Bordering the lush Original Highlands neighborhood as well as up-and-coming Shelby Park and Paristown Point, Germantown was founded in the 1800s by, you guessed it – German immigrants. Though Germantown may come across as a quiet, more residential neighborhood, don’t let it fool you – sprinkled throughout the neighborhood are a vast array of cool businesses, incredible restaurants, and unassuming taverns around every corner!
Whether you are in the mood for a mouthwatering meal washed down with a refreshing adult beverage or to partake in an…unusual special event (any Dainty fans here?), Germantown is your spot. Best of all, it’s in a fantastic location, allowing for easy access to shops, restaurants, and attractions in Germantown itself, as well as bordering neighborhoods.
Germantown is bounded by Barrett Avenue, St. Michaels Cemetery, and the South Fork of Beargrass Creek on the east, Eastern Parkway and Goss Avenue on the south, Kentucky Street on the north, and Logan Street on the west.
In our Neighborhood Guide, you’ll learn all about the many great things to do, see, and try in Germantown!
Check out a few of these other posts:
- The Highlands Neighborhood Guide: Where to Eat, Drink, Play & Stay
- Butchertown Neighborhood Guide: Where To Eat, Drink, Play & Stay
- NuLu Neighborhood Guide: Where To Eat, Drink, Play & Stay
The Story of Germantown
Named after the influx of German immigrants who first settled into the neighborhood in the mid 1800s, the Germantown of yesteryear was lined with small farms and butcher shops – not sooo unlike the Germantown we know and love today! A period of heavy development took place in the 1890s, giving rise to the majority of Louisville’s shotgun-style houses. A fun fact about the Germantown neighborhood is that it has one of the largest collections of well-preserved shotgun-style homes in the states!
A not-so-fun fact is that around the time of its settlement, the area was colloquially known as “Frogtown” because the adjacent Beargrass Creek frequently flooded the area, turning locals into “frogs”. With the routing of the creek into a deep canal, humans were no longer frogs and in 1907, a bridge was built across the South Fork of Beargrass Creek. It was also called “Frogtown” due to all the mosquitoes coming off the creek, and the German and French immigrants said the area was “fit for a frog”. So there you go!
With construction of the bridge, French settlers living in the very creatively named Paristown area just north of the creek were able to attend the only Catholic church operating in the area. Due to this new connection between Germantown and Paristown, Louisville’s oldest neighborhood association, the Germantown-Paristown Neighborhood Association, was founded in 1973.
Today, the neighborhood is a perfect blend of old and new, maintaining its deep roots while welcoming trendy shops and eateries and lots of bars. Louisville natives often joke that there is a dive bar on every corner in Germantown, and they aren’t so far off! A new generation of bars and restaurants have breathed new life into the Germantown neighborhood, particularly the Goss Avenue area.
Things to Do in Germantown
Browse Local Shops
The Germantown neighborhood is known to be a bit of a mixed bag in terms of its culture and activities – and after perusing these local shops, you are sure to come out with a mixed bag of your own! Everything from vintage thrift stores to plant stores to oddities and art are sold in these local shops.
A few of our neighborhood favorites include:
- Fat Rabbit Thrift & Vintage – If it’s secondhand clothing, vinyl records, knick knacks, books, and a whole bunch of other hard-to-describe, yet delightfully strange stuff you seek, you’ve come to the right place! You can find all this and more at their Barret Ave. location.
- Nitty Gritty – A vibrant costume rental and vintage clothing store with two floors (yes, two WHOLE floors) of treasures to uncover, this eclectic shop has been keeping Louisville weird since the year 2000.
- Unorthodox – Oddities, curiosities, antiques, and art. Like what, you ask? Oh, you know… guillotine earrings, books about hauntings in Kentucky, witchy/occult stuff, taxidermy, bones, that sort of thing. It’s all wonderfully unorthodox!
- What the LOU – A colorful and casual consignment shop for anyone and everyone, WTL offers nostalgic knick-knacks, sports and pop culture memorabilia, and second-hand clothing with an everyday, streetwear kind of vibe.
