Fun and Affordable things to do with lots of kids in Louisville

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We recently had our friends come for a week-long vacation.  We have three small kids and our friends have six kids.  Between the two families, we had children ranging in age from 3 months to 16 years old.  With the four adults, there were 13 of us looking for ways to spend our time without spending a lot of money.  We asked The Mommy Nest Facebook followers for some suggestions and we received lots of great tips.

Here are some of the activities that we tried out:

Free movie nights at Norton Commons – Norton Commons is hosting a series of free movies on the lawn throughout the summer.  The night we went they were showing Frozen.  When we arrived, our kids were quickly offered a free bag of kettle corn or a popcorn ball.  We also brought our own snacks, drinks and chairs.  Unfortunately, we didn’t bring blankets which would have been helpful because it was a little chilly that night.  The event said it started at 8 and we got there a few minutes late but there was still plenty of room and the movie hadn’t started yet.  By 8:45, the movie still hadn’t started, so we asked about the delay and found that they were waiting until dark.  Since it doesn’t get dark until after 9:30, we had to wait awhile longer.  By that time, the young kids were tired, cranky, cold and ready for bed.  We barely made it to “Do you want to build a snowman?” when we had to leave due to meltdowns.  If you have slightly older kids who can handle being up later, then this is a great event.

Similar free events: Shakespeare in the Park at Old Louisville’s Central Park, Concerts at Westport Village, movies at Iroquois Amphitheater

Bernheim Forest – We love to hike, so we were excited to take everyone here.  We went on a weekday, so we didn’t have to pay to enter.  Our first stop was at the visitor center where we picked up some maps.  They also have some informative displays, a gift shop and some snacks for sale.  Then we took a 10 minute walk up to the Education Center.  We passed a lake with many turtles and geese which was fun for the kids to see.  At the Education Center, we found some interactive exhibits for kids as well as some art work.  We chose the Bent Twig loop because it was only a half mile and we thought that was perfect for the little kids.  It was a good thing we chose a short hike because my two year old was tired (close to nap time) and had to be carried the whole way.  On the hike we saw frogs, tadpoles, birds, dragonflies, and a huge variety of plant life.  This outing was a lot of fun for everyone.  Make sure to take your water bottles if you go.  They have locations where you can get refills.


Bardstown - Fodor's Travel recently named Bardstown one of America’s Best Small Towns.  This historical city is a great place to take people of all ages.  We had fun looking through the shops on the main street and then took pictures by the old jail with the prison stocks.  We also drove by My Old Kentucky Home but decided not to stop because we didn’t have much time that day.


Waterfront Park – Our goal was to cool off at the Spray Pad at Waterfront Park but when we arrived, we found that the water doesn’t come on until 11AM.  So the kids played on the playground for a little while.  Once the water came on, they had a blast splashing around and getting wet.  After playing for about an hour, we all ate some snacks and then decided we wanted to cross the Big Four Bridge.  We felt like splurging a little on this day, so we rented some bike surreys.  If you want to cross the bridge on one of these surreys, make sure you get the kind that are allowed on the bridge.  It was pretty hard work pedaling up the ramp to the bridge, so we made some of the kids help push.  Once we were up the ramp, it was a lot easier to pedal – even with four people one each surrey (the 3 month old was strapped onto me in a baby carrier.)  The view from the bridge was beautiful and everyone had a great time.  We went across the bridge and then turned around and crossed back.  Then we used spent the rest of our hour from the rental riding up and down the park.  We checked out the Lincoln Memorial and took some pictures there, too.  In the early afternoon, we noticed that the spray pad had gotten really crowded so go early if you want to beat the rush.


Some of our best times were spent just hanging around our house.  We were doing so much on other days that it was nice to have some downtime.  We had campfires with S’Mores in the backyard, played basketball with the neighbors and chased Fire Flies/Lightning Bugs when it got dark.  We actually renamed them and called them “Fairies” because one of the little girls in our group was terrified of anything called a bug or insect.  She was so excited to catch Fairies instead!


Here are some of the other suggestions we received that we didn’t check out

$1 movies at Tinseltown throughout the summer

Churchill Downs

Other parks with Spray Pads -

Henry’s Ark – Free petting zoo located in Prospect

Falls of Ohio State Park

American Printing House for the Blind – Free daily tours from 8:30AM – 4:30PM – Register kids and they can bowl two free games every day during the summer