Why You Should Go
Louisville makes for a great weekend getaway for the family with its riverfront greenways and parks, cool restaurants, fun science museum, zipline in a cave, fossil hike, and a magnificent pedestrian bridge crossing the Ohio River.
It’s a city where you can walk or bike over to Indiana and have lunch before popping back over to Kentucky. The kids will love the idea of state hopping. For history buffs, Louisville is where Lewis and Clark set off on their western adventure and you can learn all about it in the small but unexpectedly fun Frazier History Museum downtown. Sounds pretty good, right?
But wait, there’s more! You can also explore the two attractions most people associate with Louisville, the Louisville Slugger Museum and the Kentucky Derby Museum at the Churchill Downs Racetrack, both of which are worth a trip just by themselves. Even some of the bourbon distilleries, another calling card of this city, are very kid-friendly.
Between all the things to do and see in Louisville, you could probably spend a week exploring this awesome city, but a weekend will certainly be a great getaway for the family. Time to reconnect, put down the devices, and have some fun together!
Where You Should Stay
Heads Up: We do participate in affiliate marketing with some of the companies that we personally use. They don’t pay us to write, we simply get a commission if you enter those sites through our “gate” as opposed to say a Google search. We never accept free gifts or comped stays. Full Disclosure Statement
Louisville has a compact downtown area and most of the activities are located within just a few blocks of each other. Stay as near to Waterfront Park/ KFC Yum Center or 4th Street Live! as you can. Here are just a few of our lodging recommendations:
The Hyatt Regency Louisville is perfectly positioned next to the Convention Center and 4th Street Live!, a glassed-in pedestrian area of restaurants, bars, and shops. We stayed in the 2 Q room with 2 adults and twin 7 year old boys and really enjoyed the hotel. Although breakfast wasn’t included, the spacious room, in-room mini-fridge and coffee maker, and the small indoor pool made up for it. We would stay here again.
If you are looking for an apartment rental, try the John Brasch Suite at The Palace Theatre just a block north of 4th Street Live! A 2 BR/ 2 Ba apartment in a good location, it is recently renovated and comes with free parking for 1 vehicle.
Pro-Tip: Just across the river in Jeffersonville, Indiana is also a good location, especially if you are into biking (you can easily take the Big Four Bridge over the river and into downtown.) There are a few restaurants, shops, and a good brewery (Flat 12 Bierwerks) on Jeffersonville’s picturesque Spring Street area and its riverfront. I like this 3 BR/ 2 BA house that’s just 2 blocks from the restaurants and a 2.5 mile walk/ bike ride to the KFC Yum Center in middle of downtown Louisville.
What You Should Not Miss
Waterfront Park and the Big Four Bridge
Louisville has put a lot of money into revitalizing its riverfront and you can tell. The 8 mile long Riverwalk is a great mixed-use greenway, and Waterfront Park has playgrounds, swings, a splash pad, huge grass lawns, and a general respite from the hustle and bustle of urban life. Rent a kayak to explore the Ohio River or, if you are a landlubber, rent bikes from WheelFun Rentals.
The real showpiece of Waterfront Park though is the Big Four Bridge, a former rail bridge now converted to pedestrian and cyclist use. Stroll or bike across to Indiana while admiring the views of downtown and the river from this awesome vantage point.
Where You Should Eat
You’ll find a surprisingly good food scene in Louisville. Here are just a few of our favorites.
Home of the Louisville-style pizza (2 layers of toppings and cheese), this isn’t the original location in town but it has a nice relaxed vibe to it. The menu is not extensive but what they do, they do well. It’s a great value, has excellent service, is loved by the locals (there were tables of construction workers still in their yellow vests next to tables of business people), and is convenient to everything. Definitely stop here at some point.
One of our favorite places in Louisville, this is a cozy and unpretentious basement pub. It has good food, a great beer list, and very reasonable prices for downtown. The kids loved the hidden room, and the sports TVs all around kept them entertained. The giant troll outside is a fun photo op as well.
This is a covered, pedestrian, two story area that contains over 20 different bars and restaurants. It is a little touristy with the Hard Rock Cafe and Guy Fieri’s as some of the dining choices but could be perfect if you have some picky eaters and want a lot of options. Or it’s raining.
With all the possibilities, there is something for everyone in Louisville at any time of year. Louisville is within a 3 hour drive of Nashville, Indianapolis, Columbus, and Cincinnati; and a 4 hour drive of St. Louis and Knoxville.
What Makes Our Travel Guides Simply Awesome?
If you want to visit Louisville but don’t have time to plan your weekend adventure, check out our Louisville Weekend Getaway Guide.
It highlights additional lodging and dining choices, highlights the best activities, and includes all the little things that can be so helpful in making a trip a success—detailed maps so it’s easy to find your way around, rainy day ideas, and helpful tips we discovered along the way.
We have done these trips with our own families so we know what works and what doesn’t. We’ll tell you what’s skippable and what’s a must do in this fun city.
Where To Stay
The lodging choices for each destination have been carefully selected for their ideal location, price point, safety, and proximity to the day’s activities. We tell you the best area to stay so you can minimize driving or walking distances and maximize your moments having fun. Knowing what part of town to stay in is a huge part of making a trip a success, and that’s hard to do when you are not familiar with a destination. We save you time and energy by doing all the research for you.
Where To Eat
Local dining establishments are highlighted. The kind where children are welcome but isn't necessarily a restaurant geared primarily towards kids. You won't find many restaurant chains in our itineraries, just good local food mirroring the destination's culture. This could mean a food truck, a pizza place, or a nice sit-down restaurant, but always delicious. If there are any local brews, specialty foods, wines, or coffee houses around, we'll mention those too.
Where To Play
The organization of each day has been thoughtfully planned in order to group activities together by proximity, ideal time of day to visit, and the best nearby dining choices. It’s all been laid out for you, along with directions, maps, travel tips, links to more info, and more. We cover the most worthwhile activities to do in a destination (based on our own family’s reviews) without forgetting that vacations are meant to be fun and relaxing, not a list to be checked off while hauling around whining children.
You’ll find plenty of outdoor activities for the family as well as cultural and historical sites unique to the destination. Many itineraries include easy hikes, bike rides, and float trips that have been selected for their kid-friendly length and ease of difficulty as well as their scenic beauty. (Always worth it!) We are all about getting families outdoors so we include as much fresh air as we can in our itineraries, whether it is a day-long trek in a national park or just the location of a fantastic playground perfect for a break from sight-seeing.
At the founding of Simply Awesome Trips, we agreed to travel as we always have with our families—on our own dime. No free nights, no comped visits, not even any swag. We continue to feel good about that decision. We do participate in affiliate marketing with some of the companies that we personally use (Booking.com, VRBO.com). They don’t pay us to write, we simply get a commission if you enter those sites through our “gate” as opposed to say a Google search. But we also recommend lodging, restaurants, and activities, where we don’t receive any commission, such as Airbnb or private rental companies. If it’s good; it’s good. We don’t change recommendations based on vendor.