I’ve wanted to visit Louisville for a long time and the stars finally aligned when we were planning our six week road trip around the country. We knew we were stopping at Mammoth Cave National Park and the Abbey of Gethsemani (because we believe in taking children all kinds of places). The Abbey is just over an hour away and we couldn’t pass up the chance to spend some time in Louisville before heading north for a speaking gig.
I’d seen beautiful pictures on my friend Anne’s blog (Modern Mrs. Darcy) and could tell I was going to love the vibe. We had a fantastic time and I wanted to share about what we loved when we were there. My six-year-old said, “You’re writing a post about Louisville? Make it good because I love Louisville!”
Beautiful Historic Buildings
One of my favorite things to do in a new city is to walk around downtown to get a feel for the place. I loved walking to restaurants with the fam and seeing the beautiful historic buildings everywhere!
Louisville is a much bigger city than I imagined! I assumed it was about the size of my hometown, Tallahassee, FL, but it’s MUCH larger. It has the feel of a busy big city, but with some southern style that makes it feel laid back. Reminds me of New Orleans just a teensy bit.
The Galt House Hotel
We stayed in an amazing hotel that’s right downtown near restaurants and museums.
It was the perfect location for all we wanted to do in the city and our room was gorgeous. Especially after camping in a national park, I felt completely spoiled.
We took the opportunity to drive home hotel etiquette with the kids and they were a little awed by the luxury which was fun.
The hotel had a fascinating history. It was a prominent hotel in the mid-19th century and Charles Dickens stayed there! And Generals Grant and Sherman strategized the capture of Atlanta inside the hotel, too! But the original building burned down in 1865, so this is the Galt House 2.0.
When traveling with our three little ones, we do a lot of eating out of our cooler to make trips more affordable, but we knew we wanted to eat out a couple of times to experience some of the great Louisville food, so Daniel did some research and found great spots!
We loved Wild Eggs for breakfast and I highly recommend it if you’re planning a visit to Louisville! Everything was delicious, the service was great, and they even had gluten-free toast for my allergic kiddos!
The other place Daniel found was Against the Grain, a brewery located at Louisville Slugger Field.
Daniel sampled their beer and we enjoyed some great burgers, truffle oil fries, and fantastic BBQ.
Seriously delicious. Go there for sure!
The Louisville Zoo
We spent a morning at the Louisville Zoo and the kids were pretty excited to see a real polar bear (Daniel and I were pretty excited, too).
We also got to see a training session with the tiger and that was amazing. But it was late July in Kentucky, friends, and it was hot. Oh my heavens it was blistering.
So while I highly recommend the zoo…..I advise going in October.
The Kentucky Science Center
Thankfully, during the hot summers, there’s plenty of great places to go and explore inside. We went to the Kentucky Science Center in the afternoon to escape the heat and it was a blast.
They have several floors of interactive exhibits for kids and it was a great fit for our toddlers and our six-year-old.
The girls pretended to fly to the moon.
Right next to the Ohio River, Louisville has a great city park where we tried to wear the kids out before putting them back in the car for the drive out of town.
There’s a fantastic splash pad and playground areas to climb on at Waterfront Park. The kids didn’t want to leave.
For next time…
There were tons of spots we didn’t have time to go to and we could certainly have spent several days just enjoying the city. We didn’t go to the Louisville Slugger Museum or the Kentucky Derby Museum and we didn’t take a bourbon tour. They also have the Louisville MegaCaverns which look really amazing for older kids. So next time!
And if you’re in the area, Mammoth Cave National Park is well worth a visit and would be a great place to hit on your way in or out of Louisville. The kids loved it and we had a great time camping and touring the largest cave system in the world.
A big thanks to the Louisville Convention and Visitors Bureau for helping us set up this trip!
Ever been to Louisville? I want to hear about it!
Oh I love Louisville so much! I hope you got a chance to peruse Bardstown road. I could spend days just eating in Louisville.
Jennifer D. says
I was going to suggest Bardstown Road, too. Might be most fun sans kids? So much culture in Louisville! So glad you liked it! 🙂
I loved reading about your Louisville adventure! It’s even more fun because I read it and am writing this post as we drive with our kids to Kentucky right now from north of Indy! We are going to visit my husband’s family who live at the St. Martin de Porres
Lay Dominican community about ten minutes from the abbey! We love the zoo and seeing all of the beautiful historic Catholic churches. If you ever find yourself back in Bourbon country, there are so many historic Catholic spots south of Louisville around Bardstown…so rich in Catholic culture, late 18th century history and lore (first cathedral west of Alleghenies, one of first seminaries, priests on horseback and families leaving Maryland to settle in the area and make bourbon, of course!) Reminds me so much of Cather’s Death Comes for the Archbishop. Pretty awesome stuff.
William Bloomfield says
The Galt House in Louisville was the longtime home of the International Bluegrass Music Association’s annual convention and awards show. I went about 10 years ago when I was just forming the bluegrass band Lonesome County. We stayed up all night picking and singing with anyone that wanted to, which sometimes included some of the very best bluegrass pickers. It was great fun.
Although I don’t play in a band anymore, and don’t play as much as I used to, here are some songs I recorded a few years back, including the very Catholic “Thou Art Peter.” (And no, there aren’t that many Catholic bluegrass songs.) See https://soundcloud.com/will-bloomfield-2
Louisville is my hometown, and we are here this week visiting, I couldn’t wait to leave 25 years ago, but I love calling it home. Indeed, I would be living here again if circumstances were different. It has been fun relearning the town now that I have my own child. The food scene has grown, and the architecture really is remarkable. Sooooo glad you enjoyed your time here. It is a gem.
Amy @ Motherhood and Miscellany says
I love Louisville so much! I lived there for four years while in graduate school and it’s one of my very favorite places. Prior to living there, I had lived in Metro Detroit and then very small-town Kentucky, so I always thought Louisville was the perfect mix of the two, big city with southern charm, like you said.
When I lived there I was single, and I’ve only been back once with my kids for a graduate school reunion. Now I’m itching to go back again and go to some of these fun spots. Thanks for the post. Your photos made me smile and brought back happy memories 🙂
Looks like a blast! For a second there I thought your kids were on top of a real rhino!
AAAAAHHHHHHHH!!!!! This is wonderful. I have another year before I get to see my beautiful home again, and this made my heart pine for it even more. I am so glad you all enjoyed your stay. And now you have the photo basically all native Louisvillians have: all of your children perched atop the stone rhino. LOVE! And, yes, Wild Eggs is absolutely the best in breakfast. Hope you all are enjoying the West!
Begging your pardon, where are my manners?
Y’all come back now, ya hear?
Mrs Geek says
True story: there is a giant sculpture at the Louisville Slugger museum of a baseball bat, and on the inside a giant sculpture of a glove, and both were done by my great uncle. Definitely hit up that museum next time you’re in Louisville, it’s super fun!
You basically took the same vacation my husband and I did a few years ago! I was born in Louisville and was excited to tour the city as an adult. But we also first camped at Mammoth Cave and stopped at Gethsemani Abbey on our way into town. Next time you go to Louisville I would recommend Ramsi’s Cafe (www.ramsiscafe.com). My husband still dreams about the fish tacos he had there. I hope we get to go again soon too!
Maria Wheatley says
The Louisville Slugger Museum or the Kentucky Derby Museum and we didn’t take a bourbon tour. They also have the Louisville MegaCaverns which look really amazing for older kids. Nice suggestion thank you!