Louisville mountains

Top Places to Visit in Louisville

greg tsougas
by Greg Tsougas

June 27, 2024

5 minute read

Derby City. Bourbon City. The ‘Ville. Gateway to the South.

Louisville has several unique calling cards. Settled between the South and Midwest, the city offers a unique culture, referring to itself as a “different type of Southern.” There’s so much to experience, but thanks to Louisville’s hospitality, you can dive deep into Kentucky’s capital in just a couple of days.

Here are our top picks to check out during a quick visit to The 502:

Churchill Downs statue of a jockey

Churchill Downs & The Kentucky Derby Museum

The Churchill Downs horse racing complex has a fascinating history.

The track was founded by Meriwether Lewis Clark Jr., the grandson of famed American explorer William Clark.

The track’s namesake is Samuel Churchill, Clark’s uncle and owner of the tract of land where the course was built. Soon, it was off to the races — Churchill Downs opened in 1875. Despite some financial difficulties around the turn of the century, the racetrack persevered, and it remains the host of the Run for the Roses today.

Even though the “Most Exciting 2 Minutes in Sports” only comes once a year, travelers can experience Derby Day every day at The Kentucky Derby Museum.

Located on the Churchill Downs grounds, entrance to the museum includes a walking tour of the iconic racetrack. There are collections that dive deep into the culture and history behind the world’s most popular horse race, from exhibits on Derby fashion to the history of African Americans in horseracing.

Here are some fun Derby facts until you can get to the museum: The Kentucky Derby is the longest continually running sporting event in America! Nearly 165,000 guests visit the racecourse on Kentucky Derby Day.

A fountain in Old Louisville

Old Louisville

The walking tour through this neighborhood was built for architecture and history lovers.

Old Louisville is home to the largest contiguous collection of Victorian mansions in the United States. It’s one of the largest Historic Preservation Districts in the United States.

The city’s oldest neighborhood dates back to the 1870s and still has over 1,000 historic homes across 45 blocks. Once a suburb for Louisville’s wealthy tied to the horseracing and bourbon industries, it now offers a glimpse into the splendor of yesteryear. The volume of Italianate, Romanesque, Gothic, and Queen Anne properties that dot the streets makes travelers feel like they’re literally stepping back in time.

Go for a stroll through this historic neighborhood and see the impressive turrets, towers, and stained-glass windows that remain today.

Museum Row

Museum Row

Museums are a hub for culture in Louisville, and there are a ton to choose from. Museum Row offers nine different attractions, all within six walkable blocks of each other along Louisville's historic Main Street. Travelers have plenty of options to chase their curiosity, but these are our top two picks.

Louisville Slugger Museum  Factory

Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory

Batter up, sports lovers.

Louisville Slugger is the official bat of Major League Baseball, and there’s a ton to learn and see at their official museum and factory. See where the famous bat production began, dating back to the 1880s, and see how the bats are still made in the city today. And if you are itching to swing into this museum, you can’t miss it! Just look for the world’s largest baseball bat (68,000 pounds and 120 feet tall) leaned up against the building.

Fun fact: The on-site factory produces about 3,000 bats each day, totaling nearly 2 million bats per year.

Frazier Kentucky History Museum

Frazier Kentucky History Museum

Owsley Brown Frazier, founder of the Frazier History Museum, believes that understanding the past helps forge a greater future. “With a greater knowledge of history, we can fully appreciate the great difficulties and the great opportunities that lie ahead,” he said. “By reconnecting with our past, we can renew a sense of who we are, what we stand for, and where we are headed.”

At this Smithsonian-affiliated museum, travelers can see where the world meets Kentucky through an extensive collection of American artifacts, including Custer’s pistols and Teddy Roosevelt’s rifle referred to as The Big Stick.

There are a number of permanent exhibits at the Frazier, including a dive into Kentucky History dating from the Ice Age to today.

Bourbon lovers are also drawn to this museum. With the opening of the Kentucky Bourbon Trail® Welcome Center and the Spirit of Kentucky® exhibition in 2018, the Frazier History Museum became the official starting point of the Kentucky Bourbon Trail®.

The Smoky Mountains

Planning Your Trip to Louisville

This is your sign to boogie on over! If Thoroughbreds, bourbon, baseball, and Victorian mansions weren’t draw enough, it’s a fun bragging right to say you visited one of the world’s largest producers of disco balls.

Spend two nights exploring Louisville on our Bluegrass Country & the Smoky Mountains tour.

You’ll explore local neighborhoods, check off the must-sees, and experience the city with an expert local guide leading the way during a deep dive into the South and Appalachia.

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