Louisville. Also known as Derby City or the River City.
Founded in 1778, Louisville is the largest city in Kentucky and among the largest in the United States. Along with the annual Kentucky Derby horse race (which the city is most well-known for), the city’s vibrant art and culture and excellent food attract over fifteen million visitors every year.
If you plan to visit the city or are already there and thinking about exploring it, here are some of the best places to visit in Louisville.
Located in the southern part of the city, this famous 19th-century site is the location for the famous and prestigious Kentucky Derby, a horse race that takes place every year and has done so since 1875.
The horse racing complex — one of the nation’s best — is also the permanent location of another annual race, the Kentucky Oaks. Both Derby and Oaks were integrated in the same year and are the oldest continuously contested sporting events in American history.
Churchill Downs is one of the nation's best horse race venues and is well-equipped with many facilities. The food is great too. The two main competitions — Derby and Oaks — are generally held in May, but other events are conducted throughout the year.
The place is worth a visit even if there isn’t a race scheduled.
You can take their Behind the Scenes tour to learn more about its history and admire its beauty. It is one of the several amazing tours provided by the Kentucky Derby Museum, which is next on our list.
Kentucky Derby Museum
Located on the grounds of Churchill Downs is the Kentucky Derby Museum with the mission to preserve the history of the iconic Derby race.
The museum has two stories full of various exhibits telling all about the race, including the life journey — breeding, training, and more — of the thoroughbreds as they prepare to participate in the Kentucky Derby.
One highlight of the museum is its Warner L. Jones, Jr. Time Machine, which allows visitors to watch film footage of any of the Derbys as far back as 1918. The films include interviews with the winning jockeys, trainers, and owners. And you won’t need to overwhelm yourself with the huge number of races. You can browse through the different categories and find the races you will enjoy the most.
Another highlight is their 18-minute 4K film, The Greatest Race, shown on a rare 360-degree projection screen. It’s a delightfully immersive audio-visual experience.
And then, of course, there are the Churchill Downs tours I talked about earlier.
In short, you can’t miss this place if you are in or around Louisville.
Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory
Baseball’s most valued brand of bats, the Louisville Slugger, has been the choice for the sport’s legends like Babe Ruth, Mickey Mantle, Ted Williams, and Lou Gehrig.
Visit this iconic museum and factory, situated close to the company’s headquarters with its giant baseball bat, the world’s largest, leaning against it — that’s a 120-foot replica of the 34-inch Slugger used by Babe Ruth.
The museum teaches you so much about baseball’s story as well as how bats are manufactured. Visitors can take the award-winning guided factory tour, one that starts “with a thrilling movie that transports you to the forests and mills where every Louisville Slugger bat begins.”
But there’s so much more to explore and enjoy, including the batting cages, where you can take a swing with a replica model of a superstar’s bat and feel the heat, where you can experience what it's like to face down a 90-mph fastball hurled by a major league pitcher.
What makes it all even more amazing is, visitors get a free mini Slugger baseball bat to take home as a souvenir.
Muhammad Ali Center
A museum and a cultural center dedicated to the local hero — the great Muhammad Ali. Yes, Ali was born and brought up in Louisville.
The Center houses plenty of items and exhibits — including photographs and video footage of Ali’s famous fights — telling the story of his boxing career.
But the museum also does a great job of presenting to its visitors the champion’s amazing life beyond the boxing arena. There are exhibits depicting his contributions to areas like social justice, race and gender equality, and the American Civil Rights Movement.
Among the Center’s highlights are the short, inspirational, and innovative five-screen Orientation theater film, If You Can Dream, and the interactive exhibit for kids, Train with Ali.
There are also two art galleries and the Children’s Hope and Dream Wall, which features a mosaic of artwork created by children from all over the world.
An inspiring and educational place, regardless of whether or not you an Ali fan.
So these were some of the places you must visit if you’re in Louisville. I must add that due to the pandemic, some sections might not be open, or there could be certain restrictions. So make sure you do the necessary research before visiting.
Also, please follow the guideline. Have fun but stay safe.