Louisville, Kentucky is an outdoor enthusiast’s dream, especially since it features lush green rolling hills, a scenic riverfront, and rich history and culture. Home to the world-famous Kentucky Derby horse races, Churchill Downs may already be on your Louisville itinerary. If you’re looking for rare, yet noteworthy attractions and experiences situated close to most Louisville vacation rentals, check out these amazing hidden gems.
1. McNeely Lake Park
Beautiful McNeely Lake Park lies in southeastern Louisville. A corner portion of the park has a playground and sports fields, but the main attraction is the large lake that offers excellent fishing for largemouth bass, sunfish, and bluefish. Angle from one of the fishing piers set around the lake, or use one of the boat ramps to launch your non-motorized rowboat, canoe, or kayak. Along the shoreline are lovely walking trails from which you can watch ducks and swans on the lake’s surface. Other paths take you into the pristine woods.
2. Louisville Slugger Museum and Factory
Located in the West Main Street Historic District in downtown Louisville, the Louisville Slugger Museum and Factory celebrates the city’s iconic baseball bat known as the Louisville Slugger. The exhibits include a history of the Louisville Slugger, a display of famous game-used bats, a gallery of statues of renowned baseball players, and the world’s largest baseball bat according to Guinness World Records. Try the latest Louisville Slugger models in the batting cages, and attempt to strike out a batter in the pitching simulator. The factory tour takes you around to various points to show how bats are made.
3. Belle of Louisville
Constructed in 1914, the Belle of Louisville is the oldest operating Mississippi steamboat in the United States. The boat is housed on a wharf in downtown Louisville. Historic 17-foot paddlewheels are its only method of propulsion. Among its amenities are indoor and outdoor seating, a bar and concession stand, a stage, and a dance floor. Sightseeing and harbor history cruises include lunch or dinner. The boat is also available to charter for wedding and other special occasions.
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4. Bernheim Arboretum and Research Forest
The Bernheim Arboretum and Research Forest contains over 15,500 acres of breathtakingly beautiful gardens and natural woodlands near vacation rentals in south Louisville. Stop in at the family-friendly Educational Center, which includes exhibits, an art gallery, and a wildlife viewing room where you can observe bees, birds, and small mammals. Climb up to the top of the historic water tower for a panoramic view of the beautiful surrounding countryside. The Canopy Tree Walk takes you on a boardwalk high above the forest floor. The park has over 40 miles of hiking trails and also offers lovely lakes and ponds for fishing.
5. Oscar Getz Museum of Whiskey History
The Oscar Getz Museum of Whiskey History, which lies in the southeastern Louisville metropolitan area in nearby Bardstown, highlights the history of whiskey in the United States from the colonial era to the 1960s. The museum contains fascinating historical oddities such as George Washington’s still and Abraham Lincoln’s liquor license. Its unusual collections include a selection of whiskey bottles labeled for medicinal use by doctors. There is also an assortment of novelty bottles in shapes such as King Tut’s head, hillbillies, pork sausages, and mermaids. Other exhibits feature memorabilia from the prohibition era.
6. Historic Locust Grove
Located northeast of downtown Louisville, Historic Locust Grove is a 55-acre farm that includes a Georgian mansion, outbuildings, and scenic grounds. Among the famous people who passed through Locust Grove are Presidents Andrew Jackson and James Monroe, the explorers Lewis and Clarke, and the naturalist James Audubon. Immerse yourself in American history as you take a guided tour of the museum and grounds. The gardens and woodlands are great for a relaxing walk amidst beautiful countryside.
7. Mega Cavern
Located in a former limestone mine southeast of downtown Louisville, the Mega Cavern features a variety of unique and entertaining underground activities. A tram ride that takes you deep into the historic mine is suitable for all ages. Kids also enjoy the Mega Quest, an underground rope challenge course. Mega Zips takes you on six zip lines through extensive underground passageways. The vast network of over 45 bicycle trails at Mega Cavern makes it the world’s largest indoor bike park.
8. Louisville WaterWorks Museum
The Louisville WaterWorks Museum lies northeast of downtown Louisville on the bank of the Ohio River in Louisville Water Tower Park. With films, photographs, and memorabilia the museum highlights the history of the city’s innovations in science and engineering to provide safe drinking water for the region. Although in the 1830s water health conditions in Louisville gave it the nickname the Graveyard of the West, by the early 1900s the drinking water was among the purest in the nation. Near the museum is the historic Louisville Water Tower, the world’s oldest ornamental water tower.
9. Cherokee Park
Cherokee Park is a beautiful natural area of meadows, rolling hills, woodlands, and landscaped gardens and lawns near downtown Louisville. The park features numerous beautiful scenic trails for walking, jogging and cycling. There’s also a bridle trail for horseback riding. Within the park, you may observe wildlife such as white-tailed deer, raccoons, beavers, and foxes. The park also has facilities and fields for activities such as archery, horseshoes, Frisbee, and other sports.
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