By Kristen Lotze–
Louisville is a very diverse city with plenty of activities to offer. The following, in no particular order, is a list of fun things to do around the city:
1) Museums: Louisville is home to many great museums; while that word may cause a flashback to elementary school field trips, museums can actually be a lot of fun to experience as an adult. Some of the more noteworthy ones to check out locally are: Kentucky Derby Museum, Louisville Slugger Museum, Speed Art Museum, Frazier History Museum, The Louisville Science Center, and 21C Museum (which is free and open 24-hours). Most of the above-listed museums offer discounts or free admission to students and are all located close to campus. Bottom line: museum visits are cheap, can kill a lot of time, and are culturally enriching (who said learning isn’t fun?!).
2) Theater: For all you thespians and theater art appreciators out there, Louisville is home to a great theater scene. Actor’s Theater and the Kentucky Center for the Arts, both located downtown and in close proximity to campus, offer a wide selection of shows, from musicals and ballets to stage plays and off-Broadway shows, it’s guaranteed that you can find something to help you get your culture on. For more information, upcoming shows, etc., visit the Actor’s Theater and KCA websites: Actorstheatre.org/visit/event-calendar/, KCA: Kentuckycenter.org/Calendar/Calendar
3) Music: Louisville is also home to a pretty diverse music scene. There are always tons of shows by local artists going on around town, if that’s your thing. If not, more mainstream acts come to the KFC Yum! Center year-round. For a listing of upcoming music events: Songkick.com/metro_areas/11887-us-louisville
4) Movies: For those bad-weather days when you want to get out and about but the weather insists on making you limit it to “indoor activities,” why not consider a movie? There are several movie theaters around town including: Baxter Avenue Theater, Carmike Stonybrook Theater, Tinseltown, Cinemark St. Matthew’s Mall Theater, etc. Most theaters offer stadium-style seating, 3D movies, IMAX, and of course, overpriced concessions. If you find yourself free on a Tuesday, most local theaters offer $5 admission all day and $7.50 other days (with a valid student ID).
5) Sports: What Louisville as a city lacks in professional sports teams, it makes up for with the University of Louisville. U of L leads the way in national sports including men’s and women’s basketball, baseball, swimming, volleyball, the list goes on… But Louisville is also home to some semi-professional teams, such as the Louisville Riverbats (baseball), the Louisville Lightning (indoor soccer), Kentucky Xtreme (football). It’s also important to note horseracing, as we are in Kentucky; Churchill Downs sits just minutes from U of L, is steeped in interesting gambling history, and is always a fun place to watch the ponies! If you can make it for Derby, you might even get the chance to rub elbows with some B-list celebrities.
6) Food/Restaurants: Fine dining may be available in any large city but Louisvillians dine out like it’s their job. And there’s a reason: Louisville has some amazing restaurants. The restaurant scene in Louisville has gone through a major revamp in recent years, attracting major chains like Hard Rock Cafe, Cheesecake Factory, PF Chang’s, et. al., but what makes the city unique are the charming local eateries. Restauranteurs in Louisville face serious competition with each other as they compete for local loyalty. Some great local places to check out (in close proximity to campus): Tom + Chee, Cunningham’s on the river, Bob’s Burger Boy, Toast on Market. There are plenty more that could easily make the list but these are just a few suggestions to get you started–the best way to find your new favorite dining spot is to get out there and try new places.
7) Parks: Louisville is truly a beautiful city and one of the things that makes it such is the natural landscape. Because of Kentucky’s unique flora and fauna, Louisville is home to many scenic parks. Whether you’re looking to go for a walk, check out a hiking trail, go biking, have a picnic, or just play a game of adult kickball (no joke, there’s a league), there are plenty of park options available. Cherokee Park, located in the heart of the Highlands, spans 389 acres and features hilly hiking trails, bike paths, playgrounds, and plenty of space to just relax and enjoy nature. Several other parks, (Waterfront, Central, Brown, Seneca), offer their own amenities and are equally as picturesque.
If you’re looking for something more extreme, you can always check out “Louisville Extreme Park”, one of the best skateparks in the country. Located downtown, adjacent to Waterfront Park on the Ohio River, patrons can skateboard, in-line skate, or bike on the various structures (including a 24-foot full-pipe) designed to make you the next YouTube sensation! The park stays open 24-hours and is a fun place to hang out or try out your stuntperson skills.
8) The Louisville Zoo: Home to a variety of exotic wildlife, the Louisville Zoo is something everyone should experience at least once. The plethora of exhibits (some interactive) and easy-to-navigate layout make it a local favorite. From birds and fish to reptiles, mammals, and invertebrates, the Louisville Zoo has something for everyone. Open daily, year-round (except major holidays), it’s the best spot to get your fix of cute, cuddly critters (well, they’re not all cute and cuddly, but they’re still fun to look at). For more information, visit: louisvillezoo.org.
9) Nightlife: Louisville may not be a huge city, but it is a city that likes to party and is quite good at it! If trendy clubs are your thing, you can check out Fourth Street Live!, Garage Bar or St. Charles Exchange, all located in downtown Louisville. If low-key is more your speed, there are a lot of places in the Highlands (The Back Door, Molly Malones, Tap Room, Diamond’s Pub), that are all fun, have several pool tables, play good music and are fairly inexpensive. Zanzibar and Granville Inn are U of L student hot-spots if you’re looking to drink with the people you share classes with.
10) Shopping: It wouldn’t be a good “fun things to do” list without the addition of shopping; fashion has not always been Louisville’s strong suit, but that’s changed in recent years as the city attracts more and more clothing retailers. There’s everything from Macy’s, Von Maur, and Nordstrom Rack to JC Penney, Sears, Old Navy and H + M. The major shopping centers to check out: The Paddock Shops, Mall St. Matthew’s, Oxmoor Mall, and Jefferson Mall. With such a wide selection, it should be easy to find something to fit your budget.
Louisville is a city rich in culture, history, and its’ residents boast a laid-back, carefree attitude. Whether you’re new to the city or have lived here for a while, everyone can find something to suit their tastes. It really doesn’t take long to discover that Louisville is a pretty cool place to live.