Larry Olmsted

Correspondent

  • Vermont, USA

Larry Olmsted is an at-large Forbes Travel Guide correspondent who lives in Vermont but regularly treks around the world as an award-winning journalist who has covered travel for more than 15 years. He writes the “Great American Bites” column for USAToday.com, previously wrote the “Life on Vacation” column for USA Today, and is the longtime contributing travel editor to Cigar Aficionado magazine. He has contributed to numerous travel guides, including the Michelin Green Guide, and writes regularly for both US Airways’ and American Airlines’ magazines. He also writes “The Great Life” column for Forbes.com.

  • On September 19, 2012
    Larry Olmsted answered the question: Larry Olmsted

    Where is the best shopping in Louisville?

    Largely unspoiled by chains except in suburban malls, shopping in Louisville is very much boutique and one-of-a-kind driven. The two big shopping areas include mile-long Bardstown Road, with a Bohemian aesthetic and plenty of vintage clothing, used record and bookstores, galleries stocked with handmade goods and jewelry boutiques. The alternative, Market Street, is more gallery and designer driven, and both offer nice walks with plenty of dining along the way (and even a wine shop, or two). If you like antiquing, Louisville is home to some of the country’s largest and most unique antique stores. Two must-see antique shops include Joe Ley Antiques, this in an 1890 schoolhouse, with two acres filled with treasures from carousel animals, to rare toys to interesting advertising. We also like the newer Derby City Antique Mall with over 100 vendors.
  • On September 19, 2012
    Larry Olmsted answered the question: Larry Olmsted

    What are the five best things to do with kids in Louisville?

    Louisville is not a city where parents traveling with their children have to work hard to keep the family entertained, as most of the major attractions that adults would visit anyway cater to kids. Much of the city’s dining scene also slants in favor of the little ones. Here is Forbes Travel Guide’s editors’ list of the five best things to do with kids in Louisville
     
    1.Hands-on discovery. The Louisville Science Center is a modern interactive museum aimed at kids of all ages, with over 150 learning stations, and a dedicated KidZone for the youngest visitors. All of these exhibits are slanted toward hands-on activity.
     
    2. Play ball. The Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory is the best facility devoted to our national pastime this side of Cooperstown, and kids love seeing the bats made, and especially the 120-foot high replica of Babe Ruth’s bat outside the front door (which makes for the perfect photo op).
     
    3. Derby days. While adults will thoroughly enjoy the Kentucky Derby Museum at Churchill Downs, the exhibits are carefully planned to be suitable for and enjoyable to the younger crowd. It’s not just artifacts, but rather a learning experience in what it takes to make a champion thoroughbred, from breeding to the big race.
     
    4. Rolling on the river. A National Landmark, the Belle of Louisville is the oldest river-going steamboat in operation in this country, and daily plies the waters of the Ohio River on lunch and dinner cruises.
     
    5. The Olmsted Park System. While his Central Park in New York City and Emerald Necklace around Boston are more famous, many critics consider Louisville’s network of three major – and fifteen minor – tree-lined parks to be the crowning achievement of the Father of Landscape Architecture, Frederick Law Olmsted.
  • On September 19, 2012
    Larry Olmsted answered the question: Larry Olmsted

    What are the five best things to see and do in Louisville?

    Small in scale but big on charm, Louisville has a rich history—thanks to its location on the Ohio River—as a gateway to the nation’s western expansion. Here is Forbes Travel Guide’s editors’ list of the best things to do in Louisville.
     
    1. Churchill Downs. Home to the Kentucky Derby and the fabled haunt of Secretariat, Seattle Slew, Affirmed, Man o’ War and so many others, this is simply the most famous horse race track on earth. The annual racing meet spans nearly three months, and if you visit Louisville in the spring it is imperative you attend a day of racing. Otherwise you come and tour the facility and its wonderful museum.
     
    2. The Muhammad Ali Center. Secretariat is only the second most famous athlete to make a name for himself in Louisville. Number one is Muhammad Ali, one of the most recognizable men in history. The repeat World Heavyweight Champion grew up here, and the Muhammad Ali Center, on the riverfront in the heart of downtown, is a wonderful museum. If you did not grow up watching the fleet and nimble Ali box, you can watch every one of his fights here.
     
    3. The Bourbon Trail. Bourbon is to Kentucky what watches are to Switzerland, and all the great American bourbon whiskies, big and small, from Maker’s Mark and Jim Beam to Woodford Reserve and Pappy Van Winkle are made within easy driving distance of Louisville. Many distilleries offer in-depth tours, and better yet; several companies offer full-day escorted tours of bourbon country – leave the driving to them.
     
