Louisville gets credit for a lot of things – the invention of the high five, the site of the first hand transplant, the biggest manufacturer of disco balls in the world, etc, etc, etc. To locals, these things kind of sound like overplayed tag lines that the city uses to lure in tourists. Maybe the tourists have it right, though. Louisville has some awesome stuff that locals often overlook because they see them as tourist traps or places built exclusively for middle school field trips.
Louisville Slugger Museum
The Louisville Slugger boasts high status as the Official Bat of Major League Baseball. The bat’s history goes back pretty far. The tour will tell you all about how a young boy’s love for baseball led to a legendary company that has stayed in the family for generations. Not only was the Louisville Slugger the first ever piece of equipment to be endorsed by a pro athlete, but the factory churns out custom bats for some of the greatest players in the league. If you manage to find yourself on a VIP tour, you may even get to see the hand-carved prototypes for the bats your favorite players use.
Tours run $12 for adults and $7 for kids, so taking the family out for a few hours won’t cost too much. Afterward, you can enjoy the complimentary mini-bats that come with the tour. Find more information here.
As someone who has lived in Louisville for a while, it’s easy to pass over the Derby as something that’s only good for ruining your commute. However, Churchill Downs has a rich history that adds a little something extra to life in Louisville, Kentucky. A tour of the Kentucky Derby Museum and Churchill Downs will expose you to the glamour of the Derby, as well as a close up look at past Derby winners – a couple of these horses live at Churchill Downs. Find more about tours here.
If you’re not really into tours, the space also hosts Downs After Dark. This event (find the dates here) requires a $10 cover charge. For this, attendees have access to a night of horse racing, food and specialty drinks – it’s a giant party.
The Frazier History Museum
The Frazier Museum has an interesting history – founded from the private collection of one of Louisville’s most well-known philanthropists, Owsley Brown Frazier, the museum has artifacts that span several centuries and continents.
While most of the museum’s pieces are focused on weapons and war, there is still something for everyone at this museum.
Rotating exhibits range from Gridiron Glory (a look at the history of football), to Mythical Creatures (an exploration of the root and history of mythical monsters from all over the world). Adults and kids alike will enjoy the historical lessons they’ll learn while wandering the museum, as well as the reenactments and dramatizations that are presented throughout the day.
The Frazier Museum is a surprising gem nestled within Museum Row, just waiting for you to come by and lose yourself in history. Students and staff from both the University of Louisville and Bellarmine University are eligible for free membership. Adults pay $10.50 and children $6, not including special exhibits. Your family can get lost in this museum, literally for hours.
Muhammad Ali Center
Muhammad Ali is arguably one of the greatest Louisvillians the world has ever known. The Muhammad Ali centers honors that greatness and chronicles his life as a rising athlete, hitting all of his high and low moments. Not only does the museum explore Ali’s life, but the state of America all throughout it. Ali’s story doesn’t just tell the story of fighting physical opponents, but also the more oppressive ones of segregation and intolerance. A visit to the Muhammad Ali Center begins with a short viewing of an award-winning film on Ali’s life. After this, visitors can wander through the museum. It’s a great place to take your kids not only to learn about Ali the man, but an important piece of America’s history.
Take the family out for a day on the town and enjoy learning a little more about the city you live in.
Photos courtesy: Slugger Museum, Churchill Downs, Frazier Museum, Muhammad Ali Center