Top Louisville Attractions - Louisville, Kentucky Travel

  • 01 of 11

    10 Fun Things to Do in Louisville, Kentucky - Overview

    Louisville Skyline at Night
    ••• Dan Dry / Courtesy of the Greater Louisville Convention & Visitors Bureau

    Although the identity of Louisville, Kentucky is inevitably intertwined with the world famous Kentucky Derby and America's official native spirit Bourbon, there are many other interesting places to explore and fun attractions to enjoy in this lovely city as well. From the vibrant visual and performing arts scene to unique Louisville attractions, here are ten fun sightseeing ideas for your next visit to Louisville:

    • Churchill Downs and the Kentucky Derby Museum
    • The Belle of Louisville
    • The Muhammad Ali Center
    • Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory
    • Louisville Museums and Galleries
    • Historic Old Louisville
    • The Kentucky Center for the Performing Arts
    • The Louisville Zoo
    • Louisville Mega Cavern
    • Fourth Street Live!

    As always, the local visitors center is a good place to begin any visit. Louisville visitors centers include:

    • The Louisville Convention & Visitors Bureau Visitors Center
      301 South Fourth Street (at the North entrance of Fourth Street Live!)
      Louisville, Kentucky
    • Main Street...MORE Association's Visitor and Information Center
      627 West Main Street
      Louisville, Kentucky
    • Historic Old Louisville Visitors Center
      1217 South 4th Street
      Old Louisville, Kentucky
      More Information

    Next Page: Churchill Downs and the Kentucky Derby Museum

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  • 02 of 11

    Churchill Downs and the Kentucky Derby Museum

    Churchill Downs
    ••• Flickr / CC / Jane Quigley

    Location: 700 Central Avenue, Louisville, Kentucky

    Located in south Louisville approximately five miles from downtown Louisville, Churchill Downs is the home of the iconic Kentucky Derby. Thoroughbred horse racing takes place each year in two meets: the spring meet, which runs from late April to early July and the fall meet, which opens in late October and closes in late November at the end of Thanksgiving weekend. The Kentucky Derby is always held on the first Saturday in May.

    The Kentucky Derby Museum, located at Gate 1 of Churchill Downs, features two floors of exhibits and displays which explore the history and traditions of the Kentucky Derby, as well as the history of thoroughbred racing. Walking and van guided tours are available. The Kentucky Derby Museum is open year round, except it is closed Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, and Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks Days.

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  • 03 of 11

    The Belle of Louisville

    Photo of the Belle of Louisville - Louisville KY
    ••• Photo Credit: Richard Cummins / Getty Images

    Location: The 4th Street Wharf at the western end of Waterfront Park

    Built in 1914 and first named the Idlewild, the Belle of Louisville is the oldest operating Mississippi style steamboat in the world and a National Historic Landmark. A regular cruise schedule is offered May through October, including lunch and dinner sightseeing cruises, sunset and moonlight cruises, special event cruises such as holiday themed cruises, bluegrass lunch cruises and more.

    During the annual Kentucky Derby Festival, the Belle of Louisville is the Louisville fan favorite in the ever popular Great Steamboat Race. In the winter months, several dockside events are held on board.

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  • 04 of 11

    The Muhammad Ali Center

    Muhammad Ali Center
    ••• Flickr / CC / TimHaag

    Location: One Muhammad Ali Plaza (144 North Sixth Street) Louisville, Kentucky

    An international cultural and educational center and museum, the Muhammad Ali Center opened to the public November 21, 2005. Visitors to the Ali Center are able to explore the journey of the famed boxer's life and his legacy through interactive exhibits and educational programming representing the core values of respect, confidence, conviction, dedication, giving and spirituality.

    The Ali Center is open Tuesday through Sunday. Although it is closed on most Mondays, the Center is open on Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, President's Day, Memorial Day, Labor Day, and Columbus Day. It is closed Easter Sunday, Independence Day, Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and New Year’s Day. On Kentucky Derby Day, the first Saturday in May, the Center closes early.

