If you are looking to experience an authentic place to visit with fantastic food and culture, then come to Louisville, Kentucky. This city is just the place for you. It is the largest city in Kentucky, USA, and is home to delicious bourbon balls, lively rooftop bars, and one of the world’s most popular fast food chains: Kentucky Fried Chicken. You can explore old Louisville, which is famous for its historic architecture and museums. There are also parks, like Cherokee Park, which is loved by locals and visitors. And if you’re looking for the best places to stay in Louisville, plenty of options are available - from bed and breakfasts to the top hotels with hot tubs in Louisville. Check out these best things to do in Louisville, Kentucky.
1. Explore Cherokee Park
Those wondering what to do in Louisville should make their way to Cherokee Park. It is one of the most visited and beautiful parks in the U.S. Its main feature is the 2.4-mile (3.8 km) picturesque loop, which has separate lanes for vehicular traffic. It was designed by Frederick Law and has green pastures set amid the hills, green meadows, and thick woodlands. Families like to come here to have a picnic at the park and children love to play in the open spaces. It is a must-see place for those visiting Louisville.
Address: 745 Cochran Hill Rd, Louisville, KY 40206, USA
Website: Cherokee Park
2. Go on a tour of the Historic Locust Grove
The Historic Locust Grove is an 18th-century National Historic Landmark that is located on a 55-acre (22-hectare) farm site in Blankenbaker Lane. It lies in eastern Jefferson County, Kentucky. Visitors can come and see this historical place that features a 1790 Georgian mansion, which was the home of the Croghan family, and a meeting place for George Rogers Clark, Lewis and Clark, and many of the U.S. Presidents. There is a visitors center, which has a gift shop, a museum, and a meeting space. It is a National Historic Landmark now and is a good example of early Kentucky history, architecture, and excellent craftsmanship.
Historic Locust Grove
Address: 561 Blankenbaker Ln, Louisville, KY 40207, USA
Website: Historic Locust Grove
3. Visit the Racetrack at Churchill Downs
One of the most fun things to do in Louisville is to visit Churchill Downs. It is a famous racetrack in Louisville and is home to the Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks. It is located on 147 acres (59.5 hectares) and has a 1-mile (1.6 km) dirt oval along with a 7-furlong turf course. The racetrack holds thoroughbred races of stake horses during its Spring Meet and Fall Meet, and the Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks thoroughbred racing has been running continuously here since 1875. Churchill Downs has hosted the Breeders’ Cup World Championships more than any racetrack in the entire country.
If ever you get inspired to go horseback riding in Louisville after watching the racetrack, you’ll find plenty of horse farms in and around the city.
Address: 700 Central Ave, Louisville, KY 40208, USA
Website: Churchill Downs
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4. Explore the architecture of Old Louisville
The old part of Louisville is an architectural gem. When you go on a tour of the Old South of Louisville, you will see a 45-square-block residential community with a huge historic area. There are lavish homes built with the industrial fortunes of the 19th century. It was during the ‘50s and ‘60s when these homeowners moved to the modern and developing Louisville suburbs, many of these huge houses deteriorated, but a few of them still remain and have been preserved.
Architecture of Old Louisville
Address: Baptist Towers, 17, 1014 South 2nd Street at Kentucky Street. Hillebrand House, 16, 1235 South 3rd Street at Ormsby Ave
Website: Architecture of Old Louisville
5. Catch a movie at the iconic Louisville Palace Theater
The iconic Louisville Palace Theater is located along 4th Street, right in the middle of downtown Louisville. With seating that can accommodate 2,700 people, it continues to celebrate the incredible theater scene in the district. It started operating in the year 1928 and was designed by architect John Eberson. The theater displays a Spanish Baroque motif complete with arcades and balconies and has a ceiling with 139 sculptures of historical figures and is heavily ornamented.
The Palace Theater is a two-story building with a floor and a balcony. It was rejuvenated in 1994 and is a premiere venue for theater aficionados who love to watch live performances. After this magical experience, explore the area and dine in one of the local restaurants for a fantastic food experience.
Louisville Palace Theater
Address: 625 S. 4th Street Louisville, Kentucky United States
Website: Louisville Palace Theater
6. Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory
The Louisville Slugger Museum and Factory in Louisville, Kentucky is a popular baseball history museum that gives you a glimpse of the sport in America. Not only you’ll get to learn how baseball bats are made but also practice your swing in one of its indoor batting cages. You will be amazed to see the world’s largest baseball bat sitting outside at the entry to the museum – it is more than 36 m (118 ft) tall.
When you walk around in the Louisville Slugger Museum and Factory, you will see history come alive as you will witness and see for yourself the world’s most famous Louisville Slugger bats being created. After touring the museum, you can extend the fun at the nearby Louisville Waterfront Park to make the most of your day.
Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory
Address: 800 W Main St, Louisville, KY 40202, USA
Website: Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory
7. Ghost hunting at Waverly Hills Sanatorium
If you’re looking for cool things to do in Louisville, Waverly Hills Sanatorium will certainly interest you. It is a place that all ghost chasers would love to visit. It is a fascinating hospital building in Louisville that is filled with stories of horrible, pain-filled memories of deaths. This has caused many ghost hunters from around the world to visit, as it is considered the most haunted place on Earth.
