About This Place
Louisville, Kentucky’s largest city, sits on the southeast banks of the Ohio River and blends simple riverfront charm with the sophistication of a modern urban center. Whether drawn to “Derby City” for its horse racing, riverboat cruising, bourbon tasting, city park adventuring or history making, visitors can choose from a distinctive selection of sites to see.
A top Louisville attraction is Churchill Downs, home of the annual Kentucky Derby. Located on Central Avenue, this thoroughbred racetrack draws crowds year-round to the Kentucky Derby Museum for a taste of the excitement of the annual Run for Roses, held each May, via viewing photos, films and exhibits, and sitting on a saddle in an authentic starting gate. Prior to each year’s race date, a two-week festival celebrates the world-renowned event with a variety of activities, including concerts and the largest fireworks show in America, Thunder Over Louisville.
Those walking along the seven-mile riverfront walk will discover the Belle of Louisville, the oldest Mississippi River system steamboat. Its sightseeing cruise, complete with music from an old-time calliope on its deck, is a top attraction. The steamboat, built in 1914, is a National Historic Landmark.
For a taste of Kentucky’s famous Bourbon Trail (where age-old processes and secret recipes produce the world’s finest bourbons), Louisville offers a compact Urban Bourbon Trail of 14 bars and restaurants. After picking up a passport at the Visitor Information Center, trail travelers enjoy stops for a soup-and-sandwich lunch at Baxter Station, a historic neighborhood tavern on Payne Street, and for drinks at the Brown Hotel Bar, an historic Georgian-Revival-style luxury hotel with a lobby featuring Bottocino marble flooring, a two-story coffered ceiling, Palladin-style windows and hand-carved mahogany furnishings. Fully exploring the trail takes more than one day.
Although there is no major league baseball team in Louisville, baseball is significant in the city. The 120-foot Slugger on Main Street marks the site of the Louisville Slugger Museum and Factory where tours offer adults and kids an opportunity to see baseball bats being made.
Outdoor enthusiasts enjoy Louisville’s Olmsted Parks system, named for Frederick Law Olmsted who co-designed Central Park in New York City. Providing plenty of outdoor space for things to do with kids, the 85-acre Waterfront Park offers outdoor summer music at Waterfront Wednesdays. The Iroquois Amphitheater hosts free summer movies and concerts. For more rugged adventurers, Jefferson Memorial Forest is a place for things to do with kids such as camping, hiking, kayaking and canoeing.
A popular attraction blending the biographical history of one of America’s best-known boxing champions with educational programming and special events is the Muhammad Ali Center on Sixth Street. This $60-million conflict-resolution center epitomizes downtown revitalization. Visitors can take in an interactive Ali fight-on-demand or trace Ali’s life, career and accomplishments as a humanitarian in this center designed to inspire people to do great things. The center’s interactive museum highlights the impact of Ali’s core principles of confidence, conviction, dedication, giving, respect and spirituality on his efforts to promote personal well-being.