When you mention the city of Louisville, most people think of the annual Kentucky Derby. If you happen to be in town that weekend, that’s certainly an amazing event. However, there’s so much more to Louisville than that.
The city of Louisville is budget-friendly, easy to access, and known for its southern hospitality. If you’re headed to the “land of tomorrow,” there’s fun in store for you! Make sure to check out these 15 great things to do in Louisville, KY.
15. J. Graham’s Cafe
(image via J Graham's Cafe)
Every city has its signature dish. In Louisville, that’s the hot brown. You can get this open-faced sandwich all over the city, but why not try the original. Find J. Graham’s Cafe in Louisville’s historic Brown Hotel, precisely where this famous dish was invented. When you finish eating, take a walk around the hotel to take in the stunning architecture and learn about its history.
14. Kart Kountry
(image via Kart Kountry)
Kart Kountry is said to be the largest go-kart track in the country. However, there’s much more to do than that. Kart Kountry features bumper boats, batting cages, miniature golf, and an arcade as well. There are also on-site concessions. Admission is free, but attractions require paid ride tickets.
13. Waverly Hills Sanatorium
(image via Waverly Hills Sanatorium)
Anyone interested in a haunted attraction shouldn’t miss the Waverly Hills Sanatorium. This home of a former tuberculosis sanatorium is said to be haunted. The site is now open for tours, paranormal investigations, and even overnight stays.
12. Take a Bourbon Tour
What do mint juleps and old-fashioneds have in common? Both are historic drinks with strong roots in Louisville. They’re both also made with bourbon, the signature liquor of Kentucky.
You can learn about the history of bourbon, tour distilleries, and enjoy some samples on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail. There are six distilleries within the Louisville area and several more nearby.
11. Conrad’s Castle
(image via Conrad-Caldwell House)
If you decide to visit Old Louisville, don’t miss Conrad’s Castle. The Conrad-Caldwell House Museum is an ornate mansion that is an example of stunning, Romanesque architecture. There are guided and walking tours available on Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays. The home is used as an event space, education center, and special programs for children and adults throughout the year.
10. Louisville Mega Cavern
(image via Louisville Mega Cavern)
Louisville is home to one of the largest caverns in the country. The Mega Cavern is approximately 100 acres and maintains a steady temperature of 58 degrees. Today, it’s been converted into a fun recreation complex with various attractions, including zip-lining, tram tours, walking tours, and an underground, aerial ropes course.
9. Kentucky Derby Museum
(image via Kentucky Derby Museum)
Even if you don’t come for the Derby, take a couple of hours to visit the amazing Kentucky Derby Museum. The museum is in Churchill Downs, and visitors experience a guided, 30-minute tour of the stadium. Several exhibitions in this museum celebrate the history of horse racing in Kentucky, including legendary jockey Bill Shoemaker.
Don’t miss the 360-degree movie experience, The Greatest Race. Recently, the museum has added a Black Heritage in Racing exhibit as well. Many families choose to end their visit with a stop at the Derby Cafe Express.
8. Kentucky Science Center
(image via Kentucky Science Center)
The Kentucky Science Center is an interactive museum located on W. Main Street in Louisville. This stretch of road is known as Museum Row and is also home to several other museums and places of interest in Louisville. The Science Center is located in two buildings and is full of fun things for kids and adults.
Some of the exciting, kid-friendly exhibits include a marketplace, kids in play, and who forted. That last one is a fun, interactive experience that helps kids learn about engineering and geometry while building forts from blankets, old furniture, and other found objects.
7. Old Louisville
Old Louisville is a historic district located just north of the University of Louisville. It spans 48 square blocks and is full of stately Victorian homes. One of its standout features is the beautiful stained glass windows adorning many of those houses.
Old Louisville is a perfect spot for walking and taking in the culture and history. It’s also full of great restaurants ranging from local BBQ joints to farm-to-table restaurants. Stop by the visitor’s center in Central Park for booklets and information on performances, events, and tours.
6. Speed Art Museum
(image via Speed Art Museum)
The Speed Memorial Art Museum is affectionately known as “The Speed” by Kentucky locals. It’s the largest museum of art in the state of Kentucky and has programs and exhibits to interest virtually anyone. The collections include a paranormal art exhibit, American and European painting and sculpture, and contemporary art. Featured artists include Monet, Chagall, Picasso, Rubens, and Rembrandt.
Families should check out the Art Sparks interactive gallery. There’s also After Hours at The Speed. This late-night event is perfect for a romantic outing.
5. Locust Grove
(image via Wikipedia)
Locust Grove is a perfect stop for anyone interested in learning more about the history of Frontier America in the early 19th Century. The museum and interpretive center are a National Historical Monument that has preserved the buildings and history of the Croghan Mansion and estate built-in 1792.
Locust Grove was more than just a home to its builder and his family. It has served as a meeting center, place of rest, even the site of five infamous duels between Kentucky Statesmen. Visitors have included Lewis and Clark, Andrew Jackson, and James Audubon. Anyone interested in touring Locust Grove can choose a docent-guided tour or explore the property on their own.
4. Muhammad Ali Center
(image via Muhammad Ali Center )
Muhammad Ali was one of Louisville’s most beloved Natives, so The Muhammad Ali Center was built to celebrate his life and legacy. This stunning, six-story building features exhibits, a theater, galleries, and interactive exhibits.
While plenty of exhibits are celebrating Ali’s boxing career, the center is much more than that. It was created as a multicultural center celebrating his life principles, as well. Several educational and outreach programs address important topics, such as character development, racial justice, and the importance of youth engagement.
3. The Louisville Zoo
(image via Louisville Zoo Official)
If you’re looking for a fun experience in any city, the local zoo is always a good bet. However, the Louisville Zoo goes above and beyond. In addition to having more than 130 exhibits, the zoo also features a carousel, concession stands, and a petting zoo. There are also trains and a shuttle for anyone with tired feet.
The Louisville Zoo is known for its conservation efforts too! They partner with several worthy organizations, including the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International and the Pan African Sanctuary Alliance.
2. Historic Frankfort Ave.
(image via Frankfort Avenue)
Frankfort Ave., also known as “The Avenue,” is a stretch of road that goes through the city’s most interesting neighborhoods. The area is perfect for walking, dining, and people-watching. Plan an afternoon and evening so that you have plenty of time to explore the galleries, boutiques, cafes, and restaurants.
The last Friday of every month is known as FAT Friday. Free trolleys are available to transport visitors throughout the neighborhoods, while locally owned businesses hold special sales, events, and samplings.
1. Louisville Slugger Museum
(image via Louisville Slugger Museum)
The Louisville Slugger factory and museum is a fun, family-friendly destination and a bucket list experience for baseball fans. Make plans to spend a day here because there are plenty of things to do, including:
- Touring the factory to see the famous Louisville Slugger bats made in person
- Exploring museum exhibits detailing the history of baseball and the Slugger
- Taking a picture in front of the giant bat and glove
- Holding a bat once used by a baseball legend
- Shopping in the museum store
Each ticket to the museum and factory includes the tour and access to exhibits. All visitors get a miniature bat as a souvenir as well.
As you can see, Louisville has a lot to offer everyone. If you are looking to do more in the surrounding area, check out other weekend trips from nearby Louisville, Kentucky.
These areas are perfect for a quick day trip or a long weekend getaway. Explore our favorite things to do or peruse some pre-built itineraries.