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Free Things to Do in Louisville

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You don't have to spend a fortune in order to have a fun night on the town in Louisville. There are a ton of free things to do in Louisville if you know where to go. The following attractions are all things you can do in Louisville without spending a dime.

21C Museum Hotel Art Gallery

(c) 2008 Michael Maupin
The 21c Museum Hotel is one of Louisville's most interesting downtown establishments. It is a hotel, art gallery, and restaurant all in one building. The 21C Museum Hotel Gallery is a 9000 sq. ft. art museum that maintains a blend of both permanent and revolving installations in a number of different mediums. It is open to the public 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Free Shows at Actors Theatre

(c) 2008 Michael Maupin
Each year, Actors Theatre chooses 22 aspiring stage actors from a pool of more than 2,000 to join their Apprentice Company. The Apprentice Company puts on its own season of plays that are free to the public. These plays run from mid-August to early May. For ticketed shows, tickets must be requested through the Actors Theatre Box Office. For non-ticketed shows, you can just arrive on location and enjoy the program.

Jim Beam American Outpost

A trip to the Jim Beam American Outpost allows you to experience the making and history of one of Kentucky's signature products -- bourbon. At the Jim Beam distillery, you can watch a movie about the history of the Beam family, see how Jim Beam bourbon is made, and see how the Jim Beam bottles have changed throughout the years. Best of all, there is no charge for any of these activities at the Jim Beam American Outpost, though you'll probably want to bring some money for a bottle of bourbon.

Louisville Nature Center

The Louisville Nature Center is a place where people can explore, learn about, and enjoy nature. The Louisville Nature Center features butterfly and dragonfly gardens, wildlife exhibits, and hiking through Beargrass Creek State Nature Preserve, as well as a variety of children's activities. While visiting the Louisville Nature Center, you can explore the outdoor nature preserves and wildlife exhibits, or you can engage in learning activities in the indoor museum area.

The Museum at the American Printing House for the Blind

© 2009 Jessica Elliott
The Museum at the American Printing House for the Blind houses items that help visitors explore the history of education for the blind in America. Both admission to the museum and guided tours of the factory are free. Unlike the rules at most museums that discourage visitors from touching the exhibits, visitors to the Museum at the American Printing House for the Blind are encouraged to touch the exhibits in order to better understand the experiences of the blind.

Cave Hill Cemetery

(c) 2008 Michael Maupin
Cave Hill Cemetery is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It is a Victorian-era cemetery and arboretum that is open to the public. Cave Hill is a pleasant and photogenic place where people go for the lovely scenery and intricate gravestones as well as to visit their deceased loved ones. The land is home to a cave, lakes, and the graves of many famous Louisvillians, including KFC founder Colonel Sanders.

Carnegie Center for Art and History

The Carnegie Center for Art and History is an art gallery and history museum located in New Albany, Indiana. The center has two permanent exhibits. The first, Grandpa Makes a Scene: The Yenawine Dioramas, is a set of hand-carved, fully mechanized dioramas. The second, Ordinary People Extraordinary Courage: Men and Women of the Underground Railroad, is a multimedia exhibit that tells the story of two groups of people living in antebellum Kentuckiana. The center also has several revolving exhibits as well as workshops and classes for both children and adults.

The Filson Museum

The Filson Historical Society Museum, located in the carriage house behind the Ferguson Mansion, houses artifacts that are important to Kentucky's history. Some of the items that are on exhibit at the Filson Museum include a sheep horn that was brought back from the Lewis and Clark expedition, Jim Porter's musket, and Daniel Boone's "Kill a Bar" tree carving, as well as many Civil War artifacts and an art collection. The public can tour the house and museum for free.

Jeffersontown Historical Museum

The Jeffersontown Historical Museum houses pieces of J-Town history. Some of the items at the Jeffersontown Historical Museum include military exhibits, historical artifacts, and an exhibit of folk dolls. The museum is open Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Like all of the other attractions on this list, admission to the J-Town Historical Museum is free.

851 Mansion

The 851 Mansion is tucked inside of the administration building at Spalding University. This historic mansion has been designated as a Kentucky landmark and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Free, self-guided tours of the mansion are available when Spalding University classes are in session. The 851 Mansion's architecture and furnishings represent nearly 150 years of history.

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