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  • 05 of 11

    Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory

    Photo of the Louisville Slugger Museum and Factory Exterior - Louisville KY
    ••• James Moses / Courtesy of the Greater Louisville Convention & Visitors Bureau

    Location: 800 West Main Street, Louisville, Kentucky

    Located in Downtown Louisville, the Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory is a must see for baseball fans, although you don't have to be a baseball fan to enjoy a visit. Interactive exhibits, baseball memorabilia and bat factory tours explore the history and production of the legendary Louisville Slugger. Approximately a million bats are produced here each year. Factory tours, held seven days a week, last approximately 25 minutes. On days and hours when the factory is not operating, bat making demonstrations may be offered. (To check about the production schedule, call 877-775-8443 for updates.) At the end of the tour, each visitor receives a miniature souvenir bat.

    The onsite Gift Shop sells great gift and souvenir items, such as t-shirts and sweatshirts, baseball caps, gloves and personalized bats. To find the Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory building once you are in the vicinity, just look for the 120 feet long World'...MORE;s Largest Baseball Bat leaning against the side of the building.

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  • 06 of 11

    Louisville Museums and Galleries - Explore Art, History, Science and More

    Photo of The Speed Museum of Art - Louisville KY
    ••• Courtesy of Greater Louisville Convention & Visitors Bureau (

    In addition to the Kentucky Derby Museum, The Muhammad Ali Center and the Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory mentioned on previous pages, Louisville is home to many other museums and galleries. Visitors of all ages and interests are able to explore art, history, science, local crafts and more. A few popular highlights include:

    • The Speed Art Museum - Located on the campus of the University of Louisville, the Speed Art Museum (pictured above) is Kentucky's leading visual arts venue. Collections and exhibits explore works of art ranging from ancient art to contemporary works.
    • The Frazier History Museum - Conveniently located along Museum Row on Main in Downtown Louisville, this museum explores 1,000 years of history through permanent and visiting exhibits, featuring American and international artifacts.
    • Louisville Science Center - The region's leading resource for informal science education, this museum is designed to encourage all ages to explore science through interactive...MORE exhibits. Also located along Museum Row on Main, this museum features four floors of exhibits and an IMAX theater. (See a review of the Louisville Science Center.)
    • Kentucky Museum of Art and Craft - Founded in 1981, the Kentucky Museum of Art and Craft showcases artistic and design excellence from folk art and craft artisans across the state. (This is another museum to explore along Museum Row on Main.)
    • Glassworks ​- Located on West Market Street in Downtown Louisville, Glassworks is a multi-use facility that includes three working glass studios, a glass gallery, a walk-in workshop and more. Daily guided tours last about an hour. Self-guided tours are permitted as well.
    • Zephyr Gallery - Located on East Market Street, Zephyr Gallery is the region's oldest cooperative gallery, owned and operated by more than 20 local artists.

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  • 07 of 11

    The Old Louisville Preservation District

    St. James Court - Old Louisville KY
    ••• Courtesy of Greater Louisville Convention & Visitors Bureau (

    Location: Approximately 48 Blocks south of Kentucky Street, between I 65 and Sixth Street

    Home to the largest collection of grand Victorian homes and the third largest National Preservation District in the United States, the Old Louisville neighborhood is well worth a visit for anyone with an interest in history, architecture, and preservation. Within this 48-block area, in addition to the many Victorian mansions, there are interesting examples of other architectural styles as well, including Romanesque Revival, Beaux Arts, Queen Anne, Italianate and Chateauesque.

    The Old Louisville Visitors Center, located at 1217 South 4th Street about two miles south of Louisville's Downtown riverfront, is a good place to begin your visit. Louisville Historic Tours offer regularly scheduled guided walking and bus tours including an Old Louisville Grand Walking Tour, a Mansions and Milestones Tour, a Ghosts of Old Louisville Tour and several others. (Telephone: 502-637-2922 for tour reservations or...MORE to schedule a private tour.)

    While exploring Old Louisville, plan to tour the Conrad-Caldwell Museum, a historic house museum located on picturesque St. James Court. Designed in the Richardsonian Romanesque architectural style, this restored home of two former prominent Louisvillians features opulent decorative details and houses a substantial collection of original period pieces.

    Popular Old Louisville annual events include the St. James Court Art Show, a large and impressive juried fine arts and fine crafts show, always held the first full weekend of October, the Kentucky Shakespeare Festival (also called Shakespeare in the Park), an annual free Shakespeare festival held in July each year, several seasonal themed tour events and more.

