Cheap family fun activities for $5 or less

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HUGE list of cheap family fun activities and things to do in Louisville with kids for $5 or less.

cheap family fun

If I gave you $5 per child and told you to make the most out of it for family fun in Louisville, what would you do? Here are a ton of budget-friendly indoor and outdoor ideas for kids of all ages. 

We have organized cheap family fun activities by category so you can make your plans!

Indoor Activities:

Kids Bowl Free (Summer)

Free ice skating and ice hockey lesson events at Iceland over the year – check the website!

Whet Your Palette has half-price happy hour from 6-8pm on Saturdays and paint something together and it’ll be less than $5 per person, just drop in!

Speed Art Museum Sundays: Thanks to a generous contribution from Brown-Forman. Anyone can visit the Speed for free on Sundays through 2024. This includes entry to ArtSparks

KMAC Museum is a free-admission (for children) contemporary art museum in downtown Louisville on Museum Row. Family Fun Days are free drop-in workshop for families and friends of all ages! One Saturday a month – make a variety of free art activities. 

Science Center $5.00 movies– check out what they will have showing and get your tickets in advance.  

So many free Library Programs throughout the year! 

$5 February and free summer time Louisville Cultural Pass locations: Museum Row offerings such as Frazier History Museum, Louisville Slugger Museum and Factory, Muhammad Ali Museum. We will publish a new post about these offers each year. 

Antique Shopping or scavenger hunts (aka Guess what this does) at Peddler’s Village, Architectural Salvage & Antiques, Derby City Antique Mall.


Outdoor Activities
:

Yew Dell Botanical Gardens: Free admission for military and kids under 5, $5 for kids ages 6-17, and during some winter months, it’s free for everyone! Free scavenger with admission and select Saturday kids activities. 

Disc Golf at area parks (free to play).

La Grange: walk downtown and wait for a train from the observation tower. Pop in and explore the La Grange Train museum…also free!

Farms visits:
– Gallrein Farms: open from April 1st through October 31st for u-pick and petting zoo
– Hidden Hollow Orchard and Wildlife Sanctuary: with u-pock and wildlife to watch

Blackacre State Nature Preserve & Historic Homestead with free Saturday feedings and nature walks

Free Geocaching sounds like cheap family fun! Learn more about geocaching here.

Parks for picnics, playing, hiking, playgrounds, special activities, and free events:
Cherokee Park – 2.4-mile Scenic Loop
EP Tom Sawyer State Park – tennis
Iroquois Park – volleyball
Beckley Creek Park – free learning programs at the PNC Achievement Center for Education and Interpretation
Pope Lick Park – canoeing and paddling

– Clarksville Parks – great playgrounds and special events
Seneca Park – trails for people and horses
Broad Run Park – scenic waterfalls
Turkey Run Park silo bike park
Long Run Park – sprayground
Hounz Lane Park – creek and playground
Hays Kennedy Park – large, flat concrete walking path
– More Metro Louisville Parks!



The Parklands has free storytime events for anyone, you do not have to be a member. But, you do have to register in advance. 
Bernheim Park is $10 per car recommended. Bernheim is full of family adventure options and scheduled events and activities. There is a new outdoor play space, and of course you must go visit the Giants. 
Jefferson Memorial Park with camping, nature walks, nature music center, nature center, and free events that offer free activities like archery and their climbing tower. 

Harrods Creek Park offers hiking ranging from easy to moderate, with changes in elevation up to 84 feet. The trails are well-marked and take about an hour and a half to complete at a leisurely stroll. The Upper Trail ends at a sandy beach in a bend in Harrods Creek that is usually bustling with wildlife.

Creasey Mahan Nature Preserve with hiking trails, playground (the BEST!!!), Woodland Garden, free events and free nature center open every
Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday from 1pm – 4pm. There are also special seasonal events that are cheap or free!

Louisville Nature Center to enjoy gardens, hiking, and wildlife exhibits. Admission is FREE, but donations to support their educational programs

Central Park in Old Louisville with playground, sprayground, and Shakespeare in the Park for the free Kentucky Shakespeare Festival. 

Louisville Area Pools and Spraygrounds: check for free or cheap locations and events during the warmer months.

Walk or Bike:

Free morning walk around the zoo with Louisville Zoo Walking Club 

Walk/bike across the Big Four Bridge

Walk/bike the Lewis and Clark Bridge

Walk/bike the Anchorage Trail

Louisville Loop – a paved Louisville Loop trail of more than 100 miles around the community. In addition to connecting Louisville’s diverse parks and neighborhoods

 

Looking to learn when you are out exploring for cheap family fun? Here are some ideas!

