Louisville, Kentucky, has a storied history, and the residents today are claiming, shaping, and telling that history in new and exciting ways. From famous names in baseball and bourbon to turning a limestone quarry into an underground events center, Louisville has many attractions that pay tribute to its past while looking toward its future.
Louisville Mega Cavern
If you’re thinking that caves usually have more subdued names like “Carlsbad,” or at the most extreme, something like “Devil’s Hollow,” well, you’re right. But the Louisville Mega Cavern isn’t a regular cave. It’s a formerly disused limestone quarry that, rather than let go to waste, some clever entrepreneur has filled with a massive underground zip line course, a ropes course, an events center, and a BMX park. A 17-mile tram tour can teach the curious-minded about the science and history of the cavern, and the cavern will showcase a massive underground display of Christmas lights during the holiday season.
Louisville Slugger Museum
One of the city’s most iconic exports is the Louisville Slugger baseball bat, and the factory sits right on Louisville’s Museum Row. It’s hard to miss the 120-foot replica of Babe Ruth’s Slugger sitting outside. Once you go in, you can check out the real thing in the Grand Slam Gallery, along with bats wielded by everyone from Mickey Mantle to Cal Ripken, Jr. Gallery 125 offers a wider array of baseball history, and the Signature Wall showcases all of the famous players who have signed with the brand. The museum is rounded out with a batting cage where you can swing replicas of famous players’ bats, or take a guided tour through the factory itself.
Of course, the most famous event in Louisville is the Kentucky Derby, but even if you’re not in town for that race, there’s still plenty to do at Churchill Downs. During the thick of racing season, live races occur constantly, but even on days when there isn’t a race, there are usually simulcast races from other tracks. The behind-the-scenes tour is a popular favorite, and the Kentucky Derby Museum is almost always open.
The Conrad-Caldwell House Museum
This house was designed by 1900s architect Arthur Loomis, and it has since been restored to its former Edwardian glamour. The Conrad-Caldwell House, also known as “Conrad’s Castle,” serves as a bit of a center for local history. Tours of the home are available, and a lecture series offers insights into the history of the area. Special events like Victorian teas occur fairly regularly, and the space is even available to rent for your own special occasion.
Kentucky Peerless Distillery
There are several distilleries to visit in Louisville—the city even has a “Whiskey Row.” But even though Kentucky Peerless just opened this year, people are raving about both its bourbon and moonshine, not to mention the visit experience. The family-owned distillery’s founders are descendants of Henry Kraver, who distilled Kentucky Peerless bourbon in the 19th century, and helped turn the small distillery into a thriving business. They consider their bourbon a revival, and point to their heritage as both an inspiration and a source of pride. In addition to tours four days a week, they also regularly hold food and art-related events.