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Things to Do in Louisville, Kentucky

Guest Post, Hometown Series

If you’re looking for a city with a rich history, great food, beautiful parks, and unique festivals, look no further than Louisville, Kentucky! Located in the heart of the Bluegrass State, Louisville is the perfect destination for travelers looking to experience the warmth of Southern hospitality with a bit of urban flair. From horse racing to bourbon to arts and culture, Louisville has something for everyone. Let’s explore the top 13 things to do in Louisville!

tree lined street with buildings and people walking
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Downtown Louisville. Photo Credit: Sydney to Anywhere.

Best Things to Do in Louisville

Attend a horse race at Churchill Downs

Attending a horse race at Churchill Downs is one of the most unique and exciting things to do in Louisville, Kentucky. The iconic racetrack, home to the famous Kentucky Derby, offers an unforgettable experience filled with thrilling moments and rich traditions. Grab a mint julep and place a few bets. Whether you’re a seasoned horse racing enthusiast or a first-time spectator, witnessing the pageantry and skill of these magnificent thoroughbreds is an absolute must when on a trip to Louisville. 

Take a stroll through Waterfront Park

Located on the banks of the Ohio River, Waterfront Park is the perfect place to spend a sunny afternoon. The park features walking and biking paths, beautiful views of downtown Louisville and the Ohio River, and is home to numerous outdoor events throughout the year. Admission to the park is free, and it’s open from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily.

people sitting in the grass around a stage
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Waterfront Park. Photo Credit: Sydney to Anywhere.

Things to Do in Louisville: Go bourbon tasting on the Urban Bourbon Trail

Kentucky is known for its high-quality bourbon, and the Urban Bourbon Trail is the perfect way to sample some of the state’s best. The trail includes over 30 bars and restaurants in downtown Louisville, each with their own unique selection of bourbons. You can pick up a passport at any of the participating locations and redeem for a prize after collecting 6 or more stamps.

Tip: If bourbon’s not your thing, take a little day trip and discover some of the amazing wineries in Kentucky. What could be better than sipping a glass of wine while you watch gorgeous horses graze in the pastures right in front of you?

Explore the Louisville Slugger Museum:

Baseball fans won’t want to miss the chance to visit the Louisville Slugger Museum, where you can learn about the history of the iconic baseball bat and see how it’s made today. The museum also features exhibits on baseball legends like Babe Ruth and Hank Aaron. Admission is $16 for adults. The museum is open seven days a week from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Visit the Muhammad Ali Center

The Muhammad Ali Center is a museum and cultural center dedicated to the life and legacy of Louisville boxing legend and storied humanitarian. The center features interactive exhibits, art displays, a movie theater, and more. Admission is $14 for adults. The center is open daily from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Take a tour of Old Louisville

Old Louisville is the largest preserved Victorian neighborhood in the country, and it’s a must-see for architecture buffs. The neighborhood features over 1,000 mansions in styles ranging from Queen Anne to Italianate to Richardsonian Romanesque. You can take a self-guided tour or join a guided tour offered by the Old Louisville Neighborhood Council. Make sure you check out the lovely St. James Court with a gorgeous fountain and an all-pink mansion.

Tip: If you’re heading to Louisville in the fall, be sure to check out the St James Court Art Show, a showcase of exceptional artwork from local and national artists, drawing visitors from all around.

red brick home with trees and flowers in front
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Home in Old Louisville. Photo Credit: Sydney to Anywhere.

Shop at local boutiques in Nulu

Exploring the local boutiques in NuLu is one of the most fun things to do in Louisville. This trendy neighborhood is known for its eclectic mix of independent shops, art galleries, and artisanal eateries. Strolling along the vibrant streets of NuLu, you’ll discover a treasure trove of carefully curated boutiques like Red Tree and Revelry Gallery, offering an assortment of fashion, accessories, and home goods from local designers and makers. From stylish clothing and jewelry to one-of-a-kind crafts, shopping in NuLu is a delightful way to support local businesses while finding distinctive pieces to add to your collection.

Tip: While you’re in the area, make sure you stop by Please & Thank You for coffee and one of their signature chocolate chip cookies.

Go hiking at Cherokee Park

Hiking at Louisville’s Cherokee Park is a serene and refreshing way to connect with nature in the heart of the city. Designed by Frank Olmsted, architect of New York City’s Central Park, Cherokee’s extensive trail system offers a variety of scenic routes, ranging from easy strolls to more challenging hikes. As you explore the trails, you’ll be surrounded by lush greenery, rolling hills, and picturesque landscapes. Cherokee Park’s iconic tree-lined pathways, serene lakes, and abundant wildlife create a tranquil setting, providing a peaceful escape from the urban hustle and bustle. Whether you’re seeking a leisurely walk or a more invigorating hike, Cherokee Park is a wonderful destination for outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers alike.

Bar Hop on Whiskey Row

Barhopping here is an absolute must for whiskey enthusiasts. Located along Main Street, this historic district is home to a collection of bars and distilleries where you can sample a wide range of Kentucky’s finest spirits. As you make your way through the vibrant street, you’ll encounter beautifully restored buildings that once housed bourbon warehouses and distilleries, creating a charming and nostalgic ambiance. Savor a classic bourbon cocktail at Repeal or indulge in a tasting flight at Patrick O’Shea’s. For a fun speakeasy experience, check out Hell or Highwater. Just be sure to make reservations in advance.

colorful buildings lining a street
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Whiskey Row. Photo Credit: Sydney to Anywhere

Speed Art Museum

A visit to the Speed Art Museum in Louisville belongs on every art lover’s bucket list. Located at the University of Louisville campus, this renowned institution houses an impressive collection of over 14,000 works of art spanning various periods and mediums. From ancient Egyptian artifacts to contemporary masterpieces, the museum offers a diverse range of artistic treasures to explore. The Speed’s thoughtfully curated exhibitions showcase both renowned artists and emerging talents, providing a captivating and enriching experience for visitors. With its beautiful architecture and engaging programming, the Speed Art Museum is a must-visit destination for those seeking to immerse themselves in the vibrant art scene of Louisville.

Places to Eat in Louisville, Kentucky

For an authentic local experience with a fun story behind it, head to The Brown Hotel where you can try Louisville’s famous Hot Brown sandwich. An open-faced turkey sandwich topped with Mornay sauce, bacon, and tomato, this dish is a local legend. Be sure to ask your waiter when and why it was invented!

Places to Stay in Louisville, Kentucky

The Omni Hotel – For a luxurious stay during your weekend in Louisville, book a room at The Omni. Featuring a stunning entrance, cool Library Bar, restaurant, rooftop pool, and part speakeasy part bowling alley, Pin & Proof, you could have the perfect trip without ever leaving your hotel! Rooms are generally around $350 per night.

No matter where you stay, your Louisville getaway is sure to be filled with exciting things to do and see!

About the Author

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Sydney is the creator of Sydney to Anywhere, a solo travel blog focused on Spain, Portugal and Morocco. for your next weekend getaway.

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