20+ Amazing Summer Day Trips from Louisville
Summer is for day trips and making memories. Take your kids on an adventure for the day and you won’t even need a entire tank of gas.
Hit the road with your kids this summer! So many unique day trip ideas that are just a short drive from Louisville
If you are looking for summer day trips from Louisville, we have so many ideas. We have compiled a list here of places that aren’t too far away. They apply to so many interests. You can go explore history or go on a hike. You can wade in a lake or you can pet kangaroos. Your pick.
One of the best aspects of living in Louisville is that it is so close to so many places. Even during the Covid-19 pandemic, there are places opening back up so you can certainly find things to do. Oh wait, we found them for you!
And, since they are so close, they are budget-friendly. Less gas, you can pack your lunch, and there’s no flying or staying overnight.
What are you waiting for? Let’s go on summer day trips from Louisville!
Map at the bottom so you can easily find these places or check distances!
(Some places may have restrictions due to the pandemic. Check with them before you go!)
Summer Day Trips from Louisville
Lexington – The Arboretum is open from noon to dusk (weekdays) and dawn to dusk (weekends). It has awesome stroller walks for little kids and a Children’s Garden! Ready for some adventure? Check out Boone Creek Outdoors. Soar on ziplines as long as 1400 feet and as high as 200 feet. Traverse bridges and staircases as guides share the history of the unique ecosystem of Boone Creek and the Kentucky Palisades Region. Horse Country Tours are gradually reopening with socially distanced tour operations. Below are anticipated reopening dates for various farms:
- Spy Coast Farm beginning June 8
- Hallway Feeds beginning June 8
- Claiborne Farm beginning June 15
- Denali Stud beginning June 17
- Spendthrift Farm beginning July 1
- New Vocations beginning in July
Huber’s Orchard and Winery – Huber’s is open for picking fruit, delicious homemade ice cream, and the farm market. You can also get lunch and eat out on their patio. Truly, I vote ice cream and one of their pies for lunch, balanced meal in my opinion. Maybe a glass of strawberry wine for mom or dad? The farm park will be opening June 14. Don’t forget quarters for food on the docks to feed the fish!
Conner Prairie (opening 6/18 to general public) – Near Indianapolis, you can drive up and back in a day. You will be active exploring their entire place. Take a step back in time in their old town area, pet animals, or play in the wood. Summer day trips from Louisville make memories and this one is super fun!
Owensboro – If you are looking for a packed day of outdoor fun, head out early to Owensboro and you will get there super early due to the time change. Spend the entire day on the waterfront at Smothers Park (amazing playground and sprayground) or split your day up exploring other notable places. Yellow Creek Park is fantastic to explore and definitely stop at Wonder Whip for a treat! Another wonderful park with a smaller sprayground and playground but are very nice is Legion Park. The playgrounds are now open and the spraygrounds open July 3, be sure to read the protocols.
Hodgenville – Are you looking for a little bit of history? Home of the Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Historic Park (indoor currently not open but will phase reopening), Hodgenville is a quaint Kentucky town with a town center with places to eat and learn. At the national park, you can hike and read about Lincoln’s childhood.
Shaker Village – Opening June 15, Shaker Village has 3,000 acres of things to explore. If you liked learning history in Hodgenville, head to Shaker Village next. It’s a step back in time, be transported to the 19th century. Explore! They have a farm and a nature preserve as well as being close to the Kentucky River. You can also go horseback riding!
Holiday World – Opening June 17, Holiday World has changed some of their protocols to meet safety requirements and go above and beyond to keep people safe. They are opening to season pass holders first and then later to general public, one of the most fun summer day trips from Louisville. They hope to open the water park in early July. In the meantime, the roller coasters and rides are waiting for you!
Waterfalls – Instead of listing them all separately, we have linked up our existing list for you. There are waterfalls ALL OVER HERE! You can make a day trip out of them by packing a picnic or visiting a local restaurant for a meal after your hike and fun. For example, if you go to Tioga Falls or Buttermilk Falls, you can dive into burgers at Jeff’s Burger Shack or get ice cream at Valley Dairy Freeze on the way home. A must for your family’s summer day trips from Louisville list! When visiting these beautiful outdoor spaces, be sure to clean up what you brought in and keep it beautiful.
Kentucky Down Under – If you want to pet some kangaroo, this place is for you! Kentucky Down Under is just over an hour away from Louisville down I-65. It’s so easy for the day, and it’s central time. There’s a cave for exploration and lots of different animals!
Brown County, Indiana – Lots of shopping at local businesses – antiques, home décor, jewelry and more. Pick a local restaurant and place for a treat, there are many to choose from. Plus, go for a hike! It’s a gorgeous area; check out Brown County State Park.
