Looking to entertain the whole family? There is plenty to see and do in Louisville. Here is a list of the top 10 things to do with kids in Possibility City. The first five listed are free. The second half of the list includes activities requiring admission, but keep an eye out, many of these have promotional days with free entry, too.
And if you are hungry after running around town, check out one of the many Louisville restaurants offering free meals for kids.
With 120 parks covering more than 14,000 acres, you are sure to find a park that you’ll love. There are the historic parks designed by Fredrick Law Olmsted (Central Park and Cherokee Park), parks with horseback riding (Seneca and Long Run), places to swim (Algonquin and Camp Taylor Memorial) and tons of opportunities to bike, play, experience nature, get fit and relax. Search for a park near your home or by amenities with the Metro Parks park finder
There are tons of free events for children of all ages going on every day at Louisville Free Public Library. With locations all over the city, you can view upcoming events by clicking the link above. Many branches also feature exhibits. For example, the downtown branch recently had an art show, activities and performances all related to the books of Maurice Sendak
With trails open to the public, from sunrise to sunset, the Louisville Nature Center offers the community a chance to experience nature in the heart of Louisville. In addition to the trails, there is a wildflower garden, a pond, a watershed exhibit, a library and a charming gazebo to enjoy a picnic lunch in. The education center and bird area are open Monday-Saturday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and are closed on Sundays and holidays.
Image © Mali Anderson
Since 21c is a hotel, the gallery area on the ground floor is open to the public, for free, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. There are varying art exhibits; some video installations, sculptures, paintings and a permanent interactive piece near the elevator that kids love. Even the bathrooms have interesting enhancements, like one-way mirrors. It’s fun and exhibitions change a few times per year. In addition, standing in front is David (inspired by Michelangelo)
, a huge gold statute drawing the 21c building to the attention of all on Main Street.
Courtesy of Bardstown Road Farmers' Market
Farmers markets are wonderful places for families to discuss arithmetic, food preparation and see the bounty of our great state. With friendly vendors, live music and occasional craft booths, the market is a perfect place to spend a day exploring. The experience is free, but if you get hungry, which is often the case, you may need to splurge on a muffin to nibble while you walk or a bag of greens to cook up for supper. Here is a list of markets around Louisville
Open every season, the Louisville Zoo has an aquarium, a gorilla forest, tigers, giraffes, a new bear exhibition and so much more. In addition to the animals, visitors will find a 4D theater, where movies are not only watched but also felt. Spectators sit in seats that move with along with the action of the film. During Halloween season, expect to find The Louisville Zoo Halloween Party. Children can wear costumes and trick-or-treat in the zoo. There are also stops along the golden yellow brick road to meet characters from famous children stories.
An interactive kids gallery, featuring opportunities to make art, enjoy multi-media stations, read books and play on a miniature ship, Art Sparks is in the lower level of the Speed Art Museum. The museum, formerly known as the J.B. Speed Memorial Museum, is the oldest and largest art museum in Kentucky with a famous collection of Old Master paintings and an expanding contemporary art collection. In fall of 2012, the museum will close to undergo an immense expansion, including a new building with a larger kids center. UPDATE:
Speed is closed but does have kids events happening throughout the city. For instance, their 2013 summer camps will take place at the Frazier Museum
With four floors of interactive learning, the Louisville Science Center has displays to introduce children to biology, chemistry, physics and technology. On the first floor is an area designed for kids under seven and a special area for rotating exhibits. Past temporary exhibitions have included Star Trek and Sesame Street. There is also an IMAX theater in the center. Some of the exhibitions are broken on occasion, but kids seem to love the center anyway, wanting to return as soon as they leave.
Both a museum and functioning factory, Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory is easily spotted. A 120-foot replica of Babe Ruth’s bat
is installed at the buildings entrance. There are tours and rotating exhibitions within the museum. It’s easy to spot who has taken the tour when walking down Main Street, visitors to the museum are given miniature Louisville Slugger bats to take home as a souvenir. The Slugger Museum is an ideal day out for kids, and families, who love baseball.
Image © Mali Anderson
A quick ride across the Ohio River from Louisville, Atlantis Water Park
is located in Clarksville, Indiana. With four water slides, a wave pool and a shallow pool with small slides and fountains for younger kids, Atlantis is a great way to enjoy a hot day. The park is on the small side, but that means affordable admission and short lines compared to the larger theme water parks. Atlantis provides a low-key relaxing day, with jolts of excitement on slides, for those who want it. Need a winter option?
Try the Frazier History Museum
There are often print outs for kids to follow while walking through exhibits. And, added bonus, there are frequently live shows.