Welcome to Louisville, y’all! One of the best things to do in Louisville during your visit is to take a tour. You’ll get to sit back, relax, let someone else take care of logistics (and maybe even feed you and serve you drinks!) and just enjoy yourself for a few hours. Now THAT sounds like a vacation!
But which tours in Louisville are worth the price? I’ve gotcha covered – just consider us your personal tour guides. (No really – I also run tours in Louisville, so you might actually see me on your tour!) Here are the best Louisville tours, from food tours to bourbon and distillery tours to history and ghost tours. And one baseball bat factory for good measure.
Planning to visit Louisville? Take a look at these posts to help you plan your trip:
Food Tours in Louisville
Louisville is a foodie city, y’all. We invented a bunch of delicious food that not enough people give us credit for, like beer cheese (yes! that was us!) and pulled pork (you’re welcome, everyone) and several more that not enough people have tried, like bourbon balls, the Hot Brown, Modjeskas, and Derby Pie. In fact, in our guide to delicious, famous Louisville & Kentucky foods, fried chicken didn’t even make the cut. Gasp.
So in a foodie city full of innovative, delicious culinary creatives, what’s the best way to stuff your face while learning all about Louisville and Kentucky’s heritage? If you guessed “food tour,” you get a gold star!
Louisville Food Tours
The premiere walking food tour company in Louisville is Louisville Food Tours, and they truly lead the best food tours in Louisville. (Listen – are we biased because they’re also our sister company? Yes. But all those 5-star reviews on Google and TripAdvisor aren’t.)
Take your pick from a few different food tour offerings, each exploring Louisville’s most beautiful and historic neighborhoods while telling the story of Louisville and Kentucky through the lens of its cuisine. You can take a food tour of the Original Highlands, winding your way through tree-covered streets lined with Victorian mansions (read our Highlands neighborhood guide here).
Or venture out after dark on the Phantoms of the Prohibition: Ghosts, Cocktails & Bites tour, which traces the footsteps of bourbon magnates and mobsters on historic Whiskey Row and combines a food/cocktail tour with a ghost tour (bonus points)!
But the most popular tour by far is the Nulu Food & History walking tour – read our full review here.
The NuLu Food & History Walking Tour by Louisville Food Tours tells the story of Louisville, NuLu, and Kentucky through its cuisine. On 6 delicious stops, you’ll taste Kentucky classics like bourbon balls and fried chicken, see a historic home once occupied by Thomas Edison, taste a sweet treat inspired by a Victorian-era actress, and trace the history of German immigrants in Louisville.
Use the code LGL10 for 10% off your booking, and be sure to come hungry – there’s a lot of food on this tour.
Derby City Brew Tours
Looking for a beer-focused food tour? Look no further than Derby City Brew Tours. Their daily “beer walk” visits 3 breweries in Louisville’s Germantown neighborhood. They also offer a small bites tour that includes a few samplings from delicious local eateries.
Louisville Ghost Tours
Louisville is an old city .. and that means it’s haunted AF! While the best time of year to seek out scary thrills is during Halloween season, you can venture out after dark on these spooky tours in search of Louisville’s least living residents all year long.
Old Louisville Ghost Tours
Louisville is home to the largest collection of Victorian homes in the country. Yes – even more than San Francisco and New Orleans! And what do a lot of very old, very beautiful homes typically have? That’s right, y’all: ghosts.
Old Louisville is Louisville’s most beautiful neighborhood – and its most haunted. Ghosts lurk around the lush courtyards and streets of Old Louisville – and witches, too. On a haunted walking tour of Old Louisville, you’ll listen to stories of wealthy titans who used to roam the streets as you explore St. James Court, Ormsby Avenue, Floral Terrace, and Millionaires Row by flickering gaslamp.
Important Note: there are several companies offering haunted walking tours of Old Louisville, but we only recommend ONE company, founded by David Dominé, a local historian and expert. The other ones are poor imitations that used his books (Phantoms of Old Louisville and Ghosts of Old Louisville) to create copycat tours. Book the original Old Louisville ghost tour!
Phantoms of the Prohibition Ghosts & Cocktails Tour
What would make a ghost tour even better? If you answered “drinking,” then this unique tour is for you!
