Best Things to Do in Louisville Kentucky *Complete Guide*

Whether you’re planning a staycation or vacation, there’s so many fun things to do in Louisville that you’ll want to make this a frequent destination! Louisville is most known for the world-famous Kentucky Derby and world-class bourbon. But also, this midwest river city is rich in art, culture, history and lots of family friendly attractions. All of which are why Louisville Kentucky is one of the best places to visit any time of the year!

Top Attractions and Things to Do in Louisville Kentucky - Always On Liberty -2

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Louisville I64 Highway Sign - Always On Liberty

What is Louisville known for?

Louisville is southeasterly situated along the border between Kentucky and Indiana, the Ohio River, in north-central Kentucky at the Falls of the Ohio. Louisville is an Upper South city that is influenced by both, Southern and Midwestern culture.

Louisville Kentucky is known for so many world-class, top attractions. You’ll definitely need more than just Derby weekend to enjoy it all.

Of course, we all know Louisville’s number one top attraction is the Kentucky Derby. It’s where the most exciting and fastest two minutes in sports takes place every May.

But the derby city is also known for top shelf bourbons, baseball bats and the well-known Kentucky Fried Chicken! Louisville Kentucky is also home to Muhammed Ali. All of which shows strength as a city of greatness in industry, culture and tons of fun!

Best time to visit Louisville, Kentucky?

Having lived in the Louisville area for 7 years personally, I think the city’s best best time to visit is in the Spring and Fall. The weather is mild. But, I do suggest you wear comfortable shoes and clothes.

Also, bring a light jacket, rain poncho and your sightseeing bag full of essentials help you through the day. But also, it’s not so crowded at the top attractions while the kids are still in school.

So, now that you know a little about the Derby City and when the best time to go. Now, let’s now see all these incredibly memorable and fun things to do in Louisville Kentucky!

Best Things to Do in Louisville Kentucky

Kentucky Derby Museum

704 Central Ave, Louisville, KY 40208

Louisville Churchill Downs Kentucky Derby Museum - Always On Liberty
Photo source: Kentucky Derby Museum (Facebook)

Everyday is Derby Day in Louisville as the city is the home of the world renowned Kentucky Derby! To showcase the history and fanfare of how far the Kentucky Derby has evolved, the Kentucky Derby Museum is that place to visit in Louisville!

This phenomenal world-class American Thoroughbred horse racing museum is strategically situated right on the grounds of Churchill Downs. First opened to the public in the spring of 1985, the Kentucky Derby Museum is there to preserve the history of the Kentucky Derby.

Guests enjoy a 30-minute historical walking tour of Churchill Downs Racetrack as well as full access to two floors of Museum exhibits!

Check out how the Derby fashions have changed over the decades and watch Derby races back to the very first in 1918! View the replica of Churchill Downs’ famous Winner’s Circle!

Learn the history of African Americans in horse racing, the history of the race, and see memorabilia from past winners. Also, satch the Museum’s epic 18-minute film, “The Greatest Race”, which puts you in the center of what it’s like to be at the Kentucky Derby.

As one TripAdvisor reviewer put it, “It is a great museum for adults and kids. They have some interactive video games, a display of derby hats, videos of all recorded Derby races, and the best of all was the movie that is played on a screen that is 360 degrees around the room. My daughter loved it so much she wanted to see the movie again.”

In addition, visitors will have access to the amazing gift shop (bring your checkbook!) and enjoy Kentucky fare in the Derby Café and Bourbon Bar

Do plan on 2-3 hours to tour the Kentucky Derby Museum and Churchill Downs. Before attending, we recommend visitors to check their calendar before you plan your visit. Also, it’s a good idea to review the dress code and prohibited items prior to arriving. Psssst, it’s considered a respectable place.

Specialty tours are also available for purchase and get you into places that are closed to the public, such as the Barn and Backside of Churchill Downs which we talk about next.

Get Your Kentucky Derby Museum General Admission Tickets HERE

✰ READ MORE ✰  Thunder Over Louisville Info Guide – Know Before You Go!

