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Louisville: 5 free things for visitors to do

Published on NewsOK Modified: April 10, 2014 at 8:53 am •  Published: April 10, 2014
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — When it's Kentucky Derby season in Louisville, money seems to flow faster than the Ohio River. Hotels and restaurants fill up; bars serve mint juleps and fine Kentucky bourbon. Shopping includes a hunt for the colorful hats worn as a Derby tradition. Parties are thrown, and wagers are plunked down on can't-miss colts and longshots alike as fans guess which horse will win the famous race at Churchill Downs.

Yet there are other sure bets for relaxation and entertainment that don't cost a thing as folks head to bluegrass country for the Derby, which takes place May 3. Kentucky's largest city offers a mix of free contemporary and historic sites — along with blooming dogwood trees.

CAVE HILL CEMETERY

The final resting place for many of Louisville's most prominent citizens of the 19th and 20th centuries, the nearly 300-acre (120-hectare) cemetery opened in 1848. It features ornate marble and granite monuments, shaded by trees seemingly as distinctive as the headstones dotting the landscape. Trees of many varieties loom over the rolling grounds situated east of downtown. Each spring and fall, the cemetery is ablaze in colors. It draws tours from groups of garden, Civil War and history buffs. About 5,500 soldiers are buried here, mostly from the Civil War.

Luminaries buried in the cemetery include politicians, business leaders and bourbon barons. Two of the most notable are George Rogers Clark — an early frontiersman and soldier and the brother of William Clark, who co-led the Lewis and Clark expedition — and Colonel Harland Sanders, the founder of Kentucky Fried Chicken. Sanders' granite memorial features a bust of the goateed entrepreneur, whose likeness is still synonymous with the chicken chain he started. Visitors sometimes place a bucket of chicken at his grave.

WATERFRONT PARK

In a town blessed with an abundance of parks known for foliage, nature centers and scenic vistas, the 85-acre (34-hectare) Waterfront Park serves as Louisville's northern doorstep. Visitors can walk, jog and bike along paths that offer scenic views of the Ohio River and downtown Louisville. Linger long enough, and the chances are good that you'll see a massive barge floating along the Ohio, a busy waterway for commerce.

The park's Great Lawn stretches out as a giant front yard for downtown. There are playgrounds and an amphitheater. A popular attraction is the Big Four Bridge, an old railroad span that's been turned into a pedestrian and cycling path spanning the Ohio River between Louisville and Jeffersonville, Ind.

CONTEMPORARY ART

Contemporary art is a mainstay at the acclaimed 21c Museum Hotel and the exhibitions are free to the public. Artwork is on display in 9,000 square feet (836 square meters) of exhibition space in the award-winning boutique hotel in downtown Louisville. The artwork ranges from quirky and whimsical to daring, dark and thought-provoking. It was a goal of the hotel's owners to introduce contemporary art to a wider audience.

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