Venture out with Louisville Food Tours and explore the hidden stories of Louisville’s haunted past. As you eat and drink your way down Whiskey Row, you’ll meet the resident ghosts of Louisville’s historic downtown, trace the footsteps of bourbon magnates and mobsters, discover hidden speakeasies in the belly of Whiskey Row, and learn the shocking true story of Prohibition.
If you think you know a little about Prohibition, this tour just might have you questioning everything. Like for instance: Carry A. Nation, the hatchet-wielding saloon smashing Kentuckian that is the poster child for Debbie Downer temperance ladies, was actually a certified bada** who history has given a completely undeserved bad rep. Or that the Blue Lady, who haunts one of Louisville’s most famous historic hotels (you know, the one made famous by the Great Gatsby) was actually murdered by a celebrated Kentucky war hero.
The stories on this tour are as fascinating as the ghosts, and the Prohibition-era cocktails make the perfect accompaniment to Louisville’s spooky history. You can book your tour at Louisville Food Tours and use the code LGL10 for 10% off.
Waverly Hills Tour
Lots of ghost tours explore beautiful areas, so that you can appreciate the scenery while hearing ghost stories. But what if you don’t care about scenery and just want spine-tingling horror? Enter Waverly Hills, Louisville’s most haunted attraction – and one of the most haunted buildings in the entire country.
Waverly Hills was a tuberculosis sanatorium. And there is no question about how haunted it is: so many people died here that they literally had a body chute to efficiently dispose of the deceased. Yeah. Morbid.
If you dare, you can go on a guided tour of Waverly Hills, a tour that focuses more on the history, or a 6 hour long paranormal investigation. Heck, if you’re really feeling brave, you can spend the night there, too. Count us out, though.
Distillery & Bourbon Tours in Louisville
Did you know that there are a bunch of awesome distilleries right in the heart of Louisville? Yep, you don’t have to go anywhere to taste bourbon, rye whiskey, brandy, or gin. We have it all!
Pretty much every distillery in Louisville offers a tour or two, so we’re going to summarize a few of our favorites below. We’ve got a detailed guide to distilleries in Louisville with more!
Bourbon Tours in Louisville
Did you know that there are 8 bourbon distilleries located right in Louisville? We’ve got a whole guide to distilleries in Louisville, but here are a few of our favorites to tour:
- Angel’s Envy Distillery: NuLu’s premiere bourbon distillery is absolutely gorgeous, and a tour is well worth it (especially if you tack it on after a NuLu food tour, which ends a block away!) The Angel’s Envy Signature Tour offers an hour-long deep-dive into the distillery’s history to learn about the distilling process from start to finish. The tour concludes with a tasting of the Angel’s Envy Bourbon Finished in Port Casks and Rye Finished in Caribbean Rum Casks. If you want to get a little more hands on, check out the Bottle Your Own Tour,
- Michter’s Distillery At the Michter’s “micro distillery” located in the historic Fort Nelson Building on Museum Row, you can take the Discovery Tour, which offers a brief one-hour overview of the Michter’s distilling, barreling, and the extra steps they take to pursue their goal of making the “greatest American whiskey”. The tour concludes with a tasting of five Michter’s expressions.
- Rabbit Hole Distillery: During the one-hour, immersive guided tour of this contemporary, industrial-chic distillery in NuLu, you’ll learn about how grains are transformed into whiskey, how Rabbit Hole’s philosophy is changing the bourbon industry, taste a 4-grain Kentucky Straight Bourbon, and end at the Overlook lounge for a generous bourbon tasting with a view.
Copper & Kings Distillery
Guess what, y’all? There’s more than just bourbon distilleries in Louisville! The Butchertown-based Copper & Kings Distillery produces brandy, absinthe, gin, and a variety of liqueurs, all made from American-grown grapes and apples.
The one-hour Copper & Kings Experience will show you how their spirits are made with a tasting experience where you will sample from their core portfolio of innovative spirits including American Brandy, Gin, Absinthe & Liqueurs. Or, try the Barrel-to-Bottle Experience where you’ll sample the full lineup of cask-strength, limited release spirits and dive into the science and the art of barrel aging while tasting the diverse flavor profiles of unique barrels and finishes. Following the tasting, you can fill your own selection straight from the barrel for a souvenir bottle to take home with you!
