Cheap family fun activities for $5 or less
HUGE list of cheap family fun activities and things to do in Louisville with kids for $5 or less.
If I gave you $5 per child and told you to make the most out of it for family fun in Louisville, what would you do? Here are a ton of budget-friendly indoor and outdoor ideas for kids of all ages.
We have organized cheap family fun activities by category so you can make your plans!
Whet Your Palette has half-price happy hour from 6-8pm on Saturdays and paint something together and it’ll be less than $5 per person, just drop in!
Speed Art Museum Sundays: Thanks to a generous contribution from Brown-Forman. Anyone can visit the Speed for free on Sundays through March 2021. This includes entry to ArtSparks.
KMAC Museum is a free-admission contemporary art museum in downtown Louisville on Museum Row. Family Fun Days are free drop-in workshop for families and friends of all ages! One Saturday a month – make a variety of free art activities.
Science Center $5.00 exhibits-only tickets any Friday or Saturday evening after 5:00 PM.
So many free Library Programs throughout the year!
$5 February and free summer time Louisville Cultural Pass locations: Museum Row offerings such as Frazier History Museum, Louisville Slugger Museum and Factory, Muhammad Ali Museum. We will publish a new post about these offers each year. As of publication date, 2019 Cultural Pass info had not been released so the link is for 2018.
Climb Nulu: Check out free climbing events (they have typically had free Sundays for kids at the Flea Off Market)
Antique Shopping or scavenger hunts (aka Guess what this does) at Peddler’s Village, Architectural Salvage & Antiques, Derby City Antique Mall.
Yew Dell Botanical Gardens: Free admission for military and kids under 5, $5 for kids ages 6-17, and during some winter months, it’s free for everyone! Free scavenger with admission and select Saturday kids activities.
Disc Golf at area parks (free to play).
LaGrange: walk downtown and wait for a train from the observation tower.
– Gallrein Farms: open from April 1st through October 31st for u-pick and petting zoo
– Hidden Hollow Orchard and Wildlife Sanctuary: with u-pock and wildlife to watch
– Huber’s Orchard, Winery, $ Vineyards u-pick and Family Fun Park
– Mulberry Orchard has fresh, local produce is available July through November. Go out to the farm for the day and take a hayride through the orchard, visit with our animals, play in the kids area, shop in the market, or just enjoy the beautiful scenery from a rocking chair. $10 per family
Blackacre State Nature Preserve & Historic Homestead with free Saturday feedings and nature walks
Parks for picnics, playing, hiking, playgrounds, special activities, and free events:
– Cherokee Park – 2.4-mile Scenic Loop
– EP Tom Sawyer State Park – tennis
– Iroquois Park – volleyball
– Beckley Creek Park – free learning programs at the PNC Achievement Center for Education and Interpretation
– Pope Lick Park – canoeing and paddling
– Clarksville Parks – great playgrounds and special events
– Seneca Park – trails for people and horses
– Broad Run Park – scenic waterfalls
– Turkey Run Park silo bike park
– Long Run Park – sprayground
– Hounz Lane Park – creek and playground
– Hays Kennedy Park – large, flat concrete walking path
– More Metro Louisville Parks!
The Parklands with the Junior Explorer program: Monthly activities are FREE to Members and $5 for non-members (children and adults). Register.
Bernheim Park is $5 per car (weekends – free weekdays). Bernheim is full of family adventure options and scheduled events and activities
Jefferson Memorial Park with camping, nature walks, nature music center, nature center, and free events that offer free activities like archery and their climbing tower.
Harrods Creek Park offers hiking ranging from easy to moderate, with changes in elevation up to 84 feet. The trails are well-marked and take about an hour and a half to complete at a leisurely stroll. The Upper Trail ends at a sandy beach in a bend in Harrods Creek that is usually bustling with wildlife.
Creasey Mahan Nature Preserve with hiking trails, playground, Woodland Garden, free events and free nature center open every Wednesday and Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. There are also special seasonal events that are cheap or free!
Louisville Nature Center to enjoy gardens, hiking, and wildlife exhibits. Admission is FREE, but donations to support their educational programs
Central Park in Old Louisville with playground, sprayground, and Shakespeare in the Park for the free Kentucky Shakespeare Festival.
Louisville Area Pools and Spraygrounds: check for free or cheap locations and events.
Kindness Rocks! Paint some rocks and hide them around local parks.
Walk or Bike:
Free morning walk around the zoo with Louisville Zoo Walking Club
Walk/bike across the Big Four Bridge
Walk/bike the Lewis and Clark Bridge
Walk/bike the Anchorage Trail
Louisville Loop – a paved Louisville Loop trail of more than 100 miles around the community. In addition to connecting Louisville’s diverse parks and neighborhoods
Looking to learn when you are out exploring for cheap family fun? Here are some ideas!
Riverside Farnsley-Moremen Landing is a 300 acre historic site with the Farnsley-Moremen House built around 1837 that overlooks the Ohio River. There are ongoing archaeological excavations and lots of history to learn about. Keep an eye on their calendar for free events.
Gheens Science Hall and Rauch Planetarium has free public shows throughout the year, as well as two other regular free exhibits about meteorites and the Star Ball.