- Fleur de Flea – Treasures abound in this 35,000 square foot indoor warehouse located near Germantown (technically in the Paristown neighborhood). A fusion of over 150 vendors selling vintage finds, vinyl albums, stunning antiques, thriving plants, and many more repurposed items, this urban oasis is bursting with riches yet to be discovered!
- Forage – Your plug for all things plants, flowers, and sustainable living, this green living shop is on a mission to create a place where plants and people alike can thrive! Pop in for a plant to spice up your space, pick up some flowers to brighten someone’s day, or browse their selection of eco-friendly products, like candles, fragrances, and even books!
- Artist & Craftman Supply – This artist supply store is a treasure trove of everything you need to craft, paint, or do anything and everything artsy. The best part is it is employee-owned, meaning that everyone who works here is artsy themselves and can point you in the right direction of what you need. They also have a great gift shop filled with art-adjacent cards, gifts, and more!
Psst: Barret Ave is the border between Germantown and the Original Highlands, a beautiful and historic neighborhood and the oldest part of the Highlands neighborhoods. One fantasic way to explore this area is to take the Highlands Food & History Walking tour. Check out our Highlands neighborhood guide for more!
Take a Brew Tour
Touted as Louisville’s ultimate craft beer tour and tasting experience, Derby City Brew Tours are perfect for anyone in Louisville looking to make the most out of their time exploring the local craft beer scene. Great for exploring the Germantown neighborhood and getting an afternoon buzz, the Germantown Public Beer Walk is ideal for anyone looking to visit multiple breweries on a short afternoon trek.
A two-hour adventure, a specialized tour guide/beer historian leads you to two local breweries and a craft beer market. The distance between each stop is short (approximately ¼ mile), and at the end of each walk is an 8oz tasting and a local craft beer flight with your name on it – because every exercise deserves a little treat, am I right?
Taking a Derby City Brew Tour is a wonderful way to get to know Louisville’s local craft beer scene. Germantown Beer Walks are offered on Saturday afternoons, and tickets are available for purchase online in advance or day of, depending on availability!
Get German at Oktoberfest
What better place to celebrate Oktoberfest than in literal Germantown?? Given the rich cultural ties of the Germantown neighborhood, it’s no shocker that this neck of the woods does Oktoberfest right! While Louisville celebrates Oktoberfest with festivals all over the city, several notable events take place right in Germantown, helping locals appreciate the heritage of the neighborhood much closer to home.
With art fairs, folk bands, and parades specially designed to commemorate the German tradition, attending Oktoberfest is a great way to learn more about German culture… and stuff your face with amazing food and beer! Schnitzel and giant pretzels and bratwurst, oh my! Choosing a dish to savor at Oktoberfest is no easy feat, but choosing the right drink certainly is, because you can’t have Oktoberfest without BEER!
Oktoberfest season is the perfect time to partake in all things beer- and several local bars and eateries run craft beer specials throughout the season! Oktoberfest events in Louisville vary year to year, so be sure to check out a schedule of events each year.
Walk to Shelby Park
Bordering Germantown to the west is the vibrant and booming Shelby Park Neighborhood! Shelby Park brings a unique, creative culture and a strong sense of community pride to the Louisville area, offering locals and visitors alike the opportunity to experience exciting art, delicious flavors, and beautifully conserved nature.
Shelby Park is easily accessible by foot or car to Germantown, so here are a few of our favorite things to do in the neighborhood!
- Explore Shelby Park– This 16-acre park is the perfect place to enjoy a sunny afternoon stroll! Shelby Park is an Olmstead Park, designed by the same guy who designed Central Park in NYC and 18 parks here in Louisville. If sports are your jam, Shelby Park features a baseball field, basketball court, and tennis court. You can also enjoy a tasty, peaceful picnic under the sun or in the shade of a picnic shelter, let your little ones run amuck on the playground or cool down on the splash pad, get your dog out and about on the walking path, or check out a concert held on their iconic bandstand. Each Olmstead Park holds a number of events throughout the year, so be sure to check out what’s happening during your visit to Shelby Park!
