Best Things To Do in Louisville
Just about everybody recommends a visit to Churchill Downs, home of the famous Kentucky Derby. And if you're not going to a race, you can at least enjoy the comprehensive Kentucky Derby Museum that sits on the grounds and details horse racing's history and traditions. More of a baseball fan? You'll want to set aside a few hours to peruse the Louisville Slugger Factory & Museum and maybe even catch a minor league game at the Louisville Slugger Field. When you're ready for a Derby City history lesson, head to the Conrad-Caldwell House Museum before admiring the grand Victorian homes of Old Louisville.
Updated July 6, 2016
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Just its name inspires romantic images of spectators dressed in their Sunday best sipping on mint juleps as thoroughbreds race past them. Recent travelers agreed – Churchill Downs, the racing facility that hosts the annual Kentucky Derby, is just as idyllic as you might have imagined. In fact, visitors said that if there's only time for one stop in Louisville, this Central Avenue racing complex is the place to go.
General admission costs $3 per person (except on Kentucky Oaks and Derby Days), and reserved seating costs $10 per person. Keep in mind: Ticket prices climb higher the more prestigious your perch (in spots like the Matt Winn Dining Room, Millionaires Row, Jockey Club Suites and the Stakes Room). Racing occurs in the spring, from the first Saturday in May to early July, and in the fall from late September to late November. Look here for the schedule. If you're interested in attending the famed Kentucky Derby, prepare to fork over some serious coin. Tickets are sold in two-day packages, with prices that range from $300 to $3,400 per ticket.
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Even if you're not a boxing fan, recent visitors said you should make time to see this impressive facility dedicated to legendary athlete and activist Muhammad Ali, who called Louisville his hometown. Along with memorabilia displays, historical footage and art and photo galleries, the center's permanent and temporary exhibits also touch on broader issues that were important to Ali, including race, gender equity and global citizenship.
Travelers described this as a must-see attraction in Louisville and said they walked away with a better understanding of Ali and his life beyond boxing. Visitors also praised the museum's knowledgeable staff and its easy-to-navigate layout, spread out across three floors.
- #3View all Photos#3 in LouisvilleMuseums, SportsTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPENDMuseums, SportsTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPENDRead More
To learn more about the "The Most Exciting Two Minutes In Sports," a visit to this museum is a must. Spanning two floors, the museum uses interactive, kid-friendly exhibits to educate visitors on the horses, jockeys, well-dressed spectators and traditions of the Kentucky Derby, showcasing history that dates back to the race's inaugural running in 1875.
Recent visitors loved the memorabilia and family-friendly exhibits at the museum and also offered praise for the 30-minute historic walking tour included with admission. Reviewers were also pleased with the museum's ability to appeal to non-racing fans.
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One of the city's more unique attractions, the 100-acre Louisville Mega Cavern, which was created out of a 19th-century limestone quarry, now houses the world's only underground zip line course. But the zip line course isn't the only activity you'll find in this subterranean adventure park – there's also a bike park, an aerial ropes course and a tram tour for those interested in a more relaxed cavern experience.
Recent visitors highly recommended the zip line tour, calling it a unique experience in the Derby City. Reviewers also offered praise for the knowledgeable, entertaining guides and said this is a great way to spend a few hours, especially if you're traveling with kids.
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Preferred by legends like Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig and Ted Williams, the Louisville Slugger is undeniably the most famous bat in baseball. And to learn about its production, history and about baseball in general, you come to the Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory. Highlights include a factory tour and Bud's Batting Cage, where museum patrons can hit with replica bats once used by superstars like Ruth and Williams.
Baseball fans (or travel-weary road trippers) described a stop at the museum as must-do. But you should have at least a passing interest in baseball to visit. Otherwise, the museum might be too niche.
- #6View all Photos#6 in LouisvilleHistoric Homes/Mansions, ToursTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPENDHistoric Homes/Mansions, ToursTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPENDRead More
Part of the Old Louisville historic district – America's largest Victorian neighborhood – the Conrad-Caldwell House Museum stands as a preserved example of Richardsonian Romanesque architecture. Known as "Conrad's Castle," the mansion features lavish interior design elements like stained glass windows, parquet floors and seven different types of hardwood. Once home to two of Louisville's most prominent businessmen, Theophile Conrad and William E. Caldwell, the house is now open for tours, allowing visitors to learn about the era, the neighborhood and the families who resided here.
Recent visitors said that if you love historic homes, you'll enjoy taking a tour of the Conrad-Caldwell House Museum. Reviewers were especially impressed with the home's intricate woodwork and the interior's careful restoration. If you don't want to pay for the tour, recent visitors still said you should still make your way over to Old Louisville (which stretches 45 square blocks) to wander the historic neighborhood and marvel at the many Victorian homes. When your feet need a break, take a seat in the city's Central Park, which was designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, the same landscape architect behind New York City's famous park of the same name.
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Named after the popular Louisville Slugger baseball bat, this field is home turf for the minor league baseball team the Louisville Bats. Even though you may not be a devoted follower of minor league ball, recent visitors assured you'll want to catch a game while in town, especially if you're traveling with kids: Aside from the clean facilities and reasonable prices, reviewers were particularly fond of the on-site carousel (which costs just $1 to ride) and playground.
Travelers also praised the reasonable ticket and concession prices. Plus, all spectators are permitted to bring in one plastic bottle of water per person, as long as it's a clear bottle and the seal has not been broken.
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According to recent travelers, this cemetery isn't a must for everyone, for obvious reasons. But if you enjoy Victorian-era art, you'll probably find these monuments and mausoleums of east Louisville interesting to behold. Recent visitors described the cemetery's atmosphere as "beautiful" and "serene" and said it's a worthy addition to your itinerary no matter the season.
For most people, the highlight of visiting is a stop by the burial plot of Harland Sanders, better known as Colonel Sanders of Kentucky Fried Chicken fame. According to rumor, Sanders was buried in his characteristic starch white suit and black string tie. Cave Hill Cemetery is also the final resting place for legendary boxer and activist Muhammad Ali.
- #9View all Photos#9 in LouisvilleZoos and AquariumsTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPENDZoos and AquariumsTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPENDRead More
Open since 1969, the Louisville Zoo is home to more than 1,500 animals across its 134 acres. Among the highlights for recent visitors were the polar bear, tiger and giraffe sightings, as well as the camel rides.
Recent guests praised the zoo for its engaging guides and clean facilities and particularly note it's a good spot to take very young children (because Louisville Zoo is small, it's easily manageable for short legs to walk through). Travelers also described the zoo's atmosphere as relaxing and said that it never feels overly crowded thanks to its well-designed layout.
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Yet another standout site in downtown's West Main District, the Frazier History Museum is a special treat for lovers of military trivia as well as arms collectors. It's known for having an extensive collection of shields, swords, armor and medieval weaponry, plus a rifle once owned by president George Washington and Theodore Roosevelt's "Big Stick."
Recent visitors said they were initially disappointed with the cost of admission, but after spending time in the museum felt the price was fair for the experience offered. Highlights for reviewers included "The Lewis and Clark Experience" exhibit, which was a particular hit with kids, and the "Spirits of the Bluegrass: Prohibition and Kentucky," which patrons enjoyed for its wealth of local history. Visitors also loved the daily historical interpretation performances, which showcase people and events that changed the world, such as Dolley Madison, Annie Oakley and Little Bighorn.
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