As the host to the Kentucky Derby and home of the biggest baseball bat factory, Louisville provides many unforgettable attractions for student groups, including a number of museums and historical sites. The Ohio River city also boasts the largest collection of Victorian homes in the country.
Top Louisville Attractions for Student Travel
The hype surrounding the Kentucky Derby is revealed through the Kentucky Derby Museum, which offers two floors of horse racing memorabilia, interactive exhibits and fine art. Other attractions include a 360-degree HD film and footage from all of the races since 1918. The museum also offers a number of tours. “Historic Guided Walking Tour,” included with museum admission, takes visitors through historic Churchill Downs, the famous racetrack. Other tours, for a fee, include “Behind the Scenes Walking Tour,” which takes students to the clubhouse at Churchill Downs, and “Barn and Backside Van Tour,” which allows students to see the animals up close.
Farmington Historic Plantation showcases a federal-style home designed by Thomas Jefferson. Once the center of a hemp plantation, Farmington can be visited on a guided tour. The house features Kentucky furniture and Southern antiques. The grounds include a summer kitchen, springhouse, stone barn and a re-created 19th century garden.
Historic Locust Grove, a restored 1790 Georgian mansion, provides direct insight into the lives of settlers and slaves during westward expansion. A National Historic Landmark, it features a farm, residence, outbuildings, 18th century-style garden and visitor center.
A deeper understanding of 19th century Kentucky can be gained through visiting Riverside, the Farnsley-Moremen Landing, a 300-acre site on the banks of the Ohio River. It features a reconstructed 1837 house with a Greek Revival portico, garden, 19th century kitchen and visitors center.
Frazier International History Museum Churchill Downsfeatures collections that span 1,000 years of history. Highlights include collections of arms, armor and related artifacts. Multimedia presentations, educational programs and costumed interpreters provide additional outlets for a fun learning experience.
Louisville Science Center features interactive exhibits that encompass all the major sciences and an IMAX theater that shows science-related films.
Muhammad Ali Center, a cultural museum and education facility, inspires students to “find the greatness within.” Through featured exhibits spotlighting Ali’s core values, students can get a taste of boxing in an interactive boxing arena, check out Ali’s achievements at the Orientation Theater, acquire knowledge of the civil rights era and watch Ali’s fights. The center also includes two art galleries with changing art and photography exhibits.
Kentucky’s oldest and largest art museum, the Speed Art Museum, has more than 13,000 works of art. Notable collections include European paintings and sculptures, Native American objects and the Kentucky Collection. The Laramie L. Leatherman Art Learning Center offers interactive exhibits, while Art Sparks gives an opportunity to create a unique piece of art.
Louisville Zoo, with its collection of over 1,400 animals, also cultivates exotic plants, trees and grasses. The animals, found in indoor and outdoor habitats, are arranged by geographic regions. The Sky Trail High Adventure Course, 4-D theater and a carousel provide more things to do.
The world’s largest and oldest non-profit organization inventing and creating products for the visually impaired, the American Printing House for the Blind, offers tours of its facilities. Interactive exhibits give an understanding of the education process for the visually impaired. Products developed for Braille and production studios can be seen as well.
As the home to the Kentucky Opera and Louisville Ballet, among other performance groups, the Kentucky Center for the Performing Arts also possesses an impressive collection of 20th century art. Self-guided and guided tours of the art collection are available. KentuckyShow!, a half-hour presentation narrated by Ashley Judd and shown in high-definition, portrays the state’s history and cultures.
Louisville Mega Cavern, an exciting underground adventure, takes students on a train ride through a system of caverns. Spanning 17 miles, the caverns consist of an old limestone mine that also serves as underground storage.
Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory, distinguished by an entrance that features the world’s biggest scale model of a baseball bat, offers a collection of baseball memorabilia, bat manufacturing facility, interactive exhibits and batting cages.
Gheens Science Hall and Rauch Planetarium, part of the University of Louisville-Belknap campus, includes laser and public astronomy shows.
Kentucky Railway Museum, with its collection of railroad artifacts and memorabilia, offers train rides through the scenic Rolling Fork River Valley.
