Family Living

Louisville Must-Dos: A Summer Bucket List for Families

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As Kentucky’s largest city, most people recognize Louisville as home to the popular Kentucky Derby, Kentucky Fried Chicken, and the Louisville Slugger baseball bat. But, did you know that the city was named after King Louis XVI of France and is one of the oldest cities west of the Appalachian Mountains? For locals, there’s quite a bit to do and see each day, so if you’re looking to make some family memories in and around the Louisville area this summer, here’s The Gardner School’s bucket list of attractions and places of interest to explore close to home.

Iroquois Park

Located south of downtown Louisville, Iroquois Park has been referred to as "Louisville's Yellowstone," as it is built on a large knob covered with old forest growth. Along with its scenic view of Louisville’s skyline, the park features an amphitheater, basketball courts, a golf course, a disc golf course, and a riding stable. If you’re looking for some fun outdoor family time, Iroquois Park is the place!

Kentucky Kingdom and Hurricane Bay

Kentucky Kingdom is a 63-acre amusement park in Louisville that includes a collection of thrilling amusement rides and a water park named Hurricane Bay. From roller coasters to water rides to water slides, there’s something fun for the whole family. An added bonus for younger children is King Louie’s Playland, featuring smaller amusement rides and attractions.

Kentucky Science Center

Everyone in the family will enjoy engaging in science in both educational and entertaining ways at the Kentucky Science Center! A wonderful experience for kids, the center offers on-site camps, playdates, family movie nights, and so much more. Have a little one who loves science?

For a limited time, children 4 and younger can enjoy the benefits of the center’s Science in Play program at a reduced rate–without big kids around. they can investigate, build, experience, and share alongside a family member or caregiver.

Kentucky Shakespeare Festival in Central Park

A Louisville summer highlight is the Kentucky Shakespeare Festival, an annual summer series of plays presented free to the public at the C. Douglass Ramey Amphitheater in Louisville’s Central Park. Actors also perform shows in other venues, as well as conduct educational programs related to acting and other theater-related skills. This a wonderful way to merge fun and learning for your family!

Louisville Waterfront Park

Louisville Waterfront Park is an 85-acre municipal park, adjacent to the downtown area of Louisville and the Ohio River. The park features many family-friendly options, including playgrounds, dancing waters, an Abraham Lincoln memorial, a swing garden, and more. Families can even rent a bicycle carriage and explore the park together.

Louisville Zoo

With a mission to “better the bond between the people and our planet,” the Louisville Zoo exhibits over 1,700 animals in naturalistic and mixed animal settings, representing both geographical areas and habitats. Families are sure to enjoy the many exhibits, playground, petting zoo, zoo tram, and a re-circulating splash park. Admission is free for children under 3 years of age.

Mammoth Cave

Once referred to by an early guide as a "grand, gloomy and peculiar place," Mammoth Cave’s vast chambers and complex labyrinths have earned its name. Just a short drive from Louisville, Mammoth Cave is the world's longest known cave system, with more than 400 miles explored. The park offers several activities for families, including camping, cave tours, and more! Admission to the park is free, however, there are varying fees for cave tours and activities.

The Parklands of Floyds Park

Coined as an Outdoor Classroom, The Parklands of Floyds Park teaches science and natural history education through dynamic experiences in the field that stimulate curiosity, critical thinking, and discovery for children, adults and families. From outdoor activities such as canoeing, fishing, and hiking to summer camps, this natural treasure is a fantastic opportunity to spend some quality time together as a family.