How to see popular Louisville KY attractions in 2 days
Ok, so you can't get away for too long, but you don't want another STAY-cation.
We love being able to give families quick and doable road trip options. So, we're going to share how you can see Louisville, KY in just two days. It's a popular destination here in the South. If you have 48 hours in Louisville, we'll tell you what you should see. But first...
Whenever we visit a new destination, we do these two things upon arrival --a new-city ritual, if you will. So, if it'll be your first time seeing Louisville...be sure to try this when you arrive.
2 things to help your travel game
Turn off the GPS and drive.
Every trip should start with an overview of the destination. Once you arrive in Louisville, for example, get your bearings. Turn off the GPS and drive around. Sure, you've got a list of things to see, but don't schedule a trip so well, that you leave out the beauty of serendipity.
Check-in and do a pool check.
Find your hotel. Get situated. Talk to the concierge, and see what local happenings are going on. Is there a pool? If there is, stop by to see it. We always do a "pool check" to see if we need to schedule some time there during our stay. Yes, sure, you can swim anywhere. But, sometimes during fast getaways, you need a breather, too. A pool break is an inexpensive way to relax and catch your breath.
Ok, your 48 hours in Louisville begins now...
Where we stayed: Galt House
We stayed at the Galt House situated right along the Ohio River. Louisville's only waterfront hotel, the Galt House has two towers: The Suite Tower and the Rivue Tower. We stayed in the Suite Tower.
What we loved about staying at the Galt House's Suite Tower:
- The location is excellent. You could park your car and walk to many of downtown's prime locations.
- The river views were one of the best parts of the hotel, too. Gorgeous sunsets come with the room.
- There is an atrium between the hotel's towers called Al J's Bar, which was voted the Best Place in Louisville to Sit and Have a Drink. A domed, all-glass enclosure and swanky, yet comfy seating made me understand why.
- The hotel offers many seasonal deals and discounts.
- Amenities include: a pool deck, valet parking, and a fancy roof-top lounge with a rotating dining room!
What you need to be aware of (if you book a stay at the Galt House's Suite Tower:)
- Although the suites are large and provide a great space for families, they are not fancy. From the TVs (there are two, which is a nice perk ) to the simple couch to the plain, wooden dining table, the suite's amenities are functional, yet mediocre.
- The highway is located directly next to the hotel. We could hear the sounds of the highway all night. If you're a light sleeper, this may be a deal-breaker for you. You also need to know that the pool sits right beside the interstate, so while the view is amazing, the sounds of wheels whirring along the highway interrupt what should be a relaxing pool-side retreat.
Day One Activities:
Kentucky Derby Museum
Ok, I have a confession. I have NEVER thought about buying a ticket to see the Kentucky Derby, until I visited this museum. Prior to my visit, all the hoopla just seemed so far outside my scope of things that would be fun -- the hats and the outfits -- I just don't know where I'd begin to shop to attend such an event. However, the museum did an excellent job of explaining the Derby as a cultural experience to a novice like me. Really--kudos to them! If they can make me EVEN CONSIDER attending the Kentucky Derby once in my lifetime, they have accomplished a great feat!
What we loved about the Kentucky Derby Museum:
- The museum struck a nice balance between being historical and educational and being interesting for the entire family, especially the kids.
- The 360-degree movie theater was quite an experience!
- Be sure to check out the additional tours that are available. We added the tour of Churchhill Downs, which allowed us to walk around the stands and the famous race track.
Dinner on the Belle of Louisville
The Belle of Louisville is a historic steamboat that was built in 1914 and is currently docked beside the Galt House. Daily cruises take visitors down the Ohio River, providing a close-up view of Louisville's stoic bridges. We opted for dinner aboard the boat, which beckoned visitors with eerie songs from its steam whistle. Imagine a wayward and out-of-tune bagpipe playing a somewhat familiar tune...and you have the sounds of the Belle of Louisville.
What we loved about dinner on the Belle of Louisville:
- The views, made even more stunning by the sounds of the historic paddle wheel churning through the water, were gorgeous at sunset.
- You felt you were riding in a time machine, seeing the waterways like they did a hundred years ago.
- Dinner was a plentiful buffet-style, Southern meal with many options. The staff was efficient and helpful. There was a DJ and a dance floor, although no one aboard our ship was too fond of cutting a rug. There is also a concessions stand and a full bar .
Traveling to Louisville soon? Get this completely planned itinerary for your family!
A full-day in Louisville is full of options! These were some of our favorites.
Day Two Activities:
Ranked #1 on TripAdvisor's list of things to do in Louisville, this is one of those activities you can do any time of the year-- rain or shine, winter or summer, because it's 60-degrees in the cave all year long. In this man-made cavern, you'll find a variety of options to keep the family busy.
- Mega Zip tours last around 2.5 hours and has weight/height restrictions
- Mega Quest is the cavern's rope course for all ages.
- E-bike tours (12 yrs and older) and a Bike Park, with hills and jumps for all experience levels, make for another underground adventure.
What we loved about the Mega Cavern:
- Learning about the cave was intriguing. It has 4,000,000 sq ft of space, making it Kentucky's largest building, even though it's completely underground! It was also slated to be used for a secret nuclear fall-out shelter decades ago.
- They run Lights Under Louisville in the cave each holiday season.
Louisville Waterfront Park
Loads to do here! Tons. Walk along the Ohio river. Sit and enjoy a relaxing swing in the park. Picnic. Walk across the bridge to Indiana. Play in a beautiful children's playground (with refreshing splash pad during the summer)!
What we loved about the Louisville Waterfront Park:
- There were a lot of things to see and do at the park. Rent bikes big enough to fit the entire family from WheelFun Rentals, located on the waterfront. Bike and explore! Find the statue of President Lincoln.
- You'll find the Big Four Bridge, another Louisville landmark, here at the park! It's a pedestrian bridge that allows you to walk over the Ohio River from one state to another!
Local attractions that we didn't get to try:
These are popular attractions that we weren't able to fit in our trip, but you may want to check out:
- Kentucky Kingdom and Hurricane Bay (seasonal)
- Louisville Slugger Museum
- Fourth Street Live!
- Muhammad Ali Center
We tried the zoo, and while it had a few interesting exhibits, we found there to be a lot of empty space or grassy areas where we just couldn't see any animals. There was a fair amount of walking through dead space in between exhibits, as well, which made it hard for my 7 and 8 year olds to really engage in the experience.
Read more: If you're looking for an outstanding zoo experience, we highly recommend this spot.