My philosophy has always been: “There’s always something interesting in every destination. Just book the plane ticket and go.” This is exactly what happened when Allegiant announced that they were flying non-stop from Jacksonville, Florida to Louisville, Kentucky. A quick Google search led me to look for Things to do in Louisville, Kentucky.
Louisville is more known for the world-famous Kentucky Derby and their bourbon, as per Peter, but I also learned that the world’s longest cave system, appropriately called Mammoth Cave, is only a little bit of a drive away. So is Louisville really a good place for a quick weekend trip? My answer would be: Yes, most definitely!
- 1 Weekend Itinerary in Louisville, Kentucky
- 2 Louisville Itinerary
- 3 Louisville Activities and Weekend Itinerary
Weekend Itinerary in Louisville, Kentucky
Here’s the shortened version of our itinerary before we dive down into more details in the post:
Day One: arrive in the evening and check in to the hotel.
Day Two: Wake up bright and early then:
- Louisville Mega Caverns
- Caldwell’s Mansion
- Walk around historic/old Louisville
- Evan Williams Brewery Tour
- Louisville Sluggers Museum
- Angel’s Envy Distillery Tour (pop by quickly to the visitor center)
- Walk around Louisville Riverfront/take a boat tour OR Churchill Downs if there’s any events in the evening
Day Three: Drive to Mammoth Cave National Park. Take two long tours if you can! Wake up early and come back to Louisville as soon as the caves close. Just eat along the way.
Day Four: Fly back home!
Here’s the long version of our trip:
Airfare to Louisville
Paid in cash and we flew Allegiant Air from Jacksonville, FL to Louisville, KY (nonstop): $169 for two people (or $85 RT per person). We didn’t bother to use our travel rewards points to reimburse us, but we could have used some travel rewards cards like Bank of America Travel Rewards or Barclaycard Arrival to make the flights really free.
However, we do like the trip interruption insurance that the Chase Sapphire Preferred card offers. We had a chance to use it during one cancelled flight back home and they did pay up. For us, paying the flights in cash using the Sapphire Preferred card is like an insurance policy, especially since we need to be back at work on a specific day since we have full time jobs.
We booked the Holiday Inn Louisville Airport during IHG Pointbreaks, and it cost 10,000 points a night for a total of 30,000 points for 3 nights. Paying in points sure beats paying in cash, at least for this property! The hotel came with a free breakfast and has an indoor pool and gym. They also have a shuttle to and from the airport, which we utilized when we returned our car on Sunday.
Another option we looked at was the Candlewood Suites Louisville Airport, which costs 15,000 points per night for a total of 45,000 points for the weekend. We opted not to book this hotel because we’ll save 15,000 points for our stay by booking the Holiday Inn. That’s enough for a few free nights on points at PointBreaks too! Every little counts!
Getting Around/Car Rental in Louisville
Booked through Costco Travel for the free extra driver and free cancellation plus this is the best price that we saw from our research. Economy car for 2 days was $41.87, which is pretty decent from our experience.
We also opted to pick up the car on Friday night as soon as we arrived and return it on Sunday night after Mammoth Cave to save an extra day on the car rental fees. After all, our hotel did have a free shuttle to the airport. Saving wins!
Doing your due diligence and comparing prices and dates definitely helps when planning your trip. Don’t be afraid to cancel and rebook as many times as you can in order to get the best prices, especially if it is free cancellation (and we mostly opt for the free cancellation bookings).
Theoretically, you can get around Louisville without renting a car if you opt to Uber or Lyft or cab your way around. However, since the car rental was only $41.87 for two days plus gas, it’s not that expensive. It may make sense if you only plan to do the Downtown and nearby areas though since you will probably need to pay for parking in the downtown area.
Louisville Activities and Weekend Itinerary
Day One: Arrive in Louisville Airport
Go straight to the hotel using their shuttle: Holiday Inn Louisville. Rest, relax, sleep. We flew in the evening, which meant an extra hotel night stay rather than flying in the morning, but Allegiant did not have daily flights nor do they give us much options on the flight times since they only fly once a day from our home airport.
