Louisville = Family Fun
Traveling to Louisville with the family? Here the Greater Louisville Convention & Visitors Bureau suggests activities for a long-weekend in the city. They admit, however, that they probably suggested more than you can pack into a day. So the choice is up to you; whatever you don’t see this time…you’ll see on your next visit, because we’re sure the kids will beg to come back.
Louisville’s summer weather can range from blue to cloudy skies and comfortable to humid temperatures. So they’ve suggested a combo of indoor and outdoor activities, allowing you to pick-and-choose based on your family’s interests, and the forecast.
Links have been provided so you can confirm hours of operation.
ARE WE THERE YET?
Didn’t have time to request the official Visitors Guide before hitting the road? Stop at the Louisville Visitors Center at 4th and Jefferson in downtown. Check out the brochures, ask for dinner suggestions, grab a downtown walking tour brochure and take your kid’s picture with a life-sized Colonel Sanders…all for free.
If it’s your family’s first visit to Kentucky, take time to catch the multi-sensory experience of the KentuckyShow!, which runs hourly Tuesday through Sunday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. The 32-minute film tells a beautiful story about the rich history of the Commonwealth, a sort of Kentucky 101.
- Breakfast options abound in downtown Louisville. For locations close to our suggested stops, both with kid’s menus, try Dish on Market, for a fast affordable breakfast, or check out Panera Bread.
- On your way to your first stop of the day, have the kids keep their eyes out the Louisville Slugger Walk of Fame. The walk stretches one mile on historic East and West Main Streets starting at Louisville Slugger Field. The Walk of Fame ends at the Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory, where memories will last a lifetime, especially with a family photo op in front of the world’s largest baseball bat.
- The kids will enjoy mimicking the life-like mannequin of Babe Ruth as he hits one out of the park. And you’ll all be amazed witnessing, right before your eyes, a piece of wood – called a billet – spinning into the shape of a bat in less than 90 seconds.
Money saving tip:
Before you leave home, make sure to grab a magnet off your fridge and bring it with you. This next tip will surprise the kids. It’s a little history lesson that will delight them. The best part? It costs you nothing!
- Over a century ago, cast iron made it possible to build beautiful decorative features that were too expensive to carve out of stone. Main Street is one of the largest assemblies of cast-iron facade buildings in the United States. Notice the sidewalk bricks in front of the columns? They’re placed sideways and flecked with iron to make it easy to identify the cast iron buildings. A magnet will stick to building facades that are cast iron.
Money saving tip:
Visit more than one Museum Row on Main attraction and save dough. Show your ticket stub at the next stop and receive a discount on admission.
- One block east, the fun continues at the Louisville Science Center where Science in Play just opened. It is a customized 6,000 square-foot early childhood exhibit with six separate activity zones: The Sensory Course, Testing Area, Big Build, Small Build, Science Depot, and Shapes & Stuff Store. In each zone, innovative elements encourage children ages 0-7 to build, test and engineer new science activities through experimental play.
See if the kids can spot Mayor Farnsley. Hint: he is sitting on bench at 623 West Main Street and isn’t moving…since he’s made of bronze.
- Offer the kids the choice both within steps on Main Street, or two blocks, of the Science Center -- The Bristol Bar & Grille (kids menu) and Luigi’s Pizzeria (what kid doesn’t like pizza?). Or look for one of downtown Louisville’s hot dog vendors (often seen at Jefferson Park, 4th and Main Streets and elsewhere during the week).
- The Belle of Louisville cruises the Ohio River Thursday through Sunday from Memorial Day to Labor Day with sightseeing cruises and tours of the locks and dam, as well as themed cruises with live Bluegrass music (a dance hit with the kids), Father’s Day, luncheons, comedy night, picnics and more. A National Historic Landmark, the Belle’s calliope music leads you to her dock at the 4th Street Wharf where you can buy tickets. Reservations are recommended for the themed cruises.
- Finish your day among the fascinating exhibitions at the Frazier History Museum or with The Greatest at the Muhammad Ali Center.
The Frazier’s Toy Soldiers exhibit is one of the largest public displays of toy soldiers in the United States. These miniatures depict real people and historical events, feature uniforms such as different tartans for Highland regiments, serve as historically accurate marching and mounted bands and celebrate notable weddings and festivals. And they number more than 10,000 strong.
As a boxer, Muhammad Ali brought unprecedented speed and grace to his sport, while his charm and wit changed forever what the public expected a champion to be. The Muhammad Ali Center showcases this sporting legend’s poetic and athletic talents.
You and your kids will be inspired by the skills of Louisville’slocal hero when you fine tune your own technique and jump in the ring to shadowbox with Ali. Make sure to stop and admire the global collection of children’s artwork beautifully displayed in the 55-foot-long Hope and Dream Wall.
- A short bike ride, or car drive away, the family will love the view from the Tumbleweed Southwest Grill, situated on the Ohio River with boat docks nearby and the Indiana shoreline in sight. Kids under 12 eat free (from the kids menu) on Sundays!
- Rent a bike or surrey from Wheel Fun Rentals and explore the beautiful Waterfront Park. The park features biking and walking paths, playgrounds (yes, more than one!), splash parks, special events and more.
Photo op: Sit on Abe’s lap at the Lincoln Memorial, which tells the story of how, as a young man, Lincoln began developing his abhorrence of slavery while watching slaves being loaded onto riverboats on the Ohio River.
- Take the scenic parkways, or a quick trip via the interstate, tothe Louisville Zoo. Visit the polar bears and sea lions at the new Glacier Run, splash in the water park and feed a lorikeet, all hands-on-activities that will delight kids and grownups alike.
- Grab some lunch at neighborhood spots such as Lynn’s Paradise Café, The Cottage Inn (known for its fried chicken) or Dairy Kastle. All within 4 miles of the zoo.
- A constant 60 degrees underground, the Louisville Mega Cavernis a perfect activity for a rainy or sweltering summer day. With more than 17 miles of underground passageways beneath the City of Louisville, Louisville Zoo and Watterson Expressway. You’ll discover a guided tram tour rich in history, geology, mining and recycling.
- Be entertained while eating great seafood at Joe’s Crab Shack overlooking the Ohio River. Or have a family dinner at one of Louisville’s favorite locally-owned spots.
- Try the Bar-B-Q at Mark’s Feed Store (kids eat free on Tuesdays)
- Eat award winning, slice-of-heaven pizza at Wick’s Pizza (check the website for a money saving coupon)
- Enjoy a buffalo burger at Buckhead Mountain Grill (kids eat free every Monday-Thursday with purchase of adult entree of $9.99 or more)