Louisville has so much to offer those of us who call it home. Many of us who grew up in this city recognize most, if not all, of the places on this list. Some even felt like it was a right of passage as a child. School-age children on field trips flock to The Kentucky Center for the Arts to watch a play or to the Science Center to “learn.” Let’s be real here: we all looked forward to the Science Center because it was basically a full day of recess.

Whether it be cultural experiences, educational journeys or simply recreational adventures, Louisville has countless opportunities to enrich our minds. We may associate these places with our childhoods, but that doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy all they have to offer as adults. So if you have some free time during the holidays — or you have houseguests who are looking for something to do — check out these adult field trips that will not only keep you entertained, but will make you feel like a kid again.

Louisville downtown skyline view with a park with trees in the foreground. Picture taken during autumn.

Downtown Louisville is absolutely beautiful during the fall.

Actors Theatre

316 West Main St. • (502) 584-1205 • actorstheatre.org

Actors Theatre of Louisville is a frequent school field trip destination. Just because this was part of the school curriculum for most of us, who’s to say we can’t take in a show now that we’ve graduated? Actors Theatre is packed with plays all year long, with the headliner Humana Festival each spring. And don’t miss Chef Edward Lee’s restaurant Milkwood in the basement.

Take in one of these remaining shows in the 2015-16 season:

  • Through December 14:H.M.S Pinafore
  • Through December 23: “A Christmas Carol”
  • January 5 through January 31, 2016: “4000 Miles”
  • January 26 through February 21, 2016: “Peter and the Star Catcher”

Read our FACES article about Theatre Managing Director Jennifer Bielstein here.

American Printing House for the Blind

1839 Frankfort Ave. • (502) 895-2405 • aph.org

Our eyesight is something we take for granted. The American Printing House for the Blind is the world’s largest nonprofit organization providing products and services for the visually impaired. Taking a guided tour of the APH will provide you with a better understanding of how audio and braille books are created, the opportunity to view demonstrations of educational products and a tour of the APH museum.

Belle of Louisville

401 W. River Road • (502) 574-2922 • belleoflouisville.org

We’ve got a real gem on our hands with the Belle of Louisville, the oldest operating Mississippi River-style steamboat in the world. Visit the waterfront and take a cruise down the Ohio River, or make your special occasion or party even more special by hosting it on board.

Fun fact: The Belle of Louisville was named a National Historic Landmark on June 30, 1989.

Bernheim Arboretum and Research Forest

2499 Clermont Road • (502) 955-8512 • bernheim.org

Bernheim Arboretum and Research Forest sits on 14,000 acres just outside the city in Clermont. Two thousand of those acres are open to the public to hike and explore the 8,000 labeled plant species. You can explore all Bernheim has to offer on your own, or participate in one of their many nature classes and hiking opportunities. To view a list of their current offerings, click here: bernheim.org.

Read about Bernheim as a special day trip here.


Bernheim Forest is the perfect place to go hiking.

Big Four Bridge

River Road • (502) 574-3768 • louisvillewaterfront.com

The Big Four Pedestrian & Bicycle Bridge is one of our favorite attractions. The old railway bridge was converted into an accessible walking path from Louisville into southern Indiana in 2013. On any day of the week, take a drive down to the waterfront, and you are bound to find a good number of people taking leisurely strolls, working up a sweat or peddling their way across the Ohio River. If you haven’t been at dusk when the lights turn on, you’re really missing out.

Read about what’s on the other side of the bridge here.

Churchill Downs

700 Central Ave. • (502) 636-4400 • churchilldowns.com

This list wouldn’t be complete without including Churchill Downs. I mean, we live in Louisville, home of the Kentucky Derby, for crying out loud. Honestly, what’s not to love about Churchill Downs? (No comments from the peanut gallery, please.) You’ve got horse racing, booze, betting and a good-time atmosphere. Downs After Dark, the track’s night racing series, is popular with locals and something you must check off your list.

Evan Williams Bourbon Experience

528 W. Main St. • (502) 584-2114 • evanwilliams.com

The Evan Williams Bourbon Experience is perfect for bourbon buffs, and there are quite a few in this town. Its location makes it the perfect place to pick up your own passport and begin your journey down the Kentucky Bourbon Trail. Visiting distilleries throughout the Bluegrass State offers the chance to learn about the history of the drink, the process of distilling and the families behind the distillers, tour the facilities and even get to taste a few of the specialty bourbons along the way.

