As one of Kentucky’s largest cities, Louisville, KY’s 10 best places to visit and things to do in town are as varied as you’d think. From historical sites to bourbon trails, there is truly something to keep you and yours entertained. The Derby City is home to the renowned Churchill Downs racetrack and one of the U.S.’s oldest running steamboats. Visit for the history, the food and the gorgeous parks and gardens. Here are 10 of the best places to visit in Louisville, KY – and top things to do in Kentucky while you’re there.
Churchill Downs is home the most talented thoroughbreds. Kicking off with the Kentucky Derby in April, you can see horse races until July. Even in the off-months, visitors can stroll through one of the largest equine museums in the world. Experience the race from a jockey’s perspective through the museum’s interactive exhibits or go inside the “vault” where rare artifacts and treasures are on display.
Escape for the day at the lush grounds of this gorgeous spot. Internationally recognized for its one-of-a-kind formal and informal gardens, the grounds were once home to the late Theodore Klein and his family. Now offering visitors education programs and hiking trails for those looking to get in some extra cardio, this is one of the healthiest of spots on our list of the 10 best places to visit in Louisville, KY.
Located in downtown Louisville, this is known as one of the greatest sports museums in the world. The museum is dedicated to preserving the history and celebrating the love of baseball. Baseball fans can visit the museum for a guided tour where they will witness the actual production line of an authentic bat. The museum also features a number of exhibits, like the “Big Bat & Big Glove” where the world’s largest baseball bat is on display or “Batter Up!” exhibit where guests can use bat replicas from Babe Ruth and Jackie Robinson in the batting cage.
The Belle of Louisville is the only remaining operating steamboat in the country. More than 100 years old, guests can embark on the beautiful Belle for a day of fun in the sun. Enjoy a two-hour cruise and learn more about the rich history of the city, or indulge in a brunch buffet with live entertainment and music. Guests can also enjoy the river at night with a full-service bar, outdoor observation decks and even dance floors for a night of dinner and dancing amongst the stars.
Opened in 1907, the Oakroom offers fine dining created with Kentucky-grown ingredients and bourbons. The restaurant, located inside the Seelbach Hotel, includes guest favorites like the Kentucky Beef Wellington and Kentucky-raised rack of lamb. The Oakroom is also popular for its Royal Brunch, serving buffet-style eats. Reservations are recommended.
Whiskey Row in downtown Louisville is the ultimate bourbon experience. Guests can explore one of Kentucky’s oldest commercial distillers while taste testing its bourbon. Enjoy a guided tour, where you will visit recreations of the Louisville wharf in the late 18th century as well as stroll down Whiskey Row along Main Street from the 1890s to today. You’ll learn how the distillery operates and sip on four different bourbons.
Louisville Palace is a historic theatre dating back to 1928. Visitors can catch concerts, films, performances by the Louisville Orchestra and live shows like “The Nutcracker.” Designed in Spanish Baroque style with vaulted ceilings, there are 140 sculptures of famous historical figures throughout the space.
On Museum Row in the West Main District of the city, the center is six stories tall featuring 40,00 square feet of exhibitions, galleries uncovering the life and history of the celebrated boxer. Guests can take part in interactive exhibits where mock boxing rings are recreated from Ali’s training camp, view historical videos and one-of-a-kind boxing memorabilia.
The beautiful Cherokee Park is 389 acres of rolling hills, lush green meadows and offers a 2.4-mile scenic hiking loop. The park also has beautiful creeks running through the landscape and a quaint picnic area for enjoying lunch. Play Frisbee on Frisbee Hill, explore the Nettleroth Bird Sanctuary, or admire Hogan’s Fountain. Park goers can also partake in activities like archery, fishing, golfing, horseback riding, tennis and much more.
The restaurant/bar is nestled right on Whiskey Row and offers patio setting for dining al fresco among the beautiful magnolia trees. The bar offers more than 160 bourbons with specialty cocktails replicating spirits from the Prohibition Era. The menu offers Southern pub favorites like fried green tomatoes, bourbon fried chicken and their award winning Three Little Pigs sandwich.
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Meghan Parisi is an accomplished freelance writer and the managing editor for a luxury design publication that covers homes in New York City, the Hamptons, San Francisco and Connecticut. Meghan enjoys traveling, exploring new restaurants and cities as often as possible. She is an avid cook and enjoys sharing her recipes on her blog: Whiskey + Aprons.