There was an astounding number of people dying from tuberculosis at Waverly Hills Sanatorium, so the hospital had to build a chute (called “death tunnel”), leading to a hill below the hospital. The dead people were secretly lowered into the tunnel so that the living people would not know of the terrifying number of people dying.
Waverly Hills Sanatorium
Address: 4400 Paralee Ln, Louisville, KY 40272, USA
Website: Waverly Hills Sanatorium
8. Go on the Urban Bourbon Trail
To experience the famous Bourbon country in Louisville, you must take the Urban Bourbon Trail on West Main Street. It serves a wide range of classic and modern Bourbon cocktails with live music and showcases the incredible talent of Louisville’s best bartenders and chefs. The stops are stocked with 50 to 150 types of Kentucky’s signature spirits. You will be able to polish your newly acquired taste of bourbon when you go on the Urban Bourbon Trail in Louisville, which is home to many distillers and also some of the best bourbon bars in the world.
You can travel on the Urban Bourbon Trail with a free booklet, which you can pick from the visitors center or from the participating stops. This booklet will guide you through the history of its bourbon heritage and its incredible bourbon bars. You also get a free Urban Bourbon Trailblazer t-shirt and an official Citizen of Bourbon Country certificate.
Urban Bourbon Trail
Address: 401 West Main Street, Suite 2300 Louisville, KY 40202
Website: Urban Bourbon Trail
9. Take your kids to Louisville Zoo
After a hearty brunch in town, a wonderful outdoor adventure destination to take the entire family to is Louisville Zoo. Spread across a large area, this zoo is home to a variety of animals like warthogs, elephants, wallabies, sloths, camels, monkeys, seals, polar bears, sea lions, grizzly bears, tigers, amphibians, reptiles, birds, and more. There is also a petting zoo, interesting displays, outdoor activities, and more. Louisville Zoo is certainly a fun destination, just a few minutes from downtown, for the kids and the kids-at-heart.
Address: 1100 Trevilian Way, Louisville, KY 40213, United States
Website: Louisville Zoo
Opening hours: 10am - 5pm (daily)
Price: 5.25 USD
10. Ride a coaster at Kentucky Kingdom
Take a break from all the famous sights and spend a fun day at Kentucky Kingdom, an amusement park close to Louisville International Airport. This sprawling park has a number of rides, roller coasters, and attractions for visitors of various ages. Thrill-seekers can try Lightning Run, Kentucky Flyer, Cyclos, and such other rides. Family-friendly rides, a 5-D cinema, a carousel, and a variety of shows are also available here.
Address: 937 Phillips Ln, Louisville, KY 40209, United States
Website: Kentucky Kingdom
Opening hours: Mon - Fri: 11am - 7pm; Sat - Sun: 10am - 8pm
Price: 29.95 USD onwards
11. Go ziplining at Louisville Mega Cavern
Louisville Mega Cavern is a unique attraction in the city that is a former limestone mine converted into an adventure activity zone. Besides going for a historic walking tour of the cavern, you can also try a range of thrilling outdoor activities like ziplining, tram tours, and a challenge course. All attractions at this mammoth cave are separately priced and are of variable duration. Louisville Mega Cavern is a highly recommended spot for adventure sports enthusiasts.
Louisville Mega Cavern
Address: 1841 Taylor Ave, Louisville, KY 40213, United States
Website: Louisville Mega Cavern
Opening hours: Wed - Mon: 8:30am - 8pm (closed on Tue)
Kentucky Derby is one of the most famous attractions in Louisville and it’s a great activity to do alone. And those interested in learning more about its history can pay a visit to Kentucky Derby Museum. This two-level museum offers a range of exhibits that includes artifacts, photographs, trophies, and other immersive displays. After exploring the fantastic museum, you can also enjoy a guided walking tour of Churchill Downs Racetrack. This family-friendly attraction is a must-visit for all horse-racing enthusiasts.
Kentucky Derby Museum General Admission Ticket
Duration: 2 hours
13. Splash about at Hurricane Bay
Part of Kentucky Kingdom, Hurricane Bay is a water park that you will enjoy splashing about in the whole day. At Hurricane Bay, you can enjoy fun rides like Mega Wedgie, Calypso Run, Conquistador Canyon, and more. Thrill-seekers can go for Deepwater Dive, Deluge, Tornado, and such other fast-paced rides. For some family-friendly fun, try Adventure River, Buccaneer Beach, and Big Surf.
Address: Louisville, KY 40209, United States
Website: Hurricane Bay
Opening hours: Mon - Thu: 11am - 7pm; Fri - Sat: 11am - 8pm; Sun: 10am - 6pm
Price: 29.95 USD onwards
An authentic vacation in Louisville will leave you with great memories!
Louisville is a great place to enjoy a holiday with your family or with your buddies for your bachelor party. There are plenty of Louisville attractions to keep you occupied for days on end, as well as great vacation rentals to keep you comfortable and conveniently settled. The art and cultural experience as well as the delicious food will leave you wanting to return again even just for a single day trip.
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