Falls of the Ohio

201 W. Riverside Dr., Clarksville IN • (812) 280-9970 • fallsoftheohio.org

Another one of my favorite field trips as a kid was to the Falls of the Ohio State Park. The “Falls,” with a 390 million year history, is one of the largest, naturally exposed, Devonian fossil beds in the world. The Interpretive Center, which overlooks the fossil beds and contains an exhibit gallery and video presentation, closed in November and will reopen with a dedication ceremony on January 8, 2016. Access to the fossil beds will not be affected during this time.

Frazier History Museum

829 W. Main St. • (502) 753-5663 • fraziermuseum.org

History buffs will be delighted when they step through the doors of The Frazier History Museum. The museum walks you through more than 1,000 years of British, American and world history, with interactive and ever-changing exhibits, performances by costumed interpreters, and engaging special events and programs. 

Fun fact: The Frazier Museum is a member of the Smithsonian Affiliate Membership Program and the American Association of Museums. 

Great Local Hikes

Want to know where the best places to hike around town are?  We had our friend and hiking aficionado give us all the insider tips on where to go and what to expect. Read her article here.

Huber’s Orchard, Winery & Vineyards

19816 Huber Road, Borden, IN • (812) 923-9813 • huberwinery.com

It isn’t really fall if you haven’t paid a visit to Huber’s Orchard Winery & Vineyards to pick out a pumpkin. It seems cliché, because everyone does it every year, but it’s just as magical every time you go. Hayrides, pumpkin patches, and great food and drink. Even after all the pumpkins are picked, just going out there to see what’s for sale in their grocery or eating a big, yummy, family-style meal is worth the drive.

Kentucky Center for the Performing Arts

501 W. Main St. • (502) 584-7777 • kentuckycenter.org

The arts scene in Louisville is growing, and The Kentucky Center for the Performing Arts is your one-stop shop to experience the finest in music, dance and theater in town. The center is leading the effort to enrich the artistic, educational and economic vitality of the region by providing unparalleled programming and cultural events.

Take in a performance of your choosing in one of the many upcoming productions:

  • Through December 6: “Wicked”
  • December 10: David Benoit “Christmas Tribute to Charlie Brown”
  • December 12-20: The Brown-Forman “Nutcracker”
  • January 19-24, 2016: Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast”
  • February 13, 2016: Natalie Cole with the Louisville Orchestra

For a complete list of upcoming shows, click here: kentuckycenter.org. Read about Kim Baker, the president of the Kentucky Center, in her FACES of Louisville article here

Kentucky Derby Museum

704 Central Ave. • (502) 637-1111 • derbymuseum.org

Louisville is arguably best known for hosting the Kentucky Derby. The Kentucky Derby Museum is now in its 30th year celebrating the tradition, history and pride of the world-renowned event that put the city on the map. Along with chronicling the Derby’s history, the museum offers educational programs to schools in Kentucky and Indiana that teach students about the economics, history and significance of the Derby. Continuing its educational efforts, the Backside Learning Center opened in 2004 to provide educational opportunities and other resources to the people who work on the backside of the track.

The “most exciting two minutes in sports” is so much more than a horse race. Be sure to check out our article on their great gift shop here.

Kentucky Derby Museum Gift Shop for Derby Shopping:Barbaro, a most beloved horse, greets guests to the Kentucky Derby Museum.

Barbaro, a most beloved horse, greets visitors to the Kentucky Derby Museum.

Kentucky Museum of Art and Craft

715 W. Main St. • (502) 589-0102 • kmacmuseum.org

The Kentucky Museum of Art and Craft aims to connect people to art and creative practice by exploring the relationship between the two. Originally started as a way to build interest in the state’s craft heritage, KMAC’s goal is to educate and inspire, while promoting a better understanding of Kentucky’s rich art and craft history. They do this through exhibitions, collaborations, outreach and permanent American Folk Art collections from the region. The museum is currently undergoing renovations, expected to be complete in spring 2016. In the meantime, a satellite location is open at 611 W. Main St.

SB Tip: KMAC has a great gift shop featuring local artists and others from all over the state.

Kentucky Science Center

727 W. Main St. • (502) 560-7128  kysciencecenter.org

You never stop learning, therefore you are never too old to pay a visit to the Kentucky Science Center. Its new series turns the focus to more adult topics, like the process of fermenting beer. Along with these participatory events, they’ve also started a lecture series called Scientific Proof.

See what’s new at the Science Center:

  • December 8: Scientific Proof on hydraulic fracturing’s water cycle and impacts to water resources with Kentucky Water Alliance
  • March 3, 2016: hypotheSIPS
  • May 19, 2016: GAMEology
  • June 16, 2016: megaBITE

Fun fact: The Science Center has been hosting adult events lately, such as beer tastings, with no kids allowed! 

Louisville Ballet

315 E. Main St. • (502) 583-3150 • louisvilleballet.org

The Louisville Ballet brings storytelling to life in a majestic way every time the dancers take to the stage. It is because of their hard work, training and dedication to their craft that the Louisville Ballet has earned the reputation as one of the country’s leading regional ballet companies.

Take in one of the remaining shows in the 2015-16 season:

  • December 12-20: The Brown-Forman “Nutcracker”
  • January 27-30, 2016: Studio Connections
  • March 4-5, 2016: “(R)evolution: A Louisville Orchestra + Louisville Ballet Spring Collaboration”
  • April 8-9, 2016: “Balanchine”

Read our FACES article with local Louisville Ballet protege Wendy Whelan here.

Louisville Glassworks

815 W. Market St. • (502) 992-3270 • louisvilleglassworks.com

It doesn’t get much cooler than blowing your own glass objects. Louisville Glassworks has put our town on the map, by being the only facility of its kind in the country to bring together two different glass studios under one roof. Flame Run Glass Studio and Gallery is a fine art gallery that offers glassblowing demonstrations and blow-your-own glass activities throughout the year. The Mark Payton Glass Center offers guided and self-guided tours, walk-in fusing workshops and flame-working classes.

Louisville Mega Cavern

1841 Taylor Ave. • (502) 855-6342 • louisvillemegacavern.com

What is there not to do at the Louisville Mega Cavern? The Mega Cavern offers the world’s first and only underground bike park, the world’s only fully underground ropes challenge course and the world’s only underground zipline course. If you’re the adventurous type, this is definitely a location you need to check out.

Louisville Orchestra

323 W. Broadway #700 • (502) 587-8681 • louisvilleorchestra.org

If you’re not familiar with The Louisville Orchestra, you should be. Not a fan of classical music? Don’t let that deter you from paying the orchestra a visit. Teddy Abrams came on board as the new music director in 2014, and in just one year has managed to revive and re-engage music as an integral component of this city. The orchestra offers a wide variety of concert series, including pop, performances in neighborhood locations and programs with world-renowned guest artists such as MercyMe and Natalie Cole.

Catch the Louisville Orchestra  in one of their upcoming performances this season:

  • January 8-9, 2016: RachmaninoffsSecond”
  • January 16, 2016: “Streisand Songbook,” starring Ann Hampton Callaway
  • January 23, 2016: “Peter and the Wolf”
  • January 29-30, 2016: Brahms and Rachmaninoff
  • February, 5-6, 2016: Classical Classics
  • March 19, 2016: “Pink Martini”
  • March 4-5, 2016: Spring Collaboration — An Orchestra & Louisville Ballet Collaboration
  • March 25-26, 2016: Festival of American Music I
  • April 8-9, 2016: Festival of American Music II
  • April 15-17, 2016: Classics Go to the Movies
  • April 16, 2016: Lights, Cameras, Music
  • April 22, 2016: Broadway ROCKS!
  • April 29-30, 2016: Bela Fleck

Louisville Stoneware

731 Brent St. • (502) 582-1900 • louisvillestoneware.com

Louisville Stoneware is more than just a retail space to purchase gifts and china. It also offers tours of their factory and the opportunity to make your own pottery. Sounds like this not only would be a fun field trip, but possibly a great date. Fellas, are you listening?

Read our FACES article with Louisville Stoneware’s Lisa Masters here: styleblueprint.com

Lisa Masters of Louisville Stoneware: FACES of Louisville

Louisville Zoo

1100 Trevilian Way • (502) 459-2181 • louisvillezoo.org

The Louisville Zoo is home to furry, cute animals. Need we say more? But they also have adult events and even sell beer. If you are not in the mood to imbibe, consider the zoo a great workout with a hilly trail.

Mammoth Cave National Park

One Mammoth Cave Pkwy., Cave City • (270) 758-2180 • nps.gov

The class trip to Mammoth Cave National Park was hands-down one of my favorites. When I was a middle schooler, I thought it was the coolest thing to be underground. That is, until I saw a bat, and then you couldn’t get me on the bus fast enough. Mammoth Cave is the world’s longest known cave system, with more than 400 miles explored. Exploring the cave is not the only thing you can do here. There are more than 70 miles of surface trails to hike or ride horses. You can also canoe in the Green River, camp or take a picnic. Read our article about hiking around Mammoth Cave here.

Fun fact: Mammoth Cave was inscribed as a United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage Site on October 30, 1981.

Muhammad Ali Center

144 N. 6th St. •  (502) 584-9254 • alicenter.org

The Muhammad Ali Center is much more than a museum paying tribute to one of Louisville’s greatest, Muhammad Ali. The multicultural center draws inspiration from his life and six core principles that fueled his journey — confidence, conviction, dedication, giving, respect and spirituality — to inspire adults and children alike to be the greatest they can be.

Fun fact: Sports Illustrated renamed its Legacy Award the Sports Illustrated Muhammad Ali Legacy Award. The award honors sports figures who embody the ideals of sportsmanship, leadership and philanthropy. 

Image Ali Center

Image: Ali Center

Olmsted Parks Conservancy

1299 Trevilian Way • (502) 456-8125 • olmstedparks.org

Olmsted Parks offers countless ways to spend time in the outdoors. The Olmsted-designed parks and parkways aim to connect nature and neighborhood, while strengthening Louisville’s well-being. Hike, bike, run or relax in one of these Olmstead Parks:

  • Algonquin Park
  • Baxter Square
  • Bingham Park
  • Boone Square
  • Central Park
  • Cherokee Park
  • Chickasaw Park
  • Churchill Park
  • Elliot Park
  • Iroquois Park
  • Olmsted Parkways
  • Seneca Park
  • Shawnee Park
  • Shelby Park
  • Stansbury Park
  • Tyler Park
  • Victory Park
  • Wayside Park
  • Willow Park

Parklands at Floyds Fork

4002 S. Pope Lick Road • (502) 584-0350 • theparklands.org

The nonprofit organization, 21st Century Parks, created the donor-supported public park system along Floyds Fork Creek two years ago. Totaling four parks, The Parklands of Floyds Fork encompasses 4,000 acres of land perfect for hiking, biking or paddling.

  • Beckley Creek Park
  • Broad Run Park
  • Pope Lick Park
  • The Strand
  • Turkey Run Park

Slugger Museum and Factory

800 W. Main St. • (877) 775-8443 • sluggermuseum.com

That huge baseball bat that leans against the Louisville Slugger Museum and Factory is nothing out of the ordinary for us locals, but do you really know the history behind the world-famous baseball bat? Visit the museum, take a tour and you can even take home a personalized mini-bat as a souvenir. That is part of what helped the Louisville Slugger gain popularity — amateur players could purchase the bat model of their favorite big-league player.

Speed Art Museum

2035 S. Third St. • (502) 634-2700 • speedmuseum.org

Even if you don’t know a Dali from a Degas, you can’t help but enjoy looking at art in all forms. The Speed Art Museum allows you to find fresh meaning and inspiration through modern architecture, expanded programming, interactive exhibits and inviting spaces. Head down to the Local Speed on Market Street and check out their exhibitions and interactive art. The new Speed Art Museum is scheduled to open in March 2016.

Read all about the new Speed Art Museum here. View a sneak peek photo gallery of the renovated Speed here: styleblueprint.com.

sb new speed museum (8)

A sneak peek inside the new Speed Art Museum

Thirsty Pedaler

South First St. • (502) 354-8822 • thethirstypedaler.com

We don’t condone drinking and biking, except in this instance. The Thirsty Pedaler offers two-hour tours of downtown Louisville jamming to your favorite tunes and stopping at two or three of your favorite bars. If that doesn’t sound like a good time, we don’t know what does.

Disclaimer: You will be sore the next day. Your head and your body, both sore.

University of Louisville Observatory

106 W. Brandeis Ave. • (502) 852-6664 • louisville.edu

Gazing up at the stars is taken to a whole new level at the Gheens Science Hall and Raunch Planetarium on the University of Louisville‘s campus. The planetarium serves as a high-tech, multimedia learning venue to advance the understanding primarily of astronomy and science. Viewing one of the shows on the screens surrounding the entire circumference of the building was something on an astronomical level for me as a middle schooler. Aside from public shows, the science hall and planetarium also offer telescope workshops, holiday parties, Girl Scout and cosmic explorer workshops.

Enjoy all there is to do and see around our great hometown of Louisville!

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