Dining: We bought food from Jacksonville Airport (Firehouse Subs) before we left Louisville.
Day Two: Downtown Louisville and Surrounding Neighborhoods
Wake up early and got on the first tram tour of the Louisville Mega Caverns (9AM). The Mega Caverns is essentially an old underground mine that used to be active until the 1970s. It was then sold to a private company and they turned it into an underground park with a zip line, bike ramps, and tours.
Finished the tour around 10:15 and drove to Caldwell’s Mansion for the 11AM Tour of the house. This is a historic house that actually looks like a castle. It was built in a grandiose way in the 19th century and was ridiculed throughout its construction by locals who thought it would never be built. But it did get built and it has been lovingly restored and maintained. An additional bonus is that the tour guides actually grew up in the house, and they share some funny and fascinating memories.
Finish the tour around noon then walk around the historic Old Louisville Neighborhood. Finish around 1245pm.
Drive to downtown Louisville and walk to the Evan Williams Brewery Experience. Eat at the Mexican place close to it for lunch then take the Evan Williams brewery experience tour at 2.30pm.
Finish the brewery experience around 3.30pm. Walk to Louisville Sluggers Museum. Take the tour or go and buy yourself some great, miniature baseball bats after.
Optional: walk over to the Louisville Visitor Center for some souvenirs, and to see other parts of the town in general. The visitor center is also close to Angel’s Envy Distillery.
Tip: If you want to tour Angel’s Envy, book in advance, at least a month ahead. They only have certain spots available per hour and they go pretty quickly.
Walk around the riverfront if the weather permits. Hop on one of the tour boats around the river (optional) or go straight to Churchill Downs if they have an evening informal event.
Have dinner and go back to hotel for some pool time or just rest.
As you can see, the first day full day is absolutely packed with things to do. Rest up the night before, the second full day is going to be more strenuous.
Day Three: Mammoth Cave National Park
Mammoth Cave National Park is located 1 1/2 hours south of Louisville. In fact. it is the halfway point between Nashville, TN and Louisville. You can easily continue on to Nashville if you have more time. In this particular itinerary, we didn’t continue on to Nashville.
Note: This part of Kentucky is on Central Time, while Louisville is on Eastern time. Plan what time you leave accordingly.
Mammoth Cave Tour Tip: You can actually do two tours in one day, as long as you plan accordingly. Buy tickets online and in advance so you can make the most of your day and see most of the cave system available on the tours. Here’s what we did:
Take the 9AM Grand Avenue Tour. This is a four-hour tour that takes you through some of the most iconic parts of the cave system. This is the tour that fills up the most and is described as strenuous (seriously, it’s not).
Eat lunch and buy souvenirs after the tour. You deserve the little treat after your first foray into the caves. Plus, the sugar boost will be amazing.
Take the 2:30PM Historic Tour.
After the Historic Tour, you can opt to hike along the above ground paths or just start driving back to Louisville or your next destination. We walked along some above ground paths and drove back to Louisville. We returned the car in the airport and took the free shuttle back to the hotel.
Day Four: Go Home
It’s time to go home after a great weekend away!
Other Day Trips from Louisville
There’s so many things to do in Louisville that we want to go back again, here’s some day trip ideas based on our trip:
Do the entire Kentucky Bourbon Trail (not with a baby but great for couples)
Visit Santa Claus, Indiana
Day trip in Cave City, KY (technically close to Mammoth Cave National Park but there’s more caves to see within that area)
Drive to Lexington, KY
Enjoy your weekend getaway in Louisville Kentucky
Hopefully our itinerary helped you with planning a quick weekend trip of your own to Louisville. Remember, there are plenty of places to see and do in each and every city, all you need to do is find them.
The hardest part of going somewhere is finding the time to go and quick weekend trips may just be the answer to the eternal question: “What am I going to do this weekend?“
If you have anything else to add to our itinerary, feel free to comment below! Would you do things differently or would you do things the same? Are you going to extend your trip?