Louisville Kids Attractions

Things to Do with Kids in Louisville

Louisville Slugger Baseball Bat Factory and Museum, Louisville, Kentucky, USA
••• Douglas Sacha / Getty Images

I often hear locals complaining about how there are hardly any Louisville kids attractions. I'm not sure why people are under the impression that there is nothing to do with kids in Louisville. There are a ton of things to do with kids in Louisville in every season, even if you're on a tight budget.

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    The Louisville Zoo

    Saturday, May 19, 2012 Families of Soldiers from the 1204th ASB attended a Yellow Ribbon During Event held at the Louisville Zoo.
    ••• flickr/ Army 1LT. Mark Slaughter/Kentucky National Guard/cc license
    The Louisville Zoo is a great place to take your kids for a day of fun when the weather is nice. Obviously, the main attraction at the Louisville Zoo is the wildlife, but there are a lot of other fun things to do at the zoo that have nothing to do with animals. The Louisville Zoo is home to a splash water park, several playgrounds, a train, a miniature train garden, a carousel, and a motion simulator. Best of all, a year-long membership to the zoo for an entire family is less than $100.
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    The Louisville Extreme Park is a 40,000 sq. ft. concrete skate park where people of all skill levels can skate and bike 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Some of the Louisville Extreme Park's biggest features include a 24 ft. full pipe, two 11 ft. bowls, two 8 ft. bowls, two 4 ft. bowls, a 6 ft. bowl, fun boxes, a street course, a 6 ft. flat bank, ledges, rails, and a 12 ft. wooden vertical ramp with a 13 ft. extension. If your kids are into skateboarding, rollerblading, or biking, a trip to the Louisville Extreme Park is a fun, free, local kids attraction.

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    Louisville Science Center
    ••• KYScience/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 3.0

    The Kentucky Science Center (formerly the Louisville Science Center) is an interactive learning center with more than 150 exhibits and a four-story IMAX Theater. Exhibits at the Louisville Science Center teach visitors about chemistry, physics, engineering, telecommunications, manufacturing, technology, health, and life sciences. I visited the Science Center many times as a kid, both on field trips and with my parents. I can remember having a great time every time I went. There was always something to do there that I hadn't done before, and the several floors of exhibits seemed endless.

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    KentuckyShow!

    Kentucky Show! is a 32-minute long film that is shown in a 100-seat theater at the Kentucky Center for the Arts. Schools often take their students on field trips to see KentuckyShow! because it is historical, informational, and entertaining. It's also a good length for children with short attention spans. KentuckyShow! certainly isn't something that you and your kids can do to keep you busy for an entire day, but it's a great addition to a trip downtown that the whole family will enjoy.
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    The Belle of Louisville is the oldest river steamboat in continuous use. Today she takes passengers on cruises up and down the Ohio River and races in the Great Steamboat Race every year on the Wednesday before the Kentucky Derby. Kids love to take the 2-hour cruise down the Ohio River to Six Mile Island and back, and they love the music that plays over the Belle's calliope.

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    Muhammad Ali Center

    Boxer Muhammad Ali Center, Louisville, Kentucky, USA
    ••• Douglas Sacha / Getty Images

    The Muhammad Ali Center is both a museum and a center for education and inspiration that was designed around the six values that have been most prominent in Ali's life: respect, confidence, conviction, dedication, giving, and spirituality. The center is focused on presenting the life and values of Louisville-born Muhammad Ali, but, more fully, it is designed to show visitors how Muhammad Ali's life and values can be used to develop love for others, community, and compassion.

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    Louisville, KY waterfront
    ••• rathyrye / Getty Images
    Metro Louisville is home to more than 100 parks covering more than 14,000 acres. No matter where you live in Louisville, you're probably just a few miles away from a park. Every park has different amenities, such as swimming pools, dog parks, amphitheaters, hiking trails, horseback riding, and ball courts, so regardless of what your kids enjoy doing, you should be able to find a park they can do it in within a reasonable drive from your home.
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    >>More Louisville Kids Attractions

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    To get to Huber's Farm, you have to take a lengthy drive through the country, but it's definitely worth it when you get there. Huber's Farm has a ton of things to occupy children of all ages. Kids can go on a wagon ride, feed the animals at the petting zoo, find their way through a cornfield maze, fish, ride a train, play on a playground, and pick fruit and vegetables, to name a few. Some of the activities are free and some have an admission cost, but it's really easy to fill an entire day at Huber's Farm. And Huber's not the only one, check out other area farms.

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    Louisville Slugger Museum

    Louisville Slugger Baseball Bat Factory and Museum, Louisville, Kentucky, USA
    ••• Douglas Sacha / Getty Images

    The Louisville Slugger Museum is a museum and factory where Louisville Slugger baseball bats are created and baseball's history is preserved. Visitors can tour the museum and watch as Louisville Slugger baseball bats are made. The Louisville Slugger Museum is also the location of the World's Largest Baseball Bat that leans against the side of the building. Every visitor to the Louisville Slugger Museum gets a tour of the museum and factory as well as a small Louisville Slugger bat as a souvenir.