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  • 08 of 11

    The Kentucky Center for the Performing Arts

    Kentucky Center for the Performing Arts
    ••• Flickr / CC / Ka!zen

    Location: 501 West Main Street Louisville, Kentucky

    Conveniently located in the heart of Downtown Louisville close to many hotels and attractions, the Kentucky Center for the Performing Arts houses three performing arts theaters, where visitors and locals alike are able to enjoy performances by the Louisville Ballet, Louisville Orchestra, Kentucky Opera, The Broadway Series and Stage One. In addition, and many other national and international shows include everything from comedy and film to dance and an array of musical genres.

    KentuckyShow! – Even if you don't plan to see a performance at the Kentucky Center, do plan to see this 32-minute large screen, multi-media film presentation, which is open to the public during scheduled hours every day of the week, except Monday. Narrated by Ashley Judd, the film explores Kentucky's majestic landscape, diverse cultures, rich history and more through stunning images and stirring music. If possible, plan to see KentuckyShow! early in your...MORE visit as a great introduction to Louisville and the entire state, especially if this is your first visit.

    The Brown Theatre - Located at 315 W. Broadway, adjacent to the historic Brown Hotel, the restored W. L. Lyons Brown Theatre, also managed by The Kentucky Center, presents an array of plays and shows in a lavishly designed and appointed old world setting.

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  • 09 of 11

    The Louisville Zoo

    Louisville Zoo
    ••• Flickr / CC / Charles Meeks

    Location: 1100 Trevilian Way, Louisville, Kentucky

    Located about a ten-mile drive southeast of Downtown Louisville, the Louisville Zoo is the state zoo of Kentucky. More than 1,300 animals are exhibited in naturalistic settings representing various geographical areas and habitats. Several daily activities, scheduled programs, and tours offer interactive experiences.

    In addition to the exhibits, attractions at the Louisville Zoo include a zip line, climbing wall, three-story adventure course, 4-D Ride Theater, water play area, antique carousel and more. The zoo is open year round, although some attractions are seasonal.

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  • 10 of 11

    Louisville Mega Cavern

    Louisville Mega Cavern
    ••• Courtesy of Louisville Mega Cavern

    Location: 1841 Taylor Avenue, Louisville, Kentucky

    This unique underground attraction opened to the public for tours in 2009. A man-made cavern, the Louisville Mega Cavern has evolved from a quarry, mined for limestone from the early 1930s to the early 1970s, to a civil defense shelter during the Cuban missile crisis of the early 1960s, to its current function as a massive, secure and environmentally green commercial storage facility...and a unique tourist attraction.

    Encompassing about 100 acres with over four million square-feet of underground space, the Louisville Mega Cavern is part of 17 miles of corridors and passageways beneath the city of Louisville. Because of natural insulation, the average temperature in the cavern is about 58 degrees year round, making this a cool place to visit in any weather--hot, cold, rainy or windy. If your visit is during the warmer months, be sure to take a sweater or a light jacket. An onsite gift shop sells items such as themed souvenirs,...MORE sweatshirts, miner's helmets and, of course, rock candy.

    For planning your itinerary, it is helpful to know that the cavern entrance is near the Louisville Zoo, making it convenient to plan to visit both attractions on the same day.

    Tours of the Louisville Mega Cavern include:

    • Historic Tram Tours - Regularly scheduled guided tram tours explore the cavern history, geology, mining, recycling, green building construction and more. Tram tours last approximately one hour and ten minutes.
    • Mega Zips - For more adventurous visitors, the Louisville Mega Cavern's two and one-half hour underground guided zip-line tour features six zip lines and three challenge bridges, some in cavern chambers with 90-foot ceiling heights.
    • Lights Under Louisville - During the holiday season, the Louisville Mega Cavern twinkles with more than 1 million lights in over 500 festive displays of characters and scenes, which may be enjoyed as an underground driving tour.

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  • 11 of 11

    Fourth Street Live!

    Fourth Street Live! Louisville KY
    ••• Flickr / CC / Nicolas Henderson

    Location: South 4th Street, between Liberty Street and Muhammad Ali Boulevard

    Opened in 2004, Fourth Street Live! is an entertainment, dining and retail complex located in the heart of Downtown Louisville close to many top Hotels and attractions. A popular nightlife and gathering spot for visitors and Louisvillians alike, the complex is home to about 15 restaurants, bars and clubs, as well as a food court and a few retailers. In addition, many special events and free concerts take place at Fourth Street Live!

    The Louisville Convention & Visitors Bureau Visitors Center, which is located at the North entrance of the complex, is a great place to learn about sightseeing tours and other fun things to do during your visit.

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