15 Best Things to Do in Jefferson County, KY

Jefferson County, KY
Thomas Kelley / iStock.com

One of the charming points of Jefferson County as a whole is its celebration of culture and history.

Though it has a variety of attractions, the spots that stood out to me were its selection of museums and historic homes.

Its long list of theme parks, nature preserves, and other outdoor landmarks is worth a visit, too.

Formed in 1780, this county in north central Kentucky is also home to notable figures like boxer Muhammad Ali and the 12th US President Zachary Taylor.

And I had the greatest pleasure to get to know more about the best of the best with a trip across the county's cities.

So, if this is one of your goals traveling to Jefferson County too, don't go away.

Below, I'd like to share some of the best things to do in Jefferson County, Kentucky, that you should try at least once on your trip.

Discover More about Thoroughbred Racing at Kentucky Derby Museum

Exterior view of the Kentucky Derby Museum
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The Kentucky Derby Museum is one of the surprisingly enjoyable stops during my Jefferson County travels.

Sitting along Central Avenue in Louisville, this museum focuses mainly on how the Kentucky Derby came to be, but it’s also so much more.

It has a massive collection of artifacts to back up its offered guided historical tour of the place.

I also got to watch The Greatest Race, which opened me up to the culture and heritage of American derby as it passed from one generation to another.

Hats exhibition at the Kentucky Derby Museum
ChicagoPhotographer / Shutterstock.com

The walking tour that came with admission was informative and the staff remained courteous and kind.

There's a Derby Cafe onsite with delectable dishes hailing from Kentucky, too.

I suggest getting one of the cafe’s signature dishes after a round of the museum to fully incorporate your Kentucky cultural discovery.

Overall, I can see myself visiting the Kentucky Derby Museum again if given the chance.

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Sign Up for a Tasting and Tour of Stitzel-Weller Distillery

American whiskey just doesn't taste the same when you get it from Stitzel-Weller Distillery.

The rustic ambiance of the distillery helped me get more comfortable on my visit as I checked out the place and its collection of whiskey and bourbon brands.

I enjoyed the drink tasting and even got to sample a few chocolates to go with my drink of choice.

I was also delighted to hear that Stitzel-Weller Distillery is a historical landmark.

In fact, it first opened on Derby Day in 1935 and once more in 2014 after years of disuse.

You can learn all these and more when you sign up for a historic tour of the building and its estate.

And trust me, the tasting and the tour are worth every single penny.

You can head over to Fitzgerald Road in the neighborhood of Shively to get to this remarkable location.

Go on an Underground Adventure at Louisville Mega Cavern

If you seek a bit of adventure unlike any other like I did, Louisville Mega Cavern may be a worthy stop.

This underground attraction came as a surprise to me because it had zip lines and challenge bridges, which you usually see in adventure parks on land.

But there was nothing to worry about because the staff were amazing and remained safety-conscious throughout my entire visit.

The Mega Zips go on for about 2 hours, offering unlimited views of the manmade caverns.

For those hesitant to try these out, you can still learn more about the caverns with a ride on the Historic Tram as it travels deeper inside.

Louisville Mega Cavern is on Taylor Avenue and directly above Louisville Zoo.

Admire the Arrays of Flowers and Plants at Waterfront Botanical Gardens

View of the Waterfront Botanical Gardens
Roig61 / Shutterstock.com

You don't have to travel far to have your own floral excursion because, at Jefferson County, you can trust Waterfront Botanical Gardens to give you what you're looking for.

This public garden is a breath of fresh air, with its connecting trails, flower collections, and waterfall features.

I especially enjoyed the sculptures and fountains—and the added charm they offer to the blossoming flowers all over.

Bring your cameras too, because the garden allows photography sessions, free of charge during regular operating hours.

For a more educational take on the place, I recommend signing up for a group tour.

Waterfront Botanical Gardens is on Frankfort Avenue, which is in the city of Louisville.

