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Louisville, KY

What to Do in Louisville Do the Derby. If you can plan ahead to attend the Kentucky Derby on the first Saturday in May, you'll witness a thrilling horse-racing spectacular, which also happens to be quite a party. The Kentucky Derby Festival precedes the race, an extravaganza featuring fireworks, concerts, sports and even a Derby Ball.

If you can't make the Kentucky Derby, then by all means visit Churchill Downs (700 Central Ave.) to walk the hallowed grounds during a 30-minute guided tour. This is also the site of the Kentucky Derby Museum (704 Central Ave.), which showcases everything from stunning Derby hats and other fashions to exhibits about the famous Thoroughbreds that have graced the track.

Baseball fans won't want to miss the Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory (800 W. Main St.), where the official bat of the major league is crafted. While some might be more inclined to view the collection of memorabilia dedicated to America's pastime, others might be curious to inspect a batting cage or observe bats being created in the onsite manufacturing facility.

Enjoy Louisville's parks and recreation. For a sweeping panorama of the Ohio River, try Louisville Waterfront Park (401 River Rd.), a place with a children's play area. Or head to Cherokee Park (745 Cochran Hill Rd.), with a 2.4-mile scenic loop traveling past woodlands, meadows and rolling hills. Jefferson Memorial Forest (11311 Mitchell Hill Rd.) in Fairdale—only a 15-minute drive from downtown—offers stellar hiking, fishing and camping.

If you're in search of an outing that appeals to all ages, you can't go wrong at the Louisville Zoo (1100 Trevilian Way). Playful polar bears thrill the kids, who also like hand-feeding the lorikeets, watching a bear-training demonstration or attending a giraffe feeding. You can navigate the facility by foot, or take a load off and ride the zoo’s tram or train.

The Muhammad Ali Center (144 N. 6th St.) pays tribute to the legendary boxer in his hometown. Interactive exhibits and multimedia presentations, including a five-screen orientation film, outline Ali's life experiences and core values. A re-creation of the Champ's training camp allows participants to practice punches on a speed bag or engage in a round of shadow boxing.

If you're up for learning, Louisville is the place to go. At Kentucky Science Center (727 W. Main St.), you can explore math, science and technology through hands-on displays, while highlights at Frazier Kentucky History Museum (829 W. Main St.) include such intriguing American artifacts as Daniel Boone's family Bible and President Theodore Roosevelt's "Big Stick."

For a laid-back excursion, tour Locust Grove (561 Blankenbaker Ln.), a restored 1790s Georgian mansion that served as a gathering place for prominent social and political figures of the time. Just as exquisite as the home's Kentucky-crafted furniture are the meadows, gardens and woods surrounding the property, which also includes an original smokehouse and farm buildings.

Browse for souvenirs in one of Louisville's unique shopping districts. Specialty shops and galleries dot Frankfort Avenue, also a hub for dining and entertainment. If antiques are your thing, check out the stores on East Market Street, where you'll also find artworks, home décor and upscale restaurants.

Take a stroll through Old Louisville, said to be America's largest Victorian neighborhood. You can wander on your own, reserve a guided tour, or pick up a brochure for a self-guiding tour at the Historic Old Louisville Visitors Center (301 S. Fourth St.). Architecture buffs will delight in admiring the range of styles represented by the quaint structures, which include Queen Anne, Renaissance Revival and Chateauesque.

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Louisville, KY

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