    4. The Louisville Slugger Factory. The vast majority of bats used in Major League history, past and present, are made right on Main Street in the heart of downtown Louisville. Among towering modern office buildings stands the Louisville Slugger Factory & Museum, where wooden bats are painstakingly custom made for most Major Leaguers. You can see the process, view historic bats, take a few swings of your own in batting cages, and even get a personalized bat branded with your own name.
     
    5. Grab a drumstick. Colonel Harlan Sanders was a real person, and like his image on the KFC buckets, he always wore a double-breasted white suit. First you can take your picture with a lifelike replica of the man who spread fried chicken to the world in the downtown Louisville Visitors Center, then make the macabre pilgrimage, chicken in hand, to his grave in the city’s Cave Hill Cemetery, where it is traditional to eat a drumstick at his headstone. Really.
  • On September 19, 2012
    Larry Olmsted answered the question: Larry Olmsted

    What kind of sporting events can I watch in Indianapolis?

    Sports fuels commerce and tourism in Indianapolis, and you can watch all kinds of major sporting events here all year long. Home teams include the NFL’s Colts and NBA’s Pacers, while the city’s biggest event is the Indianapolis 500, the largest single day sporting event in the world, drawing more than 300,000 spectators every Memorial Day weekend. A close second is NASCAR’s Brickyard 400, held on the same track — the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The speedway also hosts a MotoGP motorcycle race. Another big annual event is the Big 10 Conference college football championship, and a major part of the NCAA March Madness college basketball tournament is held here every year, either a men’s or women’s Final Four or Sweet Sixteen round in alternating years. Indianapolis is home to several Olympic teams, including USA Track & Field and USA Gymnastics, and regularly hosts major events in the sports.
  • On September 19, 2012
    Larry Olmsted answered the question: Larry Olmsted

    What is the best thing to bring home from Indianapolis?

    When leaving Indianapolis, make sure to bring home a piece of the city’s heritage — new or old. The most popular Indianapolis souvenirs are from the Hall of Fame at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway — take home a model of the Marmon Wasp, the yellow car that won the first-ever Indy 500 in 1911. At the Indianapolis Museum of Art, pick up a miniature replica of Robert Indiana’s iconic square, four-letter LOVE statue from the gift shop. While the 3-ton original outside the museum is red, keepsake versions are available in all sizes and colors. And if you can, snag a six-pack of local beer to bring home with you. Indianapolis has a thriving craft brewing scene — check out the beers at the popular Sun King Brewery.
  • On September 19, 2012
    Larry Olmsted answered the question: Larry Olmsted

    What are the five best Indianapolis food experiences?

    Indianapolis Midwestern to the core, so the local dining scene has long revolved around meat, and lots of it, but the city still offers variety and surprising culinary offerings that go far beyond simple fare. According to Forbes Travel Guide editors, the five best food experiences in Indianapolis are:
     
    1. Breaded pork tenderloin sandwich. There are dozens of restaurants around town specializing in this iconic Indianapolis dish. A huge, thinly pounded pork cutlet is breaded, deep fried and served on a hamburger-sized bun.
     
    2. Dinner or drinks at Plump’s Last Shot. This beloved hole-in-the-wall pub is named for Bobby Plump, the high school basketball player who hit the game-winning shot that inspired the movie Hoosiers. Plump, a local hero, has been known to tend bar on Tuesday nights.
     
    3. Shrimp cocktail from St. Elmo Steak House. Served with a fiery cocktail sauce full of fresh Missouri-grown horseradish, the James Beard Award-winning eatery is known for the classic appetizer. Countless celebrities — including several U.S. Presidents — have cleared their sinuses here.
     
    4. Home-grown beer. Indianapolis has a thriving micro-brew beer scene. Seek out Sun King Sunlight Cream Ale — it took home a medal at the World Beer competition. Food trucks line up outside their downtown brewery year round.
     
    5. Steak. There’s no way to miss Indianapolis’ love affair with red meat, especially high quality steak. In addition to hometown favorites St. Elmo Steak House and Harry & Izzy’s, where Super Bowl champion quarterback Peyton Manning is a part owner, the city has outposts from national chains including The Capital Grille, Shula’s Steak House and Morton’s The Steakhouse.
  • On September 19, 2012
    Larry Olmsted answered the question: Larry Olmsted

    Where is the best nightlife in Indianapolis?

    The best nightlife in Indianapolis is along a six-block stretch of the hip Broad Ripple neighborhood. The area — ten minutes north of downtown — has one bar, café, theater, brewpub, comedy club or live music venue after another. Broad Ripple is known for its vibrant social scene and nightlife, and many of the bars stay open until 3 a.m., staying true to the neighborhood saying, “We’re open if you are.” Hit up Crackers Comedy Club for nightly standup and comedy acts, hear live jazz at The Jazz Kitchen or watch the game and drink a pint at Old Pro’s Table.
  • On September 19, 2012
    Larry Olmsted answered the question: Larry Olmsted

    What is the best way to see Indianapolis in one day?