Churchill Downs

704 Central Avenue, Louisville, KY 40208

Churchill Downs Horse Racing - Always On Liberty
Photo source: Churchill Downs (Facebook)

Churchill Downs in Louisville is where the fastest 2 minutes in sports takes place; the Kentucky Derby! The famous Thoroughbred racetrack is located in south Louisville on Central Avenue.

If you get lost, just look to the sky for the famous twin spires that will lead your horse to the finish line! They’re the track’s signature trademark setting it apart from the others.

Officially opening back in 1875, both the Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks horse races ran that first year and every year since. 

Bring your camera for panoramic views of the racetrack, Grandstand, and the historic Twin Spires™.

Seating capacity tops at 120,000. Churchill Downs also hosted the world renowned Breeder’s Cup on 8 occasions. The Thoroughbred track ranked at #5 out of 65 horse racing tracks in 2009 by the Horseplayers Association of North America.

Also notable, Churchill Downs currently holds the record for the longest-running, continuous sporting event in the United States.

But, amidst the fanfare of meticulously cared for world-class Thoroughbreds, some of the real magic happens behind the scenes. Those are the guys who aren’t wearing the traditional silks and white Jodhpurs breeches.

The Barn and Backside Tour is a great way for horse lovers to see the signature green roof barns up close.

Tour goers will get to see hundreds of people who live and work on the Backside. And quite possibly, may get to see a legendary Derby trainer or even next year’s Kentucky Derby or Triple Crown champion! Pssssst, no touching the horses or you’ll get cropped and kicked out!

What happened to the Kentucky Derby during COVID?

After being postponed due to coronavirus concerns, the 146th Kentucky Derby took place on September 5th, 2020, 4 months later than planned. Jockeys and horses raced in front of empty stands, as fans were not allowed to attend in-person. While the Derby still took place, there were fewer horses and less than half the typical wagering.

Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory

800 W Main St, Louisville, KY 40202

Louisville Kentucky - Slugger Museum and Factory - Always On Liberty
Photo credit: Louisville Tourism (Facebook)

Did you know that Louisville is home to the biggest baseball bat in the world? That’s right!

Right in front of the Louisville Slugger Museum and Factory, you can get your photo taken with the 120′ tall, 68,000 pound steel baseball bat!

In fact, it’s an exact-scale replica of Babe Ruth’s 34″ Louisville Slugger bat that he used to score those record number of home runs.

Once you walk into the Louisville Slugger Museum, you and your family will get a once in a lifetime, all-star experience! You’ll be taken back to the history of baseball and the story of the Louisville Slugger baseball bat. 

After the museum, visitors can tour the Louisville Slugger factory to see how they make the famous baseball bats. And to remember you incredible experience, you even get your own smaller scale bat as a souvenir.

Worth noting, if you’re flying to Louisville, you must pack your bat(s), including the small scale souvenir bat in your checked luggage. You cannot take it in your carry-on bag.

Louisville Bats Baseball

401 E Main St, Louisville, KY 40202

Louisville Slugger Field - Always On Liberty
Photo source: Louisville Bats (Twitter)

Speaking of baseball bats, did you know that Louisville has its’ own minor league baseball team?

The Louisville Bats are the Triple-A affiliate of the Cincinnati Reds. The Bats’ home turf is at the Louisville Slugger Field, located right on Main Street just one block from Waterfront Park in downtown Louisville.

There’s plenty of stadium seas as well as grassy area beyond the left-field wall and a picnic area down the right-field line. As well, there is a continuous concourse that circles around the entire ball field, an 850-seat second-deck with club seating and 32 private suites.

And to entertain fidgety kids, the Bat’s stadium also includes a kids playground area which contains the only carousel in a professional baseball park.

Be sure to visit their park rules so you are aware of the do’s and don’ts as well as what you can or can’t bring to the Louisville Slugger Field.

Muhammad Ali Center

144 N 6th St, Louisville, KY 40202

Muhammed Ali Center in Louisville Kentucky - Always On Liberty
Photo credit: Pamala Jaramillo

“Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee!” If you’ve never heard that before, maybe it’s time you should learn where it came from.

Born in 1942 in downtown Louisville, Cassius Marcellus Clay Jr., later becoming Muhammad Ali, graced the city of Louisville by becoming not only one of the best heavyweight boxers but The Greatest of all time in the world of sports.

