Things to do in Louisville

While Churchill Downs and the Kentucky Derby are the main entries on the traditional bucketlist, visitors will discover all manner of attractions in this pretty southern city. Louisville has a long history, most prevalent in the old architecture built throughout.

It is home to the third largest National Preservation District, and largest Victorian district, in the United States. Scenic areas worth exploring include St James Court and Belgravia Court, Main and Market Streets, the Cherokee Triangle, and Butchertown.

Downtown has highlights within walking distance, including the art galleries of Market Street, the Speed Art Musem, the Kentucky Center for the Performing Arts, the Louisville Slugger Museum, the Kentucky Science Center, Frazier Historical Arms Museum, Kentucky Museum of Art and Craft, Kentucky Derby Museum, and the Muhammad Ali Center. Many of these are located in a cluster on Main Street.

Besides the iconic horse race, the Kentucky Derby Festival presents air shows, balloon and steamboat races, and marathons. The St James Court Art show is a fun local event too, held in a genteel neighbourhood of stately Victorian homes.

Muhammad Ali Center photo

Muhammad Ali Center

Fans of legendary boxer Muhammad Ali can see and experience all aspects of the life of the man dubbed 'The Greatest' at this huge multi-media, interactive exhibition centre, which

Muhammad Ali Center

Fans of legendary boxer Muhammad Ali can see and experience all aspects of the life of the man dubbed 'The Greatest' at this huge multi-media, interactive exhibition centre, which features theatres and interactive stations.

Ali's story, including his boxing career, global humanitarianism, and societal and religious convictions, is presented in thematic displays, according to the six core values he has encompassed: confidence, conviction, dedication, respect, spirituality and giving.

The inspirational centre also includes displays of memorabilia, a retail store, and cafe.

Address 144 N. Sixth Street

Website www.alicenter.org

Opens Tuesday to Saturday 9:30am-5pm; Sunday 12pm-5pm. Closed Monday. Last admission at 4:15pm.

Admission

$14 adults, $9 children 6-12; children under five are free. Discounts for students, pensioners and groups.

Kentucky Derby Museum photo

Kentucky Derby Museum

Even those who aren't horse racing fans can experience the thrill of the sport at the museum and through tours offered at Churchill Downs. Established in 1874, it's one of the worl

Kentucky Derby Museum

Even those who aren't horse racing fans can experience the thrill of the sport at the museum and through tours offered at Churchill Downs. Established in 1874, it's one of the world's oldest and most famous tracks, hosting the annual renowned Kentucky Derby.

The Museum contains exhibits that bring the pageantry and excitement of the Derby to life, including high-tech computerised hands-on displays and video graphics. A video entitled 'The Greatest Race' shows on a 360-degree screen every half hour from 9am to 4:30pm and from 12:30pm on Sundays.

Museum tour guides take groups of visitors to see the Churchill Downs' stable and infield areas, as well as through the historic Edwardian grandstand, finish line, and winners' circle.

Address 704 Central Avenue

Website www.derbymuseum.org

Opens Monday to Saturday 9am-5pm (opens 8am from 15 March to November), Sunday 11am-5pm.

Admission

$16 adults and $10 children aged 5-14. Other concessions available.

Belle of Louisville photo

Belle of Louisville

The Belle of Louisville is America's oldest still-serving sternwheeler riverboat, plying the Ohio River from Louisville's waterfront to give visitors memorable sunset cruises, sigh

Belle of Louisville

The Belle of Louisville is America's oldest still-serving sternwheeler riverboat, plying the Ohio River from Louisville's waterfront to give visitors memorable sunset cruises, sightseeing excursions and Saturday night party cruises.

Powered by two steam engines and boasting 32 whistles, the historic boat was commissioned in 1914 and was originally named the Idlewild. She served as a packet boat for many years, carrying passengers and freight on America's inland waters.

In 1962 she was purchased by the Jefferson County authorities and refurbished, being declared a National Historic Landmark. Now, public sightseeing cruises depart from the 4th Street Wharf in Louisville.

Address 401 West River Road

Website www.belleoflouisville.org

Admission

$43.99 adults, $31.99 children 4-14; other concessions available.

Thomas Edison House photo

Thomas Edison House

Thomas Edison, inventor of the incandescent electric light bulb, lived in the house on East Washington Street in 1866 when he was only 19 years old and had yet to receive acclaim f

Thomas Edison House

Thomas Edison, inventor of the incandescent electric light bulb, lived in the house on East Washington Street in 1866 when he was only 19 years old and had yet to receive acclaim for his many inventions.