Kentucky Bourbon Trail Tours
While not technically *in* Louisville, Louisville makes a fantastic jumping-off point to explore bourbon distilleries along the Kentucky Bourbon Trail. Yep, that means you can taste bourbon without having to worry about the logistics of safely navigating those winding backcountry roads!
On this bourbon trail tour, you’ll meet in downtown Louisville (or get a pickup from your hotel) and get to pick 3 bourbon distilleries from a list of 15. If we might offer a suggestion, there are two bourbon distillery tours on the Kentucky Bourbon trail which are well worth the day trip: Woodford Reserve and Maker’s Mark.
- Maker’s Mark: The grounds of Maker’s Mark are stunning: stained glass artworks, a stream running through the grounds, those cute little red shutters on all of the buildings, a delicious farm-to-table restaurant. But the tour of Maker’s Mark is the best part of all – because it is truly a barrel to bottle tour. You’ll see and learn about everything, from the rickhouses and finishing rooms to the private tasting areas and even have a chance to see bottle labelling and watch as bottles are dipped into their iconic bright red wax. Every single bottle of Maker’s Mark is made here, dipped and labelled by hand. It’s mind-boggling and SO cool to see! Plus, you’ll get a chance to dip your very own bottle of bourbon.
- Woodford Reserve: The grounds of Woodford Reserve are stunning, as is the drive to get there through winding horse farms lined with that iconic Kentucky fencing. But the beauty continues along every single step of this tour: it’s simply the most aesthetic, historic distillery we’ve been to! Woodford Reserve only makes a small number of barrels, and they’re exquisite. You’ll get to taste their original bourbon and finished bourbon along with a delicious chocolate bourbon ball.
The Evan Williams Experience
The Evan William’s experience is unique in Louisville. It’s not a distillery, it’s an experience. And y’all, it’s so cool! On the 45-minute long Speakeasy Tour, you will be transported back in time as you sneak through a safe into a hidden Prohibition-era speakeasy, complete with a 1920’s bartender who’s brimming with historic bourbon knowledge!
During your trip back in time you’ll get to try plenty of samples of Evan Williams bourbon – and hopefully make it out safely without being busted by a hatchet-wielding member of the Temperance Movement. This fun and unique experience is surprisingly affordable (and kid-friendly, as far as bourbon tastings go) and comes with a souvenir distillers glass.
Historic Louisville Tours
From walking tours exploring the area’s history and architecture to a peek inside a historic home and a look back at the most iconic sporting event in Louisville’s history, here are the best historic tours of Louisville!
Old Louisville History and Architecture Tour
Louisville is home to the largest collection of Victorian homes in the country and this neighborhood is absolutely jaw-dropping. Tree-lined avenues house elegant Richardsonian Romanesque, sophisticated Queen Anne, and dignified Italianate homes that date back to Louisville’s founding. Flickering gas lamps line the pedestrian-only paths winding past a massive fountain adorned with flowers. Also, there’s a giant pink castle. And a witch’s tree!
History and Architecture Tours of Old Louisville are offered daily from March to November and provide in-depth introduction to “America’s Grandest Victorian Neighborhood”.
The Highlands Food, History & Architecture Tour
This walking food tour of the historic Highlands neighborhood by Louisville Food Tours explore the history of Louisville and Kentucky while tasting its cuisine.
The Original Highlands is one of Louisville’s oldest neighborhoods – and its most quirky. Historic Victorian homes branch off of a thoroughfare that stretches all the way to Bourbon country, lined with vibrant murals, eclectic shops and hip local restaurants & bars.
As you walk along some of Louisville’s oldest and most iconic streets, you’ll taste (and drink) local specialties like biscuits & gravy, beer cheese, and bourbon balls; visit the final resting place of Muhammad Ali and Colonel Sanders; learn about a fabled flood and the glory days of Louisville’s 24-hour streetcar; and admire beautiful Victorian homes in the Original Highlands and Cherokee Triangle neighborhood while learning about different styles of architecture from Louisville’s opulent heyday.
You can book your tour at Louisville Food Tours and use the code LGL10 for 10% off.