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    Cave Hill Cemetery is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It is a Victorian-era cemetery and arboretum that is open to the public. Cave Hill is a pleasant and photogenic place where people go for the lovely scenery and intricate gravestones as well as to visit their deceased loved ones. The land is home to a cave, lakes, and the graves of many famous Louisvillians, including KFC founder Colonel Sanders.

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    The horses on the track!
    ••• Andy Lyons / Getty Images

    Churchill Downs is best known for gambling and the Kentucky Derby. However, during the week when it's not too crowded, Churchill Downs can also be a fun place to take your kids. The cost of admission is low, there are plenty of places to eat, and kids can watch the horses parade around their stables as they're preparing to run their races. Kids will also enjoy watching the horses race, and you can pick you favorites amongst yourselves – no money required.

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    Louisville Nature Center is a place where people can explore, learn about, and enjoy nature. Louisville Nature Center features butterfly and dragonfly gardens, wildlife exhibits, hiking through Beargrass Creek State Nature Preserve, and children's activities. While visiting Louisville Nature Center, you can explore the outdoor nature preserves and wildlife exhibits, or you can engage in learning activities in the indoor museum area.

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    The Museum at the American Printing House for the Blind houses items that help visitors explore the history of education for the blind in America. Both admission to the museum and guided tours of the factory are free. Unlike the rules at most museums that discourage visitors from touching the exhibits, visitors to the Museum at the American Printing House for the Blind are encouraged to touch the exhibits in order to better understand the experiences of the blind.

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    During the summer, your kids will love going to the Clarksville Family Aquatic Center for all kids of water play. The Clarksville Family Water Center features a zero-depth pool with interactive water features, a lap pool, a plunge pool with 154 ft. water slides, two sand volleyball courts, and a sand play area for kids.

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    Another summer attraction, the Jeffersonville Aquatic Center and Skate Park features a 50-meter competition pool, a 25-yard competition and lap pool, a zero-depth family play pool, two water slides, a sand volleyball court, a sand play area, a paved walking trail, and a skate park. There are also plenty of water parks in Indiana and Kentucky.

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    >>More Louisville Kids Attractions

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    The Falls of the Ohio State Park is located on the Ohio River in Southern Indiana. The park features 220 acres of 386-million-year-old fossil beds. People love to go to the Falls of the Ohio to explore for fossils as well as fishing, hiking, bird watching, and picnicking. Also at the Falls of the Ohio is the Interpretive Center, a nature center, museum, and educational facility with more than 78 exhibits, coral reef aquariums, and more.

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    The Frazier International History Museum is a 100,000 sq. ft., three-floor museum with exhibits that explore 1000 years of European and American history. In addition to the historical collections housed at the Frazier Historical Arms Museum, there are live performances by costumed interpreters, two reenactment areas, interactive multimedia presentations, and a 48-seat movie theater.

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    Kentucky Derby Museum at Churchill Downs, Louisville, KY, USA
    ••• catnap72 / Getty Images

    The Kentucky Derby Museum, adjacent to Churchill Downs, is open year-round. The Kentucky Derby Museum houses pieces that reflect the history of the Kentucky Derby as well as the history of thoroughbred racing. Visitors to the museum can watch a documentary about the Kentucky Derby called The Greatest Race in its 360 degree theater. The kids especially enjoy Riders Up, a game that allows them to mount a simulated horse and attempt to maintain a jockey's stance on it for two minutes.

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    Parents throughout Kentuckiana rave about how much their kids love All About Kids. All About Kids is a 47,000 sq. ft. sports center where kids can take classes in gymnastics, cheerleading, swimming, dance, and taekwondo. And for younger kids there is the Inflatable Fun Zone, featuring inflatable mazes, slides, tunnels, and ball pits.

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    Kart Kountry is a go-kart track and activity center in Shepherdsville, Kentucky. It is the home of the world's longest go-kart track, and the five different sizes of go-karts available ensure that people of all ages can ride. Additionally, Kart Kountry features ten batting cages, an 18-hole mini golf course, bumper boats, trampoline basketball, and a huge arcade.