When Edison lived in Louisville, he worked for the Western Union as a telegraph operator on Second and West Main Street, a few blocks from the house. Today, the simple cottage, built around 1850, has been restored as a museum housing interesting artefacts.

These artefacts in Thomas Edison House include things such as cylinder and disc phonographs, a kinetoscope, the first home motion picture projector, numerous versions of the light bulb and other creations patented by the famous inventor.

Address 729-31 East Washington Street

Website www.edisonhouse.org

Cathedral of the Assumption photo

Cathedral of the Assumption

The Cathedral of the Assumption is the fourth oldest public building in Louisville as well as the third oldest Catholic Cathedral in the United States in continuous use. Designed i…

Cathedral of the Assumption

The Cathedral of the Assumption is the fourth oldest public building in Louisville as well as the third oldest Catholic Cathedral in the United States in continuous use. Designed in the neo-Gothic style by William Keeley and Isaiah Rogers, the Cathedral was completed in 1852.

The steeple rises 287 feet (84m) above the Louisville skyline, and upon its completion, was North America's tallest spire. The chancel window is one of the oldest surviving examples of hand-painted stained glass in the country.

The Cathedral of the Assumption is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is an active, urban parish with 1,500 registered families. Audio tours are available and docents conduct guided tours by appointment only.

Address 433 South Fifth Street

Website www.cathedraloftheassumption.org

Opens The Archdiocesan History Center is open 10:30am-2pm on Sundays.

Kentucky Science Center photo

Kentucky Science Center

The Kentucky Science Center in historic West Main Street, founded in 1871 as a natural history collection, has experienced more than a century of growth to become Kentucky's larges

Kentucky Science Center

The Kentucky Science Center in historic West Main Street, founded in 1871 as a natural history collection, has experienced more than a century of growth to become Kentucky's largest hands-on science centre, visited by more than 550,000 people each year.

A highlight of the centre is a permanent exhibit known as The World Around Us, featuring interactive stations that challenge visitors of all ages to make use of their creativity and problem-solving skills.

The centre also has a four-story digital movie theatre, a gift shop and restaurant. The Science Center isn't just for kids, providing lectures and events for adults after hours.

Address 727 West Main Street

Website www.kysciencecenter.org

Opens Sunday to Thursday 9:30am-5pm; Friday and Saturday 9:30am-9pm. Closed Derby Day, Thanksgiving, and December 24-25.

Admission

Exhibits: adults $17, and $13 for children aged 2-12; movie passes and combination tickets available.

Louisville Glassworks photo

Louisville Glassworks

Louisville Glassworks is America's first complete centre dedicated to the art of glass, from architectural glassworks to the finest glass jewellery and ornaments. Located in Louisv…

Louisville Glassworks

Louisville Glassworks is America's first complete centre dedicated to the art of glass, from architectural glassworks to the finest glass jewellery and ornaments. Located in Louisville on the corner of 9th and Market Streets in the historic Snead Manufacturing Building, visitors can watch glassblowers, flameworkers, cutters and designers at work, creating glass art in the open air and studios.

Renowned resident glassmakers are Mark Payton and Brook White, but Louisville Glassworks also plays host to visiting glass-smiths. Visitors have the opportunity to work one-to-one with an artist to create their own glass art. This is by appointment only. Guided tours are also available.

Address 815 West Market Street

Website www.louisvilleglassworks.com

Kentucky Horse Park photo

Kentucky Horse Park

The only theme park in the world dedicated to man's relationship with the horse, the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington covers 1,200 acres in Kentucky's famous Bluegrass region. Visi…

Kentucky Horse Park

The only theme park in the world dedicated to man's relationship with the horse, the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington covers 1,200 acres in Kentucky's famous Bluegrass region. Visits begin with a film, followed by exploring the vast and comprehensive International Museum of the Horse.

Guests can also wander through a self-guided farm tour watching the farrier at work and admiring the tack shop, before attending a half-hour parade in the show ring, which highlights the characteristics of some of the park's 40 different breeds of horses.

In the Hall of Champions, legendary thoroughbreds are presented for viewing, and visitors can also enjoy a carriage or horseback ride around the park's extensive show facilities. The presentations are held only between March and October.

Address 4089 Iron Works Parkway, Lexington

Website www.kyhorsepark.com

Opens 9am-5pm

Admission

Admission rates vary in accordance with the season, but adults will generally pay between $12 - $20 and children (6-12) $6 - $10.

Woodford Reserve Distillery photo

Woodford Reserve Distillery

Besides horses, Kentucky is famous for its bourbon history. Numerous distilleries are open to the public. But the oldest still operating is the Woodford Reserve Distillery, nestled

Woodford Reserve Distillery

Besides horses, Kentucky is famous for its bourbon history. Numerous distilleries are open to the public. But the oldest still operating is the Woodford Reserve Distillery, nestled between lush horse farms in Woodford County on McCracken Pike.