Educational:

Riverside Farnsley-Moremen Landing is a 300 acre historic site with the Farnsley-Moremen House built around 1837 that overlooks the Ohio River. There are ongoing archaeological excavations and lots of history to learn about. Keep an eye on their calendar for free events.

Gheens Science Hall and Rauch Planetarium (temporarily closed) has free public shows throughout the year, as well as two other regular free exhibits about meteorites and the Star Ball. 

Watch the barges pass through the McAlpine Locks and Dam – the first major engineering project on the Ohio River. Completed in 1830, it was designed to allow shipping traffic to navigate through the Falls of the Ohio. Go check out the historical flood obelisk, giant anchor, giant propeller, and check out the local wildlife. 

The Little Loomhouse – a fiber arts education nonprofit organization focused on educating students of all ages about the history of weaving and textile arts through diverse programs, residencies, and community partnerships. Check the calendar for free events!

Asian Institute Crane House – General admission is free. Check the website for exhibitions.
 

Retail:

Home Depot kids Workshop

Home Depot Science Fair projects

Michaels has free or inexpensive classes and events

Joann has monthly “Hands On With Joann” free crafting classes, as well as monthly new product demo classes. 

Cabela’s and Bass Pro fish tank and taxidermy animals, plus many free events throughout the year

 

LEGO store at Oxmoor – go touch and look!

Walk the malls inside: Oxmoor Center, St Matthews, Jefferson, Or outside: The Paddock Shops, Westport Village

Yes, there’s even cheap family fun for your teens and tweens!

For Teens:

Old Louisville architecture walk (and St. James Court Art Show in September!): 

Shakespeare in the Park for the free Kentucky Shakespeare Festival in Central Park in Old Louisville. 

Saturday morning strolls through Farmers Markets 

Check out the art at the Speed Art Museum, free on Sundays through 2024. 


Take a walk around Cave City Cemetery looking at the grounds and famous grave sites.

Check out Churchill Downs. General admission tickets allow access to first floor seating (including first floor clubhouse and first floor grandstand area), as well as the Paddock area, Paddock Plaza, second level ITW, and Food Court. Seating is first come, first served. General admission tickets start at $7.00 per adult (kids 12 and under are free) for Spring, September and Fall Meets.

Locust Grove, a 1792 Georgian mansion, recently re-restored to near its original appearance. Keep an eye out for occasional free events.

Take a tour at the Louisville Water Tower Park. $5 or less admission for cheap family fun.

Crescent Hill Reservoir is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Watch for free historic tours and walks the second Wednesday of the month from May – September, beginning May 10, and wander through history. Doors open from 11 – 1 and 5 – 7. Louisville Water staff will be on hand from to answer questions and offer insights into our history.

Admission is FREE to University of Louisville men’s soccer and women’s soccer games!


21c Museum and Hotel nestled in downtown Louisville, is a multi-venue contemporary art museum. The galleries are free and open to the public every day and exhibitions rotate.

Check out the architecture at the historic Brown Hotel: The stone and terra cotta trimmed Georgian Revival hotel features a two-story lobby with hand-painted coffered ceiling, Palladian-style windows, and mahogany furniture on Botticino limestone floors. The famous “Hot Brown” was invented by the hotel chef in 1926

Look into history at The Seelbach Hilton Louisville: The backdrop for the wedding scene in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel, The Great Gatsby, the hotel has played host to 1 duchess, 9 presidents and 14 Grammy Award-winning groups. 

Check out all the Interesting Stuff around Louisville – Rodin’s Thinker, Statue of David 10x the original size, Troll under the Bridge, Heigold House Facade, Kennedy Rushmore Mural, statue of Abraham Lincoln, and more!

For a Day Trip:

Tour the state capitol in Frankfort for free!

Falls of the Ohio for hiking, exploring, and free programs for just a $2 parking fee. 

Take a day trip to Fort Knox! There are a ton of playgrounds and places to see. Plus, they have free family events – especially for 4th of July. And, if you want to spend just a little bit more, they have bowling, pools and more. It’s all accessible to the public. 


Clifty Falls, IN free hikes and activities

General Butler State Park in Carrollton – lots of free family fun and cheap activities!

Ale-8-One Bottling Company offers free tours (temporarily paused). They are 45-minutes in length, for all ages, given on Thursdays and Fridays at 9 a.m., 10 a.m.,  and 11 a.m. Reservations required.

The Carnegie Center free admission Tuesday through Saturday 10:00 AM-5:30 PM, free monthly Saturday craft programs.

See, we can all have so much cheap family fun for under $5!  

 

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