The Top Ten Free Things to Do in Louisville

How to Spend Less Dough in Derby City

Beam House at Jim Beam Distillery.
••• The Beam House at Jim Beam Distillery. Richard I'Anson/Getty Images

You don't have to spend a fortune in order to have a fun in Louisville, Kentucky. There are a ton of things to do in Derby City that won't cost you a dime.

  • 01 of 10

    21C Museum Hotel Art Gallery

    21c Museum Hotel, Louisville
    ••• Scott McLeod/Flickr/CC BY 2.0

    The 21c Museum Hotel is one of Louisville's most interesting downtown establishments. It is a hotel, art gallery, and restaurant all in one. The hotel's gallery is a 9000 square foot art museum that contains both permanent and revolving installations in a number of different mediums. The museum is open to the public 24 hours a day, every day of the year.

  • 02 of 10
    Actors Theatre, Louisville
    ••• Raymond Boyd/Getty Images

    Each year, the Actors Theatre of Louisville chooses 22 aspiring stage actors from a pool of more than 2,000 to join their apprentice company.

    The company then puts on its own season of plays which are free to the public. These plays run from mid-August to early May. Some shows require tickets which must be requested through the Actors Theatre Box Office at no charge, while others allow guests to enjoy the show without prior reservations.

  • 03 of 10
    Beam House at Jim Beam Distillery
    ••• The Beam House at Jim Beam Distillery. Richard I'Anson/Getty Images

    A trip to the Jim Beam American Outpost allows you to experience the making and history of one of Kentucky's signature products, bourbon.

    At the distillery, you can watch a video about the history of the Beam family, view the bourbon making process, and see how the brand's bottle art has changed throughout the years.

    Best of all, there is no charge for any of these activities, though you'll probably want to bring some cash to purchase a bottle of bourbon to go.

  • 04 of 10

    A visit to the Louisville Nature Center allows you to explore the Beargrass Creek State Nature Preserve, the very popular butterfly and dragonfly gardens, and wildlife exhibits. You can also engage in fun activities designed to educate children in the indoor museum area, all for no charge. 

    Continue to 5 of 10 below.
  • 05 of 10
    Museum of the American Printing House for the Blind
    ••• BY 2.0

    Explore the history of how the blind are educated in America at the Museum at the American Printing House for the Blind. Admission to the museum, as well as guided tours of the factory, are free of charge.

    Unlike the rules at most museums that discourage visitors from touching the exhibits, visitors are encouraged to touch the exhibits in order to better understand the experiences of the blind.

  • 06 of 10
    Cave Hill Cemetery
    ••• Garden State Hiker/Flickr/CC BY 2.0

    Cave Hill Cemetery is a Victorian-era cemetery and arboretum that is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and free to the public.

    People flock to this cemetery for the lovely scenery and intricate gravestones. The land is incredibly photogenic, and home to a cave, several lakes, and the graves of many famous Louisvillians, including Kentucky Fried Chicken founder Colonel Sanders.

  • 07 of 10

    The Filson Historical Society runs a free museum that is located in a carriage house on the society's grounds. The museum houses artifacts that are important to Kentucky's history including a sheep horn brought back from the Lewis and Clark expedition, Jim Porter's musket, Daniel Boone's "Kill a Bar" tree carving, and many Civil War artifacts. Guests will also have the chance to see several portraits, landscapes, and still lifes in the museum's fine art collection. 

  • 08 of 10

    Big Four Bridge

    The Big Four Bridge is a pedestrian bridge that links Louisville to Jeffersonville, Indiana.

    Offering stunning views of the Ohio River, this popular attraction in Louisville Waterfront Park is even better by night. With the vibrant colors of the LED lighting system, the bridge is open to the public 24 hours a day. 

    Continue to 9 of 10 below.
  • 09 of 10

    Located about 20 minutes outside of Louisville, the Jeffersontown Historical Museum that details the history of this former rural area into a city all its own.

    The museum showcases historical artifacts including military equipment, period photographs, a folk doll exhibit that is one of the largest collections in the Midwest. A lifelong Jeffersontown resident donated all of the 1,250 dolls.

  • 10 of 10

    While you will have to cross state lines, the Carnegie Center for Art and History in New Albany, Indiana is just a short drive from Louisville.

    The center has two permanent exhibits, Grandpa Makes a Scene: The Yenawine Dioramas which is a set of hand-carved, fully mechanized dioramas, and Ordinary People Extraordinary Courage: Men and Women of the Underground Railroad, a multimedia exhibit that tells the story of two groups of people living in antebellum Kentuckiana.

    The center also has several revolving exhibits as well as workshops and classes for both children and adults.