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School is out and summer is in full swing all around the United States. This means many families will be taking vacation trips, or parents are needing activities to keep the kids entertained all summer. Those activities can become very expensive over the course of the three months of summer. Louisville has plenty of activities to do all summer long, but they can get pricey real fast. Here are my top 10 Free Activities to do in Louisville Kentucky.
Free Activities to do in Louisville Kentucky
- Parklands of Floyds Fork. The Parklands are five parks in and around Louisville. They include such activities as playgrounds, ponds, splash pads, gardens, and biking and hiking trails, like one along Beckley Creek. My personal favorite out of the five parks is Broad Run. The hiking trails are amazing! For the kids, they have an epic splash pad and playground. There is also an area to canoe and paddle board along Floyds Fork.
- The Mansions of Old Louisville. Old Louisville is known for its impressive collection of historic mansions. With 45 blocks of 19th-century architecture, it is the largest contiguous assembly of mansions in the United States. Make sure to stop at the Visitor’s Center, located in Old Louisville’s Central Park, to grab information on a self-guided tour through architectural history.
- E.P. “Tom” Sawyer State Park. There are so many activities for the whole family to enjoy at this State Park located right outside of the city limits. These include the largest public swimming pool and splash park in Louisville, rolling farmland and nature trails, and a Supercross BMX track. The track is one of only six in the United States. You can watch the professionals do their thing or take a ride at it yourself!
- The 21c Museum Hotel. Located in the heart of downtown Louisville, it’s a hotel, an art gallery, and a restaurant all in one. Of course, staying at the motel and eating at the fine restaurant is not free, but the amazing art gallery is. The 9,000-square-foot space is spread across five different 19-century warehouses, and the exhibitions on display are everchanging and fascinating. Do not miss the golden replica of Michelangelo’s “David” that sits outside. The Louisville version is twice as big as the original in Florence.
- Jim Beam American Stillhouse. Kentucky is known for its bourbon. There are many distilleries all across the state but the one best known is Jim Bean. It’s right outside of Lousiville and the best part is it’s free! During the experience, you can watch a video about the history of the Beam family, view the bourbon-making process first-hand, and see how the brand’s bottle art has changed throughout the years.
- Cave Hill Cemetery. One of the more odd activities to do in Louisville is to visit the Cave Hill Cemetery. This was actually the first place I visited upon moving to Louisville. The cemetery is a Victorian-era arboretum that is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The cemetery is not only known for its spooky and ghost hunting but also known for the lovely scenery and intricately designed gravestones. It’s incredibly photogenic and home to a cave, several lakes, and the graves of many famous Louisvillians, including Muhammad Ali and Kentucky Fried Chicken founder, Colonel Sanders. Many locals walk here as it is absolutely beautiful. Make sure to stop in the main building to get a map, which showcases all the key points through the cemetery.
- The Cathedral of the Assumption. This Roman Catholic church was built in 1852 and restored completely in 1994, after nearly 100 years of disuse. It is a beautiful stop for those into historic architecture and history. The key highlights in the structure are the baptism immersion pool, crafted of red granite, bronze, and marble from the original communion rail, the stained-glass Coronation Window, one of the oldest American-American-made stained-glass windows, and a jeweled ceiling fresco that depicts cherubs and was painstakingly restored during the church’s overhaul. Visitors can attend mass or guided tours are available free of charge, by appointment only.
- Big Four Bridge. This is a walking bridge that connects Kentucky to Indiana. It is located in Waterfront Park which offers many activities such as stunning views of the Ohio River, scenic park, and the city’s Vietnam Memorial. The bridge dates back to the end of the 19th century when it was originally built as a railroad bridge for both freight and passengers. Today it services only pedestrians and cyclists and is open 24 hours a day. I recommend taking a stroll across on Saturday mornings when the farmers market is set up or at night when the bridge is illuminated with the vibrant colors of its specialized LED lighting system.
- The American Printing House Museum. Admission is free to the museum, as well as guided tours of the factory. Unlike most museums guests are encouraged to touch the exhibits. This is to better understand the experiences of blind and visually impaired people. The museum is located on the campus of the Kentucky School for the Blind. Which has been serving the blind community of Louisville since 1839.
- Learn about Kentucky’s rich history. The Filson Historical Society hosts a free museum in the heart of Old Louisville. The museum houses artifacts that are important to Kentucky’s history, including a sheep horn from the Lewis and Clark expedition, Jim Porter’s musket, Daniel Boone’s “Kilt a Bar” tree carving, and many Civil War artifacts. Guests will also have the chance to see several portraits, landscapes, and still-life paintings in the museum’s fine art collection.
Many of these special and historic sites in Louisville have won national awards. There are so many other free activities to immerse yourself in Louisville. Be sure to check the many events around Lousiville with each coming season. Summer is full of festivals, concerts, and special events. In the fall ghost tours and haunted houses in the heart of Lousiville are sure to leave you spooked. And of course in the spring is the ever famous Kentucky Derby. There are so many activities to do in Lousiville. I hope this list of Free Activities to do in Lousiville Kentucky gives you ideas for spending the day free of charge!
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