Welcome to Louisville, where you can find art and history museums, numerous family-friendly activities, and one of the world’s most famous racetracks!
The Kentucky Fair and Exposition Center is located in a prime position among three major interstates: I-65, I-71, and I-64. It is easy to hit the road to find an interesting historical tour, compelling museum or unique shopping experience. But if you want to do more walking while enjoying nature, take the opportunity to visit one of the city’s 120 parks.
When all of that touring whets your appetite for culinary adventure, Louisville offers more than 2,500 restaurant choices. Louisville was recently named one of the “Top Five Foodiest Small Cities” in America by Bon Appétit magazine.
Premier event for horse lovers
You can’t visit Louisville without learning at least a little bit more about one of the city’s biggest events. Churchill Downs racetrack, located at 700 Central Avenue, is home to the Kentucky Derby. The Kentucky Derby originated in 1875 and is held on the first Saturday in May. The Kentucky Derby Museum is located at Gate 1 of Churchill Downs and offers two floors of exciting exhibits designed to give visitors an in-depth look into thoroughbred racing and the great race. Interactive exhibits give visitors a chance to enjoy a variety of Derby experiences. Jump into the saddle of a simulated horse and try to maintain the jockey’s stance for a two-minute “ride,” or take advantage of a photo opportunity while sitting on a replica horse inside a simulated starting gate.
The Kentucky Derby Museum website offers suggested itineraries for a full day of learning, fun and tours and provides options for more time-crunched visitors. Historic and behind-the-scenes walking tours are offered throughout the day. National Farm Machinery Show attendees will be lucky enough to be in town on the third Thursday of the month, which is when a special Horses and Haunts tour is held at Churchill Downs. During the 1 ½-hour tour, visitors hear stories of track legends and lore while visiting the Kentucky Derby Museum cemetery and other slightly spooky stops. The Horses & Haunts tour is available Thursday at 7:00 p.m. and costs $15/person; reservations are required at least 24 hours in advance. The Kentucky Derby Museum is open Monday through Saturday from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., and Sunday from 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Admission includes a Historic Walking Tour of Churchill Downs. A Behind the Scenes Walking Tour is also available for an additional charge of $11/person and takes place at 10:00 a.m., noon and 2:00 p.m., and on Sundays at 12:30 and 2:30 p.m. Call 502/637-1111, ext. 220, for all tour reservations. Visit www.derbymuseum.org to learn more.
Baseball appeals to all ages and the Louisville Slugger Museum and Factory offers family-friendly fun. Interactive exhibits give you a chance to hold game-used bats from superstars past and present while visiting the museum. Throughout the day, you can experience live character performances, behind-the-scenes tours and hands-on activities. The popular factory tour gives you a chance to watch experts transform a block of wood into a world-class bat.
Then have your picture taken in front of the World's Biggest Bat. The Big Bat positioned near the museum and factory is made of steel, weighs 68,000 lbs. and stands 120 ft. tall. The Big Bat is an exact-scale replica of the 34-in. Louisville Slugger that Babe Ruth used.
Tour the museum and factory Monday through Saturday, 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., and Sundays from noon to 5:00 p.m. Pick up a free mini bat as part of the tour. Order a personalized bat when you arrive and it will be ready by the time you finish your tour. Bats are now being made seven days a week. A new photo studio is part of the Be a Legend experience. Pose for a picture that will be placed on your very own set of four one-of-a-kind All-Star baseball cards for $12.95.
The Louisville Slugger Museum and Factory is located at 800 West Main Street. For more information, call 877/775-8443 or visit www.sluggermuseum.org.
If you want to stay in the neighborhood after getting your souvenir bat, choices abound in the Museum Row area on Louisville’s Main Street. The Louisville Slugger Museum and Factory is just one of the seven museums located in a convenient cluster in this area of downtown Louisville that is approximately five miles from the Kentucky Fair and Exposition Center. Other attractions in the Museum Row area include the Muhammad Ali Center, 21c Museum Hotel, Kentucky Museum of Art and Craft, Louisville Science Center, Glassworks and the Frazier International History Museum.
The Muhammad Ali Center preserves the legacy of Louisville native Muhammad Ali. Visitors experience state-of-the-art interactive exhibits and a biographical storyline of Ali’s values of respect, confidence, conviction, dedication, spirituality and giving. View video footage of Ali’s career and “train with Ali” in a replica of his training facility. Identify your own character strengths through a hands-on Walk with Ali exhibit. See a global collection of children’s artwork displayed on the 55-ft.-long Hope and Dreams Wall.
The Muhammad Ali Center is located at 144 North Sixth Street, between historic Main Street and River Road in downtown Louisville. The Muhammad Ali Center is open from 9:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday, from noon to 5:00 p.m. on Sunday, and is closed on Mondays. For more information, visit www.alicenter.org.
Hotel for art lovers
The 21c Museum Hotel has been described as a hotel for the culture-obsessed. The 90-room boutique hotel boasts a multimillion-dollar collection of contemporary, 21st century art with more than 9,000 sq. ft. of exhibition space. It also features an award-winning restaurant, video lounge and museum store. The galleries are free to the public and are open 24 hrs. a day, seven days a week. The video lounge is open from 7 a.m. to 1 a.m. The 21c Museum Hotel is located at 700 West Main St. Learn more at www.21cmuseum.org.
