The Louisville area has no shortage of places to go and things to do to keep a family occupied this summer. For starters, parents may want to check out the Louisville Free Public Libraryâ€™s Cultural Pass, which will get you and your kids into some great local attractions free of charge on certain days. Thereâ€™s the Kentucky Derby Museum, Kentucky Science Center, Louisville Zoo, Bernheim Arboretum and Research Forest, Muhammad Ali Center and Speed Art Museum to name a few.
Of course, kids arenâ€™t the only ones who want to have fun during the summertime, so in an effort to provide suggestions to folks of all ages, here are five diverse spots in addition to The Parklands to check out over the next few months, proving that Louisville truly offers something for everyone.
Though relatively small in size but nonetheless beloved by the community, Derby Dinner Playhouse in Clarksville is known for its professional productions of Broadway musicals and comedies. Each production also, of course, features the signature home-style buffet. Additionally, The Footnotes, Derby Dinnerâ€™s vocal ensemble, performs prior to each stage production.
Having opened in 1974, Derby Dinner Playhouse is one of the oldest and largest continually operating professional dinner theaters in the country. For over 40 years, the Derby has entertained over 3 million people and, in the process, produced nearly every classic Broadway musical including â€œOklahoma!,â€ â€œThe Sound of Musicâ€ and â€œAnnie.â€
The current lineup features â€œArsenic & Old Laceâ€ through June 26 and â€œPinkalicious the Musicalâ€ through June 25. From June 29 to August 14, Derby Dinner will present Disneyâ€™s â€œBeauty and the Beast,â€ and â€œBranson on the Road,â€ a country-comedy-Bluegrass-gospel show, will make a one-time stop on August 8.
The playhouse also offers a Summer Musical Theatre Camp, which is a week-long performing arts camp for aspiring actors and singers ages 7-17. Three of the five summer offerings have already sold out, but there is still room for campers for the weeks of July 25-30 and August 1-6. The camp runs 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. each day.
Derby Dinner Playhouse is located at 525 Marriott Drive, Clarksville, IN 47129. For more information, visit derbydinner.com or call 812.288.8281.
There is, of course, no shortage of fun to be had at Kentucky Kingdom, Louisvilleâ€™s 63-acre amusement park, and its water park, Hurricane Bay. Despite being smaller than other regional theme parks, Kentucky Kingdom has an undeniably whimsical ambiance and atmosphere with a multitude of thrilling attractions to boot.
Now in its third year after reopening â€“ a product of the work and vision of original and pre-Six Flags owner Ed Hart â€“ the park continues to add marquee attractions. This yearâ€™s big draw is Storm Chaser, the re-imagined Twisted Sisters roller coaster, which has been completely re-designed. The wooden coaster features a new layout and an iBox track, which allows for a much smoother ride than a traditional wooden coaster. Storm Chaser is the first coaster in America to feature a barrel roll drop from a 10-story lift hill. Plus, the drop has a hair-raising 78-degree angle.
The last two seasons have also featured the addition of Cyclos, a massive rotating pendulum that loops 360 degrees in the air; the refreshing Raging Rapids River Ride; and Lightning Run, the sleek steel coaster that features a 100-foot 80-degree drop.
If the thrill rides are not your speed, 5D Cinema is showing â€œAngry Birds: The Ride,â€ and the entertaining Rescued Sea Lion Show at the Aqua Theater is scheduled daily and usually draws big crowds. The whole family can ride on the tame Flying Dutchman, which resided at Kings Island from 1973 to 1990.
Season passes are still on sale, and if you â€“ or your little one â€“ are a fan of anything from thrill rides to water attractions to theme park food, a pass that will last all summer is surely a wise investment.
Kentucky Kingdom is located at 937 Phillips Lane, Louisville, KY 40209. For more information, visit kentuckykingdom.com or call 502.813.8200.
