Showing posts with label Marriott. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Marriott. Show all posts

Monday, January 15, 2018

Long Awaited Return to Louisville


I couldn’t believe when I looked it up that it had actually been seven years since I was in Louisville, Kentucky.

It was one of those places I had looked forward to returning to soon, but never got around to it.

When I had the chance to cover the first annual Bourbon & Beyond Festival, I knew it was also a chance to get back to a Kentucky favorite, which happens to be only a few hours away from my home in Champaign.

Brittany, Jamie, and I headed out first thing on Friday morning, so we could get to Louisville in time for a full day.

The tourism board had helped me arrange some fun and unique things to do.


Day one was set downtown and our first stop was someplace none of us had ever been, the Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory.

To say that this place makes baseball bats would be a huge understatement. It is a baseball lover’s must – and I happen to be one.


We had a private tour through the museum and factory as we watched the bats being made from start to finish.

We also learned about the history of making bats in Louisville, and saw some owned by famous players, such as Ty Cobb, Barry Bonds, and Kris Bryant.


This Mets fan was especially excited to see the one signed by Mookie Wilson.

In addition to the history and the factory, the Louisville Slugger Museum has some fun and interactive exhibits.

You can try out some real bats in the Batter Up cage, while the younger set can enjoy Big League, Little Bricks.

I enjoyed the Lego recreation of baseball parks around the country.


We left the museum with our own sample bats and headed down the street to the Muhammad Ali Center.

“The Greatest,” as he is frequently referred by, is the what this museum is built around, but you will find so much more here than a tribute to a boxer.

It’s a place you can easily spend the day.

You’ll learn about the history of Cassius Clay and how he became Muhammad Ali.

It includes everything he did on his spiritual journey, and the causes and charities he contributed to.

The center also has exhibits that allow you to see if you can punch the bag as fast as Ali, test out a boxing ring, and work on your footwork.

The Muhammad Ali Center also has films about the champ and a chance to chose and watch many of his boxing matches.

We left downtown and headed over to Champions Park to pick up our credentials for the Bourbon & Beyond Festival, stopping for a quick dinner on the way back.

We then checked into our home for the next three days, the Marriott Louisville East, ending our day with our first beautiful Kentucky sunset.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Quick Trip to Columbus, Ohio

I go to New York every few months to visit family and friends. I almost always fly, but my friend Lynn suggest she drive back with me and spend some time in Illinois.

I had recently received an invite to check out the new Hotel LeVeque in Columbus, Ohio, and decided it was a perfect place to stop.

Hotel LeVeque, part of the Marriott Autograph Collection, was opened in the Leveque Lincoln Tower in downtown Columbus.

The history of the 100-year-old building has been preserved, and even improved since the opening added additional artwork to the marbled historic building.

We arrived late in the evening. The hotel does not have a full restaurant open yet, but we decided to check out The Keep Liquor Bar.

It’s a very welcoming area, with leather couches and soft lighting. It has delicate touches with go perfectly with the hotel’s décor.

They don’t have a full menu, but the bar menu was inviting. 

We decided to share the Watermelon Goat Cheese Arugula Salad, a cheese charcuterie plate, and burrata with tomatoes.

The dishes were all fresh and delicious, and went perfectly with a glass of Sauvion Vouvray from Loire, a very light white wine with just a hint of sweetness.

We were pretty tired and headed up to our room at Hotel LeVeque right after we ate. It was quite luxurious, but also equipped with modern touches, such as the outlets by the bed and the television ready to sync with our cell phones for live streaming.

The beds were also extremely comfortable and we slept quite well, with a “starry night display” on the ceiling.

In the morning, we enjoyed the hotel’s European style breakfast buffet, which included eggs, pastries, bagels, oatmeal, and fresh fruit.

We took some time to look around before heading over to Bicentennial Park and lunch at Milestone 229.

The park has an open, modern feel, with plenty of fountains for kids to cool off on hot days. It was especially hot when we were there and a few grownups were also enjoying the chance to cool off.

The drink menus at Milestone 229 was very interesting and included a lot of local spirits, wine, and beer.

It seemed like a relaxing day to enjoy one before lunch and two caught my eye:

Royal Peach, with Crown Royal Vanilla , peach syrup, and Peach Schnapps, and 229 Cosmo, a blend of Pineapple Infused Finlandia Vodka, Cointreau (Use code DRIZLYFIVE to save $5 with these links at Drizly liquor delivery) , cranberry juice, and lime.

The warm pretzel bread with house made whole grain butter was a perfect starter with the cocktails.

For an entrée, I had Try the Baked Vegetable Croquette with Baba Ghanoush.


It sounded unique and wonderful, and it was.

Lynn had the roasted chicken with side of macaroni and cheese, which she really enjoyed.

After lunch, we hit the road and headed to one of my favorite stores, the Eddie Bauer Warehouse. 

I happen to come across this place about 10 years ago and I always stop when I am in Columbus.

The bargains are unbelievable, with specials every day, in addition to the 30-50% off on everything, every day.

On this day, the deal was $12.99 for all dresses, which originally cost up to $100.


Lynn bought me a couple of birthday presents, as well as a few things for herself, and we hit the road. 

We had a bought six hours to go before we were in Champaign

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

History and Music in Indianapolis

I’ve had the pleasure of making a lot of trips to Indianapolis as it is less than two hours from here. Every time I go there are different things to see and do. That was especially true for this trip.

My friend Angela and I checked into the Courtyard Marriott Downtown

It’s in a perfect location, directly across the street from Whitewater State Park and the Indiana State Museum.

The Courtyard has a nice coffee shop and lounge area, and it’s connected to the Fairfield Inn and the massive JW Marriott Indianapolis for more options.

First on our schedule was our first trip to the Indiana State Museum. We really enjoyed learning about the Hoosier State and it’s place in America’s history.

Among the exhibits and hands-on experiences are a 50th Anniversary exhibit on the Indiana Pacers and a looks into the gems and minerals in the state, as well as its start through the Ice Age. 

We also were able to see plenty on famous Indiana natives, including James Dean, Michael Jackson, Florence Henderson, Kurt Vonnegut (who has his own museum in Indy), and Axel Rose.

The Indiana State Museum also has a Peewinkle Puppet Studio, which has puppet classes and a puppet camp, as well as show you can watch.

We grabbed some coffee at the JW Marriott Indianapolis Starbucks and headed back to the room for some rest. We were spending the evening about a half hour from downtown at FoxGardin Kitchen & Ale.

Our motivation for heading to this venue was actually to see a local Champaign duo who Angela and I knew well on and off the stage. 

Mank N Sass, Jared Manker and Sara Siders, formerly in the band UpShot, have extended their following into the Indianapolis area, where they play frequently. 

FoxGardin is one of their favorite places so we were anxious to check it out.

While we waited for our table, we visited the upstairs whiskey bar with Jared and Sara, and did a little sampling. The place was quite busy and I’m told it’s always that way.

They took the stage and we took to the menu for some cocktails to start the evening. For main courses, Angela loved her filet oscar and I really enjoyed my eggplant parmesan. Manager/Chef Jacob Burgess has quite an unusual and popular menu.

Mank N Sass were wonderful, as usual. They played some original songs and filled in with just about everything from the Beatles to Michael Jackson to Tom Jones.

Before we left, we talked to some of the Fortville locals. 

We loved hearing about all the small women owned shops in the area. It was quite a fun evening in the little town with the big restaurant.

We arrived back at the Courtyard Indianapolis pretty late and ready for a good night’s sleep before another day exploring Indianapolis.