Louisville has much to offer families with its rich cultural offerings, elegant cast-iron heritage buildings and sporting attractions. Locals will tell you that this friendly Kentucky city is also a great place to bring the kids.

    Families have no shortage of activities and adventures to enjoy in Louisville from its nature parks and numerous museums, amusement parks and zoos. And with many attractions located in and around Louisville’s downtown, it’s a relatively easy city to navigate. Here are just a few of the many things for families to see and do in Louisville.

    1

    Kentucky Science Center

    Hands-on discovery of how the world works

    • Families
    • History
    • Photo

    Kentucky Science Center is set in a restored 19th-century warehouse and has 3 floors of interactive exhibits that offer fun and exciting ways to learn about science, mathematics and technology. Among the exhibits is the Science in Play area, which has different activity zones that challenge kids to build such scientific skills as investigating, assessing risks, and testing through experimental and imaginative play. Another exhibit called the World We Create gives budding engineers the chance to build their own rockets and flying machines.

    Families could also enjoy science-related documentaries as well as Hollywood films on the centre’s 4-storey movie screen. You’ll get a discounted entry fee if you visit after 5 pm on Fridays and Saturdays.

    Location: 727 W Main St, Louisville, KY 40202, USA

    Open: Sunday–Thursday from 9.30 am to 5 pm, Friday–Sunday from 9.30 am to 9 pm

    Phone: +1 502-561-6100

    Map

    photo by W.marsh (CC BY 2.0) modified

    2

    Louisville Waterfront Park

    Hosts many fun festivals through the year

    • Families
    • Photo
    • Budget

    Set over 85 acres, the Louisville Waterfront Park offers plenty of things to do for outdoor lovers. First, you’ll have the chance to soak up some American history at the park’s impressive Abraham Lincoln memorial. Then you could go for a walk or bike ride on the trails that extend along the Ohio River and take in the lovely views of the city skyline and paddleboats plying the river.

    Family-friendly facilities in the park include 2 playgrounds, picnic areas, kayak rentals, bike rentals and stands selling ice cream, hot dogs and other snacks. After a day spent running around the park, families could stop at Joe's Crab Shack to enjoy a seafood meal and scenic river views.

    Location: 129 River Rd, Louisville, KY 40202, USA

    Open: Daily from 6 am to 11 pm

    Phone: +1 502-574-3768

    Map
    3

    Speed Art Museum

    View art and make art in Louisville’s oldest art museum

    • Families
    • History
    • Photo

    Louisville's Speed Art Museum not only houses a fascinating collection of art, but it also hosts “art experiences”, film screenings and events to keep kids engaged and entertained. Families can explore the works of not only local Kentucky artists but a wide range of art from ancient Roman artefacts to cutting-edge photography.

    Children have the chance to make their own mini masterpieces in the museum’s Art Lab, with art-making sessions held on the second Sunday of every month. The museum also offers a guided tour for families every Saturday at 2 pm. Both the art-making sessions and tours are free with the price of admission.

    Location: 2035 S 3rd St, Louisville, KY 40208, USA

    Open: Wednesday–Sunday from 10 am to 5 pm (Fridays open till 8 pm)

    Phone: +1 502-634-2700

    Map

    photo by Why.architecture (CC BY-SA 4.0) modified

    4

    Kentucky Kingdom & Hurricane Bay

    Amusement park fun for the whole family

    • Families

    Kentucky Kingdom has more than 70 rides and attractions spread over 65 acres, offering plenty of thrills for families. Bigger kids will love the rollercoasters and heart-stopping rides like Fearfall, while the younger ones are sure to enjoy such rides as the bumper cars and Bella Musica carousel. More rides for the wee ones can be found in the King Louie’s Playland area. Hurricane Bay is the attached water park with a host of waterslides, lazy and fast-moving river rides, tube rides and more.

    Day passes allow entry into both. Check current schedules for opening hours, which vary by season and day of the week.

    Location: 937 Phillips Ln, Louisville, KY 40209, USA

    Phone: +1 502-813-8200

    Map
    5

    Louisville Zoo

    Spot the sloths, wave at the wallabies

    • Families
    • Photo

    Louisville Zoo is one of the city’s top family attractions with more than 1,100 animals and a range of educational exhibits to explore. The 134-acre park is divided into regions featuring the wildlife and birds from places as far as Africa and Australia.

    The Herp Aquarium lets you get a close-up look (safely through glass) of some colourful reptiles and snakes, including King Louie, the resident white-scaled American alligator. Nearby are the zoo’s rope-adventure courses, where kids can enjoy a bird's eye view of the zoo from the high ropes. Kids also have a chance for animal interactions with camel rides, pony rides and giraffe feedings among the activities available.