The historic home of Lucy Clark – sister of General George Rogers Clark, of “Lewis & Clark” Fame – was a meeting place for important American luminaries in the late 1700s. Presidents James Monroe and Andrew Jackson, John James Audubon, Cassius Marcellus Clay (not Muhammad Ali, I was confused too), and both Lewis and Clark—among others—all passed through Locust Grove.
Locust Grove has been beautifully preserved and maintained as a museum and a National Historic Landmark, and serves as a unique example of early Kentucky architecture, craftsmanship, and history. Take the 90-minute Unfolding the Story tour, which will immerse you in the year 1816 as you witness the sights, smells and sounds of a 19th-century farm all while learning about the lives and stories of the enslaved community at Locust Grove.
The Conrad-Caldwell House Museum
Step back in time to the Victorian grandeur of Louisville’s Gilded Age on a tour of the Conrad-Caldwell House Museum. Constructed in 1895, this Richardsonian Romanesque castle is one of the most unique mansions in historic Old Louisville.
It was built to house two of Louisville’s most prominent businessmen and entrepreneurs, and today it has been perfectly restored to the Edwardian Age, featuring stained glass, intricate woodwork carved with fleur de lis, luscious textiles, chandeliers, and a whole lot of opulence! They just don’t make them like they used to. Oh and yes… it’s haunted.
Thomas Edison House
Thomas Edison, famed inventor of the light bulb, came to Louisville in 1866, at age 19, to work as a telegraph key operator, a career he’d dabble in for many more years. During Edison’s years as a telegrapher he became fascinated with improving the telegraph. Most of his early inventions were either improvements of the telegraph or similar machines.
You can tour the shotgun duplex where he lived during his year in Louisville in the Butchertown neighborhood, called the Thomas Edison House. (You’ll also stop there on a NuLu food tour! The street neighbors Nulu.)
The Kentucky Derby Museum
The Kentucky Derby Museum, located at Churchill Downs, preserves the legacy of the Kentucky Derby. But if you really want to know what it’s like to experience the derby, you’ve got to sign up for one of their many guided tours.
On the Backside Tour, you’ll get to experience a once-in-a-lifetime view of the Twin Spires from the other side of the track: the Backside of Churchill Downs. Or take the Bourbon and Bridles experience to combine a tour of the track with Bourbon tasting, and a Mint Julep cocktail mixing experience!
Louisville Bus (& Trolley) Tours
Want to relax on a comfortable seat while driving around the city and seeing the sights from the window of a bus or trolley? These tours are for you!
Trolley de Ville
Once upon a time, when I was in high school (which honestly wasn’t all that long ago), trolleys were the main form of transit in downtown Louisville. They rode up and down Main Street and Market, and you could hop on and off wherever you liked. That era has sadly gone, but what we do have now is Trolley de Ville: old fashioned trolley tours of Louisville!
Their public narrated trolley tour covers a lot in just 90 minutes. You’ll see Churchill Downs, home of the Kentucky Derby, and America’s largest collection of Victorian style homes in Old Louisville.
As a bonus, this is one of the most budget friendly tours of Louisville! Book on their website.
City Taste Tours
City Taste Tours combines a bus tour with a food tour. Their fun bus tours include several small bites from local eateries and visit a few of Louisville’s coolest attractions.
Your wacky tour guides will take you along on a guided historical tour of Louisville with a sampling of bourbon, local wine, beers and food along the way. From the comfort of your seat, you’ll cruise through the Victorian Mansions of Old Louisville and make pit stops to get out and explore/shop at Churchill Downs and Museum Row.
Other Louisville Tours
Louisville Slugger Museum
We couldn’t quite shoehorn a tour of the Louisville Slugger Museum into one of our other categories, but it absolutely deserves a spot as one of the best tours in Louisville! Where else can you tour a factory where they make baseball bats?!
On a tour of the Louisville Slugger factory you’ll get to see the bats being made, try your hand at the batting cage using bats from famous baseball stars, and walk away with an awesome souvenir – a mini Louisville Slugger bat! Finding the museum is easy – just look for the world’s largest Baseball Bat. It’s 120 feet tall.
Which tours in Louisville are you most excited to try? Drop us a comment below.
Looking for more things to do during your visit to Louisville? Take a look at these posts to help plan your trip:
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