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When I think about vacation, Kentucky is not necessarily the first place that comes to mind. But whether you live in the state or are looking for a more frugal vacation spot that will get you into an unfamiliar place, the free things to do in Louisville KY are fun and enriching. As I often share in planning a frugal vacation, sometimes just going to a place you’ve never been is enough to make the trip fun, and lodging and food will be cheaper in a place like Louisville than it will in a more popular tourist destination.
Top 25 Free Things to Do in Louisville KY
See art at the 21c Museum Hotel
This is a hotel where you can stay (although that’s probably not the most frugal option), but they also have a free art museum that you can visit!
Watch candy being made at Schimpff’s Confectionary
Located just across the river in Jeffersonville, Indiana (a less than 10 minute drive), you can certainly buy candy if you want to, but you can also watch different kinds of candy being made!
Tour the Filson Historical Society Museum
If you’d like to learn more about Kentucky history, you can tour the museum and the nearby Ferguson Mansion every weekday at 2 PM.
Explore the Louisville Nature Center
With programs and activities offered year-round, you can go to something structured or just explore nature on your own.
Visit the Carnegie Center for Art and History
I had to double check to make sure this museum was actually free, because what they offer seems almost too good to be true! There are tons of amazing exhibits that are constantly changing, and everyone will be able to find something interesting to learn more about.
This little museum has guided drop-in tours at 10 AM and 2 PM Monday-Thursday for one hour, or you can go during opening hours on your own tour. Either way, it’s a great way to learn more about what life is like for those who are blind.
Explore the Jeffersontown Historical Museum
This museum is open from 10 AM to 5 PM on weekdays and could be a great option to just stop in and learn some history about this portion of the United States.
Wander through the Cave Hill Cemetery
Maybe cemeteries aren’t on everyone’s “fun” list when traveling, but this one is truly beautiful. You can also download a guide to cemetery symbols and a cemetery map to guide you as you walk around.
Get outside at Falls of the Ohio State Park
Disclaimer: Parking is $2 and entering the Interpretive Center is not free, but the rest of the park is open to you to explore to your heart’s content.
Traverse the Big Four Bridge
This pedestrian bridge crosses the Ohio River between Kentucky and Indiana, and if you walk across and walk back, it’s about 2 miles. The website for the bridge has links to two PDF activities that you can do with your kids as you’re walking across!
Listen to a free concert at WFPK Waterfront Wednesdays
Check their upcoming events to see what free concerts are coming up during your visit!
Get wet at a sprayground
In the summer heat, there’s nothing better than finding a place to stay cool. Louisville’s main park system has several parks with spraygrounds where your kids can run around and get wet!
Wander through the Beechmont Open Air Market
You can buy some fresh produce at this farmers market, but you can also just wander through and “window” shop all the different items vendors have for sale.
See a free movie at the Iroquois Amphitheater
Check the upcoming events to see which movies they’re showing for free!
Cool off at Waterfront Park
Waterfront Park in Louisville offers lots of activities and experiences, but the one my kids would love the most is the huge splash pad.
Learn more about local history by taking yourself (and your family) on this self-guided tour through the heart of the city.
See the inside of the Cathedral of the Assumption
Even if you’re not Catholic, you’ll enjoy seeing the inside of the Cathedral of the Assumption, which is the oldest inland cathedral in the United States.
Explore Blackacre Conservatory
This conservatory is about 25 minutes outside of Louisville and offers lots of green space to explore and play. They also have free activites and events, so be sure to check the website before you go to see what they’re currently offering.
Run around at Turkey Run Park
This is a great spot in Louisville for hiking, so pack the backpack with trail mix and water bottles and get ready to burn some calories!
Read a book at the Louisville Free Public Library
I’ll never stop listing libraries as a valid option in any city. They are always free, and even if you can’t check something out to take home, you can still find things to do while you’re inside.
Have a picnic at Garvin Brown Preserve
This is basically a huge area of undeveloped land on the edge of the Ohio River, so it’s perfect for spreading out a blanket for a picnic and flying kites for the afternoon!
Window shop at Norton Commons
Enjoy window shopping and people watching at this shopping area—maybe you can even splurge and get some ice cream!
See art at the KMAC Museum
Disclaimer: This experience won’t be completely free, as parking is $6-8 depending on where you park. But I still included it on this list because entrance to the museum itself is free, which is pretty unique for an art museum!
Beat the heat at the Oxmoor Center indoor play area
If it’s the middle of summer or even if it’s the middle of winter, indoor options are always good when you’re looking for free things to do. The indoor play area at this mall is perfect for parents to sit and take a breather while their little ones get some energy out.
Get outside at Creasey Mahan Nature Preserve
You’ll have to drive about 30 minutes from downtown Louisville to get there, but this nature preserve is worth the drive. There are lots of areas to explore, including a playground and a woodland garden.
Heading to Tennessee instead? Check out our Top 25 Free Things to Do in Nashville!