Laracon will be held on August 11th & 12th in Louisville KY. This marks the third anniversary of the conference and with an awesome speaking line-up this should be a great event to not only learn about Laravel but to meet other developers in the community.
Traveling to Laracon Louisville will be a new experience for a lot of developers and we all have lots of questions about the area. What clothes should we pack? It’s going to be hot and humid. What are some city highlights? What is the airport like? There is nothing worst than arriving in a new city and being completely lost.
Since I’ve never visited the area I decided to ask two developers from the city to give us a little insight into the area so we can all be prepared to get most out of the trip.
Meet The Locals
9+ years of PHP development experience. Artisan since v3. Very passionate about Laravel and promoting the community. Love all aspects of development all the way from the architecture standpoint to writing the code and implementing/scaling it. Experienced in many aspects of the LAMP/LEMP stack. Bourbon connoisseur and beer lover. Father of a beautiful 5 year old daughter and musician/studio engineer.
I’ve held many positions including global software project manager, startup partner, interactive developer, and entrepreneur. With each adventure in tech I try to make sure I’m always advancing as a software engineer and learning from those around me. I enjoy working on Open Source Projects and love the outdoors.
1. Can you describe the airport?
Chris Flynn: Louisville International airport is fair for a mid-size city as a passenger airport serving the four major airlines (US Airways/American Airlines, Delta, Southwest, and United). The airport is the home of Worldport, the worldwide hub of UPS, making it the seventh busiest cargo airport in the world.
It is clean well taken care of with nice views of downtown and Kentucky Kingdom (our theme park). Don’t expect it too busy unless it’s around Derby time, when it’s packed with celebrities, rich and the famous alike coming into town for the Kentucky Derby which is a huge deal for this city.
Brian Webb: Louisville International Airport is what I’d consider “ideal” size. Large enough to have everything you need, but small enough that you don’t have to take trains everywhere, walk 10 miles to a gate, or plan 2 hours ahead for security lines. Even when security is backed up you can generally get through (when you are flying out) in about 10 minutes. I’d say from walking off a flight, grabbing luggage and into a cab is probably 15-20 minutes.
2. What is the trip like from the airport to the hotel and venue?
Chris Flynn: Unless there is road work or traffic it’s a pretty straight shot up I-65 N to the one exit you would have to take to either get to your hotel or the venue itself. This is also dependent on where you are staying in Louisville.
We have many nice higher-end hotels – some with amazing history, some are art museums (21C is awesome) and then your normal hotels. But getting around Louisville and into downtown itself where the venue is, is very easy. You can make it a 10 minute trip on a normal day.
Brian Webb: The hotel and venue are downtown which is essentially north-central Louisville. The Airport is right in the center of the city which is more suburb-ish. The drive is probably about 15 minutes via the interstate, straight shot, not complicated at all.
3. From the airport to the conference hotel is it best to take a cab, public transit, walk?
Chris Flynn: Cabs are available as are rental cars and shuttles to hotels. Uber and Lyft have been banned from the airport, unfortunately, but there are plenty of them elsewhere in Louisville. A few of the local Laracon attendees could probably pick you up if you reach out.
Definitely would not walk (we wouldn’t see you for a day or so and you would be fortunate/unfortunate to walk through our UofL Campus on the way up and get stuck at a frat house).
Brian Webb: Definitely a cab, city bus could be possible but a cab is recommended for the most direct, hassle-free way. If you want more information about public transit (city bus, we don’t have any kind of light rail) check out https://www.ridetarc.org/.
4. What do you like most about the city?
Chris Flynn: Great question! Louisville is a “big/little” Midwest city. We pride ourselves on being “Louisville Weird.”
Seriously, cruise down the Highlands and you will see our super popular “Keep Louisville Weird” stickers everywhere. We are a very eclectic and tasteful city and you can see it in our food, beers, and bourbons.