Watch the barges pass through the McAlpine Locks and Dam – the first major engineering project on the Ohio River. Completed in 1830, it was designed to allow shipping traffic to navigate through the Falls of the Ohio. Go check out the historical flood obelisk, giant anchor, giant propellar, and check out the local wildlife.
The Little Loomhouse – a fiber arts education nonprofit organization focused on educating students of all ages about the history of weaving and textile arts through diverse programs, residencies, and community partnerships. Check the calendar for free events!
Asian Institute Crane House – General admission is free. Check the website for exhibitions.
Michaels has free or inexpensive classes and events
Joann has monthly “Hands On With Joann” free crafting classes, as well as monthly new product demo classes.
Sadie Makes 4 is a kids’ store with an eclectic mix of décor, books, gifts, toys, etc., that includes a coffee and snack bar. Watch the kids play in a free dedicated play area, or meet up for free playgroups and events.
Cabela’s and Bass Pro fish tank and taxidermy animals, plus many free events throughout the year
Disney Store free events, check their calendar
LEGO store at Oxmoor – go touch and look!
Athleta at the Paddock Shops has free morning programs for kids and adults from yoga to dance classes.
Village 8 Theater movies are all $5 or less. It boasts that it is Louisville’s only “discount house” operating at full schedule seven days a week, three-hundred sixty-five days a year. This is great cheap family fun!
Rent a movie for under $2 or video game for $3 at RedBox. Join Redbox Perks for discounts and occasional free rentals!
Go to your nearest Library for free dvd rentals!
Yes, there’s even cheap family fun for your teens and tweens!
Old Louisville architecture walk (and St. James Court Art Show in September!):
Shakespeare in the Park for the free Kentucky Shakespeare Festival in Central Park in Old Louisville.
Saturday morning strolls through Farmers Markets
Check out the art at the Speed Art Museum, free on Sundays through March 2021.
Gheens Science Hall and Rauch Planetarium has free public shows throughout the year, as well as two other regular free exhibits. The William G. Russell Meteorite Collection Exhibit with over 130 specimens (90 of which are meteorites) is in the lobby and open during our regularly scheduled public shows. The John R. Gernert Star Ball exhibit allows visitors an up-close view of the amazingly complex original star ball machine that and the console that controlled it.
Walk down 4th Street Live! and go to the Visitor Information Center for some good photo ops and to learn more about Kentucky including two free, permanent exhibits: Kentucky bourbon and Colonel Sanders, founder of Kentucky Fried Chicken. Check the website for family and free events at 4th Street Live!
Check out Churchill Downs. General admission tickets allow access to first floor seating (including first floor clubhouse and first floor grandstand area), as well as the Paddock area, Paddock Plaza, second level ITW, and Food Court. Seating is first come, first served. General admission tickets start at $3.00 per adult (kids 12 and under are free) for Spring, September and Fall Meets.
Locust Grove, a 1792 Georgian mansion, recently re-restored to near its original appearance. Keep an eye out for occasional free events.
Take a tour at the Louisville Water Tower Park. $5 or less admission for cheap family fun.
Crescent Hill Reservoir is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Watch for free historic tours and walks.
Historic Frankfort Avenue Trolley Tours – Explore the Clifton, Crescent Hill, and Butchertown neighborhoods by way of a free trolley ride held year-round on the final Friday of every month.
Sports games – University of Louisville, Bellarmine University, Louisville Bats, Louisville City FC, the Ironman Competition, and more with free or cheap spectator sports.
21c Museum and Hotel nestled in downtown Louisville, is a multi-venue contemporary art museum. The galleries are free and open to the public every day and exhibitions rotate.
Check out the architecture at the historic Brown Hotel: The stone and terra cotta trimmed Georgian Revival hotel features a two-story lobby with hand-painted coffered ceiling, Palladian-style windows, and mahogany furniture on Botticino limestone floors. The famous “Hot Brown” was invented by the hotel chef in 1926
Look into history at The Seelbach Hilton Louisville: The backdrop for the wedding scene in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel, The Great Gatsby, the hotel has played host to 1 duchess, 9 presidents and 14 Grammy Award-winning groups.
Check out all the Interesting Stuff around Louisville – Rodin’s Thinker, Statue of David 10x the original size, Troll under the Bridge, Heigold House Facade, Kennedy Rushmore Mural, statue of Abraham Lincoln, and more!
For a Day Trip:
The Shelby County History museum is housed in the 1872 Italianate Presbyterian Manse building at 627 Main Street in downtown Shelbyville, KY. The museum is open Monday–Friday from 10am-2pm. Admission is free, donations are always welcome.
Falls of the Ohio for hiking, exploring, and free programs for just a $2 parking fee.
Take a day trip to Fort Knox! There are a ton of playgrounds and places to see. Plus, they have free family events – especially for 4th of July. And, if you want to spend just a little bit more, they have bowling, pools and more. It’s all accessible to the public.
Clifty Falls, IN free hikes and activities
General Butler State Park in Carrollton – lots of free family fun and cheap activities!
Ale-8-One Bottling Company offers free tours. They are 45-minutes in length, for all ages, given on Thursdays and Fridays at 9 a.m., 10 a.m., and 11 a.m. Reservations required.
The Carnegie Center free admission Tuesday through Saturday 10:00 AM-5:30 PM, free monthly Saturday craft programs.
See, we can all have so much cheap family fun for under $5!
By Guest Contributor: Caryn