Established in 1778, Louisville, Kentucky is one of the oldest settlements west of the Appalachian Mountains. If the honeyed accents and immense history do not win you over then the people will. As a frequently passed over the city—especially on long cross country moves—we wanted to share our top 5 places to visit in Louisville. Places where you and your family can explore, stretch, and learn.
5 Places to Visit in Louisville, KY
It’s true, Churchill Downs, the home of the Kentucky Derby, is by far the most popular tourist attraction in town. And, it has earned the title. This place is downright amazing. Upon arriving, you get assigned a tour time. This is at least a half-day activity. The tour is impressive, full of wonderful stories of horses, their riders, and the money entering those famous spires.
What most people do not know, is that Churchill Downs was originally owned by Meriweather Lewis Clark, Jr., grandson to the American Explorer, William Clark. Like most young bachelors, Clark eventually ran out of money and sold the racetrack to William E. Applegate who would make the grandstand addition and secure its iconic place in American racing. By hosting the Kentucky Derby annually, Churchill Downs and the Kentucky Derby both prospered.
After your tour, you should spend time in the museum. The museum at Churchill Downs is one of the best interactive museums. With a full history of every Derby winner and a detailed view of the Jockey life, you can spend all day in this museum. For the youngest of your crew, they have a jockey dress up station!
Louisville Slugger Museum and Factory
Downtown Louisville, Kentucky is home to an area known as “museum row.” It is in this area that you can spot the World’s Largest Baseball Bat protruding from the brick and mortar of the downtown. This 120 ft tall and 68,000-pound structure marks the entrance to the Louisville Slugger Museum and Factory.
Inside the building, is a beautiful museum honoring the history of the Slugger Factory and the players and sport for which it has served. Some key exhibits to make sure to see are:
- Wall of Signatures – located in the foyer, this giant wall contains the signatures of every contracted player ever signed on by Louisville Slugger.
- The Batting Cages – A fabulous interactive opportunities for your younger group members, the batting cages allow you to use Louisville Composite Bats and Historical Bats from your favorite players to hit it out of the park.
- The Bat Vault – a living archive of sorts where all of the models and replicas of every bat ever produced by Louisville Slugger are kept.
By far the most exciting part of the museum experience is the factory tour. This is not a staged look at bat production. This tour is the real deal. As you proceed throughout the factory, you are shown and taught about the wood and where it is sourced from. You follow that piece of wood from the tree to the finished product. Along the way, you learn so much about the history of baseball, its most famous players, and of course the artistry that goes into the process of bat making.
Kentucky has been perfecting the art of bourbon making for over 200 years and they want to show you with all of their distillery tours! On the Kentucky Bourbon Trail, you can acquire your bourbon passport at the local visitor center and begin to work your way through the 37 distilleries on the trail. If you make it to 6 of the 34 then you get a free t-shirt! With 17 leading distilleries and 20 craft distilleries, Kentucky says “Let the Spirits Lead You.”
If architecture and victorian era homes are something you enjoy, then Old Louisville is a must-see for you! Originally built as a suburb to Louisville, the “Old Louisville” part of town was built in 1870 as an expansion project South of Downtown. With architectural styles ranging from Federal to Queen Anne, the area is home to more pedestrian-only streets than any other city in the U.S. It also contains the most shared courtyards.
If you visit Old Louisville during the holiday season you can also book a Home Tour of the elaborately decorated mansions. Walking through Old Louisville should be on your list for a leisurely afternoon!
The Falls of the Ohio National Wildlife Conservation Area
The falls of the Ohio River are the only navigational barrier on the river. Therefore, settlers had to exit the river and stop in Louisville to continue on their journey. Louisville and all of the surrounding settlements exist because of the location of the Falls of the Ohio. Nowadays, you can visit the conservation area to explore the falls, adjacent dams, and the beautiful scenery that those original settlers would have come upon.
If you find yourself in need of a getaway or a road trip detour, Louisville, Kentucky is waiting to show you a wonderful time. With a deep history, cultural pride, and a beautiful way of opening a stage for nature, you are sure to want to spend more time in Louisville. Louisville also offers the perfect adult getaway or bachelorette party destination with its wonderful distillery tours and exciting restaurant and nightclub scene. Do yourself a favor and put Louisville, KY on your list for 2020.
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