Louisville Bucket List for family fun in 2021
Are you ready for family fun in 2021? Our ideas for fun events and activities will get you started with a kid-friendly suggestion for each month.
We have a Louisville bucket list of fun for you!
Given the current state of the pandemic and the uncertainty of what is to come, we have included some optimistic events on this post. We hope that we can get back to being together for some of these wonderful events.
Don’t forget to Check out our Lessons & Learning page for links to businesses and organizations to foster your child’s interests. And, head to our Summer Camps pages to start planning for summer (fully updated by mid-February).
Get out your energy by ice skating through January. We have found that during the pandemic, ice skating is a nice option. At Iceland, for example, during open skating, it was very spread out when we went. Also, people were very compliant with wearing masks.
Check ice skating off your Louisville bucket list in January!
Bundle up and head southwest to Jefferson Memorial Forest! They have wonderful events or you can simply explore on your own. I follow the Wilderness Louisville and JMF Facebook pages to keep tabs on events, they have some virtual events planned.
It may be cold, but the bare trees offer a great opportunity to experience nature in a whole new way. When you’re finished, warm up with some coffee or hot chocolate at one of these locally owned coffee shops! Why not make some cookies to share with your loves? Belmar Baked is hosting Valentine’s Day cookie decorating classes for kids and adults.
This Louisville bucket list idea is something to take advantage of soon! Take advantage of Owsley Sundays at the Speed Art Museum. Thanks to a generous contribution from Brown-Forman, admission to the Speed is FREE on Sundays through March 2021. A family of 4, will save up to $40!
The Speed is very family-friendly. Depending on the age of your kids, you can probably get away with viewing a few “grown-up” exhibits before heading to Art Sparks*– an interactive, hands-on area especially popular with children. (*As we type this, Art Sparks is not open, we hope it opens again soon!)
Don’t miss the annual St. Parick’s Day Parade that is the Saturday before St. Patty’s day. It starts on Baxter Ave at Broadway and ends at Value Market off Bardstown Rd. The more “kid-friendly” section starts near Bardstown Rd. Keep tabs on their website for updates about 2021!
One of the biggest events of the year is Thunder Over Louisville. If you have not check this off your Louisville bucket list, get to it! We hope that in 2021 some of the Kentucky Derby Festival can return safely.
I’m always surprised at how many people travel to Louisville to see it, while so many locals have never attended in person.
To simplify your first visit (especially with children) consider a ticketed venue, such as Slugger Field or Kentucky Science Center which offer perks such as indoor restrooms, seating, special views and additional entertainment during the day. Local hotels and restaurants offer viewing too, but reservations must be secured well in advance, so don’t delay.
If fireworks aren’t your thing, the Kentucky Derby Festival has many other offerings for your Louisville bucket list. Here are some of our reviews (some occur during the first week of May): Kroger’s Fest-A-Ville and Chow Wagon, Great Steamboat Race, Pegasus Parade.
Host a Derby Party at home! We don’t all head to the track on the first Saturday in May but most people want to have some fun on Derby Day. We have ideas to make it great at home with kids, click here.
Visit a local farmer’s market for amazingly delicious seasonal foods. Your family can have breakfast at many of the markets, browse the booths and develop an idea for something to cook together for dinner with all of the fresh ingredients. Many of them have been able to keep going during the pandemic!
The last Wednesday of the month is Waterfront Wednesday and kicks off in May. We hope they can host this for 2021, such a fun time. Not only is this event great for families, but it is also FREE! We hope you can enjoy this as part of your Louisville bucket list this year.
If you have kids 21 and under, you need to get a Louisville Cultural Pass for free fun throughout the summer. We will update info about the Louisville Cultural Pass when it is released from Fund for the Arts (usually late spring). The Cultural Pass will help you check off lots of fun Louisville bucket list items.
For a truly unique experience, visit the Kentucky Highland Renaissance Festival in nearby Eminence, Kentucky. See our review from 2014 here. The festival spans 7 weekends in May – July. Each weekend offers a different theme from Vikings to Steampunks. In past years, there has been a special discounted children’s weekend, so check the schedule for an opportunity for savings. The Festival features live shows, fairies, jousting, knights, jesters and more! Last summer, my husband got to participate in two of the shows and our kids had a blast watching him get wet and muddy. (It all washed out, so no worries). This is an outside event so dress appropriately for the weather and make sure you have plenty of space on your phone for photos and videos!
