Louisville typically isn't a city you think about visiting when it comes to big cities in the United States. However, with its southern charm, wealth of big attractions, and its deep connection with sports of all kinds, there's more to this fair city than most people give it credit for.
This city is near and dear to my heart because when I was a consultant, I had my first client in this very city. The project was long, and so I ended up spending a few weeks in the city. Here are my top picks for the best things to do in Louisville.
Top Things You Need To Do in Louisville Kentucky
1) Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory
If you're a baseball fan, this one should be obvious. Right in the heart of downtown, the entrance is unmistakable with its 120-feet tall replica of Babe Ruth's Louisville Slugger bat. This is a great place for fans of all ages where they get an inside look at the factory where the bats are created. There are also tons of opportunities for photo ops, hitting real balls in a batting cage, and getting up close and personal with some historical bats.
- Tours run every 20 minutes to an hour (last one departs half an hour before closing).
- Make sure you bring dollar bills for the batting cage.
- Budget two hours here for the tour and to explore the rest of the museum.
- Everyone gets a souvenir minibat at the end of the tour.
- If you're looking to make your own custom bat, make sure you do this in advance of your trip.
Address: 800 W Main St, Louisville, KY 40202
Admission: $12 Adults, $11 Seniors (60+), $7 Kids (6-12), Kids 5 and under Free
Hours: Monday-Saturday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Sunday 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
2) Muhammad Ali Center
Many people don't know this but Muhammad Ali is a native of Louisville, Ky., and in his honor, this award-winning museum was built to inspire other with his legacy. This thorough and well-presented museum houses five floors dedicated to his life in boxing, spiritualism, and life in the 50's and 60's. All the information is easily digestible, and has tons of great video to watch.
- This museum of close to the Louisville Slugger Museum, so you can easily combine these two in an afternoon.
- Visit the Louisville Slugger museum first because with those tickets, you can get $1 off the Muhammad Ali Center.
Address: 144 N 6th St., Louisville, KY 40202
Admission: $9 Adults, $8 Seniors (65+), $5 Military, $5 Students with ID, $4 Children (6-12)
Hours: Sunday 12 p.m. to 5 p.m.; Monday closed; Tuesday-Saturday 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
3) Kentucky Derby Museum & Churchill Downs
Every year, millions gallop down to Louisville to this historic track, home to the Kentucky Derby. Whether you're a horse racing or equestrian enthusiast, you'll be fascinated by the history behind Churchill Downs with its museum and tour of the grandstand and racetrack. With just about 140 years of history behind it, there's much to check out.
- Budget at least two to three-hours, especially if you are doing any extra tours.
- The Derby and Oaks are the big races in the year, but don't forget there are regular races here on weekends and midweek from June to September.
- Parking is $3.
- Don't forget: there is an “Inside the Gates Walking Tour” and “Barn and Backside Van Tour,” which is extra with general admission.
Address: 704 Central Ave, Louisville, KY 40208
Admission:$14 Adults, $13 Seniors (55+), $11 Young adults (13-18), $6 Children (5-12), Children 5 and under Free
- Winter Hours (December 1 – March 14): Monday-Saturday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Sunday 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
- Summer Hours (March 15 – November 30): Monday-Saturday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Sunday 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Where to Stay in Louisville
If you are looking for cheap hotels in Louisville, there are plenty of options, but the key is to stay closer to the University of Louisville where the prices drop considerably compared to the downtown core.
If I had to pick, my two go-to properties to check out are these ones:
You can see this is the hotel that started it all for me and the Hilton program. I stayed here as my first hotel when I was still a consultant and it blew me away. It's one of those classic hotels that has pomp and circumstance.
There's much more to see in Louisville, Kentucky
This is just the beginning when it comes to Louisville. Outside the city's equestrian endeavours and the multitude of museums, stroll through Central Park, catch a Cardinal's college basketball game, catch a concert, explore the historic district of Old Louisville, have a fabulous dinner and people-watch at the Fourth Street Live! entertainment complex to get a real feel for the city.
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