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When most people think of Louisville, horse racing and bourbon come to mind, but there’s so much more in this city perched on the banks of the Ohio River than mint juleps and a historic race track.
From a free outdoor monthly music gathering to world-class museums, a gigantic golden replica of Michelangelo’s “David” plus some really quirky history to discover — and let’s not forget the world’s largest baseball bat — Louisville is a city rich in natural beauty and history teeming with mountains of hometown pride.
Whether you love a global food experience, touring the city’s vibrant distillery scene or a peaceful hike in a lush park designed by the world famous Fredrick Olmsted, around every corner you can expect to be surprised. Read on for 25 of the best things and unexpected ways to spend your summer in and around Louisville.
I’ll update this page throughout the summer with more information and links to my coverage, with assists from fellow reporters Maggie Menderski, Dana McMahan and Gege Reed, so be sure to check back for updates. And in the meantime, reach out to me any time at [email protected] or on Twitter at @kirbylouisville – we’re always interested in what you have to say.
— Kirby Adams, Courier Journal lifestyle reporter
Things to do in Louisville
Tuk tuk tours and picnic domes: Here are 3 of Louisville’s most unique things to do: The world is beckoning: wherever do we start? Here are three must-do activities if you’re looking to explore Louisville this spring.
Your 2022 guide to 25+ farmers markets in the Louisville area you don’t want to miss: Spring is in full force, which means it’s farmers market season. Here’s what to know about the Louisville-area farmers markets.
Strawberry-picking season is back at this locally owned family farm. Here’s what to know: The Eckert family has been growing strawberries for more than 50 years, and it’s the first fruit crop to ripen on at Eckert’s Orchard. Take a peek.
Let’s play! Here are 6 of the best playgrounds in Louisville: Whether you’re looking for the perfect spot to play capture the flag, play pretend or cool off on a hot summer day, there’s a playground for that.
Take a break from the city with these 5 hiking spots within 50 miles of Louisville: If you’re looking to step away from the noise of the city, there are several spots that are just an easy drive away. Whether you’re a novice or an experienced hiker, here are a few places to try.
Here are 5 single-day outdoor excursions within an hour of Louisville: If you haven’t already explored the many Metro Parks and Olmsted Conservancy Parks, you might start there. But if you are itching to feel like you have traveled somewhere — even just 20 miles from home — we have a few family-friendly suggestions to get you started.
Lock in your love and throw away the key at this Louisville-area farm and restaurant: Love Lock Bridges are a tradition that have gained popularity since the early 2000s, and now, this Louisville area fence welcomes the locks.
Looking to get outdoors? Here’s a list of Louisville’s major parks: Hiking, fishing, and concerts: These are some of the activities people can enjoy in one of the many parks around Louisville.
Do you miss travel? 5 ways to eat your way around the globe in Louisville’s food scene: If you miss travel, here are a handful of places in Louisville, from international markets to restaurants, where you can satisfy your wanderlust.
‘Never had a job like this’:Special education students help run this new JCPS coffee shop
Get your cuddle on at these cat cafes in Louisville and the region: At these café-and-cuddling concepts, guests can reserve time to spend in a room full of cats and kittens. The best part? They’re all adoptable.
Kentucky’s 7 best parks and recreation areas that you have to explore: Kentucky is gorgeous. You should get out and explore it! Take a look at some of the best — and most popular — parks in Kentucky.
Here are 8 places to hike in and around Louisville to find wildflowers: If you don’t pay close attention to such woodland dainties you might not realize how incredibly fortunate we are to live in a part of the world that provides just the right conditions — the perfect ecological niche — that allows this unique system to flourish.
Concerts and shows in Louisville
Here’s your lineup of summer music concerts, free movies at Iroquois Amphitheater: Here is the full lineup of concerts, free summer movies, and more being held at the Iroquois Amphitheater for the spring and summer of 2022.
Waterfront Wednesday is back! Here’s the lineup for the free Louisville concert series: Waterfront Wednesday, a free concert series held at Waterfront Park in downtown Louisville, is back for its 20th anniversary season. What to know.
Kentucky Shakespeare Festival returns with its longest-ever season. What to know: The 62nd season of The Kentucky Shakespeare Festival in Central Park begins May 25 and marks the longest professional run in company history.
The Kentuckiana Pride Parade and Festival is back for 2022. Here’s what to know: The Kentuckiana Pride Festival will be held this June with its annual parade and festival in downtown Louisville. Here’s what to know about the event.
When is Bourbon & Beyond 2022? Everything to know about this Louisville music festival: Bourbon & Beyond returns to Louisville Sept. 15-18 at the Highland Festival Grounds. Here’s your complete guide to 2022 Bourbon & Beyond festival.
When is Louder Than Life 2022? Everything to know about Louisville’s rock festival: Louder Than Life returns to Louisville Sept. 22-25 at the Highland Festival Grounds. Here’s your complete guide to 2022 Louder Than Life festival.
Places to explore in or near Louisville
Wine in Bourbon Country? Try these 8 wineries within an afternoon’s drive of Louisville: The Bluegrass State has more than 113 grape producers and more than 60 small farm wineries, according to the Kentucky Department of Agriculture.
Elvis’ and Lincoln’s grandfathers and a statue that comes to life: They’re all hidden in Louisville: We joined author Kevin Gibson for a mini-tour of some of his favorite findings and learned that’s a lot more weird things to love about our city.
Gold rush? Dirty poem? 9 Louisville neighborhoods may not be named after what you think: There are 69 neighborhoods and 84 municipalities listed on Louisville Metro’s official map, and while many of them are named for the parks, hills, points and valleys that they’re located on or near — there’s often a lot more to it.
5 beach experiences (minus the ocean) within a 5-hour drive of Louisville: A five-hour drive from Louisville opens a variety of lake beach options, both in Kentucky and nearby states.
Tour 17 Kentucky locations that inspired filmmaker John Carpenter as he wrote ‘Halloween’: Come to Bowling Green to see the places that inspired John Carpenter to write and direct the classic horror flick “Halloween.”
Looking to take a quick getaway? Here are 5 fun things to do in Indianapolis and beyond: If a short weekend getaway sounds good as we dip our toes back into travel, here are a handful of day-trip options on the other side of the Ohio River.
Heading to Indy to see the interactive Van Gogh exhibit? Here are 3 more places to visit: The Lume is the much-talked-about multisensory exhibit of Van Gogh’s work which has opened in Indianapolis plus other things to do in a weekend.
Weird Louisville oddities
Who is Cocaine Bear? Meet Kentucky’s wildest, drug-fueled legend being turned into a movie: The real-life story is stranger than fiction. Back in 1985, a 175-pound black bear died from a massive cocaine overdose at the indirect hand of one of Kentucky’s most notorious drug-smuggling criminals.
What do the Westminster Dog Show and Hope Diamond have in common? This Louisville family: Louisville’s Ev Gregory is what the Westminster Dog Show, Hope Diamond, and the Kentucky Colonels have in common. Meet the woman who connects them all
A corpse in the cellar. A history of grisly endings. Inside the Old Louisville murder house: This Old Louisville mansion was home to a grave in a wine cellar, a sanitorium and a cult. David Dominé spent a decade researching its spooky past.
Features Editor Kathryn Gregory contributed to this report. Reach Features Reporter Kirby Adams at [email protected]