The city of Louisville is well-known for a few different things: horse racing, baseball, and bourbon. But it’s a Kentucky destination worth adding to your travel bucket list because of the museums, sports scene, natural features, delicious cuisine, and quirky vibe as well. This city of neighborhoods is easily accessible and affordable too! Here are our nine favorite things to do in Louisville to help you plan your trip.
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Louisville Mega Cavern (Nearby Hotels)
The Louisville Mega Cavern is much more than just a cave that you can walk through. This unique attraction has an underground zip lining course, a ropes course, bike park, tram tour, and other adventure experiences too. The history of the cavern started out as a massive limestone quarry that was created by mid-20th century miners. Today, it is actually the largest building in the state of Kentucky and exists underground! Mega Zips, a two-hour adventure, is highly recommended, as well as the Mega Tram tour to learn about history and geology and Mega Bikes, which spans over 320,000 square feet of underground biking space with over 45 trails below the ground.
Churchill Down (Nearby Hotels)
The epicenter of professional horse racing is Louisville’s Churchill Downs, home to the Kentucky Derby and those tempting mint julips we all know and love. The Kentucky Derby is considered to be the longest running sporting event in America. This is a nostalgic destination that makes many people think of big floppy hats and attendees dressed up in their Sunday best. But this is also an active racing course that you can tour and cheer on your favorite horse and jockey. The Kentucky Derby typically takes place in early May, and general admission to Churchill Downs (other than for Kentucky Oaks and Derby Days) is $3 for adults, $1 for seniors over 60, and free for kids 12 and younger.
Kentucky Derby Museum (Nearby Hotels)
To continue on with the spirit and excitement of live horse racing, you can visit the Kentucky Derby Museum. This museum spans a couple floors and has lots of exhibits about horses, jockeys, spectators, and traditions from years gone by. This is a family-friendly attraction in Louisville that includes a walking tour and something that will interest everyone in your group. The museum is typically open Mondays through Saturdays from 8am to 5pm and on Sundays from 11am to 5pm. A general admission ticket ($15 for adults and $8 for kids ages 5-14) will get you a 30-minute historic walking tour of the racetrack and access to the exhibits, gift shop, and café.
Evan Williams Bourbon Experience (Nearby Hotels)
Another must-do for your trip to Louisville is the Evan Williams Bourbon Experience. Come to the downtown “Whiskey Row” area of town for guided tours of the distillery, tastings, and a retail shop where you can take signature items back home with you. The traditional tour and tasting allows guests to see bourbon making first-hand in copper pot stills. This was the first official stop in Louisville on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail, which extends throughout other parts of the state as well.
Urban Bourbon Trail (Nearby Hotels)
Louisville enjoys a deep and rich history with bourbon, a whiskey spirit that is made with corn and is closely associated with the state of Kentucky. To really learn what this connection is all about, you need to experience the Urban Bourbon Trail, which is a collection of over a dozen bars and restaurants that offer amazing selections of bourbon in town. You can pick up a bourbon passport from the Louisville Visitor’s Center to get stamps for making purchases at least six participating venues and receive a complimentary t-shirt and certificate. Come back to the visitor’s center to receive your prize or mail it in if you don’t have time before leaving town.
Historic Frankfort Avenue (Nearby Hotels)
There are lots of charming and historic neighborhoods in Louisville, and Frankfort Avenue connects many of them with lots of character. Here you’ll find lots of restaurants, cafes, local boutiques, and art galleries to explore. A few spots to check out here are the Peterson-Dumesnil House, the Louisville Water Company, and the American Printing House for the Blind. On the last Friday of each month, you can hop on a free trolley to get around the neighborhood and take in live music entertainment, free refreshments, and special sales.
Louisville Waterfront Park (Nearby Hotels)
A beautiful place to spend a nice day in Louisville is the Louisville Waterfront Park. The park is open daily from 6am to 11pm, and the Big 4 Bridge is open 24/7. Other park features include a Lincoln Memorial, water feature with dancing waters, Kentucky Grove, and playgrounds. This is a fun place to charter a boat to go fishing, rent a bike, and attend festivals and concerts too.
Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory (Nearby Hotels)
Perhaps the most famous baseball bat in the history of America’s favorite pastime is the Louisville Slugger. This was the bat-of-choice for many iconic baseball legends, including Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig. At the Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory, you can learn how the bats were made and their role in the sport and American history. While you’re in town, baseball fans should also make sure to visit Louisville Slugger Field, which is home to the city’s minor league baseball team. The field is in the downtown area and easily accessible for visitors.
Muhammad Ali Center (Nearby Hotels)
Many people don’t realize that Louisville was the famous boxer Muhammad Ali’s hometown. So, in addition to horse racing and baseball, you can also learn about the history of boxing and this legendary fighter’s life at the Muhammad Ali Center. Inside you’ll find lots of displays with memorabilia, photo galleries, and historical footage to tell his story and how it relates to controversy and equality in American history. General admission is $12 for adults, $8 for students with ID, and $7 for children ages 6-12.
Kentucky Science Center (Nearby Hotels)
Another great museum to add to your Louisville to-do list is the Kentucky Science Center. This is a large hands-on museum with exhibits like Science in Play, the World We Create, and the Discovery Gallery. You can purchase a ticket for the exhibits only, for documentary or Hollywood movies that play at the center, or combo tickets that include all museum features. Museum hours are 9:30am to 5pm Sundays through Thursdays and 9:30am to 9pm Fridays and Saturdays.