    Location: 1100 Trevilian Way, Louisville, KY 40213, USA

    Open: Daily from 10 am to 5 pm

    Phone: +1 502-459-2181

    Map
    6

    Actors Theatre of Louisville

    Enjoy plays and musicals in an elegant heritage building

    • Families
    • Nightlife

    Actors Theatre of Louisville has been entertaining audiences with a range of plays and performances for more than half a century. It’s a lively place, with some 20 productions and 500 performances presented throughout the year. Many of the shows are family-friendly, with kids’ favourites like Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Little Bunny Foo Foo among the plays that have been staged here.

    The theatre is found in the heart of downtown Louisville near several museums and dining spots, so it’s easy to find a bite to eat for the family before going to a show.

    Location: 316 W Main St, Louisville, KY 40202, USA

    Phone: +1 502-584-1205

    Map

    photo by Nicolas Henderson (CC BY 2.0) modified

    7

    Frazier History Museum

    Take a deep dive into Kentucky history

    • Families
    • History
    • Photo

    Frazier History Museum gives families a vivid look into the history of Kentucky with its range of exhibits, interactive play areas and live performances. Among the notable artefacts in the museum’s permanent collection are Teddy Roosevelt's “Big Stick” and the bow and arrows of Geronimo, the Apache medicine man and resistance leader.

    Costumed performers put on shows daily to bring important historical moments to life including stories from Norse mythology and Joan of Arc’s diary.  Found in Louisville’s downtown “Museum Row”, the Frazier can easily be included in a day of exploring the city’s historic and cultural sites including the Kentucky Science Center and Louisville Slugger Museum.

    Location: 829 W Main St, Louisville, KY 40202, USA

    Open: Thursday–Saturday from 10 am to 5 pm, Sunday from noon to 5 pm

    Phone: +1 502-753-5663

    Map

    photo by Capablancaa (CC BY-SA 4.0) modified

    8

    Big Four Bridge

    Picturesque walkway over the Ohio River

    • Families
    • Photo
    • Budget

    Big Four Bridge connects Louisville to Jeffersonville in Indiana and offers a scenic pathway for walkers and cyclists. Used as a railway bridge more than a century ago, the mile-long bridge was repurposed for pedestrian use, accessed via Waterfront Park. At each end of the bridge, families will find ice cream stands and cafes to fuel up at, and every evening at dusk there’s a colourful light show on the bridge that changes with the seasons.

    For those hoping to explore further, the bridge path links to the Louisville Riverwalk and Kentuckiana River Trail system on the Louisville side, while in Indiana it connects to the Ohio River Greenway and the Levee trail.

    Location: 1101 River Rd, Louisville, KY 40202, USA

    Map
    9

    Bluegrass Karting & Events

    A fun spot for an adrenaline rush

    • Families
    • Adventure

    At Bluegrass Karting & Events, families with a need for speed will find plenty to enjoy as it claims to have the fastest go-karts in Louisville. There are 2 types of go-karts available, the smaller "youth karts" for kids aged 7 to 13 and larger "pro karts" that travel up to 65 km per hour for drivers aged 14 and up. 

    Bluegrass also offers axe throwing sessions – to targets, of course – for budding lumberjacks over the age of 14. Anyone wanting to blow off a little steam, or just have a laugh smashing things, could make their way to the Rage Room. Bluegrass provides items to smash, but visitors are welcome to bring their own things to wreak havoc upon, too. Open year-round, Bluegrass is a good rainy-day escape for families.

    Location: 2520 Ampere Dr, Louisville, KY 40299, USA

    Open: Monday–Thursday from 11 am to 10 pm, Friday and Saturday from 11 am to midnight, Sunday from noon to 10 pm

    Phone: +1 502-297-9899

    Map
    10

    Louisville Equestrian Center

    Horseriding lessons and pony parties

    • Families
    • Adventure

    At the Louisville Equestrian Center, kids have the chance to saddle up and learn how to ride with lessons by top-level certified instructors. If your family doesn’t manage to catch the city’s famed Kentucky Derby horse races, this is where you could still enjoy an equine adventure in Louisville. 

    All skill levels are welcome to try, with join-in and private lessons available for anyone from children as young as 3 years old to novice adult riders to competitive riders. The centre can also be booked for special events, so you could surprise your kids with a colourful pony party.

    Location: 6720 Mt Washington Rd, Taylorsville, KY 40071, USA

    Open: Daily from 9 am to 5 pm

    Phone: +1 502-477-0830

    Map
    Lana Willocks | Contributing Writer

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