15 Things to Do With Kids in Louisville, Kentucky

There's more to Louisville than the Kentucky Derby

Think Louisville doesn't offer any activities for kids? Think again.

Kentucky's largest city is home to popular (and kid-friendly!) attractions like Churchill Downs, the Louisville Slugger Museum, and the Belle of Louisville, the oldest river steamboat still in continuous use. Even on a budget, the city is home to free attractions, including more than 100 parks for loads of outdoor fun.

Read on for our list of the 15 best things to do with kids in the Derby City. 

01 of 15

Spend a Day at 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.
Army 1LT. Mark Slaughter/Kentucky National Guard
Address
1100 Trevilian Way, Louisville, KY 40213-1559, USA
Phone
+1 502-459-2181

When the weather's nice, there are few better places to spend a day than the Louisville Zoo. The main attraction here is the wildlife, but the zoo is also 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.

02 of 15

Explore the Kentucky Science Center

Louisville Science Center
KYScience/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 3.0
Address
727 W Main St, Louisville, KY 40202-2681, USA
Phone
+1 502-561-6100

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 here teach visitors about chemistry, physics, engineering, telecommunications, manufacturing, technology, health, and life sciences. To kids, the several floors of exhibits will seem endless, making it a great rainy-day activity.

03 of 15

Head Downtown for Kentucky Show!

Kentucky Center for the Arts
Courtesy of The Kentucky Center
Address
501 W Main St, Louisville, KY 40202-2919, USA
Phone
+1 502-584-7777

While it's not an all-day activity, the 32-minute Kentucky Show! is compelling film narrated by Ashley Judd and shown in a 100-seat theater at the Kentucky Center for the Arts. Schools often take their students on field trips to see Kentucky Show! because it is historical, informational, and entertaining. The film covers the people, culture, and history of Kentucky.

04 of 15

Cruise the River on the Belle of Louisville

Centennial Festival Of Riverboats - Day 5
Stephen J. Cohen / Getty Images
Address
401 W River Rd, Louisville, KY 40202-2993, USA
Phone
+1 502-574-2992

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, held on the Wednesday before the Kentucky Derby. Kids love to take the two-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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05 of 15

Get Inspired at the Muhammad Ali Center

Boxer Muhammad Ali Center, Louisville, Kentucky, USA
Douglas Sacha / Getty Images
Address
144 N 6th St, Louisville, KY 40202, USA
Phone
+1 502-584-9254

The Muhammad Ali Center is both a museum and a center for education and inspiration, designed around the six values that were  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 Ali, but, more fully, it shows visitors how his values can be used to develop love for others, community, and compassion.

06 of 15

Get Outside at Louisville's Parks and Pools

Louisville, KY waterfront
rathyrye / Getty Images
Address
745 Cochran Hill Rd, Louisville, KY 40206, USA
Phone
+1 502-574-7275

Metro Louisville is home to more than 100 parks covering more than 14,000 acres. In fact, 18 of the city's parks were created by Frederick Law Olmsted, who designed New York City's famous Central Park. No matter where you live in Louisville, you're probably just a few miles away from a park. Each park has different amenities, such as swimming pools, dog parks, amphitheaters, hiking trails, horseback riding, and ball courts, but one of our favorites is the Olmsted-designed Cherokee Park, which has a beautiful combination of rolling hills, woodlands, and open meadows.

07 of 15

Experience Life on the Farm

Joe Huber Family Farm & Restaurant
Courtesy of Joe Huber Family Farm & Restaurant
Address
2421 Engle Rd, Borden, IN 47106, USA
Phone
+1 812-923-5255

Joe Huber's Family Farm, in Borden, Ind., is a bit of a drive outside of Louisville, but once you're there, it's easy to spend a whole day at this working farm. 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. While some activities are free, a few, such as the pony rides, have a small fee. 

08 of 15

Relive Baseball History at the Louisville Slugger Museum

Louiseville Slugger Factory
Douglas Sacha / Getty Images
Address
800 W Main St, Louisville, KY 40202, USA
Phone
+1 877-775-8443

There are few names more famous in baseball than Louisville Slugger. See where the company's legacy began at their museum and factory in Louisville. In addition to a tour of the museum, visitors can also watch bats get made at the adjacent factory and everyone gets a souvenir bat to take home. (Don't miss the world's largest baseball bat on the building's exterior!)

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09 of 15

Stroll Around the Tranquil Cave Hill Cemetery

Cave Hill Cemetery
Thomas Kelley / Getty Images
Address
701 Baxter Ave, Louisville, KY 40204-1157, USA
Phone
+1 502-458-4792

This Victorian-era cemetery and arboretum is listed on the National Register of Historic Places that. 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 loved ones. The land is home to a cave, lakes, and the graves of many famous Louisvillians, including Kentucky Fried Chicken founder Colonel Sanders.

10 of 15

Go to Churchill Downs (on Any Day but Derby Day)

The horses on the track!
Andy Lyons / Getty Images
Address
700 Central Ave, Louisville, KY 40208, USA
Phone
+1 502-636-4400

Churchill Downs is best known for gambling and the Kentucky Derby—but it 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 the paddock as they prepare to race. Kids will also enjoy watching the horses race, and you can pick you favorites amongst yourselves, no money required. 

Next door, pay a visit to the Kentucky Derby Museum, which houses pieces that reflect the history of the Kentucky Derby as well as the history of thoroughbred racing. Kids will 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.

11 of 15

Learn About Nature at the Louisville Nature Center

Louisville Nature Center
Courtesy of Louisville Nature Center
Address
3745 Illinois Ave, Louisville, KY 40213-1068, USA
Phone
+1 502-458-1328

This expansive recreation space features butterfly and dragonfly gardens, wildlife exhibits, hiking through Beargrass Creek State Nature Preserve, and children's activities. While visiting the 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.

12 of 15

Explore the History of Education for the Blind

Braille reading
VOISIN / Getty Images
Address
1839 Frankfort Ave, Louisville, KY 40206, USA
Phone
+1 502-895-2405

The Museum at the American Printing House for the Blind is an immersive museum that lets visitors experience the exhibits through senses other than sight. Much of the interactive interactive museum is dedicated to the history of education for the visually-impaired. Admission and guided tours of the adjacent factory are both free.

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13 of 15

Birdwatch and Hike at the Falls of the Ohio State Park

Falls of the Ohio State Park
Courtesy of Falls of the Ohio State Park
Address
201 W Riverside Dr, Clarksville, IN 47129-3148, USA
Phone
+1 812-280-9970

The Falls of the Ohio State Park, located on the Ohio River in Southern Indiana, 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. The park is also home to an Interpretive Center, a nature center, a museum, and educational facility with more than 78 exhibits, coral reef aquariums, and more.

14 of 15

Go Back in Time at Frazier International History Museum

Frazier International History Museum
Bedford / Wikimedia Commons / Public domain
Address
829 W Main St, Louisville, KY 40202, USA
Phone
+1 502-753-5663

The Frazier International History Museum is a sprawling, three-floor museum with exhibits that explore centuries 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.

15 of 15

Go Underground at Squire Boone Caverns

Address
100 Squire Boone Rd SW, Mauckport, IN 47142-9116, USA
Phone
+1 812-732-4381

Visitors to Mauckport, Indiana's Squire Boone Caverns can explore the underground caves, full of rushing rivers and waterfalls, stalactites, stalagmites, flowstone, and more. Additionally, at the caverns' colonial village, 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.