Whether you’re a freshman just finding your way around this geographically massive city, or a seasoned, fifth-year senior who has been around the block, you probably haven’t found yourself complaining “there’s nothing to do here!” in Louisville. Louisville attracts a good time in its booming arts culture, nationally-recognized foods and brews, the abundant and nearby greenspaces that make up our park system and the rich, Kentucky heritage that pops up in everything we do.
But even so, in your time here, you may begin to think you’ve “been there” and “done that” one too many times. Well, you’re in luck, because Louisville is a city you just can’t exhaust. You will soon find out why Louisvillians know this place as Possibility City.
Below is your ultimate guide to having a good time in and around the Derby City, itemized by category and price range. Tweet us pictures of how you used your guide and we may feature it on our social media–or better yet, tell us what we missed so we can add even more local gems to the guide.
X = free
$ = $10 or less
$$ = $20 or less
$$$ = $50 or less
Waterfront Wednesdays X
On the last Wednesday of months April-September, Louisville brings free up-and-coming bands to the Great Lawn. See the schedule online at http://www.louisvillewaterfront.com/events/calendar/2015/april.html
Actors Theatre $$$
Actors Theatre is the best known theatre in our region of the US. Tickets are a bit pricey, but watch out for student offers, which make $10 tickets available on ooccasion
Melwood Arts Center X
The items inside the shops and galleries aren’t free, but they are free to gaze at! Over 200 artists work at this former meat packing plant, and events are always happening.
The Bard’s Town $$
Looking to see a play, but can’t afford Actor’s Theatre? Visit the Bard’s Town to see new works at a discounted student rate.
Qdoba summer jams X
Catch local bands perform outside of Qdoba on the corner of Eastern Parkway and Bardstown Road on the weekends during summer months
Headliner’s Music Hall $$
Headliners really does bring headliners to the stage, and nearly every night. Bands you may see at the YUM! Center in a year play at Headliner’s now, affordably. See your favorite band at the coolest venue in Louisville.
The Kentucky Center for the Arts $$$
See plays, musicals, concerts, lectures, dance performances, and anything else at the Kentucky Center for the Arts.
HITE Art Gallery X
Have a date on campus and head to the HITE building to see rotating galleries. Some showcase student work, while others boast gallery items from artists around the world.
21C Museum Hotel X
Spend an hour walking around the quirky and mezmorizing pieces at 21C, Louisville’s boldest gem. Pieces are constantly on rotation, so you will never see the same thing twice. Some permanent installations incorporate your movement into the art.
The Green Building X
Entrepreneur and record label owner Gil Holland has opened NuLu’s most sustainable building, the Green Building. Inside, you’ll find rotating galleries, and maybe a party or two.
Kentucky museum of art and craft $
A really affordable option full of rotating galleries, but be sure to bring a student ID.
The Crane House X
Explore Asian art and culture at the Crane House. Look out for interactive events for an even cooler experience.
Tim Faulkner Gallery $
The Tim Faulkner Gallery in the Portland neighborhood of Louisville has a mission to restore Portland to its former glory, starting with the arts. Shows here are unique and often–and typically no more than $10, if that. You can also drop by at any time to spend time among the massive warehouse of art, watch local artists create new pieces or grab a cup of Joe and a rare book from McQuixote bookstore/coffee shop housed inside the building.
Adventure and Outdoors
Mammoth Cave $$
Okay, so this isn’t exactly in the 502, but get out of Louisville and explore the world’s largest caving system, right here in Kentucky. The National Park System oversees operations at most of the touring sections of Mammoth Cave, but local entrepreneurs and conservationists also own some parts of the cave system, where they operate unique tours. Jesse James Riding Stables gives a historically riveting 30-minute tour for only $7. Reservations are advised for the National Park System’s tours.
Mega Caverns Underground Zipline and ropes course $$$
As the only underground ropes course in the world and the only fully underground zipline adventure in the world, you will have quite the experience at Mega Caverns in Louisville. Student rates available.
The Louisville Zoo $$
Who says the Zoo is just for kids? Take some friends, take a date, relax with cute animals at the petting zoo and enjoy the sunshine at Louisville’s Zoo.
Kentucky is full of water. You can barely consider us inland. Canoe rentals are available in every town near water, which is basically every town around. If you want to stay in Louisville, try The Park Lands of Floyds Fork.
Bike through the Park system X
If you’ve visited the world famous Central Park in New York City, you’ll know why Louisville’s park system is so grand: the same guy, Frederick Law Olmsted, designed both. All of our major parks are connected, so spend a few miles on two wheels and venture through.
Flea Off Market X
This could really fit in any category, as Louisville’s open-air flea market off Jefferson and Baxter. The Flea Off pops up in tents during the first weekend of every warm month. Vendors sell anything from crafts to vintage clothing to albums to handmade body care items and everything in between. And as an added bonus, delicious food trucks show up, the Humane Society brings cuddly puppies and there is often live music.
Climb NuLu $$
Get to rock climbing, no matter the weather, at Climb NuLu. This funky climbing club just opened, but you’re sure to see someone you know, because it is already a hit.
Ride horseback at McNeely Lake $$
Hop on a horse for a guided tour around the beautiful McNeely Lake. Bring your tackle box and fishing poles for a bit of catch and release afterward–but be sure to purchase a fishing license online from Kentucky Fish and Wildlife first.
Walk the Big Four Bridge X
Louisville recently converted one of its train bridges to a walking and biking bridge. Sure, no one really wants to go to Indiana, but a walk across the river at sunset can be quite romantic–or at least it looks pretty on Instagram.
Yew Dell Botanical Gardens $
Enjoy the Spring (finally) with a walk through the blooms at the beautiful Yew Dell Botanical Gardens.
Bernheim Forest $
Bernheim forest, just outside of Louisville, is the getaway spot every college kid needs. All the trails and lookouts are free, after the minimal car entry fee, and there are miles of them. Look out above the tree tops from the canopy walk, or pack a picnic and sit out by one of the ponds.
History and Heritage
Museum Row $$
The Frazier Arms History Museum, the Louisville Science Center, The Louisville Slugger Museum, and others sit on Main.
The Belle of Louisville $$$
At 101 years old, The Belle really is our Ohio River treasure. She’s the oldest running Mississippi steam boat in existence, and while she is a bit pricey to cruise around on, each tour includes a meal.
Joe Ley Antiques X
You could spend hours treking through this massive antique warehouse. It is full of strange finds befitting a city like Louisville.
First Friday Trolley Hop X
The first Friday of each month, the historic Fat Friday trolley takes Louisvillians to Frankfort Ave, where some of Louisvilles best shops and restaurants reside.
First Friday ZeroBus X
Like the trolley hop, Louisville’s brand new ZeroBus–named for its sustainability–takes you to Museum Row on the first Friday of each month for free.
Farnsley-Moremen Landing $
Look through the archealogical findings at one of the oldest properties in Louisville.
Locust Grove Home $
Take yourself back in time to the 1700s on a tour of Locust Grove, another one of the oldest properties in Louisville.