United States

Things to Do in Louisville

The Kentucky Derby. The best bourbon. Festivals. Historic hotels. A world-class zoo. Like its famous Slugger bats, few American destinations offer an equivalent to Louisville’s “sweet spot” for visitors.

Louisville is a cultural crossroads. It's where Southern hospitality meets big-city amenities. Where the farms of rolling bluegrass hills meet a revitalized downtown on the rolling Ohio River. Where real Civil War stories are told at the site of a Great American Novel. And where horseracing and a heavyweight champion have made Louisville a world-famous sports destination for kings and commoners alike.

Here are our top picks for things to do in Louisville:

Louisville Convention & Visitors Bureau

1. Bet on Fun

The Kentucky Derby is the oldest continuous American sporting event—but it only happens 1 day of the year. Visit Churchill Downs and the Kentucky Derby Museum any time for photo and film exhibits, trophies and a chance to mount a saddle at a real starting gate. Various van and walking tours include Millionaire’s Row, Derby winner burial sites, and the Barn and Backside—where you might catch a future champion getting a bath. Tours depend on live racing events (late April-July and late October-November) when you can win, place and show your group a good time.
James Moses / Louisville Convention & Visitors Bureau

2. A Home Run for Everyone

Ever since superstar shortstop Honus Wagner first endorsed one in 1905, professional players have ordered custom bats from Hillerich & Bradsby Co., better known as the Louisville Slugger Museum and Factory. Just look downtown for the world’s tallest bat (rising 120 feet) leaning outside. Inside, see bats of Babe Ruth and Cal Ripken, take a swing at a fastball and tour the factory—with a free miniature bat as a souvenir!
Photolibrary / Getty Images

3. “The Greatest” Inspires Others

The Muhammad Ali Center is more than a museum honoring the controversial fighter known as Cassius Clay, traitor, leader, champion. This multicultural center is the Louisville native’s own initiative devoted to conflict resolution using his “6 core principles,” including character and inner strength, to “promote respect, hope and understanding.” (Photo Essay: Journey of “The Greatest”)

About the Author

Laura Boswell is a Washington, DC-based journalist and essayist covering travel, sports, careers and relationships for outlets including ESPN.com, The Washington Post, AARP The Magazine and The Bob Edwards Show.

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