Nicknamed “Bourbon Country” for good reason, Louisville, Kentucky, is famous for bourbon production. Still, there’s so much more to this fabulous Southern city. Bourbon is the main attraction, but fun is abundant for all ages. Here are the best things to do in Louisville, Kentucky, for year-round fun that you’re sure to enjoy.
Louisville is the largest city in the Bluegrass State. It’s a city full of museums, baseball, outdoor adventures, and art. They’re proud of their horse racing heritage, hot brown sandwiches, and bourbon production. Combine all of it, and it’s one of the most sought-after Southern cities for travel.
There’s no wrong time to visit Louisville, but there are more crowded times (like during May for the Kentucky Derby). Plan a jam-packed itinerary with all these things to do in Louisville, and you’ll have a memorable time.
Best Things To Do in Louisville, Kentucky
Louisville has a defined downtown area, but I recommend driving around the city. A few Louisville attractions aren’t centrally located but are worth the short drive from downtown.
1. Churchill Downs & the Kentucky Derby Museum
The two minutes of derby excitement thrives year-round in The Kentucky Derby Museum. There’s a history behind everything you love about the Derby: the roses, mint juleps, and famed horses. The Derby Museum walks you through the history of racing and how Louisville became the thoroughbred city it is today.
There’s a virtual reality experience where kids can “ride” on a horse and race via a computer screen. Try on jockey outfits and see how the jockeys weigh in before the race. The famous Triple Crown trophy is on display; there’s artwork throughout the museum, and kids will love learning about the horses and how they were named.
A 30-minute tour of the grandstands is included with museum admission, but others are available for an upgrade price. Remember to stop by the cafe for a slice of Kentucky Derby pie and pick up your Kentucky Bourbon Trail passport. Drink a mint julep and acquire your first stamp!
2. Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory Tours
Second to Bourbon, there’s plenty of baseball history in Louisville. Did you know the Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory produces over 1.8 million wood bats annually? You can’t miss the giant bat, a replica of Babe Ruth’s bat, that stands 120 feet tall outside the museum. Guests can tour the factory to see how the bats are made and take home a mini bat!
The museum includes a bat vault where you can see a collection of bats used by the most famous baseball players. If you upgrade your factory tour, they’ll personalize the experience according to your favorite players and teams. Plus, the upgraded tour includes a personalized mini bat.
3. Louisville Slugger Field
After seeing how the famous bats are made, you’ve got to catch a game at the Louisville Slugger Field. It’s the home field for the Louisville Bats, a professional baseball team, Triple-A affiliates of the Cincinnati Reds. It’s a beautiful ballpark and central to the downtown hotels and attractions. The Louisville Slugger Field offers a Kids Club Membership with a replica jersey and free admission to all Sunday home games.
4. Muhammad Ali Center
Louisville is the birthplace of Muhammad Ali, the world-famous boxer known for being the first fighter to win the world heavyweight championship on three occasions. The Muhammad Ali Center chronicles the late boxer’s life and achievements inside and outside the ring.
The museum does a great job of showcasing his humanitarian efforts, and it’s one of the stops along the Civil Rights Trail. There are interactive exhibits that include shadow-boxing and a create-your-own Wheaties box! In addition to the museum, Louisville tourists can drive by his childhood home at 3302 Grand Ave.
5. Big Four Bridge
The best views of Louisville are on the Big Four Bridge. Formerly a railroad-only bridge, it’s now open to pedestrian and bike traffic. The bridge crosses the Ohio River, connecting Waterfront Park to Jeffersonville, Indiana. The entire distance totals two miles. You will surely get a good workout if you walk from one state to another and back again. Plus, you really can’t beat the views from the bridge!
6. Kentucky Science Center
The world of STEM comes to life at the Kentucky Science Center. Little imaginations will soar with the interactive exhibits that make learning fun. The Kentucky Science Center is the premier kid destination in Louisville, but even the adults have fun playing at the center.
In total, there are four stories of exhibits to explore. It’s hard to see the whole museum in one visit. Exhibits range from healthy body lessons to seeing an actual mummy. It’s sure to bring out the science nerd in your kids.
7. Old Louisville
If you’re a fan of Victorian-era architecture, you’ll love Old Louisville. This National Preservation District is home to the most extensive contiguous collection of Victorian mansions in the United States. Begin your visit at the Historic Old Louisville Visitors Center in Central Park, an urban oasis with a vine-laden pergola with beautiful views and walking paths. They offer daily 60-minute walking tours.
8. Louisville Mega Cavern
If you love a classic ropes course, you’ve got to experience the underground ropes course at the Louisville Mega Cavern. It’s a former limestone mine, and today it’s the city’s most popular attraction. A tour guide leads the ropes course which lasts 2 hours to see the entire manufactured cave.
For those less adventurous, there’s a tram tour. The tram tour focuses on the informational side of the cavern. Learn about the history, geological wonders, and technology used in the cavern today.
9. Frazier History Museum
The Frazier History Museum has over 100,000 square feet of Kentucky history. You can’t miss the museum as it’s situated right on Main Street. It’s the welcome center for the Kentucky Bourbon Trail and features up to nine exhibits at a time, including temporary traveling exhibits. Some noteworthy artifacts include President Theodore Roosevelt’s “big stick” and Geronimo’s bow. No two visits are alike, as the museum constantly updates its offerings.
10. Belle of Louisville Riverboats
Hop onboard the “most widely traveled river steamboat in American history” when you ride on the Belle of Louisville. The steamboat is owned and operated by the city and moored at the downtown wharf. Pick from a moonlight cruise or even a ride with Santa. It’s a distinctive way to experience Louisville, and it’s air-conditioned.
11. Louisville Zoo
There are over 1500 animals to see and over 130 acres of exhibits to explore at the Louisville Zoo. Some of the exhibits include the botanical gardens. The specialty exhibits include different habitats: Glacier Run, Africa, Islands, New World Exhibits (North, Central, and South America), Australian Outback, and the Aquarium. The zoo works continuously to teach conservation through community outreach. Kids love their playground, carousel, and petting zoo areas.
12. Cave Hill Cemetary
Cave Hill is one of the more eerie things to do in Louisville, Kentucky. The Cave Hill Cemetary is the final resting place of Louisville’s most famous. Colonel Sanders from Kentucky Fried Chicken is buried in Cave Hill along with Muhammed Ali and Patty Hill (who wrote the “Happy Birthday” song). The Cave Hill Heritage Foundation guided tours are offered throughout the year, whether you pick a walking, wagon, or golf cart tour. The themed tours focus on Civil War Heroes, women of Cave Hill, and Bourbon Distillers of Cave Hill, to name a few.
13. Speed Art Museum
The Speed Art Museum houses Louisville’s most prestigious pieces of visual art. Located near the University of Louisville, the museum is art itself with modern architecture and unique outdoor spaces to enjoy. Find Native American Art to Contemporary pieces. The museum is most famous for its Degas, Picasso and Monet.
14. Urban Bourbon Trail
Yet another bourbon trail needs to be explored: The Urban Bourbon Trail. This trail features the downtown distilleries and Louisville restaurants. It’s a culinary experience highlighting the best bourbon drinks in the city. The city’s official cocktail is the Old Fashioned, and there are plenty of versions to try on the Urban Bourbon Trail list. If you complete the trail by visiting at least six participating locations, you’ll earn an Urban Bourbon Trailblazer t-shirt from the visitors center!