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    Henry's Ark Petting Zoo

    Henry's Ark Petting Zoo is an exotic animal petting zoo in Prospect, Kentucky. The petting zoo features animals such as water buffalos, capabras, emu, llamas, zebras, yaks, camels, ostriches, and an albino peacock, among others. Admission to Henry's Ark Petting Zoo is free, but donations are gladly accepted. Henry's Ark Petting Zoo is 12 miles east of Downtown Louisville off of U.S. 42 on Rose Island Rd. They do not currently have a website, but can be reached by phone at (502) 228-0746.
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    Louisville is the home of a Minor League baseball team: the Louisville Bats. The Bats play a ton of games throughout the spring and summer, and they also do a lot of promotions that appeal to kids. Throughout the season, kids can go to a Bats game and run the bases themselves, watch fireworks, see a magic show, and meet the team. Going to a Bats game is a fairly inexpensive way to keep your kids amused for a good portion of the day.
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    Stage One is a performing arts group that specializes in children's theater. Stage One has several public performances throughout the year at both the Kentucky Center and the Iroquois Amphitheater. Stage One plays all specify the age group they're appropriate for, from Pre-K all of the way up to 12th grade, so it's easy to find a play that will amuse your children regardless of their ages.
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    Squire Boone Caverns is a system of caverns located in Mauckport, Indiana. Visitors to Squire Boone Caverns can explore the underground caves that have unique features such as rushing rivers and waterfalls, stalactites, stalagmites, flowstone, and more. Additionally, Squire Boone Caverns is home to a colonial village where kids can make candles, mine for gold and gemstones, buy rocks in one of the largest rock shops in the Midwest, and watch lye soap being made.
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    Marengo Cave is a park that is home to an undeveloped cave located in Marengo, Indiana. Marengo is just 45 minutes away from Louisville, so Marengo Cave is a great alternative to the long drive down to Mammoth Cave. Marengo Cave offers several features, such as walking tours, canoeing, camping, cave exploration, gemstone mining, and more.

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    >>More Louisville Kids Attractions

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    If you have kids that are big enough to get on a horse, you may want to consider taking them to the Iroquois Park horse stables. For a moderate hourly rate, visitors to the horse stables can ride their horses throughout the park on special horse trails.

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    Chuck E. Cheese may be an obvious place to take your kids for a day of fun, but it's still worth mentioning because of its popularity. I remember going to Chuck E. Cheese as a kid and loving it, and if I took my daughter to Chuck E. Cheese every day for a year, I don't think she would ever get bored with it. Chuck E. Cheese specializes in video and interactive games.
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    Rauch Planetarium is located on the University of Louisville Belknap Campus. The Rauch Planetarium offers all kinds of events and shows for all ages throughout the year. For young children, the Planetarium offers Cosmic Explorer Workshops, and for older children and adults, the Planetarium offers laser light shows. The Rauch Planetarium is a good place to learn about space and astronomy as well as to have a lot of fun with the family.
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    If your kids like building things, they'll love the Build and Grow Workshop at Lowe's where they can build a wooden project. They'll also get several other freebies just for participating.
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    Kids Workshops at the Home Depot are designed for kids aged 5 to 12 and are offered on the first Saturday of each month from 9 a.m. to Noon. In these workshops, kids will create one of a variety of projects, such as toolboxes, fire trucks, and birdhouses.
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    The Ogle Center at Indiana University Southeast in New Albany, Indiana, hosts a number of free shows for children throughout the year. Every year brings new shows which are appropriate for children of all ages.
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    There are tons of free events for children of all ages going on every day at Louisville Free Public Library locations all over the city. You can view upcoming events by clicking the link above.
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    Yew Dell Gardens is a huge expanse of beautiful plants, many of which are rare. Kids will enjoy the plants as well as some of the garden's other decorations, including a stone castle. You'll have to pay to get yourself in, but kids aged 12 and under get into the gardens for free.
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    >>More Louisville Kids Attractions

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    The Carnegie Center for Art and History is an art gallery and history museum located in New Albany, Indiana. The center has two permanent exhibits. The first, Grandpa Makes a Scene: The Yenawine Dioramas, is a set of hand-carved, fully mechanized dioramas. The second, Ordinary People Extraordinary Courage: Men and Women of the Underground Railroad, is a multimedia exhibit that tells the story of two groups of people living in antebellum Kentuckiana. The center also has several revolving exhibits and occasionally hosts free workshops and classes for families.

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    You can always read to your kids at home, but if you just need to get out of the house and let someone else do the reading for a change, you may want to check out Story Time Tuesdays at the Pottery Barn in Oxmoor Mall. Kids receive a free gift after attending five story sessions.

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    All kids love riding rides and swimming in a wave pool, so you can't go wrong taking your kids to Kentucky Kingdom. The attraction has rides and attractions that are appropriate for all ages, from toddler right up to adult. And the best part about taking the kids to Kentucky Kingdom is that it is a lot of fun for parents too. There are plenty of water parks in Indiana and Kentucky.

    Updated by a current expert August, 2016.

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    21C Museum Hotel Art Gallery

    21c Musuem Hotel
    ••• Courtesy of 21c Museum Hotel
    The 21C Museum Hotel Art Gallery isn't a typical art gallery. Digital installations that require audience participation will entertain kids as will the bathrooms with films of eyes watching or with walls that appear to be see-through. The 9000 sq. ft. art museum is open to the public 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.