Louisville celebrates its lazily idyllic waterfront with a 7-mile RiverWalk along the shore. Among the varied area attractions under construction is the Muhammad Ali Center (www.alicenter.org), a $60-million museum and conflict-resolution center inspired by the life of boxing's "Greatest," Louisville native Ali. Nearby, the Kentucky Center for African-American Heritage (www.kcaah.com) promises to become the state's pre-eminent black-history and educational center. Both attractions are scheduled to open in late 2005.
Churchill Downs, 700 Central Ave. (tel. 502/636-4400; www.churchilldowns.com), has hosted the Kentucky Derby since it was first run in 1875 and is run the first Saturday in May. The season runs from late April to early July and from late October to November; post times vary. General admission is $2 for adults, $1 for seniors, and free for children 12 and under. Parking is free in certain areas, $3 in a lot near Gate 17, or $5 for valet.
On the same grounds is the Kentucky Derby Museum (tel. 502/637-1111; www.derbymuseum.org), with photos, films, and exhibits, and even a chance to sit on a saddle in a real starting gate. It's open year-round Monday through Saturday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday from noon to 5 p.m. Admission is $9 for adults, $8 for seniors, and $3 for children ages 5 to 12; guided tours are available every half-hour.
The Six Flags Kentucky Kingdom Amusement Park, 937 Phillips Lane, Kentucky Fair and Exposition Center (tel. 800/SCREAMS or 502/366-2231; www.sixflags.com), boasts one of the largest wooden roller coasters in the world and a 750,000-gallon wave pool among its 60-plus rides and attractions. Different parts of the park are open at different times of year, so call before you arrange to spend the entire day. It's open from April to October. Admission is $37 for adults, $20 for seniors and children shorter than 48 inches, free for children under 3.
The Louisville Slugger Museum, 800 W. Main St. (tel. 502/588-7228; www.sluggermuseum.org), offers fun for all ages. Look for the giant bat (the world's tallest) standing outside the door. Inside, you can see a bat used by Babe Ruth as well as souvenir miniature bats, and feel what it's like to stare down the stitches of a 90-mph fastball. Right next door is the Hillerich & Bradsby factory, where they turn out thousands of bats for Major Leaguers every year. It's open Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., with 90-minute tours of the factory every 20 minutes from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Admission is $8 for adults, $7 for seniors, $4 for children ages 6 to 12, and free for children 5 and under.
Gun enthusiasts and history buffs alike will find plenty to ponder at the new Frazier Historical Arms Museum, 829 W. Main St. (tel. 866/886-7103 or 502/412-2280; www.frazierarmsmuseum.org). The interactive museum, which opened in spring 2004, features the largest collection of arms, armor, and related historical artifacts in the world. Hours are Monday through Saturday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday noon to 5 p.m. Admission is $9 for adults; $6 for seniors, students, and children under 14; and free for children 5 and under.
The Belle of Louisville, moored at Fourth Street and River Road (tel. 502/574-2355; www.belleoflouisville.org), is the oldest operating steamboat on the Mississippi River system. The stern-wheeler was built in 1914, and is now a National Historic Landmark. There's even an old-fashioned calliope on board. The Belle and a larger, more modern paddle-wheeler, Spirit of Jefferson, carry passengers along the Ohio River. Admission for a 2-hour sightseeing cruise is $12 for adults, $9 for seniors, and $6 for ages 3 to 12.
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