    Thanks to the Super Bowl, seeing Indianapolis in one day has never been easier — or healthier. Prior to the 2012 NFL championship, the city unveiled its new Cultural Trail, eight miles of separated or marked pedestrian and bike paths linking six designated cultural districts, spanning downtown and nearby Broad Ripple, the trendy neighborhood where the city’s favorite son, David Letterman, grew up. Nearly all of Indianapolis’ major attractions are on this route, including the Central Canal (stop and kayak or ride a gondola), and plenty of restaurants. Many downtown hotels provide bikes to guests, so it’s easy to spend the day exploring the city.
  • On September 19, 2012
    Larry Olmsted answered the question: Larry Olmsted

    Where is the best shopping in Indianapolis?

    Indianapolis offers two distinctly different shopping experiences, but luckily, both are in downtown and close to each other. Circle Centre is the city’s best modern mall, with over 100 shops — including most well-known chain brands — all linked to 12 downtown hotels by climate-controlled skywalks. Massachusetts Avenue (known to locals as Mass Ave) is downtown Indianapolis’ funkier side, lined with one-of-a-kind boutiques, many of them owner-operated. The five-block area has theaters and shops galore — check out the shoe store that claims to be nation's oldest, Stout's Shoes, and follow your nose to the handmade chocolates at The Best Chocolate In Town.
  • On September 19, 2012
    Larry Olmsted answered the question: Larry Olmsted

    What are the five best things to do with kids in Indianapolis?

    With its exuberant Midwestern hospitality, casual dining scene and world-class children’s museum, Indianapolis is a fantastic family destination. Here’s Forbes Travel Guide’s editors’ list of the five best things to do with kids in Indianapolis:
     
    1.Visit the largest children’s museum in the world. With a four-story Brachiosaurus  bursting through its exterior, The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis is consistently ranked one of the best museums of its kind in the United States. Check out the dinosaur habitat with real fossils, the carousel and the steam locomotive.
     
    2. Tour Trader’s Point Creamery. This 200-acre organic dairy — 16 miles from Indianapolis — is home to a herd of Brown Swiss cows and hosts tastings and hands-on demonstrations. Sample fresh, organic chocolate milk, ice cream and cheese.
     
    3. Swim with dolphins. Every city has a zoo, but the Indianapolis Zoo is among the few with an in-water dolphin program. Don a wet suit and join the trainers in a specially designed pool where you and your kids can spend a half hour hanging out with the dolphins face-to-face.
     
    4. Try Duckpin. Duckpin bowling, also known as candlepin, features grapefruit-sized balls, three throws not two, and narrow wooden pins. It is now virtually extinct — except in Indianapolis, at the historic Fountain Square Theatre Building, where you can play
    with 1950s equipment.
     
    5. Explore the Conner Prairie Interactive History Park. This Smithsonian Institute affiliate is the Midwest’s version of Colonial Williamsburg. The 1,200-acre prairie town is populated by costumed actors who teach kids about about life in the Civil War era.
  • On September 19, 2012
    Larry Olmsted answered the question: Larry Olmsted

    What are the five best things to see and do in Indianapolis?

    Indianapolis’ best attractions are concentrated and convenient — it’s easy to sample the city’s combination of sports, culture and natural attractions in just a weekend. Here’s Forbes Travel Guide’s editors’ list of the five best things to do in Indy:
     
    1. Visit “The Brickyard.” Once paved with bricks, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway — site of the annual Indy 500 — now has just a strip of the original surface at its finish line. The onsite Hall of Fame Museum is the city’s premier attraction. Finish your tour with a tram ride around the famed oval.
     
    2. Meet the city’s most famous literary son. The author of Slaughterhouse-Five was born here and earned his own museum, the Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library — located in a building designed by his architect grandfather, Bernard Vonnegut, whose designs can be seen through the city.
     
    3. Check out the NCAA Hall of Champions. The National Collegiate Athletics Association, headquartered in Indianapolis, runs 23 college sports — each with a display at the museum. Get involved with interactive exhibits, watch games in the media room and see the retro 1930s basketball gym.
     
    4. Stroll the canal. Indianapolis’ 1.5-mile Central Canal runs through downtown, complete with a path for walking and biking, rental kayaks, pedal boats and even gondolas (imported all the way from Venice).
     
    5. See the original LOVE sculpture. The reproductions of Robert Indiana’s famously square four-letter LOVE sculpture in New York and Philadelphia are just that, reproductions. The 3-ton original is displayed on the 150-acre campus of the Indianapolis Museum of Art.