Traditional Kentucky art, crafts
The Kentucky Museum of Art and Craft was founded in 1981 to support and promote excellence in art, craft, applied arts and design. This wonderful site offers the perfect solution for visitors who want to both celebrate and obtain traditional and functional art.
View artistic creations in four exhibition galleries. Visit the Gallery Shop to browse through the work of approximately 200 artists at any one time, offering work in all media from folk art to furniture. The Kentucky Museum of Art and Craft features Kentucky artists along with regional and national artists in more than 12 exhibitions each year, as well as in the permanent collection.
The Kentucky Museum of Art and Craft is open Monday through Friday from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Saturday from 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., and is closed on Sundays. Learn more at www.kentuckyarts.org.
The Louisville Science Center at 727 West Main Street boasts 150 interactive exhibits, activity stations and a four-story IMAX Theater. Among the exhibits is a World Within Us Gallery offering 10,500 sq. ft. of user-friendly gallery space. The Breakthrough Gallery showcases the accomplishments and careers of regional medical researchers, while the Time Zone Gallery helps visitors ponder health and life sciences. The World Around Us exhibit encourages visitors of all ages to explore their connections to the world through 23 interactive components. Every Thursday and Saturday from noon to 4:00 p.m., children ages 7 years and younger are invited to participate in Sloppy Science activities at the museum.
The Louisville Science Center is open Monday through Thursday from 9:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Friday and Saturday from 9:30 a.m. to 9:00 p.m., and Sunday from 9:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. To learn more, visit www.louisvillescience.org.
A “hot” time
Glassworks features three glass studios, two glass galleries, a walk-in workshop and a jazz and blues club called Jazzy Blu. Shopping is available too. Learn about the world and history of glassmaking by taking one of the daily tours through the Glassworks/Hyland Glass Hot Shop, Payton Flameworks and Architectural Glass Art studios.
Self-guided tours can be taken Monday through Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., with guided tours on Saturdays at 11:00 a.m., 1:00 p.m. and 3:00 p.m. No tours are available on Sunday. Glassworks is located at 815 W. Market Street. Call 502/584-4510 or visit www.louisvilleglassworks.com.
Arms and armor
How many suits of armor did the typical knight have in the 14th through 16th centuries? A visit to the fascinating Frazier International History Museum will provide you with the answer to that question and more as you view one of the greatest collections of arms, armor and related historical artifacts in the world. See a collection of arms and armor that belonged to famous politicians, celebrities, frontiersmen, soldiers, knights and kings. Enjoy guided tours, sword-fighting demonstrations and first-person costumed historical interpretations.
The Frazier International History Museum has three floors of exhibits, an education center, museum store and tournament ring. It is open from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday through Saturday, and Sunday from noon to 5:00 p.m. The Frazier is located at the corner of Ninth and Main Streets in downtown Louisville. To learn more, visit www.fraziermuseum.org.
Polar bears at the zoo
The Louisville Zoo now has a Glacier Run exhibit that is home to two polar bear cubs named Qannik and Siku. Additional exhibits include the Tiger Tundra, Lorikeet Landing and Gorilla Forest. More than 1,300 animals can be found in naturalistic and mixed animal settings representing both geographical areas and biomes, or habitats. The zoo’s Islands exhibit is a multi-species rotational exhibit that showcases endangered or threatened animal species.
The zoo is open from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. every day. The Louisville Zoo is just 15 minutes from downtown Louisville, and is easily accessible from I-64 and I-65, at 1100 Trevilian Way. For more information, visit www.louisvillezoo.org.
The Urban Bourbon Trail in Louisville is described as a “sprits experience” comprised of restaurants and bars that know and appreciate bourbon. Visitors can pick up an Urban Bourbon Passport at the Visitors Center at 4th and Jefferson Streets in downtown Louisville, download the iPhone app, or play the SCVNGR game, which is a location-based mobile phone platform.
Participants will be guided through the history of Louisville’s bourbon heritage and some of the best bourbon bars in the world. Ask the bartender or your server to validate your passport or app before you leave. Once you have collected a stamp from all of the stops along the Urban Bourbon Trail you’ll earn the rank of official Bourbon Country citizen. You will also earn both a special Urban Bourbon Trailblazer t-shirt and the official Citizen of Bourbon Country certificate. The program is free and there is no time limit for completion. The Louisville Convention and Visitor’s Bureau offers sample itineraries that will take visitors through several days of three-meal-per-day Urban Bourbon Trail options. Download the iPhone App or illustrated map at www.bourboncountry.com/urban-bourbon.
Here’s how to start
If you are programming your GPS on a course for adventure, the Kentucky Fair and Exposition Center is located at 937 Phillips Lane, Louisville, KY. The facility gates are located off of Crittenden Drive, Phillips Lane and Preston Highway — all easily accessible from exits off of Interstate 65 and Interstate 264.
To learn more about all that Louisville has to offer, visit the Louisville Convention and Visitor’s Bureau website at www.gotolouisville.com.