Visiting Louisville - What to See and Do
(Louisville International Airport SDF, USA)
Just across the Ohio River from Indiana
is Kentucky's largest city, Louisville
. Best known as the host of the classic Kentucky Derby horse race each May, this city shines all year round, with a great historic downtown and lots of things to see and do in the surrounding area.
Horses play a huge role in the lifestyle of Louisville. Driving around the outskirts of the city, you see some absolutely beautiful bluegrass farms where thoroughbreds are born and bred. In town, the 7-mile / 11-km Riverwalk is the lifeline of the city center, giving residents a convenient way to enjoy their lovely river. Another great way to experience the city's offerings is on a classic river paddleboat - one attraction not to be missed when the sun is shining.
There are museums dedicated to horses, baseball bats, and Kentucky arts and crafts. In reality, the charm of Louisville resides simply in the city center and its atmosphere. The historic brick downtown is a treasure trove of architecture, with plenty of places to eat, drink and shop in style. This place is as laid back as its river, and as good an urban center as you will find in Kentucky.
Ten things you must do in Louisville
- You may struggle to get a ticket to go to the Kentucky Derby each May, but the city kicks into high-gear fun for two weeks leading up to the big event, making this the ideal time for a visit if you want to experience Louisville at its happiest. Several major festivals take place in the last two weeks of April, among sublime spring weather and a full-on party atmosphere.
- The legendary Churchill Downs is one of the world's most famous horseracing tracks. The grounds are beautiful and the horse racing top-notch. From May through to the end of the fall you will have no trouble getting into this hallowed arena on race days.
- The Riverwalk is the kind of urban development you dream about. The city built this lovely walking path along the Ohio River, right through the heart of Louisville. Then they let businesses convert the old buildings along the river banks into trendy restaurants, bars and shops. The Riverwalk is the best of both worlds - outdoor nature and urban amenities.
- Old Louisville is the country's third-largest National Preservation District, offering blocks of beautiful turn-of-the-century architectural attractions to admire. Better yet, this is a thriving commercial district where many of the city's most engaging eateries, watering holes and unique shops are located. It is an ideal place to explore on foot, with plenty of chances to stop for a snack or beverage.
- Most baseball players are very familiar with the Louisville Slugger baseball bat. It is arguably the best in the business, and you can visit the Louisville Slugger Museum and Factory right in the downtown core. Besides the 90-minute tour of the production factory, there is a great little museum with some real treasures from stars like Babe Ruth and Joe DiMaggio.
- One excursion not to miss is a riverboat cruise on the Ohio River. The Belle of Louisville is a classic steam paddleboat. In fact, it is the oldest operating steamboat of its kind in the US. Its two-hour sightseeing cruise is both educational and fun, giving passengers a unique view of the city and its riverside scenery in the most charming old-style environment imaginable.
- The Muhammad Ali Center is one of the downtown district's newest attractions. This modern interactive venue features the life and achievements of the great boxer, who was a native son of Louisville. Watch any of his fights on demand or browse the exhibits that track the timeline of his life. It is a great stop if you have an interest in boxing.
- One of the most interesting museums in town is centered around guns, weaponry and armor throughout the ages. The Frazier International History Museum is focused on just one aspect of history - weapons. It contains the world's largest collection of weapons, armour and relics, with some truly fascinating objects on display. The interactive nature of the museum lets you really experience the different functions and features of the many arms on show.
- Get more familiar with the legendary Kentucky bourbon at one of the major distilleries in Louisville. A good start is the Maker's Mark Bourbon House and Lounge. This impressive pub on Fourth Street is both a distillery and a bar, so you can drink its excellent bourbon right after seeing how they create it. The bar atmosphere is very comfortable as well, featuring good food and occasional live music.
- Get to know the locals on their turf at one of the 40 or so casual bars in the downtown district. Between Shelbytown, Germantown, Smoketown and the downtown core there are countless dive bars that serve up the real local Kentucky color without any pretension. Leave your fancy clothes at home and come down to hang with the good ole boys (and girls).