Looking for some old fashion fun on the 4th of July? Look no further than Crescent Hill 4th of July Festival. In the past, not only did you get a free fireworks show, but there is food, FREE INFLATABLES for the Kids, a Pet Contest, children’s field games with prizes, silent auction, music and up to artist booths. We hope 4th of July fun can be back for 2021!
Explore Creasey Mahan Nature Preserve in July. It has family friendly trains, creeks and ponds. And, it has a wonderful playground. There are clean bathrooms and covered picnic areas. It’s a perfect way to spend the day out in nature. Watch their website for event announcements for 2021, we hope they can bring back their wonderful community events.
The rest of the month you can splash or dive in and go for a swim. Kentuckiana boasts a wide variety of swimming pools and sprayground. Some spraygrounds were able to open during the pandemic, pools were limited as well. Hopefully for 2021, there are more options!
Spend some time with local animals. Blackacre Conservancy is open for farm animal feedings on Saturdays at 9:30am (spring – fall). Feed is provided or you can bring your own healthy treats for the animals.
Here are a few other fun places to meet or feed animals:
- Louisville Zoo- For the most animal interaction, take the extra time to visit the lorikeets and Boma African Petting Zoo. You can also feed a giraffe and enjoy a ride on a pony or camel!
- Shelby County- Feed ducks and geese and pet farm animals at Gallrein Farms.
- Horse Cave KY- Visit a wide variety of animals and even pet and feed a kangaroo at Kentucky Down Under. Review here.
Before school starts, head to a lake nearby for swimming. There are fantastic options within driving distance. Some are free and others have small fees for entering the park. Bring sand toys and floats. I also suggest water shoes because some kiddos (and adults) don’t like the bottoms of the lakes!
September: The Gaslight Festival in Jeffersontown is a ton of fun. This event has grown from a small street party to an event that boasts over 100,000 visitors each year! The Gaslight Festival includes a parade, balloon glow (reviewed here), 100’s of arts and craft vendors, live entertainment and much more! There are additional events before and after the festival, including a motorcycle rally, car show, golf scramble, and 5K!
Take in a baseball game at Slugger Field before the season is over. The Louisville Bats offer several activities for kids and general admission tickets are really affordable.
Before it gets cold, go on a waterfall hike. Wow, there are a lot of waterfalls in our area. We spent much of the warmer months of 2021 finding them. What fun! Be prepared with change of clothes and towels, change of shoes as well.
Experience the majesty of fall at Bernheim Forest ColorFest. This annual event features hayrides, a hay maze, pumpkin slingshots, mud pie making, corn pit hands-on nature activities, food vendors and more! See our review here. A $10 per vehicle fee applies to all non-members, and a few of the activities cost a small amount. Watch Bernheim’s Facebook page for the date and additional details for 2021.
A must during October in Louisville is Hillcrest Ave. The residents go all out with Halloween decorations and it is bigger and better every year. They did not decorate in 2020 so as not to draw crowds but hopefully in 2021, we can head back there for Halloween family fun.
We love Halloween at Louisville Family Fun and if you do too, you can see all the family fun events going on in our post.
Light Up Louisville is the official kick-off of the holiday season in the Ville. It takes place on the day after Thanksgiving when Santa and our mayor plug in the lights to illuminate the giant tree and decorations in downtown Louisville! There are fireworks and photo opportunities with Santa. Prior to the light-up moment, enjoy the Lots of Lights parade and activities for kids. The city made adjustments to this event in 2020, keep tabs on their website to see if they can host their typical event this year!
Start off the Holiday Season with the Turkey Trott at the Northeast YMCA. Is there a spot for family fitness in your Louisville bucket list? They have different distance fit for all and you get a pretty cool looking shirt. If you don’t want to run with the kids, there is complimentary childcare while you run.
Great holiday events are plentiful in Louisville and Southern Indiana. We publish a giant list of events in early November, so be sure to watch for it to be updated – keep tabs on our winter fun page for all of the ideas.
In 2020, the drive thru lights options became really popular given the pandemic. Events like Winter Woods Spectacular are great for safe family fun any year so add them to your Louisville bucket list!
For a little something different, check out Christmastide, 1816 at Locust Grove. First Person Interpreters recreate an 1816 Croghan family holiday party in the historic home. Historic artisans demonstrate their trades, give hands-on experiences, and sell their wares for a unique holiday shopping experience. Children’s activities are also offered. This event typically occurs on the first Saturday of December, but keep an eye on their Facebook page for updates for 2021.
Never pay full price! Always check out the Louisville Family Fun deals page.
Have something we should add to our Louisville bucket list for 2021? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.