Bourbon was first distilled here in 1812, when it was known as the Labrot & Graham Distillery. The site of the beautiful limestone buildings is a National Historic Landmark, restored to its original condition.

It's the only bourbon distillery still using copper pot stills, the traditional method of distillation. A visitor's centre provides displays and videos on the history of bourbon and guests can watch how bourbon is distilled in the traditional manner. The distillery offers several tours and tastings.

Address 7855 McCracken Pike, Versailles

Website www.woodfordreserve.com

Opens Monday to Saturday 10am-3pm, Sunday 1pm-3pm.

Admission

Distillery tours: $20

Fort Knox photo

Fort Knox

This US Army fort, located an hour south of Louisville, is world-famous as the home of America's largest stockpile of gold bullion. However, the repository is closed to visitors. A

Fort Knox

This US Army fort, located an hour south of Louisville, is world-famous as the home of America's largest stockpile of gold bullion. However, the repository is closed to visitors. A popular attraction is the General George Patton Museum of Leadership.

It has exhibitions of US Army artefacts going back to 1775. Adjacent to the museum is Keyes Park, offering pleasant picnic areas and a playground for children to run around in. The museum store sells a whole array of gifts and mementos.

Address 4554 Fayette Avenue, Fort Knox

Website www.generalpatton.org

Opens Museum: Tuesday to Saturday 10am-4:30pm. Closed Sundays and major holidays.

Admission

Free

Frankfort photo

Frankfort

The capital city of Kentucky, history-rich Frankfort is situated about 50 miles (80km) east of Louisville, about 50 minutes drive from Louisville International Airport. It boasts a…

Frankfort

The capital city of Kentucky, history-rich Frankfort is situated about 50 miles (80km) east of Louisville, about 50 minutes drive from Louisville International Airport. It boasts a vast array of architectural styles, famous landmarks, museums and enjoyable shopping precincts.

Among the interesting attractions in the city is the Old State Capitol, a Greek Revival building dating from 1830 with a unique self-supporting staircase held together by precision and pressure.

Other architectural sites include the Frank Lloyd Wright designed Zeigler house, dating from 1910, and the Switzer Covered Bridge, a beautifully restored Howe Trussed bridge dating back to 1855 that offers a lovely place for a picnic.

Besides numerous historic houses and buildings, Frankfort boasts a fascinating History Center, historic sites, war memorials and scenic wildlife reserves. Daniel Boone, the famous frontiersman, is buried in Frankfort Cemetery, overlooking the city.

The Buffalo Trace Distillery has been operating for over two centuries, and offers guided tours. The city also offers many active pursuits, including golf, horseback riding, canoeing, and hiking.

Website www.visitfrankfort.com

Mammoth Cave photo

Mammoth Cave

The Mammoth Cave National Park near Edmonson in south-central Kentucky boasts the longest cave in the world, with 405 miles (652km) of cavers and passages having so far been explor

Mammoth Cave

The Mammoth Cave National Park near Edmonson in south-central Kentucky boasts the longest cave in the world, with 405 miles (652km) of cavers and passages having so far been explored. According to experts, there's 'no end in sight'.

Officially dedicated as a national park in 1941, its cave system and scenic valleys of the Green and Nolin Rivers remain preserved.

The park offers camping, cave tours, hiking trails, hotel accommodation, canoeing, and horseback riding. There are a variety of expeditions on offer, with varying levels of difficulty and sightseeing options, run to different schedules.

Visitors should request a brochure and book in advance, as tours cannot be booked on the day.

Website www.nps.gov/maca/index.htm

Opens Visitors Center: November to March 8:30am-4:30pm; March to June 8am-6pm. Various different tours on offer daily.

Admission

Mammoth Cave Passage Tour: $8 adults, $6 children 6-12. Other tours range from $14-60. Concessions available.

Churchill Downs photo

Churchill Downs

The home of the most famous horse race in America, Churchill Downs is full of tradition and amazing stories. It opened in 1875, and has hosted the Kentucky Derby ever since. The tr

Churchill Downs

The home of the most famous horse race in America, Churchill Downs is full of tradition and amazing stories. It opened in 1875, and has hosted the Kentucky Derby ever since. The track also hosts the Breeders' Cup.

Races are run from May to July, and October to November, and visitors to Churchill Downs can see live races in addition to learning about past winners in the Kentucky Derby Museum, which is open year round.

Address 700 Central Avenue

Website www.churchilldowns.com

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