Newport Aquarium – This attraction has reopened, be sure to check their reservation options and protocols. You can spending the day learning about all sorts of sea creatures. Around the aquarium, you can choose a place to dine and then walk over the bridge to Cincinnati. There’s a wonderful park on the other side of the bridge, if you want to bring a picnic instead!
Wilstem Ranch – This attraction is near French Lick. You can go through the drive-thru safari, new for 2020. Also, they have special animal encounters you can schedule for an additional fee. They have a picnic area you can use, pack a lunch. Since it’s just a moderate distance away, you can definitely make a day of it!
Salato Wildlife Center – What a gem in Frankfort. Open 9 a.m. – 4 p.m., Tuesday – Saturday. 2020 through July 6, admission is free, indoor exhibits not open. July 7 and after, they are opening for phase 2, read more here. It is small enough to manage in a day but unique since it features native animals. It’s not like a commercial zoo where it is more of an attraction, it’s a quaint place to learn about and see the animals! If you want to make it a day trip, bring a picnic you can enjoy outside of their grounds at the picnic area and your fishing supplies. You can fish right there at the pond in front of the education center.
Coney Island – This attraction has ride plus an amazing, huge pool. There are docks, a tall old-school metal slide, multiple diving boards, and ample room to float all around. If you want to catch some shade, get there early to claim a spot under the trees. When it comes to eating, you can bring a cooler and store it in a specific area they have by the pool entrance and picnic outside of the pool area.
Explore Frankfort – Our state capital has a lot to offer! Visit downtown Frankfort for a look at the original capital building, a treat at B’s Bakery, and enjoy the local shops. Head to Cliffside Diner for a meal. And, of course, take a tour of the capital (check for 2020 tour modifications before going!). Walking tour of the capital grounds is great, since you can do it by yourself (here’s a map). Inside, you can tour yourselves around with this map. Want another tour? Take a public art tour with your family!
Deam Lake – This park is in Indiana, not far from Huber’s. You pay per car to enter and you can spend the day at the beach area on the lake. It’s the closest swimming beach to Louisville. They have restrooms and picnic areas, concessions on weekends (they might add that back at some point during the summer). Bring your coolers, something for shade, beach toys, floats, and make a day of it!
Madison, Indiana – What a charming town! We have a post that might be helpful. Right along the Ohio River with wonderful views and a path for walking along the river (up high), Madison is a wonderful river town. And, if you go via US-42 in Kentucky, the drive is quite scenic. There’s a main street with many shops and places to eat or grab a coffee. There are historical markers and buildings, I love the architecture. Just dive into this town and explore – you will find something of interest!
Kings Island – With a phased reopening starting July 2-11 for season pass holders, and July 12 for general admission, Kings Island is your big day trip to an amusement park. You have to get a reservation for 2020, be sure to read all of the info! The water park will not open at that time (no date set).
Kentucky Horse Park – Opening June 11, there’s no better way to make a day trip in Kentucky more….Kentucky. No matter the age, there’s something for everyone at the Horse Park. For 2020, they will be open Wednesday through Sunday beginning June 11 at a discounted admission rate of $12 for adults and $6 for children. They have horseback riding also, available Monday through Sunday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., for groups of 10. Some parts of the park remain closed in 2020 but still, lots to do!
Noblesville, Indiana – This town is in Hamilton County, IN which is just north of Indianapolis. It’s a bit of a stretch for a day trip but if you leave early and come back late, it’s worth it. There’s an adorable town square with cute shops (great antique store) and wonderful restaurants (we mention some of these places here in another post. You gotta get an Ooey Butter Cookie from Rosie’s Place). After visiting town, head to Koteewi Archery Range for a really unique archery experience.
Raven Run, McConnell Springs, Veterans Park – Hike in Lexington! They have guidelines for 2020 and you reserve a spot so be sure to follow the guidelines before you go! Reserve here for McConnell Springs and here for Raven Run. Read more about McConnell Springs here. LexFun4Kids has told us that Crank and Boom (Distillery District location) ice cream is the perfect spot to go after your hike and before you head back to Louisville!
Lost River Cave – Located in Bowling Green at just about 1:45 minutes from Louisville, you can do this in a day if you get out early and head back late. Remember, it’s central time so you have to factor that in. Lost River Cave is SO AWESOME. There are hiking trails you can access for free, and the play area for kids. The gift shop is pretty darn amazing as well. Then, absolutely pay for the boat cave tour. After your time there, visit Chaney’s Dairy Barn. The ice cream is some of the best you will ever have! If you have time to walk around Historic Downtown Bowling Green, go for it!
Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Gardens – Get your reservations first and then hit the road to an impressive zoo just up I-71. Our favorite exhibits at his zoo are the cheetahs and the giraffes! It’s a really large zoo, so wear your comfortable shoes and make a day of it.