To celebrate his contribution to the sport, culture, and his legacy, the Muhammad Ali Museum and Cultural Center proudly demonstrates his life and legacy.

Founded in 2005 by his wife Lonnie and Ali himself, the six-story museum is located in the city’s West Main District. The award-winning museum dedicated to the life and legacy of Muhammad Ali. 

The Ali Center features an interactive museum, educational programming, and special events to inspire young adults and adults to pursue greatness in their own lives, communities and countries. It also captures the inspiration derived from the story of Muhammad Ali’s incredible life and the Six Core Principles that fueled his journey.

Speed Art Museum

2035 S 3rd St, Louisville, KY 40208

Speed Art Museum in Louisville Kentucky - Always On Liberty

Established in 1927 and originally known as the J.B. Speed Memorial Museum, Louisville’s Speed Art Museum or referred to as the Speed Museum is the oldest and largest art museum in the state of Kentucky.

It was founded by Hattie Bishop Speed as a memorial to her husband, James Breckinridge Speed, a prominent Louisville businessman and philanthropist. James Speed was also known for being a major player in the establishment of Louisville’s street railway system.

Located next to the University of Louisville’s Belknap campus on 3rd Street, the Speed Art Museum presents a magnificent worldly collection of over 13,000 art exhibits.

Visitors can view all different types of visual arts such as sculptures, textiles, furniture, paintings and decorative arts on display. The modern 200,000 square foot building features art of different styles and periods from Europe, Africa, and the United States. 

While this is Louisville art museum is small, it but well worth spending an hour or two. It’s a great place to visit in Louisville on a rainy afternoon. It’s a great place to visit in Louisville if you only have an hour or two. The museum also has a very nice gift shop with reasonably priced gifts and souvenirs.

Worth noting, the Speed Museum offers free admission on Sundays through 2024 in honor of the late Owsley Brown II. However, select special exhibitions will require an additional ticket purchase.

Frazier History Museum

829 West Main Street, Louisville, KY 40202

Frazier History Museum in Louisville Kentucky - Always On Liberty

If you love to explore history, then it’s a given that you must visit the Frazier History Museum in downtown Louisville. 

The museum explores the history of Kentucky and the American West. Museum visitors can check out its’ many documented Civil War artifacts and learn about the Lewis and Clark expedition.

As well, one of the show pieces is a replica of Teddy Roosevelt’s “big stick” and Geronimo’s bow and arrows, and 19th-century Samurai armor.

The Frazier History Museum also has current and upcoming exhibitions, galleries and ongoing collections of historic artifacts. They also offer educational programs and children’s camps.

It’s also home to the Bourbon Trail Welcome Center where you can learn about the local bourbon industry and map out your adventure to visit the bourbon distilleries in Kentucky. 

Kentucky Science Center

727 W Main Street, Louisville, KY 40202

Kentucky Science Center - Always On Liberty
Photo credit: Kentucky Science Center

The Kentucky Science Center allows visitors to explore over 50,000 square feet of exciting interactive exhibitions that offer educational science fun for all ages! Also, check out their 4-story theater where you and your family can enjoy movies. 

The nonprofit educational institution is one that encourages everyone who enters to enjoy math, science and technology in an engaging environment that is both, educational as well as entertaining.

The Kentucky Science Center is committed to growing a scientifically literate community that investigates, questions, and challenges through it’s many workshops, traveling exhibits and displays.

The Urban Bourbon Trail

American Whiskey Bourbon - Always On Liberty

Speaking of bourbon, of course you already know that Kentucky is known for it’s incredible history of making bourbon. Though there are almost 100 bourbon distilleries peppering the Bluegrass State, there are several bourbon distilleries in Louisville to satisfy your quench. Most offer tours to learn how bourbon is made and tastings.

Once you’ve taken your tours and tastings, then make our way down the Urban Bourbon Trail for more excitement that will tickle your tongue and warm your tummy.

The Louisville Bourbon District, located in Downtown Louisville, is a walkable urban bourbon tasting experience for adults. You’re never more than 5 minutes away from the next attraction, so enjoying splashes of bourbon just got a lot easier.

