It’s that particular time of year where the air gets crisp, the leaves begin to change color, and the smell of Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Lattes is all around you. It is also when everyone is suddenly excited to wear layers of clothes, only to have to strip the majority of them off by 2 p.m. because it is suddenly 70 degrees outside. That’s right; I’m talking about fall in Louisville, Kentucky.
It’s a special time of year because it is also when Louisville seems to have tons of events and fun things to do for all age groups. I’ve spent this fall doing ALL of the things and have narrowed them down to my personal top 10 things to do in Louisville during the fall season. The list is in no particular order.
1. Walk Hillcrest Avenue
If you are local and you have never walked Hillcrest in October either during the day or night-are you even a local? Hillcrest Avenue is located in the Crescent Hill neighborhood, and they go all out for Halloween. Tons of houses on the block go all out with their decorations. You have everything from guts and blood to a tribute to everyone’s favorite scary sisters-The Sanderson Sisters. (Hocus Pocus lovers know who I’m talking about.) I suggested walking it during the day and at night because you get two different perspectives. During the day, you can see all of the detail that goes into the decorations, and at night, the real spectacle begins. The lights and animation add a spooky touch. My personal favorite is “Hillcrest Cemetery.” The owner creates his own characters and makes up funny tombstones with their names and how they died. I love seeing the new additions each year. If you are in town and looking for something fun to get you in the Halloween spirit, then head towards Hillcrest Avenue. The best news is that it is free and you can walk down the avenue day or night.
2. Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular in Iroquois Park.
For the past seven years, Louisville has had the privilege to showcase 5,000 jack-o-lanterns in one of our local parks-Iroquois Park. It’s an event that is appropriate for any age group. Take a stroll through the park and awe at the fantastic jack-o-lantern carvings that line the walkway. The spectacular does cost money, and the price depends on if it is a weekday or weekend. My suggestion is to buy your tickets ahead of time and be prepared to wait in a long line. If you buy your ticket for the 6:15 p.m. time, you will not enter until 7:15 p.m. when they open the trail, and depending on how long the line is; you may not walk into the entrance until 8 p.m. The wait is long, but it is worth it.
3. Go to Huber’s Orchard and Winery
Ok, before anyone gets upset with me, I know that Huber’s Orchard and Winery isn’t located in Louisville or Kentucky and that it is in Starlight, Indiana, but let’s be honest, what Kentuckian hasn’t visited Huber’s? Huber’s Orchard and Winery is a family farm that is mostly known for two things; pumpkin picking and WINE. If you are like me, you go for the wine more than the pumpkins, but if you have a family, then it’s an excellent excuse to take the children and make a family excursion out of it. Huber’s is very family-oriented, and they have a little bit of everything for all ages. Visiting Huber’s is free, and it is around a 30-minute drive from Louisville. Yes, you have to cross the bridge into Indiana, but Huber’s grounds are gorgeous, especially in fall with their pumpkin patches and apple orchards. For those who do enjoy adult alcoholic beverages, they have plenty of wine readily available, and if you haven’t had their sangria, then you haven’t truly lived life yet. It’s a perfect way to spend the day, whether it be with friends, your partner, or your family. No one ever leaves disappointed.
4. Go to a football game/tailgate
Welcome to Kentucky, where college football and basketball are KING. We do not care about professional sports but bring up college sports, and we won’t stop talking. Football season and fall just so happen to coincide, which means tailgates filled with food, beer, and good old rivalry. There are two major rivals in the state, the University of Louisville (the best team) and the University of Kentucky. We all have our favorite team, and on game days, we are not friends with our rivals until the game is over. If you ever get a chance to go to a tailgate either for a U of L game or a U.K. game, do it! Tailgating is where people grill out, drink beer and bourbon, and party before the game. The name “tailgate” is because people use to drop the tailgate of their trucks and sit on them and drink and eat before the games. The name stuck around, and now it is the thing to do before any football game.
5. Visit a haunted house/Waverly Hills Sanatorium
One of the fun fall activities for the older crowd is visiting haunted houses and corn mazes. There are tons of haunted houses to visit in Louisville and the surrounding area, and it all just boils down to what you are looking for. My personal favorite is Waverly Hills. The reason why I think it is the best haunted house in Louisville isn’t because of the Halloween production that they put on during October, but it is because the actual building is scary A.F. to look at. Waverly Hills Sanatorium was a hospital built during the tuberculosis outbreak in Louisville. Locals have heard all types of scary stories about Waverly Hills and the many patients that died there who now haunts the building. It’s always featured on the top scariest/haunted places in the U.S., and every year in October, the owners turn it into a haunted house for people to go and get scared. In my opinion, you don’t even have to enter the haunted house to get scared. The outside of the building is scary enough, and knowing that people were tortured and made into guinea pigs to find a cure for tuberculosis, well, that’s enough reason to believe that it is haunted. I don’t recommend taking small children, but if your children are into it, then go right ahead.
6. Go hiking at Red River Gorge
A two-hour drive south of Louisville to Slade, Kentucky will put you smack dab in the middle of some of the best fall scenery that you can imagine. If you want the typical fall Instagram photo of red, orange, and yellow leaves, then look no further. The Gorge not only provides the best fall photo backgrounds in Kentucky, but it contains some of the best hiking trails in the state. If you love Mother Nature like me, then you cannot miss out on a chance to hike at Red River Gorge. There are tons of trails for all levels of hikers, and the landscape is breathtaking during fall. It’s a great way to get a breath of fresh air and escape the hustle of the city.
7. St. James Art Fair
Every year, artists both local and from other parts of the U.S. gather in the most historic part of the city, Old Louisville, to put on the most prominent art show in Louisville. It is something that I look forward to every year because it exposes local artists and also gives you a chance to meet artists from other parts of the country. I always find something special while I’m there. It can be jewelry, paintings, or drawings, but there is always something that calls to me. This year I was able to find a lot of pieces that I loved and bring them back home with me. The location of the show is unique because it is in the historic part of Louisville, so you are surrounded by large Victorian houses and the iconic St. James Court Fountain. The art fair happens on the first weekend of October, and it is free to attend. All ages are welcome.
8. Attend a Fall Harvest Festival
During fall, there are harvest festivals all over the city, it seems. Most of the festivals include food from local vendors, apple cider, beer, face painting, and fun activities for children. It’s a nice way to spend some time out of the house and enjoy local vendor’s foods and buy some local crafts since most of them have local artists attending as well. If the weather is nice, it makes for a great way to spend the day or at least a few hours. Louisville is a food and beverage city; therefore, any excuse to try new food and drinks is a good one.
9. Pick a pumpkin at a local farm
There are several places around Louisville that you can go and pick out the perfect pumpkin for your fall decor. Gallrein Farms is a local farm located in Shelby County that has pumpkin patches, and they also do a lot of fun fall activities, including hayrides, petting zoos, and picking pumpkins. Huber’s in Indiana also has pumpkin patches, but if you want to stay within the state, then definitely check out Gallrein Farms.
10. Attend Colorfest at Bernheim Forest
This is another event for anyone who loves fall and nature. What better way to combine both by attending Colorfest at Bernheim Forest? Bernheim is a quick 30-minute drive from Louisville, and they always have wonderful family-oriented events throughout the year. Their fall event is called Colorfest, which is appropriately named because it is during the time of year when all of the trees have changed color. There are tons of fun activities to do while there, such as going on a hayride, slingshotting pumpkins, face painting, hay mazes, and mud pies. The event takes place on a Saturday and Sunday so you can plan your weekend accordingly. It costs $10 per car, and the money goes towards saving our local forest.