Play with the Whole Family at Kingpin Lanes

The family-friendly Kingpin Lanes brought out my competitive spirit, and I'm sure it would do the same for you.

With ten-pin high-class fifty lanes, you may find yourself nostalgic with the entertainment all around.

I sure did.

For the best time out, the center offers extreme bowling on Friday and Saturday nights.

I also had fun with the arcade section of the facility, which included air hockey and skeeball.

The bowling facility is available for rent for private parties too, so if you have a celebration coming up, you know where to look.

Kingpin Lanes in Jeffersontown sits along Taylorsville Road.

Interact with a Variety of Wildlife at the Louisville Zoological Gardens

Entrance to the Louisville Zoo
BlueShirtz, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

When it comes to zoos, the Louisville Zoological Gardens is only one among the few ones I know that offers sensory inclusivity.

For its modest size, this zoo has more to offer.

Sitting on about 130 acres of natural habitats, the zoo takes you places you may have never stepped foot in.

I explored the grounds of the zoo's mini Africa and got to meet zebras, elephants, and monkeys.

Toy train at Louisville Zoo
RoyalKing05, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

I particularly liked the tourist favorite Glacier Run, which featured polar bears and sea lions.

Alongside this, the wildlife training sessions are one of the highlights of the zoo that I found unforgettable.

The Louisville Zoological Gardens sits along Trevilian Way, a few blocks away from Louisville Nature Center, which is also a good stop.

Start a Historical Excursion at the Historic Middletown Museum

For a slice of history, the Historic Middletown Museum doesn't disappoint.

This Middletown staple had everything I needed—and you might need—to get to know about the city.

The museum began in 1966 through the help of Blaine Guthrie and many other residents, but the place's heritage goes way back.

And you can find it within the walls of the museum.

The selection of artifacts and memorabilia, from trophies to photographs, was beyond astounding.

There are also dolls, sporting goods, and historical documents to guide you on your journey to the past.

The staff onsite were knowledgeable and had insightful answers, too.

So, add it to your itinerary if you've got the time to spare.

The Historic Middletown Museum is on Main Street.

Make Waves at Calypso Cove Family Waterpark

In the neighborhood of Lyndon, Calypso Cove Family Waterpark was one of the most delightful stops I had taken.

This water park has everything you might possibly be looking for in one.

Shallow surfaces and play areas for kids—check!

Dizzying slide structures—check!

A snack shack for your large appetite—check!

One of the amenities I loved most was the jacuzzi benches.

I also enjoyed watching striving swimmers on the Lily Pad Crossing, which had hanging nets.

Calypso Cove Family Waterpark is on Mill Brook Road.

Know More About the Life and Legacy of One of the World’s Most Famous Boxers at the Muhammad Ali Center

Exterior view of the Muhammad Ali Center
Proof377, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

A story of culture and legacy awaits every visitor at the Muhammad Ali Center.

Founded in 2005, this Louisville attraction comes with three levels of exhibit space that allow you to get closer to the purpose of the facility.

The center is a living representation of the boxer Muhammad Ali's principles, which I feel proud to have witnessed.

Night view of the lit up Muhammad Ali Center
Luckiewiki, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

I enjoyed the museum's multimedia exhibits the best, most especially the Spirituality Pavilion, which can take you across Ali's religious timeline.

What made it more unique was its domed-ceiling presentations.

There are more to explore, including multiple event halls, so be sure this center is on your must-visit list, too.

You can find the Muhammad Ali Center on North 6th Street.

Try Your Hand at Golf at Seneca Golf Course

Throughout the several golf courses I've visited, Seneca Golf Course was only one of a few that left a lasting impression.

There is a reason this public golf course got voted the "Best of Louisville" after all.

As soon as I went inside, the breathtaking landscape of hilly slopes and towering trees greeted me.

This was only the start of my unforgettable visit.

Though this golf facility has been around since 1934, it has proven its worth as a timeless landmark with its 18-hole championship layout.

