While the boys and I were on our extended trip to Kentucky, we were able to sneak in a short getaway to Louisville! When we fly to Kentucky to visit family, we usually fly into Louisville, but that's about the extent of our Louisville travels. Go To Louisville set us up for a great trip and I'm excited to share that Louisville offers a ton for families with young children!
WHERE TO STAY
The boys and I were hosted at the Aloft Louisville Downtown.
Located directly on Louisville's historic Whiskey Row and blocks from NuLu, Aloft Louisville Downtown provides easy access to the best of the city! Honestly, this is probably the hippest (is that a word??) hotel I've ever stayed in. From the moment you see the outside, it just looks like a fun place to hang out. When we entered, we saw a small circular desk area in the middle, the restaurant and bar area to the right, a grab and go convenience type store to the left, lots of couches, and even a pool table! Seriously, this place is cool.
With Corner Restaurant & Bar on site, you can grab a bite to eat and enjoy some time relaxing at the hotel while playing pool or chilling on a couch.
The boys and I were in one of the Aloft King Rooms. Our room faced the side street and parking garage, so I would recommend asking for a river view on a high floor or a corner room perhaps.
You can see our room tour here from our Facebook Live.
WHAT TO DO
Belle of Louisville: On our visit, we actually took the very last sailing of The Spirit of Jefferson. The two steamboat choices available are now Belle of Louisville or Mary M. Miller. No matter which boat you're on, you'll have a blast! The kids loved sitting on the deck and watching everything pass us by. I appreciated the history and the info that was shared about the locations we passed, but the kids just liked the boat ride and seeing the cool bridges. There are brunch, lunch, dinner, sightseeing and harbor history cruises available. They'll even take a photo as you board that you can purchase later.
Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory: If anyone in your family is a baseball fan at all, this is a must-do in Louisville. We took a tour of the factory and the kids could not have cared less, but I thought it was pretty cool.
Of course, what the kids really loved was the special LEGO exhibit: Big Leagues Little Bricks. This special exhibit opened in March and runs through Jan 2018. While at the museum, we also checked out some bats from some of our favorite players, climbed on a giant glove, and I hit a few balls with a Ted Williams wooden bat.
Louisville Zoo: We're zoo people. Seriously – my little ones love hanging out at the zoo. Any zoo, really because seeing animals is always cool. We got to the Louisville Zoo a little late in the day, but still had a great time. Honestly, it was crazy hot and we wound up spending most of our time at the zoo at the Papa John's Splash Park (included with your park ticket).
The zoo is organized by geographical area for the most part. It's a big zoo with a lot of open area, which means a lot of walking, but it's nice to not have everything crammed together. The zoo also offers a train, carousel, camel rides, horse rides and a ropes course. Next time we visit we'll definitely have to spend a full day here!
Kentucky Science Center: I'm a sucker for a science center. Kids learn so much through play and that's exactly what they can do at the Kentucky Science Center. The boys had a fantastic time building their own rollercoaster, “shopping” for shapes and colors, playing with water and learning about their environment.
Like any science center, there are a lot of things that my 3 and 6 year old are just not quite old enough to understand yet. I was impressed with the large amount of things the boys were able to do here though. Perfect for a 2 or 3 hour visit.
Kentucky Kingdom & Hurricane Bay: If you're new here, you wouldn't know, but we're big theme park fans! Although I'd love to spend my day at a theme park riding all the big coasters, that's just not where we're at right now in life. We spent some time at King Louie's Playland – the kiddie area of the park with more than a dozen rides geared towards kids, many of which parents can ride along!
Of course, there's also family rides and more rides for kids scattered throughout the park including a carousel, a giant wheel, and a fire truck! I really liked that there were sunscreen stations throughout the park if you need to reapply! The boys really had a blast at Hurricane Bay (included with your Kentucky Kingdom ticket). For the littlest water lovers, Buccaneer Beach is where you should spend your time. For those with a kids a little older than mine – there is a Splash Zone (a huge jungle gym type water attraction) that kids can climb and slide, but they need to be 42″ to slide. Don't forget to hang out in one of the wave pools!
WHERE TO EAT
Lunch Cruise aboard a Steamboat: We took a lunch cruise on The Spirit of the Jefferson, but you can do this on Belle of Louisville or Mary M. Miller. It's buffet style so you can eat however much of whatever you're into. There was plenty for the kids to choose from here including chicken, roast beef, mac and cheese, salad, potatoes, veggies and more. Oh, and dessert! Don't forget dessert.
When you book for a lunch cruise, you're guaranteed seating inside to enjoy the boat ride. While we were eating, we listened to history about the area and what we were seeing. Then, the kids enjoyed a dance party with the DJ.
Hi-Five Donuts: My friend, Allison from Family Vacations US, suggested we visit Hi-Five Donuts. I'm so glad we did because this place is really just a cool place. My kids are big donut fans to start with, but here they can create their own combo or try a specialty that's ready to go from the case. I even had a bacon, egg and cheese sandwich (yes, using a donut) and it was delicious! It's a super cute and funky little place. I recommend the stop!
White Castle: Obviously not the most glamorous of food choices, but we needed something quick and easy to take back to our hotel room. The kids and I needed a break and who can resist sliders? We do not have White Castle where we live in Maryland, so it definitely deserved a stop. The boys gobbled up some burgers and smoothies.
Frisch's Big Boy: Again, probably not the fancy place you're looking for with recommendations, but it's where we ate so I wanted to share. I had never been to a Frisch's Big Boy because we do not have them where we live. There is one super close to the Louisville Zoo, so we stopped there after our zoo visit. I enjoyed the salad bar (kids 3 and under get free salad bar which also includes fruit and soup when an adult bar is purchased). The kids enjoyed their kids meals and even had leftovers. The service was fantastic and the food came out quickly.
Corner Restaurant: Located inside Aloft Louisville Downtown, we ate here a couple of times during our 3 day stay in Louisville. They have an open air patio so you can enjoy the weather and plop yourself on a comfy couch outside.
There is no kids menu here, but we enjoyed three dips and chips, chicken wings, late night tacos and gelato!
After seeing everything that Louisville has to offer, I cannot wait to return and spend more time in this fun city!