- Visit Logan Street Market– Louisville’s first and only year-round indoor market, this 25,000 square foot building is packed to the brim with 25+ locally owned and operated food, beverage, and artisan shops. You and your partner can say goodbye to the age-old “what do you want to eat?” conversation, because at Logan Street Market you can literally get a sweet and/or savory French crepe, a boba tea, a roll of sushi, and a classic sandwich all in the same place! Check out FOKO, a southern take on Mexican food for their super flavorful biscuits and gravy featuring fried chicken, or their vegan Enmoladas with mole and lots of juicy vegetables. Logan Street Market also has cool shops like the Bluegrass Witch which has a variety of jewelry, crystals and herbs. Live music, workshops, and events are held in the market throughout the year, so be sure to check their calendar for upcoming events!
- Admire Local Art– Feeling artsy? Shelby Park is your place! This neighborhood houses a number of murals vibrantly painted on buildings and businesses. Pick a sunny day and take an art walk to explore all the murals Shelby Park has to offer using this map! Indoor art exhibits more your speed? Peruse Aurora Gallery & Boutique or Galerie Hertz, local galleries featuring a diverse array of artistic styles and mediums, including abstract paintings, clay pieces, and photography!
Grab Some Coffee
If you are anything like me (a self-proclaimed beverage junkie), you have to have your morning or afternoon pick-me-up! Though Germantown is not filled with a multitude of coffee shops like the rest of Louisville, there are a few places to grab a good cup of coffee, and maybe a pastry!
At Bean, artistry and community come together in a truly spectacular way. Two generations of culinary experience combine to bring you amazing coffee roasted on-site directly in their back seating area (which smells as incredible as you’d think). Enjoy the roasting aromas with a cup of their Natural Nensebo Rifesa, an Ethiopian bean with notes of raspberry and oak. If sweet lattes are more your thing, they make a delicious in-house vanilla syrup – and it’s incredible!
Upon entering Bean, it’s honestly hard to tell if they love coffee or the community more! The coffee shop is inviting and friendly – their seating area is bright with tons of natural light and furnished with eclectic seating and workspaces. Bean, located on Goss Avenue, is the perfect place to enjoy your favorite beverage while catching up with friends or getting some work done!
Heine Brothers’ Coffee
Heine Brothers’ Coffee is a Louisville staple and the self-proclaimed “Original Louisville Coffee House”. With 18 locations around Louisville and Southern Indiana, chances are you are never too far from a Heine Bros., and luckily there is one in the Germantown/Schnitzelburg area!
This local coffee chain only serves 100% organic fair-trade coffee and espresso, and they take a lot of pride in their community impact. But honestly, they truly thrive when serving up a delicious sweet drink topped with whipped cream and blended to perfection! Try a Vint Julep, made with whiskey-infused sugar and fresh mint – it’s giving Kentucky Derby all year long. Or a creamy frozen Chaiberg, a delicious frozen-blended, spiced chai milkshake that tastes like a warm early fall day. Overall, Heine Bros is a good place to hang out solo for a work deadline or just to enjoy some alone time with a great book!
Go to the Dainty Festival
Perhaps the strangest thing that happens in Germantown’s sister neighborhood, Schnitzelburg, each year is the annual World Championship Dainty Contest. Held on the last Monday in July, crowds flood the sidewalks to eat the classic Dainty meal (a bologna sandwich, a bag of plain potato chips, and a dill pickle), listen to ragtime music, and watch contestants play the game of “Dainty”.
The game (which we think we’ll leave to the professionals) is played with two sticks – one 5” stick called “the dainty” and another 3’ stick called “the bat” which is typically an old broom stick with the bristles removed. The dainty is placed on the ground and the bat is used to tap the dainty with the goal of sending the dainty into the air. Once the dainty is airborne, the bat is swung to (hopefully) send the dainty flying. Whoever can hit the dainty the farthest is crowned champion!
The game originated from German immigrants in the early 1800’s and follows some interesting rules – for instance, you must be over 45 years old to play! Curious? Watch a game for yourself!
