus figure 8 races, Boat/Trailer Race (where they race around the track with boats and/or trailers attached to their vehicles), Chain 8 (multiple cars chained together while racing), and the Blind Driver Race! Last time I saw them do the Blind Driver Race, the driver was given a bag to cover his head while someone in the passenger seat told him when to turn... Full on disaster, but incredible fun to watch. Decent prices on hot dogs, nachos and cheese, pickles, treats, and ice-cold yellow fizzy beer. Some of the best people watching this side of the Mason-Dixon line, too. I can't recommend this place enough! Georgetown Drive-Inhttp://www.georgetowndrivein.com/
Plenty can be said about Georgetown Drive-In. It is definitely something I look forward to every year in the warmer months. It's cheap, it's fun, you can bring your own food and drinks very easily. There concession stand is pretty righteous, and when they have them, you definitely have to get their donuts. Pop the tailgate and set up shop, bust out some lawn chairs, or get on the top of your roof. La Rositahttp://louisville.about.com/od/fooddrink/fr/larositareview.htm
One of the best authentic Mexican restaurants in the vicinity. I've only been to the one on 1515 E. Market St. in New Albany, but I've heard they may be either moving or opening up another location closer to the Bank Street Brewhouse in downtown New Albany. Deam Lakehttp://www.in.gov/dnr/forestry/4825.htm
1217 Deam Lake Road
Borden, IN 47106
Only about 20 minutes from downtown Louisville, this lake that's open to the public features "a beach," camping, concessions, hiking trails, and rowboat rentals. It can get pretty crowded here, especially on the weekends -- but for the small price of admission (about $5.00 for carload) it is well worth the short trip. Rent a rowboat for another $20 and pretty much have the lake to yourself. By paddling away from the beach portion of the lake, you bypass all of the riff-raff and can swim in the lake from anywhere. Only oars, paddles, and electric motors are allowed on the lake which helps maintain the tranquility of the area. If you're into fishin' this is a decent spot for luring in bass and panfish. Although pretty short in distances, they have a few trails that go along the lake and the hiking is decent, It makes for a good day trip, or extend it into a multi-day adventure by camping and cooking out on one of their provided grates. Note: for further consideration consider Indian and Celina lakes in Hoosier National Forest. It's a bit longer drive (about an one-and-a-half hours), but offers some great hiking opportunities, swimming, camping, and mountain biking.Cave Country Canoeshttp://www.cavecountrycanoes.com/
You kind of have to pick the right time to go, but after a good rain or even a few days after, this can be a really fun day trip. It's about 35-45 minutes from Louisville, and they offer canoe/kayak rentals for a self guided trip down a portion of the Blue River. After a decent rain, the pace of the river is a bit more brisk allowing more opportunities for paddling through ripples and small rapids (not nearly as great as the Elkhorn Creek near Frankfort, KY, but then again, this is a post about Indiana)
. They offer half day (2-4 hours), full day (4-7 hours) and two day trips. Pack a picnic and drinks and milk that day trip like there's no tomorrow. The Widows Walk Cafe & Ice Creamhttp://www.louisvillehotbytes.com/widow.shtml
415 West Riverside Drive -- Clarksville, IN
Great place to go that's right across the river from most of us. This place is right on the river offering ice cream and hot dogs, and one of the best views of the skyline of Louisville anywhere. Makes for a great bike ride from Louisville across the 2nd Street Bridge!The O'Bannon Woods State Park (formerly Wyandotte Woods State Recreation Area)
7234 Old Forest Road SW
Corydon, IN 47112
One of the best places for "car camping" close to Louisville. It's far enough away that is sparse on crowds (especially throughout the week) but close enough to Corydon, IN (which is also a great little Southern Indiana town) and Louisville to convenient. Plenty of hiking trails and clean campgrounds, and very close to Cave Country Canoes if you wanted to make a trip out of it. Patoka Lake is nearby as well for fishing, boating, swimming, etc. There are also several opportunities for spelunking in the area if you're into caving. Clifty Falls State Park and Historic Madison, Indianahttp://www.stateparks.com/clifty_falls.htmlhttp://visitmadison.org/
Only about an hour away, Clifty Falls State Park offers some exceptional hiking and camping opportunities. There are, as the name implies, some pretty great waterfalls (especially after a good rain) and several bluffs and bouldered canyons that can be hiked. Madison offers some serious southern charm, interesting shopping (a lot of antique stores), and an array of eateries -- everything from posh sit-down style cuisine to some pretty fantastic greasy spoons.
Of course there is always Holiday World (which is seriously awesome) and Paoli Peaks in the winter, but most folks already know about those places. There is also a lot to do in Hoosier National Forest, including some great mountain biking. Some honorable mentions include: Clark State Forest for camping, Green Tree Mall for people watching, Charlestown State Park, and many others.