Check out my family friendly recommendations for lodging, attractions and more in the one of a kind southern city of Louisville Kentucky!
We decided to take a family adventure trip to Kentucky during out kids’ spring break this year. It’s within a decent driving distance (about 6 hours from Michigan) and with 3 young children that’s important. It’s also affordable. This first post focuses on Louisville Kentucky and family friendly activities and attractions. Stay tuned for another post on Mammoth Cave, Red River Gorge and Lexington.
Our first stop was in the unique southern city of Louisville where we stayed two nights and visited several family-friendly attractions. If you have older kids you likely can do more activities in the time frame we had, but with younger children the pace is inevitable slower.
Louisville is filled with a plethora of activities for all ages, whether it be visiting the famous Bourbon trails, Churchill Downs, numerous unique museums, or one of a kind southern cooking restaurants, Louisville has something for everyone.
Galt House Hotel
We stayed at the Galt House Hotel in downtown Louisville which was perfectly convenient to many attractions including just a few blocks from the Louisville Slugger Museum, Muhammad Ali Center, several restaurants and more. What’s exciting about this hotel is that it’s the “official Kentucky Derby” hotel so it’s THE hot spot during the weeks surrounding the big race.
It’s the only hotel that has a riverfront in Louisville and is huge with two separate buildings that make up the hotel. Thankfully they also have a parking garage under one of the hotel towers. Since the hotel is right in downtown Louisville parking could be difficult to find. They have several dining options right in the hotel including this unique fish-filled bar!
They also have a nice view of the river including an outdoor seasonal pool.
INSIDER TIPS: if you’re traveling without young children use their valet service. We didn’t use the valet not only to save money but we also wanted access to our car more frequently than we would have wanted the valet to bring it us. With young children you never know what you have forgotten in the car until you’ve made it to your hotel room.
Louisville is BIG on baseball and the production of wooden baseball bats. The Louisville Slugger Museum is just a short walk from the Galt House Hotel and is not only a baseball museum but also a real baseball bat-making factory. The factory provides 30 minute tours where it shows you step by step how they originally made bats and how they make them today. They make custom bats for several MLB players as well as bats for many chain stores. Throughout the museum they have interactive exhibits for both kids and adults like this pitching activity that measures your pitching speed.
INSIDER TIPS: At the end of the factory tour everyone gets a mini wood bat which makes a great souvenir! Make sure to leave time to tour the museum which all closes at 5 pm.
If you’ve ever watched the Kentucky Derby or just have a fondness for horses you’ll love visiting the Kentucky Derby Museum. It’s actually on the same grounds as Churchill Downs and is amazing to walk the same paths as so many famous thoroughbreds. Dan and I got so enthusiastic that we are already discussing a trip back (without kids) to attend the actual Kentucky Derby. One important tip we were given was you can purchase derby tickets relatively cheap, for around $75 but that only gets you general admission in the middle of the track where you can’t actually see the race except for on a large screen.
INSIDER TIPS: I would suggest this museum for ages 6 and up since there is a ton of history to learn regarding the derby but geared toward older kids and adults.
With three small children and a budget we tried to eat within reason which meant eating a simple breakfast in our hotel room (cereal, milk and fruit) and also had lunch on the go. We visited a local park in Louisville and had picnic lunches. I packed deli meat, bread, fruit, hummus, crackers, peanut butter, jelly and energy bites. This was enough variety for all of us not to get too bored with the choices.
For dinner we drove a little outside downtown Louisville (about 4 miles from our hotel) to a fun Irish area. We ate dinner at Flanagan’s Ale House a charming restaurant with great food and craft beer selections. We had an excellent served named Jacob who even gave tips for the Red River Gorge area which we were headed to later in the week. The noise level was perfect for having 3 young children with us.
Our second night we stayed downtown and ate at the Old Spaghetti Factory. This restaurant is a chain which Dan ate at a child so he was thrilled to see one again (they aren’t anywhere near Michigan). The restaurant has ornate features and even a train dining car inside the restaurant. Unfortunately it only holds parties of 4 or less in the train car so we couldn’t dine in it. We loved the selection of pasta dishes and the fact that they are all complete meals. We chose 3 pasta dishes among the 5 of us and each came with either soup or salad, fresh bread and a scoop of ice cream. This was the perfect amount of food for our family size.
Other Local Attractions
We ran out of time (along with less than ideal weather conditions) to visit any other attractions but can’t wait to come back to visit them!
Speed Art Museum: has a hands-on interactive art gallery called Art Sparks that is full of kid and adult-friendly exhibits and activities. And the best part is that it’s free for everyone on Sundays!
Wheel Fun Rentals: conveniently located in downtown Louisville at the Waterfront Park. I would have loved to try out these fun bikes and gotten in a great workout but the weather didn’t quite cooperate.
Kentucky Science Center: located in downtown Louisville just a few blocks from the Galt House Hotel.
Louisville Zoo: has over 1,500 animals and even camel rides!
Additional Insider Tips
- Coming from Detroit, we were pleasantly surprised at how many Kroger grocery stores were in Louisville. We picked up a few groceries there for simple budget-friendly breakfasts, lunches and snacks that we could eat on the go.
- Visit in the “off-season” before the Kentucky Derby to save time and avoid the crowds. The temperatures were overall mild (averages in the 60’s) and pleasant at least coming from Michigan.
Disclaimer: I was not compensated to write this post, however our lodging was provided by the Louisville Convention & Visitors Bureau and admission tickets were provided by the museums themselves. And as always, all the opinions and thoughts expressed are my own.
This Family Friendly Trip to Louisville Kentucky post first appeared on Chocolate Slopes.