It also had a nice bike trail I enjoyed and a chipping green for those still learning to play golf.

This golf facility in the heart of Louisville may have a huge crowd during weekends, so if you're hoping for a tranquil game, come by on a weekday.

Seneca Golf Course is on Pee Wee Reese Road.

Channel Your Creativity at Whet Your Palette

You can never be too late to learn art.

This is one of the best lessons that I've learned when I came by Whet Your Palette.

This independent art studio offers a variety of art lessons focused on painting.

I came by during open hours and got to partake in the studio's drop-in painting sessions.

But there are other programs you can join, including Paint & Sip classes, where you can enjoy a glass of your favorite beverage while painting.

You can even take home paint kits or bring your children out for a family painting session.

If art is a passion you've always wanted to improve, come by Whet Your Palette on Evergreen Road in the suburb of Anchorage.

You can find this studio near the La Vie en Rose Eye Care Specialist building.

Explore the Woodlands and Nature Trails at Jefferson County Memorial Forest

Pond at the Jefferson County Memorial Forest
Quadell at the English-language Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Within the southern section of the county, Jefferson County Memorial Forest promises a fun nature getaway.

It made true to its promise on my visit.

At about 6,600 acres of woodlands and hiking trails, I had never felt as connected to nature as when I was in this forest.

I had a majestic time traversing the unpaved pathways and looking out for potential wildlife lurking.

The mature trees offered the perfect backdrop for my scenic admiration of the place.

Jefferson County Memorial Forest also has a Welcome Center and camping sites set amidst a fishing lake and miles and miles of unbridled nature.

You can find this forest on Mitchell Hill Road in the suburb of Fairdale.

Browse through Art Exhibits at KMAC Contemporary Art Museum

KMAC Contemporary Art Museum allows you to connect to art in a more immersive manner.

Located along West Main Street, this museum had the feel of a cozy local art gallery.

In addition to the large exhibitions on display, it also had a coffee shop on the very first floor, which I delighted in to get my usual caffeine fix.

There's also a special interactive children's area.

I’m glad I didn't miss this one-of-a-kind stop.

KMAC Contemporary Art Museum welcomes children and adults alike on West Main Street in the city of Louisville.

Get in Touch with the Paranormal at the Waverly Hills Sanatorium

View of the Waverly Hills Sanatorium
Royasfoto73, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Looking for something spooky and eerie on your Jefferson County trip?

I suggest visiting the Waverly Hills Sanatorium.

This haunted attraction was once owned by someone named Major Thomas H. Hays in 1883.

Over time, it became a hospital that housed at least 400 patients, but soon enough, it fell into disarray and disrepair.

Now, the gothic-style building is open for a variety of haunted tours, one of which I had joined.

And let me tell you: it was one crazy experience.

The tour was a detailed one, and I even got to learn about the history and patients who once roamed the halls of the building.

Now is your chance to have your own paranormal exploration.

In Louisville, the Waverly Hills Sanatorium is on Paralee Drive.

Learn to Skate at Iceland Sports Complex

Channel your ice skating elegance when you come by Iceland Sports Complex in the community of Lyndon.

This arena is the only one of its kind within Louisville, and for that, I find it worth checking out.

The place comes with 2 rinks—spacious enough for hockey and ice skating.

Aside from skating, I also got to enjoy the facility's arcade games and munch on snacks from its concession stands.

The place hosts sports tournaments though; you might want to check ahead to see if the place got rented.

The rates are reasonable for a time out on the rink, so do come by if you've got the time.

It's open all throughout the year!

Iceland Sports Complex sits along Ups Drive, which is nearby All Pets Veterinary Center.

Final Thoughts

Jefferson County was one of the best travel destinations I've ever gone to.

And I know it's going to be the same for you.

So, whether you choose to follow my guide above of the best things to do in Jefferson County, Kentucky, or start an adventure of your own, it's a guaranteed travel success.

You're welcome, and have a safe trip!

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