Bars & Nightlife of Germantown
If there is one thing we Louisvillians know how to do, it’s drink – and what better place to get a beer than Germantown! In this neighborhood, drinks flow freely and there are few corners you can turn down without running into a quirky dive bar. Whether you are in the mood for live music, an easygoing dive, or an eclectic place to hang out, Germantown has you covered!
For four very different bar vibes in Germantown, check out this list!
It’s pretty rare to find a bar that your grandparents might have partied in, and even more rare to know that that bar has only gotten better with age. Such is the case with Zanzabar, a Germantown staple since 1938.
Zanzabar has created a local reputation as a casual eatery and live music spot. Bands come from near and far (we’re talking nationally and internationally!) to entertain crowds at Z-bar’s award-winning live-music venue! Proudly featuring Louisville’s only vintage arcade, Zanzabar also hosts weekly pinball tournaments.
Whether you are looking to throw down at Sunday night trivia or catch up with friends over a cold one on the heated patio, Zanzabar is the place for you! Live music happens almost every night each week, and the food and drink menus rock just like the performers!
The Pearl of Germantown
Sister bar to the famous Silver Dollar restaurant, The Pearl of Germantown is like a hipster Stranger Things basement stocked with draft beer and vinyl records. Colored string lights and an old jukebox fill this small but mighty bar with true dive bar energy. The bar is cozy with well-worn seats and retro man cave beer signs.
This bar is basically instant nostalgia, so it feels super natural to just sit back and relax. Enjoy a local draft or a casual cocktail while you take in the funky vibes, play bar games, and reminisce with some old-school music.
The Merryweather is at its core a tiki bar, complete with a rotating tiki drink on tap. Technically located in the Schnitzelburg neighborhood right on the edge of Germantown, his bar is eclectic and regularly hosts pop-up dinner vendors weekly. And if you visit in the summer, you’re likely to hear them spinning records on their covered patio.
What should you order, you ask? Well you can’t go wrong with the cocktail on tap. The Merryweather always keeps a rotating tiki cocktail on the bar tap line. And if you’re in the mood for something a little stronger, order the PB&J shots. They infuse the tequila themselves, so you can even ask for the peanut butter and jelly portion side by side.
Let’s get real – leaving your darling doggo at home while you enjoy a drink outside with friends stings a lot – especially if your dog is besties with your besties, like mine! Luckily at Nachbar, leaving your congenial canine at home isn’t a must!
Nachbar is a laid back neighborhood watering hole with an impressive list of imported beers and whiskeys. The biggest plus, however, for all of us pup parents is the roomy, dog-friendly outdoor area where a human’s best friend can (responsibly) make friends of his or her own! Nachbar is perfect for a cozy, chill night enjoying a drink along with the unpredictable Kentucky weather on the patio or taking in the divey ambience inside the bar.
With a history so prolific, one might (correctly) assume that Germantown has a ton of things to do. From savoring a delicious meal or beverage to partaking in an exciting event, Germantown offers an assortment of activities all year long!
Places to Eat in Germantown
Thanks to its German heritage, this neighborhood is home to some awesome places to eat in Louisville, and, of course, some of the best places in town to drink beer. From casual hangouts serving up pizza and barbecue to more upscale fare perfect for topping off a “treat yo’self” day, some of Louisville’s finest restaurants and cafes are located in Germantown.
Here are some of our favorite places to eat in Germantown – but fear not picky eaters, because there is PLENTY more where this came from in the neighborhood!
The Louisville community is home to nearly countless gastropubs, but how many can say they are owned and operated by the winner of The Food Network’s Big Bad BBQ Brawl? Our guess is not many… but we know for certain that executive chef and pitmaster Chris Williams has been serving up tangy barbeque, flavorful wings, and mouth-watering sandwiches in the Germantown neighborhood since 2018!
Start yourself off with an order of Smoked Cream Cheese and Chorizo Dip, a creamy conglomerate of spicy chorizo, cheddar, and the house seasoning blend served with house-fried chips. Take your pick of 8 (or try them all, no judgment here) amazing topped wings. Enjoy a classic Pulled Pork Sandwich or a more eccentric BBQ Jackfruit Fritter, a fritter composed of tangy smoked jackfruit, poblanos, a selection of veggies, and a blend of spices served over a bed of spring mix.
