If you’re familiar with The Kentucky Derby, Louisville Sluggers and whiskey, you’ve got the basics of Louisville covered. Churchill Downs is home to the most famous horse race in the world, held the first Saturday in May every year. The city is home to the largest manufacturer of baseball bats and gloves in the nation. And, nearly one-third of the nation’s bourbon whiskey comes from Louisville. But travelers booking flights to Louisville will find there is more to this city than thoroughbreds, Babe Ruth and whiskey sours.
Louisville was at the forefront of many major historical inventions including the first public viewing of Thomas Edison’s light bulb, the first human hand transplant, and the first self-contained artificial heart transplant. Among the other reasons tourists book Louisville flights include the American Printing House for the Blind; the J.B. Speed Art Museum; the Kentucky Center for the Arts; and the Muhammad Ali Center, a museum and cultural-educational center honoring the boxing champion and Louisville native.
If you’re lucky enough to hold a ticket to The Kentucky Derby, book Louisville flights and accommodations in advance. The city is packed with people wearing big hats, boasting big personalities and paying big prices. Otherwise, cheap flights to Louisville are easy to find and visitors can enjoy a tour of Churchill Downs, honor the Babe and sip a whisky on the rocks during the off-season.
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Louisville's weather is temperate and seasonal. Summers are hot with cool evenings so bring along a light jacket or coat. Spring and summer are the wettest seasons, although rainfall is fairly constant all year round, and snow usually falls in winter, allowing for winter sports fun. Winter temperatures range from 27 to 43 degrees and in summer it varies between 66 and 86 degrees.
Best Time to Fly to Louisville
May is the busiest time to visit Louisville thanks to the Kentucky Derby. If you hold tickets to the annual event, purchase Louisville flights and make accommodations well in advance. Aside from the Kentucky Derby, spring is a lovely time to visit Louisville. The weather is warm and the flowers are just blooming.
Winters in Louisville can get cold and snow is likely from December to February. If you don't mind the cold, however, cheap flights to Louisville and discount accommodations are likely to be found during the winter months.
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Getting around Louisville
Louisville is a very easy city to get into and around. There are great roads and train lines reaching into the city, as well as an international airport. Within the city, take the Toonerville II Trolley or one of the efficient public buses. The trolley covers the shopping and hotel district from 7:30am to 6pm. Some routes run as late as 2am. Many of the hotels have their own free shuttle service, so be sure to find out what your accommodations offer. Taxis are easy to catch and there are many well-marked bike lanes downtown.
Louisville Travel Information
The Kentucky Derby may be the “most exciting two minutes in sports,” but when your cheap flight lands in Louisville, be ready for more than just the races during your Kentucky Derby vacation. The Kentucky Derby is held on the first Saturday in May at Churchill Downs, but if you arrive anywhere from two weeks to two days before, you can enjoy even more bustle and excitement in Louisville.
Dawn at the Downs: If you’ve seen the celebrities sitting in Millionaire’s Row, but don’t think you’ll ever get close to those seats, think again. Enjoy breakfast the week before the race (Monday through Thursday) at Churchill Downs and catch the morning workouts of the Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks contenders. Be sure to call Churchill Downs for reservations in Millionaire’s Row. There is also other seating available that does not require a reservation.
Pegasus Parade: This event, which began in 1956 and is one part of the Kentucky Derby Festival, is held on the Thursday before the Kentucky Derby and draws thousands of spectators, participants and celebrities. You can see the floats, marching bands and balloons from bleachers and chairs for a nominal fee, but there is also free viewing on certain parts of the route.Want a sneak peak of the parade floats and balloons? Catch the parade preview on the Tuesday before the parade.
Kentucky Derby Festival: When planning your Kentucky Derby vacation, consider checking out the Kentucky Derby Festival’s calendar of events. If you can’t make it to the race, there are still plenty of race-related events to keep you busy through April from golf tournaments to balloon tours to American Indian pow-wows.
Great Steamboat Race: Spend a few hours away from the race track and check out another Derby tradition. Tickets, which cost more than $100, include a catered meal and a performance from a live band. Secure your seat aboard the Belle of Louisville and watch as she races against her rivals on the Ohio River.
- Take a ride across the border to Indiana and explore the Forest Discovery Center. The center was built to encourage eco-friendly environments and offers visitors an opportunity to wander through an indoor forest and an enclosed glass skywalk to explore a working sawmill.
- Take a sip of good old-fashioned Kentucky Bourbon whiskey at any number of distilleries in the state. The oldest distillery still operating is the Woodford Reserve Distillery, located between lush horse farms in Woodford County on McCracken Pike. Bourbon was first distilled here in 1812 and today visitors can watch how Bourbon is made before enjoying a little bit after the tour.
- If you have tickets to the Kentucky Derby, make sure to get to Louisville early and bring your best headwear. The bigger the better when it comes to hats.