The Thirsty Pedaler
After a summer day of entertainment, thrill rides or gardening, you may want to unwind with friends, perhaps, say, on a 16-passenger bike and go bar-to bar-downtown. Imagine The Highlandsâ€™ Bambi Walk placed in the middle of the business district where you pedal instead of walk.
Voted No. 1 out of 57 Louisville Nightlife Destinations by TripAdvisor, The Thirsty Pedaler offers a two-hour tour, in which you and your friends pedal away on a pubcrawler and stop at two or three bars in downtown Louisville. A tour guide/driver behind the bar controls the direction and speed and plays music, which can be your very own playlist, for your group. It is ideal for bachelorette, bachelor and birthday parties but perfect for any occasion.
In addition to the causal tour, a Bourbon Tour provides a mini-bourbon session with a Jim Beam distiller and one bourbon bar stop on your tour. Meanwhile, the Craft Beer Tour stops at three local craft beer bars. While the Bourbon Tour is a single-seat tour, the Craft Beer Tour can be single-seat or reserved for private parties.
Fans of The Thirsty Pedaler recommend designating one person in the group to collect money in advance from all riders and purchase everyoneâ€™s drinks at once at each bar. This plan supposedly allows for a more efficient tour that gives riders more time to enjoy the atmosphere at each establishment. Although The Thirsty Pedaler offers a fun and unique way to imbibe more safely, riders are warned not to arrive drunk. That will cancel your tour and you wonâ€™t get a refund. Your sobriety level after the ride, however, is yet to be determined.
For more information, visit thethirstypedaler.com or call 502.354.8822.
Country Corner GreenhouseÂ & Nursery
Since 1981, the Vowels family has been running Country Corner Greenhouse, and it has become one of the busiest and most respected places in the region to go for perennials, annuals, baskets, ground covers, vines, houseplants, shrubs, landscaping materials and home accessories.
In all, the facility has over a dozen greenhouses. As a wholesale establishment, Country Corner provides plants for many popular local garden centers including Paulâ€™s Fruit Market and Frank Otte Nursery. As a retail store, it offers more than just a wide variety of fertile plants. Each month, you can attend a Build Your Own Fairy/Gnome House workshop. For $40, you get logs, a roof, two windows, a door and decorative materials. The next workshop is scheduled for July 16 at 10:30 a.m.
In 2011, Country Corner got national exposure when some of their plants were featured in an urban gardening segment on national television. It has also been involved in other community beautification and charity projects, including ABCâ€™s â€œExtreme Makeover: Home Edition.â€
Though Country Corner Greenhouse is located in Shepherdsville, customers promise it is worth the drive.
Country Corner Greenhouse is located at 4877 Highway 44 East, Shepherdsville, KY 40165. For more information, visit
countrycornergreenhouse.com or call 502.955.8635.
The Kentucky Center for the Performing Arts
Few, if any, venues in the state provide as diverse a calendar of events as The Kentucky Center for the Performing Arts. In addition to being home to StageOne Family Theatre, The Kentucky Center also features the finest in ballet, opera, dance, theatre and other concerts happening year-round in Whitney Hall, The Bomhard and The MeX.
A look at the June schedule highlights The Centerâ€™s eclectic offerings. â€œThe Phantom of the Operaâ€ just finished a successful run, and truTVâ€™s â€œImpractical Jokersâ€ comedy foursome will make a stop in Whitney Hall on June 17 for two shows, 7 and 10 p.m. In addition, Miss Kentucky’s Outstanding Teen Pageant takes place June 24-25 in The Bomhard Theater.
Events and shows for all ages and tastes can be found at The Center for the Arts, whose education and outreach programs bring the arts to people in community centers, healthcare facilities and other institutions all over the state. And if that goodwill wasnâ€™t enough, the Happy Hour Concert Series continues every Tuesday in June on the front steps of The Center. These shows are free and open to the public.
The Kentucky Center For The Performing Arts is located at 501 W. Main St., Louisville, KY 40202. For more information, visit kentuckycenter.org or call 502.584.7777.
By KEVIN SEDELMEIER, Contributing Writer