Louisville’s Whiskey Row is an area along Main Street, which claims to be home to the bourbon industry. Formerly called the “Wall Street of Whiskey”, Louisville has indulged in fine spirits ever since Evan Williams first marketed his whiskey to the city in 1783.

In 1857, the buildings were built and used to store whiskey barrels that had been produced from the distilleries nearby.

Up until the 1920’s before the years of Prohibition, the street was lined with more than 50 whiskey distillers and marketers. After 13 years of Prohibition, the bourbon distillery nearly collapsed.

However, today, Louisville’s strong aromas and tastes of some of the finest bourbons lure visitors from afar.

And, while you’re visiting Louisville, don’t forget to explore the rest of the Kentucky Bourbon Trail. Also, the Kentucky Bourbon Trail Craft Tour encompasses four regions in Kentucky with lots of bourbon distilleries to tour.

✰ READ MORE Must Visit Bourbon Distilleries in Louisville Kentucky

 Top Rated Bourbon Tours 

Fourth Street Live

411 South 4th St, Louisville, KY 40202

Fourth Street Live in Louisville - Always On Liberty
Photo credit: Disciple Rubble

If you enjoy a good party and nightlife, Fourth Street Live! is the perfect adult venue to enjoy all things social! It’s a 350,000-square-foot entertainment and retail complex located between Liberty and Muhammad Ali Boulevard in downtown Louisville. Fourth Street Live! offers premier dining, entertainment and a fun retail destination for visitors and local Louisvillians.

And if you’re lucky, you may be able to score tickets to some well-known music artists in their Hot Country Nights, comedy acts and sports watch party events.

Big Four Bridge Bridge

Big Four Bridge Pedestrian Bridge - Always On Liberty

When you visit Louisville, one of the coolest things to do is walk from Kentucky to Indiana but over a river that divides the two states! In 2013, the Big Four Bridge opened to pedestrian and bicycle traffic at Waterfront Park.

Originally built in the late 1800s, it operated as a railroad bridge from 1895 until 1969, when it was ultimately decommissioned. The “bridge to nowhere” sat unused for decades until 2013, when it was reopened to the public. 

The Big Four Bridge spans the Ohio River, connecting Louisville, Kentucky with Jeffersonville, Indiana. The pedestrian bridge is where visitors can walk across while enjoying views of the Ohio River and the Louisville skyline. 

According to Jeffersonville Main Street, the bridge takes its name from the defunct Cleveland, Cincinnati, Chicago and St. Louis Railway, which was nicknamed the Big Four Railroad.

A comfortable and leisure 1/2 mile walk (one way) will take approximately 30-45 minutes. Or, if you’re more of a power walker, you can walk it as quickly as 15 minutes or so. What’s nice is on warmer days, there’s a refreshing breeze off the water to keep walkers comfortably cooler.

Free parking is available on the Indiana side in Jeffersonville on Mulberry St. between Market and Maple Streets. Or, if you’re starting your walk across in Louisville, there are several large parking lots along East River Road at Waterfront Park.

Be aware, dogs are not permitted on the Big Four Bridge with exception of Service Dogs only (NOT Emotional Support or Comfort animals).

Today, the Big 4 Bridge is one of the Louisville’s most popular attractions and sees over 1 million visitors annually.

So, lace up those walking shoes and grab your water bottle for a sensational walk to remember!

Louisville Waterfront Park

129 River Rd, Louisville, KY 40202

Louisville Kentucky - Waterfront Park Abraham Lincoln - Always On Liberty

Louisville Waterfront Park is an 85 acre beautiful green space adjacent to the downtown area of Louisville, Kentucky and the Ohio River. It’s also adjacent to Louisville’s wharf and Riverfront Plaza/Belvedere, which are situated to the west of the park.

The green space park runs along the Ohio River featuring walking trails, fountains, and playgrounds. Take a picnic or just enjoy the views of the river.

Most notably, the Abraham Lincoln Memorial is a beautifully executed tribute to the Kentucky-born 16th President. The 12-foot statue of Lincoln is quite impressive as also, the four bas-relief panels depicting significant events in Lincoln’s life and amphitheater featuring famous Lincoln quotes.

Louisville Waterfront Park is a great place to enjoy the views of the Ohio River, take a stroll and let the kids burn off energy. Bring your picnic blanket and lunch!