Not only is Four Pegs one of our favorite gastropubs in the neighborhood, they also offer up a delicious weekend brunch! Try the Chicken on a Biscuit or the Chicken and Waffles, served on a dutch-style waffle with a sweet bourbon barrel Kentucky Beer Syrup™ sauce. Can we say it’s finger-lickin’ good, or will we get sued? I’m not sure, but it’s really good.
North of Bourbon
North of Bourbon not only has the most Louisville name for a restaurant ever, you can actually EAT IN A GIANT BOURBON BARREL! You read that correctly. What’s more, North of Bourbon offers quite the brunch menu to sink your teeth into on a Sunday (and only on a Sunday) morning. As far as the brunch menu, they have bloody mary oyster shooters, beignets, and buttermilk fried rabbit. Yes, you read that correctly too!
The perfect spot to shake up the weeknight dinner menu and sample some exciting, new flavors, North of Bourbon offers several exquisite choices for a delicious meal. Try the Peppered Catfish Nuggets with a shareable side of Potato Wedges. For a dinner that is truly to die for, order a bowl of Crab Fondue or a plate of Crab Rice Dressing, a decadent combination of lump crab, bacon sofrito, cilantro, and jalapeno-basil cream. Top off the night with a signature cocktail and a slice of Creole Cream Cheese Cheesecake (insert heart-eye emoji here).
Also the drinks here are not to be missed. As you can assume from their name, there is quite a hefty section of bourbon here, including an extensive house cocktail list made of all kinds of bourbons. The A-MAIZE-ING GRACE is made with castle & key rye, hoodoo chickory, nixta elote (a corn liquor!), simple syrup, house cold brew, and tastes like an espresso martini! They also make a selection of hand-shaved ice drinks that are like an adult snow cone, which let’s be honest, is the best kind of snow cone.
Hands down, this is one of the best restaurants in all of Louisville.
So you’re kind of a pizza fiend, eh? Located in an old VFW Post, The Post has plenty of unique pizza options like The Lone Wolf, a carnivore’s dream with bacon, sweet ham, sausage, and pepperoni, with onion, peppers, and kalamata olives, or The White Flag, a meatless option with a garlic olive oil base, red onion, spinach, ricotta, roasted red pepper, and finished with fresh basil.
Aside from the immaculate vibes and incredible selection of draft beers and cocktails (you can’t beat their strong drinks!), what really sets The Post apart from other pizza joints in Louisville is that you can get pizza by the slice!
Grab a slice of pepperoni, cheese, or the slice of the day, but don’t expect a dinky, average-sized slices from The Post are HUGE. Humongous. They’re literally bigger than my head. Slices are best paired with an order of pesto bread and a crispy, Caesar salad in my not-so-humble, self-certified pizza snob opinion.
The Post is one of the best pizza places in Louisville!
For more than 60 years, Check’s Café has been a Germantown neighborhood staple providing quality eats, strong drinks, and excellent service at the best prices in town! A casual place to hangout with friends and enjoy a refreshing drink, their menu is chock full of comfort food favorites like fried chicken, burgers, fried catfish, and so much more!
Place an order of mozzarella cheese sticks or chili cheese fries to start yourselves off. Satisfy your comfort food cravings with a classic BLT, a tasty shrimp basket, or an effortlessly simple grilled cheese sandwich. Top off your chill evening with friends with a slice of Derby or coconut cream pie before calling it a night!
Hammerheads is a city favorite BBQ spot. Upon visiting Hammerheads for the first time, your first thought might be “woah! there’s a giant shark up there!” and your second thought might be “Am I eating in a basement?” And the answer would be – yeah, kinda.
Either way, you can’t go wrong with their pulled pork or beef brisket, both on a potato bun, or if you’re feeling more adventurous go for the venison or elk burgers, or the roasted duck.
Start your meal off right with an order of crispy mac & cheese balls. Take your pick of tasty tacos from a lineup of meats you don’t see everyday, like duck, crispy soft shell crab, or catfish. Round out your meal with an order of perfectly seasoned fries- whether they be sweet potato, garlic herb, or just regular ole’ french fries!
