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Thursday, April 11, 2013

Waterfront Park in Louisville is a great place for families

Louisville Waterfront Park is listed on the Louisville Family Fun 2013 Bucket List for Families. We listed it as the place to fly a kite when the winds of March come blowing through. Now, it’s the place to start a journey right over the Ohio River.

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I can remember Louisville’s waterfront when it was just a waterfront. There was the Belvedere and the water’s edge, perhaps some green space and a tree here and there, but not much that resembled any place to picnic. In 1991, the Louisville Waterfront Master Plan was adopted, and I am just amazed at what has been accomplished since. Beginning in 1999 with the Great Lawn through February 2013 with the completion of the Big Four Bridge, Waterfront Park has truly become a destination spot for families in Louisville and those who travel through.

 photo wp2_zps6106b842.jpgHave you begun checking off the family inspired suggestions we wrote about on the 2013 Bucket List? Well after this past weekend of walking the Big 4 Bridge, my family and I have already begun a long Bucket List JUST for downtown Louisville! We’re on a quest to rediscover our city! After living here all through high school, college, and raising our two kids here (my husband has been here even longer), we realized it’s time to see all the NEW in LOU!

 photo lincoln2_zps5a05c5f9.jpgWhile we were parading up the ramp to the Big 4 recently, we were just looking around the city and making plans. When spring and early summer hit, we’re going to start some Daycations! Some ideas we had: start the day at an early baseball game at Louisville Slugger Field, head up the bridge, and end the day with dinner at Tumbleweed on the River. Another day we might spend the whole day picnicking at the park, playing on the playground and sprayground, and romping through the sidewalks, stopping to visit Abraham Lincoln and read up on some history. On a whole other day, we’ll rent bikes from Wheel Fun Rentals (LouFamFun Review), (or if we have invested in them yet we’ll bring our own!) and ride around the park and some of the Louisville Loop, ride across the bridge, and then grab a bite to eat downtown somewhere close by. When the Jeffersonville side of the Big 4 Bridge is complete, we have many plans to walk across and check out some restaurants there and walk their riverfront. For a date night/anniversary plans in August, my husband and I are thinking about parking at Waterfront Park, walking across the bridge, and eating at a quaint, smaller café in nearby Jeffersonville or New Albany. When the blazing heat and humidity hits that Louisville always brings us every late summer, go spray-style! Waterfront Park is home to an awesome splash area as well as those famed fountains further over on Witherspoon Street. I am just super excited about the Big 4 Bridge and all the possibilities it brings to families on both sides of the river, not to mention how much we can invest in our own local economy.

In addition to when we visited the Big 4, we also took part in a Nulu Open House and found so many neat businesses and restaurants to try out so close to Waterfront Park. We stopped in WHY Louisville on East Market Street, bought some yummy goodies at Muth’s Candies, which has been in business in the same location on East Market Street for over 90 years, and found neat local establishments such as Please and Thank You, The Mayan Café, and Ghyslain, just to name a few. Nulu is a really diverse, thriving area that is begging you to come visit it! Other great options are Taco Punk and Toast on Market.

With Thunder Over Louisville approaching, Louisville Waterfront Park is the prime place to watch the action, sprawled out as a family on a blanket on the Great Lawn. Also topping the list of don’t miss events is of course, the Kentucky Derby Festival! You and your family are bound to find an outdoor event or two that you will love, from the Pegasus Parade to the Great Steamboat Race. Abbey Road on the River begs you to rediscover your inner Beatle and a couple of years ago my family attended this fun festival-like music extravaganza and had a great time! Head downtown this summer for WFPK Waterfront Wednesday concerts; they may seem like they are adult-only but we’re going to check one out and see. I’ve had friends and family who bring their kids and everyone has a jammin’ good time!

 photo park3_zpsdef3d738.jpg photo park4_zpsaae00816.jpgOther areas of the Waterfront that you won’t want to miss are a riverside meal at Joe’s Crab Shack, playing at Adventure Playground, walking the Promenade along the Ohio River, stopping for a push at the Swing Garden, reading about our 16th President at the Lincoln Memorial, and as mentioned walking the ramp up to the Big 4 Pedestrian & Bicycle Bridge and taking in views of our great river city. Throw in some competition and a challenge with The Louisville Quest as well!

Spring is coming. I think we all know how breathtaking fall is in Louisville. But spring is just as immaculate and offers so many outdoor opportunities. Start at Louisville Waterfront Park. Make that your first stop on your own bucket list for your version of Louisville family fun. It’ll be a great jumping off point!

Louisville Waterfront Park hours of operation are: 6am-11pm for the park; 11am-8pm, seasonally from May-September, for the water play area.

By guest contributor: Erin

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