Worth noting, we do recommend visiting Louisville Waterfront Park in the daytime only unless for an organized evening event with police security.

Louisville Zoo

1100 Trevilian Way, Louisville, KY 40213

Kids feeding giraffe at zoo - Always On Liberty

There’s lots of family fun at the the Louisville Zoo! Also known as the Louisville Zoological Gardens, the 134-acre zoo in Louisville, Kentucky is located downtown. It’s home to over 1,500 animals from around the world.

The Zoo’s award-winning Islands, Gorilla Forest and Glacier Run exhibits have been recognized by AZA for their excellence and innovation.

Solo visitors, couples and families can see a large variety of wildlife from gorillas, tigers, penguins, and more at the many different outdoor exhibits.

There’s also a walk-through aviary full of different species of birds, a sea lion show. And, the walker’s loop at the Louisville Zoo is a hard-surface mile walk where visitors may enjoy both flat areas and hilly terrain along with the sights and sounds of the animals.

And the kids will love the carousel, playgrounds and splash park! For the older kids (adults), relax in the Zoo tram shuttle to get around.

Worth noting, there is a vehicle parking fee in the zoo lot. For convenience, purchase your admission tickets online with the pre-paid parking option. And plan on about 4 hours or more to totally enjoy all of the exhibits at the Louisville Zoo.

Louisville Mega Cavern

1841 Taylor Ave, Louisville, KY 40213

Mega Cavern Zipline - Always On Liberty
Photo credit: Louisville Mega Cavern

The Louisville Mega Cavern is a former limestone mine and quarry that’s been transformed into an underground adventure park!

The underground 100 acre cave stretches under parts of Louisville’s highway system and the Louisville Zoo. Since it’s built with incredibly strong support structures, it is classified as the largest building in Kentucky.

Inside the cavern, adventurers can zip line 100′ off the cavern floor in the world’s only underground zipline adventure tour! 

And, if you’re a extreme bike rider, adventure on their BMX & MTB bike park. For those with ebikes, enjoy furthest parts of the cavern on the MEGA eBIKE tour!

Or, if you just want to take a leisurely ride, take a tram-driven historic tour. This fun and unique experience is a great venue to enjoy during the summer when the temperatures above ground are hot.

Kids will especially love the only underground ropes challenge course in the world, featuring two levels and 76 challenge elements, mini-ziplines and rope walls.

✰ READ MORE Why E-bikes are GOOD for Seniors Health & Well Being!

Kentucky Kingdom Amusement Park & Hurricane Bay Water Park

937 Phillips Lane, Louisville, KY 40209

Amusement Park Couple on Ride - Always On Liberty

Visitors and guests enjoy endless fun under the Kentucky sun with a hassle-free, adventure-filled escape to Louisville’s Daycation.

At the Kentucky Kingdom Amusement Park and Hurricane Bay Water Park, kids of all ages can laugh, slide and play all summer with more than 70 family-friendly attractions, including sparkling wave pools, towering slides and pint-sized rides all in the heart of Louisville, Kentucky!

Be a kid again and soar through the skies on world-class coasters and beat the heat in giant wave pools, winding lazy rivers and even a four-story water playground!

Kentucky Kingdom also hosts several fun-filled events and festivals as well as offers shows, dining, and shopping. Just an FYI though, there is a parking fee in addition to admission tickets.

Other unique attractions and things to do in Louisville

Map of Louisville - Always On Liberty

Museums in Louisville

Louisville Galleries & Performing Arts

Historic Sites in Louisville

Gardens, Parks & Natural Areas

Social, Music & Events


Golf Courses in Louisville

Fun Louisville Dining Experiences

Transportation & Sightseeing in Louisville

Louisville Walking Tours

Louisville Ghost Tours

Adrenalin, Games & Family Fun in Louisville

Wrapping Up

As you see, there’s far more to Louisville Kentucky than just the Kentucky Derby, bourbon and baseball bats! Louisville is rich in pure adrenalin, history and cultural experiences. These 100 reasons to visit Louisville should get you excited about planning your next destination getaway! Know that you and your family will not be board in the city of the fastest 2 minutes in sports!

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Top Attractions and Things to Do in Louisville Kentucky - Always On Liberty

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