Be sure to arrive early if you are hoping to dine-in, as they can get busy with waits regularly over an hour. Luckily, if waiting is not your game and you’d prefer to enjoy your meal from the comfort of your own couch (same), Hammerheads also offers curbside pickup and carryout options!
Come Back Inn
The Come Back Inn is an Italian-American pub with allll those good Italian eats. This spot is super popular, and people come back in for a reason. The dishes are pretty familiar from most Italian menus, but they are priced fairly and done really well.
Start yourself off with their crispy calamari or antipasto wontons. Create your own delicious pizza complete with an order of garlic breadsticks. Savor a sandwich like the chicken parmesan, meatball hoagie, or Italian hot brown. Enjoy a decadent bowl of chicken alfredo or jumbo ravioli.
The options to satisfy your Italian dreams are abundant and will have you coming back inn when in the ‘ville for years to come!
Monnik Beer Co.
Technically located in the Schnitzelburg neighborhood right next door to Germantown, Monnik Beer Co. is well worth the short drive (or walk) across neighborhood borders. A perfect, inviting combo of brewery and restaurant, Monnik serves up delicious drinks and flavorful eats sourced from high-quality local ingredients.
Pore over their unique and exciting house cocktail selection and flagship beer list to wet your whistle. Start off with a charcuterie board composed of local, rotating meats and cheeses for the table. For a taste of Germany right next to Germantown, try the hunter schnitzel, a breaded pork cutlet topped with herb spaetzle, mushroom gravy, and garnished with fresh herbs.
If adventurous eating is not on the menu during your visit, you absolutely can’t go wrong with a seared, classic burger paired with an order of house-cut fries. Multiple vegan and vegetarian options are available on the menu, including their fresh and luscious beet and goat cheese salad and chipotle-braised mushroom.
I may be a little late to the game but I just discovered Hauck’s Corner, a corner-store-turned bar and restaurant. You may recognize Hauck’s Corner as the famous home of the Dainty World Championship, but it’s an excellent spot for hanging out all summer long.
Though Hauck’s itself may only be the length of a shotgun house, the patio is a different story. Once you head in the back you’ll find the patio spans four-ish houses down the block, with a gazebo, cornhole, a giant blackboard for chalk, little metal grocery store rides for the kids (remember those??) and plenty of twinkling lights and seating. It’s basically the Disneyland of bars.
The food is also so damn good. They have a chicken and waffle sandwich that is sweet and spicy and tender, pretzels and beer cheese, and a whole lot of other excellent bar food choices done right. They have a great beer selection, and did I mention Old Fashioneds on tap? Welcome to your new fav summer hangout!
Where to Stay in Germantown
Your best bet for this area is to stay in a vacation rental! This is a residential area and there aren’t any hotels here. But there are some incredibly cute, centrally located apartments and lofts.
- Located in the center of Germantown, this Stylish Two Bedroom House is super cute and modern! You’ll be in walking distance of Goss Avenue with it’s shops and restaurants, as well as Barret Avenue which is also trendy and busy.
- This totally modern shotgun-style home on the border of the Original Highlands has gorgeous tall ceilings with floor-to-ceiling windows, and is the perfect location to walk to the shops and restaurants along Barret Ave, Bardstown Road, Paristown Point, and Logan Street Market.
- This intimate, modern loft is located directly in the heart of Germantown! Centrally located between NULU and the Highlands, you’ll be within walking distance of Germantown’s most noteworthy hangouts. This modern loft is thoughtfully designed and the perfect place to unwind after a long day of exploring Germantown and its surrounding neighborhoods!
Map of things to do in germantown
What do you think of our Germantown guide? What questions can we answer? Drop us a comment below!
Before you go, be sure to check out these other posts:
- The Highlands Neighborhood Guide: Where to Eat, Drink, Play & Stay
- Butchertown Neighborhood Guide: Where To Eat, Drink, Play & Stay
- NuLu Neighborhood Guide: Where To Eat, Drink, Play & Stay