Summer Fun in Louisville
Summer in Louisville
Whether you are new to Louisville, thinking of moving here, or you have been here for a long time, as summer kicks into overdrive, you maybe wondering, “What is there to do”?
In short, the answer is, “LOTS!” Sometimes known as the largest little town, or the smallest big city, Louisville has a great balance of down home activities and big city flair. Please keep reading as we highlight much of the best summer time fun that Louisville has to offer.
A relatively new attraction in Louisville is the Big Four Walking Bridge that connects Louisville to neighboring Jeffersonville Indiana. This former railroad bridge was constructed in the late 1800s. It ceased railroad operations in 1969. The “Bridge to Nowhere” sat for decades and serves as a reminder of days long gone. But, in 2013, in a partnership between Louisville and Jeffersonville, the new walking bridge opened to pedestrian and bicycle traffic. Now a popular strolling destination, the bridge is enjoyed by thousands each year.
Louisville Metro Parks manages hundreds of varying size parks in Louisville. The most noteworthy are the Frederick Law Olmsted Parks. This system of parks was the last of five designed Olmsted. The flagship parks of the system are Cherokee Park, Iroquois Park, and Shawnee Park. These are expansive parks with trails for hiking/biking and plenty of space for recreational activities (keep the parks in mind during winter for sledding). In 2010 Louisville added a spectacular addition to the local park system. The Parklands of Floyd’s Fork is a system of four parks all connected by Floyd’s Fork, a tributary of the Salt River. Privately managed, these parks are connected via The Strand, a portion of land encompassed in the future development of the Louisville Loop, a 100-mile path the encircles the entire city. Also, check out Jefferson Memorial Park. This 6,500-acre park is the largest municipal urban forest in the US. It has 35 miles of hiking trails with many stunning overlook views of Downtown Louisville.
In 1999, the land adjacent to the Ohio River near Downtown Louisville opened as Louisville Waterfront Park. Longtime Louisville residents remember this area as an industrial area consisting of sand pits and scrap yards. The brilliant overhaul has become a popular place for residents and includes playgrounds, green space, fountains, and FREE WIFI! A great spot for Thunder over Louisville in April and other fireworks displays like the Fourth of July, the Great Lawn hosts numerous events throughout the year. One great FREE event is the monthly concert series, Waterfront Wednesdays. Sponsored by the local adult alternative radio station 91.9 WFPK, this series brings local, regional and national acts to the riverfront and is a favorite of locals.
Home of the Triple-A affiliate of the Cincinnati Reds and Louisville City FC, this 13,000-capacity stadium opened in 2000. Offering views of downtown, Indiana, and the Ohio River, this family friendly venue has a lot to offer. Restaurants, microbreweries, and stadium grub will satisfy all. Stick around after the game to watch a great fireworks display every Friday. Slugger Field also occasionally hosts major concerts and other seasonal events.
OK, so Louisville is sometime hot and humid during the summer. Cool off a bit in a rare attraction…The Louisville Mega Cavern! Once a limestone quarry, this 4,00,000 square foot structure under the city hosts visitors to many different attractions. It includes Jeep tours, ropes courses, ziplines, and with 45 trails in 350,000 square feet, it has the world’s largest indoor bicycle park! With a depth of 75-100 feet underground, the Mega Cavern stays a consistent 50-60 degrees all year. And don’t forget about the Mega Cavern in the winter. Around the holiday season it hosts “Lights Under Louisville”. This underground holiday light display is largest such underground display in the world.
The twin spires of Churchill Downs are one of the most iconic symbols of horse racing. One of the premier horse racing facilities in the world, Churchill Downs offers something for everyone. Of course, the eyes of the world are upon it on the first Saturday of every May. But there are three meets per year. The spring meet starts before Derby and goes through July. Hosting races at various times of day, one of the best times to catch a race is at the popular Downs After Dark. With horse racing, live music, and a festive atmosphere, this has become a popular night spot in Louisville. Churchill Downs also includes the Kentucky Derby Museum, celebrating the history of horse racing in Kentucky. It includes a 30-minute historic walking tour of Churchill Downs, a 360-degree, 18-minute media experience called “The Greatest Race”, and two stories of interactive family friendly exhibits. You can also rent the museum for private functions.
The history of the Louisville Slugger and its iconic role in professional baseball began in 1884. The museum and factory, located on West Main Street, is actually the fourth place that the famous bats have been made. Opening in 1996, this location draws crowds from all over and in 2015 broke its own attendance record of 300,000. The entrance boasts the world’s largest bat at 120 feet tall, weighing in at 68,000 pounds. Inside, visitors are treated to exhibits that include the signature wall, batting cages, and a host of Major League Baseball artifacts.
Not far from the Slugger Museum is Kentucky’s largest hands-on science center. Operating as a non-profit the center hosts over 500,000 visitors per year. The immersive museum really has something for everyone. The IMAX theatre shows great science features and sometimes offers a pop hit! There are exhibits for the smallest family members and attractions that everyone in the family will enjoy. The Kentucky Science Center hosts summer camps and has traveling features for outreach and distance learning that can reach budding scientists anywhere!
An affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution, this immersive museum documents and interprets stories of the state, country, and world. Originally showcasing an enormous display of historic arms and weaponry, it has recently refocused its mission of showcasing Kentucky and its relationship with the world throughout history. Storing one of the largest collections of toy soldiers and historic miniatures, the museum also displays historical artifacts, including those from the Lewis and Clark Expedition. Starting in August of this year, the museum will serve as the starting point of the Kentucky Bourbon Trail, a project launched in 1999 by the Kentucky Distillers’ Association and servs to promote bourbon tourism in Kentucky.
“Wait, did you just mention bourbon in the description above?” That’s right! Kentuckians are proud of their signature spirit and the Kentucky Bourbon Trail is an experience that people come back to year after year. Sip and stroll your way across the Bluegrass in the 11 distillery tour. Starting in Louisville, you can take a trip (or a guided tour if you want to leave the driving to someone else) through Kentucky to Shepherdsville, Bardstown, Lebanon, Danville, Lawrenceburg, and Lexington. Kentucky bourbon is at peak popularity and this tour is not to be missed!
Of course, there are many other activities to explore. Check out https://www.gotolouisville.com/ Here you will find all sorts of information about Cave Hill Cemetery, numerous historical societies, the Zoo, Kentucky Kingdom, the Belle of Louisville and countless other activities in Louisville. With a hometown feel and culture rich with fun for everyone, Louisville really is a wonderful place to live, work, and play!