Family Fun in the Bourbon, Horses & History Region
Day 1: Zoos, Zips & More
Start your travel adventure with lions, tigers and bears (oh my!) at the Louisville Zoo, where you’ll get a close-up view of more than 1,700 exotic animals in beautiful habitats among lush botanical gardens. The zoo offers so much more than animals, too, including a dynamic 4-D theater, ZooTram and children's waterpark.
After the zoo, check out some of Louisville’s many family-friendly attractions, like the fascinating Kentucky Science Center, immersive Louisville Slugger Museum and action-packed Kentucky Kingdom. Hop aboard the historic Belle of Louisville steamboat for a scenic Ohio River cruise, or soar on the world’s only fully underground zipline at Louisville Mega Caverns. And don’t miss the chance to tour the stables and compete in a simulated horse at Churchill Downs, home of the Kentucky Derby. There’s so much to see and do for families in Louisville, you could easily spend at least three days in the Derby City alone!
Louisville has also become quite the foodie town in recent years, so end your day with a mouthwatering dinner at one of the city’s award-winning restaurants offering every type of cuisine under the sun.
Day 2: A Journey into Kentucky History
After breakfast, head for Hodgenville and a visit to the Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Historical Park. For more than a century, people from around the world have come to rural Central Kentucky to honor the humble beginnings of our 16th president in the place where he was born. You’ll discover how his early life on Kentucky's frontier shaped his character and prepared him to lead our nation through civil war. Nearby the Lincoln museum introduces the "Cabin Years" to "Ford's Theatre" and the years between, visitors of all ages enjoy this close-up experience with one of the world's greatest leaders.
Moving from the president famous for building split-rail fences to rails of a different kind, the Kentucky Railway Museum in New Haven is dedicated to the history and heritage of the state’s railroads and the people who built them. You’ll see four steam- and six diesel locomotives, plus more than 100 pieces of rolling stock.
Next on the agenda is a short drive to beautiful Bardstown for a visit to My Old Kentucky Home State Park. The 1812 Federal Hill mansion was the inspiration for Stephen Foster's ballad “My Old Kentucky Home,” and the home remains inspirational to visitors today. If you visit during the summer, make reservations to attend the The Stephen Foster Story, Kentucky’s official outdoor musical. Performed on the grounds of the state park, this toe-tapping show depicts the 1850s through such timeless classics as "Oh! Susanna," "Camptown Races" and more. After the show, check into your accommodations in Bardstown for the night.
Day 3: Old-Timey Fun in Bardstown
Touring what many have called “The Most Beautiful Small Town in America” is a great way to start your day, and an Around the Town Carriage Tour is just the way to experience Bardstown’s charm. The carriage ride provides a slow-paced way to see the town’s historic sites and attractions, including the quintessential downtown shopping, dining and cultural district.
Ready for a retro experience to continue your day? Stop by the old-fashioned lunch counter at Hurst Drug Store Soda Fountain and then tour the Jailer's Inn Bed & Breakfast, which served as the Old Nelson County Jail and housed prisoners for nearly 200 years. The front building was constructed in 1819, and the upper floor has 30-inch-thick walls that once contained two cells and an "upstairs dungeon" to house prisoners. It was the oldest operating jail complex in the state of Kentucky when it closed in 1987, and is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places.