With the arrival of warmer weather, it’s the perfect time to branch out from the typical indoor tour and enjoy a stroll through these urban escapes, outdoor gardens, arboretums and more in Louisville.
Take a cruise up the Ohio River on the nation's oldest operating steamboat. Built in 1914, the Belle of Louisville is a living, operating museum that visitors can take a ride on for sightseeing, lunch and dinner cruises. Explore the engine room to see engineers in action or head to the upper decks for views of the Louisville skyline, Waterfront Park and vivid sunsets.
This educational and recreational preserve consists of over 14,600 acres of natural forest including a beautiful 600-plus acre arboretum. There are 32 miles of hiking trails and 16 miles of paved road for biking, three lakes, picnic areas, educational programming and family events throughout the year.
To commemorate the 90th anniversary, Danish artist Thomas Dambo constructed three Forest Giants. The massive sculptures were created using wood and a variety of other sustainable materials and can be found along a two-mile loop trail encompassing the arboretum.
This railroad turned pedestrian bridge was originally completed in 1895 and spans a half-mile across the Ohio River, linking Louisville's Waterfront Park to Jeffersonville, Indiana. Refurbished as a pedestrian bridge in 2013, it has become one of the city's most popular attractions as one of the best locations to get sweeping views of the Louisville skyline, Ohio River and colorful sunsets. Each evening from dark until 1:00 a.m., a program of LED lighting provides motion and color to the structure of the bridge for a nightly show that illuminates throughout the park.
This 296-acre Victorian era cemetery and arboretum is the final resting place of many notable Kentuckians including Colonel Sanders, Muhammad Ali and George Rogers Clark. The cemetery, containing a large collection of military graves, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and has become a popular spot to take a walk and take in local history. This accredited arboretum has a burgeoning collection of over 600 different tree and shrub species making the Spring and Fall seasons especially popular with the addition of colorful Spring flowers and vivid Fall foliage. Maps are available online as well.
Kids and adults alike can enjoy over 70 rides and attractions, including 6 world-class coasters at this family friendly amusement park. Hurricane Bay Waterpark opens May 29th and features a wave pool, tube rides, lazy river, and one of the world's tallest body slides. 2021 season pass holders get the bonus perks of free parking, $1 drinks, and 20% off food and merchandise.
Louisville Mega Cavern
While technically inside, the Louisville Mega Cavern in located in a former limestone mine and stretches over 4 million square feet under parts of the Watterson Expressway and the Louisville Zoo, making it the largest building in the state of Kentucky. While underground, visitors will be surprised to see all of the attractions offerings which include tram-guided tours, a ropes course, a mountain bike park, and the world's only fully underground zipline tour.
Visit more than 1,100 animals, multiple playgrounds, an African Petting Zoo, rides, and a seasonal splash park, all throughout the Louisville Zoo's 130-acre park. The zoo’s award-winning Islands, Gorilla Forest and Glacier Run exhibits have been recognized by AZA for their excellence and innovation and are must see stops along with the Africa, Australian Outback, HerpAquarium and New World exhibits.
Phase one of Louisville's Waterfront Botanical Garden is now open in the popular Butchertown neighborhood. The 23-acre urban botanical garden is currently free to the public and allows visitors to stroll along a winding path through seasonal flowers, plants and a man-made water feature. Upcoming phases of the project include a hillside amphitheater next to a Children’s Garden, a small arboretum and an outdoor event lawn.
The former home, garden and commercial nursery of the late nursery industry leader Theodore Klein. Starting in 2001 and continuing to today, his unique collection of rare garden plants, display gardens, and unique architectural features have been developed into a major horticultural display, education and research center. Signature garden features include a formal topiary gardens, traditional English Walled Garden and Serpentine Garden.