Glassworks features glassblowing equipment and techniques. A self-guiding tour includes a video presentation and chance to see live flameworking, glassblowing and galleries of glass art. Guided tours are available upon request.
With more than 110 rides and attractions, students can never go wrong with Six Flags Kentucky Kingdom, which also features Splashwater Kingdom water park.
Student Sightseeing Tours in Louisville
Louisville Visitors Center offers a one-hour guided tour, free of charge, that takes travelers through the downtown civic district and highlights the architectural features of Main Street. This tour runs from April to October. The center also provides maps and information about other sightseeing tours. For a free, one-hour walking tour of Louisville, book with PossibiliTours. Main Street Association also offers guided walking tours of Main Street.
For brochures and maps for self-guided walking tours of the Old Louisville historic district, which features over 1,400 Victorian homes, students can stop by the Old Louisville Information Center. The Center also gives 20-minute video presentations.
To explore the Ohio River and experience its beauty, students can schedule a trip with Belle of Louisville Cruises and hop on one of its two steamboats. Downtown horse carriage sightseeing tours are offered by Louisville Horse Trams.
For an exciting ghost tour experience, Louisville Ghost Tours and Downtown Ghost Tours take students through the most haunted landmarks of Louisville.Thoroughbred Heritage Horse Farm Tours, a family-owned business, gives visitors three-hour tours of its facilities. It visits Keeneland race course in Lexington, a horse farm and the sites used in a number of Hollywood movies.
Mint Julep Tours offers customized tour experiences for any group size. Guided tours of historic Louisville and Thoroughbred farms are just two of the many possibilities. Other customized tours can be booked with such companies as Visitors, Inc., Tours Plus and Essential Details.
Venues for Student Performance Groups in Louisville
Kentucky Center features four top-notch theaters for any performance type with low rental fees. Extra service amenities include event coordinators, in-house catering and complete inventory of audio/video equipment.
Also featuring affordable rates, Clifton Center Theatre can seat about 500 people. Amenities include modern lighting and sound systems. Actors Theatre features two small-size venues – Victor Jory Theatre and Pamela Brown Auditorium – that offer discounted pricing for groups. Both can provide on-site dining. The Louisville area’s oldest and smallest community theater, Little Colonel Playhouse, also can be rented for live performances.
Louisville’s Student-Friendly Festivals and Events
The Kentucky Derby, the state’s most popular event, is on the first Saturday in May. As the nation’s largest Thoroughbred horse race, the event attracts people from all corners of the world. Kentucky Derby Festival, a 10-day event, culminates in the Kentucky Derby race. It features picnics, banquets, dances, music events and other racing events. The festival kicks off with the Thunder Over Louisville air show and fireworks display.
Kentucky Crafted: The Market, gathering over 300 vendors, offers the finest of the state’s crafts and folk art. Held in early March, the event attracts visitors and artists from around the country. Another popular art event, St. James Court Art Show, held at St. James and Belgravia courts in Old Louisville the first full weekend of October, is a juried fine arts and crafts show.
Satisfying Hunger in Louisville for Student Groups
Another Place Sandwich Shop in downtown Louisville offers sandwiches and salads at very affordable prices (most under $5). Different soups are served each weekday.
For great pizza, students can visit Wick’s Pizza Parlor, a popular place that also serves sandwiches and salads. Homemade Ice Cream and Pie Kitchen, one of the most popular dessert locations, offers surprisingly inexpensive ice cream and pie slices.
Toast on Market delivers great omelettes, pancakes and French toast. With the availability of breakfast throughout the day and free wi-fi, students might feel compelled to stay there for a while.
Affordable Hotels for Students in Louisville
La Quinta Inn & Suites Airport & Expo – Louisville, located one mile from the airport, is an affordable choice for student groups.
Within a walking distance of Louisville Zoo, Best Western Airports East Expo Center provides complimentary continental breakfast and a fitness center.
The lowest price hotels include Red Roof Inn – Southeast – Fairgrounds and Howard Johnson Express Inn (at the doorstep of Six Flags).
Great attractions, informative tours and lively festivals make Louisville a top destination for visiting student groups.