Catching your favorite band at Iroquois Amphitheater or paying a visit to a local museum like the KMAC are always worthwhile expenditures, but sometimes you might be looking to fill in your outings with a few low-cost excursions. And here at LOUtoday, we like to get creative when it comes to saving a buck or two.
So, we’ve compiled a list of five things to do for free in the 502.
Pro tip: Bookmark these activities for a quick list to give to friends + family visiting Derby City.
🖼 Speed Art Museum | Sun., 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
Typically it costs $15 to peruse Kentucky’s oldest and largest art museum — which was founded in 1925 — but thanks to a major donation from Brown-Forman, anyone can visit the Speed for free on Sundays.
Must see: Claude Monet’s 1897 water lily painting “Nymphéas” — on temporary loan.
Bonus: The museum is always free for UofL students or staff members, frontline healthcare workers, and kids under the age of three.
🥃 Whiskey Walking Tour | Wed., 10:30 a.m.-12 p.m.
Travel back in time with a “Looking at Louisville” tour guide and learn about the history of whiskey in Derby City from the pre-Prohibition era to the bourbon boom via a ten-block journey through downtown. Tours start and end at the Louisville Visitors Center (301 S. 4th St.) + last 90-minutes.
Must see: The “Barrel on Main,” a five hoop public art piece at the intersection of Fourth + Main Streets, designates the center of the Bourbon District and was inspired by our beloved oak barrels.
🌼 Waterfront Botanical Gardens | Wed.-Sun., Various times
This urban botanical garden has only been growing since 2019 and features edible, pollinator, and native gardens + a plaza with a water fountain. It takes ~30-45 minutes to walk the gardens.
Must see: The Water Wall at the end of the plaza at the Graeser Family Education Center has 237 nozzles that propel water downward into black granite basin underneath + you can see through the liquid wall into the gardens.
Bonus: Though it’s not bloomed yet, see the plans for the future Japanese Garden.
🏺 Filson Historical Society Museum | Mon.-Fri., 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m.
Founded in 1884, the Filson’s sole purpose is to preserve and share Kentucky and the Ohio Valley culture. Its sprawling collection of artifacts, diaries, photographs, textiles, and more are used by researchers globally… and they’re also on display in rotating exhibits.
Must see: See photographs of once architectural gems downtown lost in urban renewal and expansion in the “Louisville’s Lost Architecture” exhibit.
Bonus: Register for a free guided tour of the campus — which includes the Ferguson Mansion and Wood Carriage House — daily at 2 p.m.
⛪ Cathedral of Assumption | Mon.-Fri., 9 a.m.-4 p.m.
Stop by the parish office to take a free audio tour of this 1852 Neo-Gothic-style cathedral in the heart of downtown. It’s the oldest public building in Louisville + the third oldest Catholic cathedral in the US in continuous use.
Must see: The bell tower holds three bells and is part of a steeple that rises 287 feet above River City’s skyline and was once the tallest spire in North America.