Louisville is Kentucky's largest city and one of the most popular destinations for tourists arriving in Kentucky. Known as the Gateway to the South or Derby City, there are many attractions in Louisville, not least of which is the Kentucky Derby Festival in May every year, one of the most popular things to do if you arrive at this time. In addition to the Kentucky Derby, however, there are numerous Louisville activities available for the visitor, with a variety of museums, sports and recreational activities, shopping, and historical architecture.
Kentucky Derby Festival
The Kentucky Derby, one of the most famous horse-racing events in the country and the most popular of all the attractions in Louisville, is held on the first Saturday in May, and for the two weeks preceding the event, Louisville is aglow with the Kentucky Derby Festival and all its activities. Thunder Over Louisville, a spectacular fireworks display, and the Great Balloon Race, a hot-air balloon race over the city, are two of the most famous events during the festival. Other popular Louisville activities during the Festival include marathons, parades, a steamboat race, and art shows.
The Kentucky Derby itself is one of the most exciting events of the year, and is one of the oldest horse races in the US. Also called the Run for the Roses in reference to the blanket of roses draped over the winner, attending the Kentucky Derby is one of the most interesting things to do in Louisville. Sip a mint julep and chow down on some burgoo, a popular Kentucky meat stew, while watching the race and listening to the band play "My Old Kentucky Home." One of the other popular attractions in Louisville is the Kentucky Derby Museum at Churchill Downs
Louisville Slugger Museum
There is a wealth of things to do in Louisville, and for the sports fan, the Louisville Slugger Museum is a must-see. Not only does the museum display the largest baseball bat in the world, but fans of baseball can watch as the factory produces the Louisville Slugger baseball bats, the official bat of Major League baseball.
Other interesting Louisville activities include biking, rollerblading, or walking in the extensive Louisville park system. The three largest parks, Cherokee Park, Iroquois Park, and Shawnee Park have a scenic loop that visitors can explore. The Louisville park system is famous for its design, and the aforementioned three main parks join with numerous smaller parks to form an emerald chain, as it's called, in the city.
Exploring Old Louisville is also one of the most interesting things to do in Louisville; its historical buildings form the third largest National Preservation District in the country. Many Victorian homes, as well as 1800s iron-façade buildings grace the streets, and local bars and restaurants make walking in Old Louisville a relaxing and fun activity. A diverse neighborhood, with residents from different cultures and backgrounds, adds to the charm.
On Market Street in downtown Louisville, a free gallery hop is offered on the first Friday of every month, and visitors can explore glass studios, art museums, and art galleries for free. If you are visiting Louisville in October, make sure you visit the St. James Court Art Show located in historic Louisville. At this art fair, artisans and artists showcase their work against the background of lovely historical mansions and is just one of the many fun things to do in Louisville throughout the year.