Kentucky is known for its many one-of-a-kind bourbons crafted by the masters. We also have great music venues to check out if you are a night owl. There are several dive bars, concert venues, clubs that will keep the party going and the drinks flowing til 4AM, which is unheard of in most cities. We like to party if you can’t already tell.
Brian Webb: Very friendly, safe, southern hospitality feel with big city amenities.
5. Any places that should be avoided?
Chris Flynn: When in doubt – do not wander too far west. Otherwise, you will be in good hands. LMPD is top notch and will be on their game during any tourist event. I wouldn’t worry too much there as it’s a safe city.
Brian Webb: Not particularly, when downtown, west of 9th street gets a little lower income and has a higher crime rate, but there’s not much in that direction people would be seeking out.
6. Will we see horses :)
Chris Flynn: Depends, if you head several miles outside of the city you may find one or two in a field here and there. Lexington, KY is more horse oriented than we are but trust me… we have our fair share of horses.
Churchill Downs will not be in session during Laracon, or you would definitely be able to see horses while in town.
For the most part though, you will find much equine love in the over 100 Gallapalooza statues plopped across the city or in tons of artwork across the venues, hotels and museums. I wouldn’t expect you will see a horse trotting anywhere near the Laracon venue though ;).
Brian Webb: Definitely not downtown, but there are lots of horse farms within a 30 minute drive from downtown (you’d probably need to rent a car or carpool w/ a Louisvillian). If anyone’s interested let me know and I can tell you some spots to checkout.
7. Should we eat at KFC?
Chris Flynn: I personally wouldn’t recommend it, not to hate on KFC but there are 100+ better places to eat that are more to the “Louisville Experience” and KFC is not really one of them. They do have good chicken though! No denying that.
Brian Webb: Definitely, and there’s one located in 4th Street Live right near the hotel.
8. What are some of the highlights to visit and see in the area?
Chris Flynn: This is always a fun list for me to participate in as it allows a nice perspective on our beautiful city. Things to do/visit:
- Kentucky Derby Museum
- Louisville Mega Caverns (Zip-lining underground)
- Muhammad Ali Center (Right next to the venue)
- Actors Theater of Louisville
- Evan Williams Experience
- Louisville Slugger Museum
- Kentucky Science Center
- Of course the Laracon Venue – the Kentucky Center
- After all of that – cross the Big Four Bridge to Indiana and check out the Falls of the Ohio to walk on prehistoric rock beds loaded with fossils
- Catch a show at the beautiful Louisville Palace if you’re lucky or take a stroll through one of our nearly 120 public parks.
- We pride our city in having some of the most gorgeous inner-city walking/hiking trails (the Waterfront Park is directly behind the venue and will be a nice cool down).
- Frasier History Museum
- Muhammad Ali Center
- Louisville Slugger Museum
- Evan Williams Bourbon Experience
- Louisville Bats – Minor League Baseball @ Slugger Field
- 21c Museum Hotel
- Waterfront Park
- 4th Street Live (bowling, clubs, bars, nightlife)
- Falls of the Ohio park
9. What are some great restaurants?
Chris Flynn: Louisville has been experiencing what we refer to as a “Culinary Renaissance”. Some of the top chefs in the nation have made Louisville their home. Restaurants I would recommend giving a try while you are in are:
- Milk Wood
- Mayan Cafe
- Loop 22
- Jack Fry’s (a Louisville Legend)
- Gordon Biersch
- Ward 426
- Anything in the Nulu or Highlands areas…. If you are familiar with Gatlinburg, TN – the Highlands (Bardstown Road) is basically our Gatlinburg.
Brian Webb: Louisville is a foodie town, this is a list of places I’d personally recommend though there are many more, the list spans $ to $$$$
- Doc Crows
- Proof on Main
- Troll Pub
- Mortons Steak House
- Eddie Merlot’s Stake House
- Down One Bourbon Bar
- St. Charles Exchange
- Manny and Mearl’s
- Bearno’s Pizza
- BBC (Bluegrass Brewing Company)
- Against the Grain Brewery
To explore the city and all the city highlights check out this pinterest board: