Louisville is a lively place, bustling with excitement and outdoor activities. But when the storm clouds roll in and we all retreat indoors, it’s easy to forget that the city offers so many indoor activities to keep the fun going. The next time you’re itching to get out yet find yourself trapped indoors because of a rain storm, pull out this list and keep the good times rolling. From the culturally enriching to some good old-fashioned fun, here are some of the best ways to spend a rainy day in Louisville.

Arts & Culture

Distillery Tours

When in Bourbon Country, why not indulge in the very thing that put the city on the map … bourbon! For those who are bourbon enthusiasts, a tour along the Kentucky Bourbon Trail might be just the thing for you. Grab your passport at any participating distillery and have fun visiting all the breweries in the region, sampling their distinct barrels, learning about their history and collecting stamps in your passport along the way. Then travel across the bridge into Indiana and spend a day at Huber’s Orchard and Winery.

Want to stay inside the Louisville Metro city limits? There’s no shortage of distilleries in downtown Louisville. Pay a visit to Angel’s Envy, Copper & Kings, Evan Williams Bourbon Experience, Heaven Hill Distilleries Inc., Jim Beam Urban Stillhouse or Kentucky Peerless Distilling Co. Happy bourbon trails to you!

Experience the Arts

Louisville is busting at the seams with culturally enriching arts and entertainment groups and venues. What we love the most about these groups is that they all collaborate and work together to put on outstanding performances in their genres. The Kentucky Center for the Performing Arts hosts myriad events each month ranging from concerts to plays to speaking engagements. The Louisville Ballet uses Whitney Hall inside the Kentucky Center as their home stage for all their performances. This season you can catch the dancers in performances such as The Merry Widow, Serenade + At High + Velocity and of course the annual favorite, The Brown-Forman Nutcracker. If you’d prefer taking in a show with dialogue, head over to Actors Theatre of Louisville to catch a performance. This season, they’ve got a stellar lineup of plays including Hype Man, Dracula, Measure for Measure and Fifth Third Bank’s A Christmas Carol. For a complete look at the 2019-2020 schedule of shows, click here. Finally, for those more musically inclined, there are two amazing options to enjoy a show: The Louisville Orchestra and Kentucky Opera. Fill your music agendas with special shows from the Kentucky Opera and various performances ranging from the classics to coffee concerts from the Louisville Orchestra.

The Louisville Ballet always puts on a spectacular show. Here they are during rehearsals. Image: Sam English

The Louisville Ballet always puts on a spectacular show. Here they are during rehearsals. Image: Sam English

Museums and Galleries

A little rain in the forecast means you can finally make time to see Louisville’s best museums and art galleries, many of which delve deep into the history and culture of our city. Discover more about the life, legacy and mission of Louisville’s “Greatest” Muhammad Ali at The Muhammad Ali Center. Louisville’s history can also be found at historic Churchill Downs and the Kentucky Derby Museum. After learning about the history of the greatest two minutes in sports, head downtown and tour the museum and factory of the city’s other claim to fame, the Louisville Slugger. The Louisville Slugger Museum and Factory offers valuable insight into the history of baseball, and you can even walk away with your own mini replica baseball bat. Once you’ve got your bat, walk across the street to KMAC Museum to enjoy their new exhibit “The KMAC Triennial”, which runs from August 24 until December 1 with free admission.

If it’s art you’re looking for, make your way downtown to 21c Museum Hotel. Wander around the exhibits on the lower levels and get lost in a world of creativity. The current art installations in the hotel’s restaurant, Proof on Main, features new works by artists from the US, Sweden, and Australia. Another popular art spot is on the campus of the University of Louisville and just underwent a major renovationThe Speed Art Museum. This well-known art museum is welcoming to art aficionados as well as those who don’t know a Dali from a Degas. Once you’ve learned all there is to know about Louisville’s history downtown, venture over to the gorgeous Old Louisville neighborhood and tour the Conrad-Caldwell House Museum in St. James Court.

Other notable options to add to your list include Revelry Boutique Gallery, American Printing House for the Blind, Frazier History Museum and the Tim Faulkner Art Gallery.

We could (and often do) spend hours exploring The Speed Art Museum.

We could (and often do) spend hours exploring The Speed Art Museum.

RELATED: Take A Look Inside The All-New KMAC

Hands-On Art

Need something a bit more hands-on? Pay a visit to The Kentucky Science Center and engaging in activities that open your eyes to the amazing science that surrounds our everyday lives. SB Tip: You will spend the majority of your time trying to encase yourself in a human bubble. Kudos to you if you can get it all the way down without making it pop on the first attempt.

Not in the mood for science? Head to Louisville Glassworks to watch professional glassblowers create magical works of art. Your mind will be blown (pun intended) at the skill and finesse it takes to create sculptures, ornaments and figurines. You’ll find the most fun aspect of the trip comes when you step down and give it a try yourself. That’s right, the skilled glassblowers will assist you in blowing your own glass work. SB Tip: Not only is it fun for the whole family, but it also makes a great DIY holiday present.

If painting and pottery is more your speed, grad the kids and head over to Stoneware & Co. for a paint party. SB Tip: Ask for a tour of the factory for an opportunity to see the process first hand and get an up-close look at how your favorite Stoneware & Co. patterns are made. 

The Kentucky Science Center provides hours of fun and learning for all ages.

The Kentucky Science Center provides hours of fun and learning for all ages.

Live Music & Entertaining

If the rain is going to keep you inside, why not rock out while supporting the city’s local musicians?! You never know, you might stumble upon Louisville’s next big act, like Bryson Tiller. You can find a show for almost every night of the week at venues like Headliners Music Hall, The Louisville Palace, The Mercury Ballroom, Tin Roof, Baxter’s 942 Bar and Grill, Sullivan’s Taphouse, Gerstle’s Place, Fourth Street Live! and KFC Yum! Center. You’ll be happy to celebrate indoors at any of these local venues.

Active Options

Exercise Classes

Don’t let the grey skies keep you from getting that workout in. If the clouds have you feeling a little down, a quick sweat session will get those endorphins flowing and get that smile back on your face. A class at barre3 delivers not only a mind-body connection, but a workout accessible for all fitness and skill levels. After sweating out the rainy day blues, browse through their selection of high-end athletic apparel that will have you looking as good as you feel after powering through a challenging workout routine.

Get moving with barre3! Image: barre3

Bounce, Climb & Throw

Sometimes you need to escape the city to have a little fun, but luckily for us, we don’t have to venture too far. Louisville Mega Cavern is the place to go to experience the world’s only fully underground zip-lining course. In addition to zip-lining, the Mega Cavern also offers tram tours, which are a great opportunity to learn about geology, mining and recycling; a one-of-a-kind underground bike park; and the world’s only underground aerial ropes course.

The newest attraction to hit Louisville lets you test your target skills by throwing axes. That’s right, Flying Axes is essentially a spin on dart throwing. Games are offered for two players and group events like a birthday party, fundraiser or team building activities. Once you’ve thrown a few axes, walk down the street and climb some rocks. Climb NuLu is a bouldering gym that welcomes climbers of all ages to scale their walls without any ropes or harnesses over their padded floors.

Another option to get moving on a rainy day is to spend some time jumping at House of Boom. The ultimate extreme air experience allows you to bounce on trampolines, swing from rope to rope, and navigate an obstacle course all above a pit of foam pieces to catch you if you fall.

Retail Therapy

For the Fashionista

As long as you are adequately prepared for the elements — armed with an umbrella and decked out in rain boots — it’s the perfect time to discover Louisville’s boutiques. There are too many fabulous local shopping destinations to list, so we’ll direct you to our SB Guide or to download the SB App, where you can navigate the best shopping, restaurants and events near you.

Some notable places to check out include Merridian Home Furnishings, because it’s the Louisville interior designer’s best-kept secret for sourcing globally inspired decor and one-of-a-kind pieces; Stoneware & Co. to take home a piece of Louisville history and culture; and Water + Oak Outdoor Company to gear up for your next outdoor adventure once the rain has passed.

Update Your Vinyl or Book Collection

Enjoy a rainy day by exploring music, both old and new, from one of Louisville’s record stores, Mr. Friendly Records, Guestroom Records or Better Days Records. Once you’ve updated that music collection, head over to Carmichael’s Bookstore to find your next great escape. You can always pay a visit to the downtown branch of the Louisville Public Library as well. SB Tip: Don’t leave Mr. Friendly’s without stopping into Please & Thank You for “Louisville’s Best Cookie.”

Carmichael's Bookstore: local, family-run and "just the right size"

Carmichael’s Bookstore is local, family-run and just the right size.

Pamper Yourself

If the weather can’t bring a smile to your face, we know what will: a little “me time.” Relax and unwind by way of a therapeutic massage from Elements Massage or Elements Massage Middletown, or give your hair a little TLC with an appointment at J Michael’s Salon and Spa or Omagi Spa and Salon.

Dining & Drinking

Coffee Shops

Louisville is known for our love of all things bourbon, but we’ve also got a soft spot for coffee shops. It seems you can’t venture too far in the city without running into a Heine Brothers’, and the others seem to be multiplying as well. Please & Thank You started with a flagship store on Market Street and has since expanded to Frankfort Avenue and Floyd Street. (The coffee shop and its loyal regulars affectionately refer to these locations as Mark, Frank and Floyd.) Quill’s Coffee resides on Baxter Avenue, but has since opened a new spot on Main Street near Angel’s Envy and Louisville Slugger Field. Sunergo’s Coffee shops can be found on Preston Street, Fifth Street, Norris Place and Woodlawn Avenue. In the heart of the Highlands neighborhood, and arguably the most unusual coffee shop in the city, is Gralehaus. A residential home was renovated and converted into a working coffeehouse and cafe on the first floor, with bed and breakfast rooms on the second and third floors. How cool is that?

Other notable coffee spots are McQuixote Books & Coffee in the Portland neighborhood, Safai Coffee Shop in the Highlands neighborhood and Red Hot Roasters, a drive-thru coffee spot on Lexington Road.

Quill's Coffee is the perfect spot for an afternoon pick me up.

Quill’s Coffee is the perfect spot for an afternoon pick-me-up.

RELATED: 16 New Louisville Restaurants To Try This Summer

Local Breweries

Bourbon may be booming in Louisville, but as hard as it is for some to believe, not all of us are enthralled by the mention of the word bourbon. Luckily for those who aren’t as keen on the brown libation, there are just as many local breweries to explore as there are distilleries in town, all of which provide a fun escape from the rain. Visit Against the Grain Brewery, Apocalypse Brew Works, Goodwood Brewing, Old Louisville Brewery,  Monnik Beer Co. or Mile Wide Brewing Company for an afternoon of fun.

Grab Dinner & Drinks

Finally, if none of the above grabs your attention, a good meal always does the job. Luckily for you, you reside in a USA Today “Best Local Food Scene” city. The food scene in Louisville is honestly the city’s best-kept secret. There are tons of culinary destinations worth crossing off your bucket list around town. See our roundups of the newest eateries in Louisville here, visit our SB Guide or click here for all the latest dining destinations.

And there you have it  — there are countless ways to make up for washed-out plans. Get out and explore Louisville!

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