Louisville, Kentucky is the city where I was born and raised, and although I’ve traveled all over the world, I’ve never found anywhere quite as special. Louisville is more than just a world-class city brimming with art, culture, food, bourbon, and the friendliest people you’ll meet anywhere. It’s a big city with a small-town feel, as the locals like to say. Louisville has so much to offer and shouldn’t be overlooked for anyone planning a trip to nearby St. Louis, Chicago, Nashville, Memphis, or Indianapolis!
Luckily for me, since Halloween is my FAVORITE holiday (costumes AND candy?! Omg. Yes. Heaven) Halloween season is the best time to visit Louisville (other than Derby season, of course). Fall in Louisville, KY, means crunchy colorful leaves, crisp breezy air, pumpkins, bourbon, and apple cider. But Halloween in Louisville is a month-long celebration.
Psst: We have a bunch of other posts about Louisville, KY! Make sure to take a look at them before your trip and download our printable Guide to Louisville!
- Awesome Places to Visit in Louisville, Kentucky: A Local’s Guide
- 29 Amazing Places to Eat in Louisville, Kentucky: A Local’s Guide
- The 27 Best Breweries, Distilleries, & Bars in Louisville, KY: A Local’s Guide
Why Louisville Halloween is the BEST
It’s not just the crisp autumn air and crunchy colorful leaves that brings me back year after year, but also unique fall festivals and events (like a massive Jack O’Lantern immersive art experience). My fondest childhood memories take me back to the Louisville Zoo Halloween Parties (but unfortunately I’ve outgrown those activities)! There’s an incredible array of terrifying haunted houses in Louisville, ghost tours, yummy autumn bourbon tasting (Halloween in Louisville is SO EPIC), and gorgeous scenic drives and walks through some of the most beautiful fall foliage in the USA.
There’s nothing like drinking warm apple cider as you walk through miles of flickering candle-lit works of pumpkin art before scaring yourself silly at one of the best haunted houses in Louisville! Here’s my list of things to do during fall in Louisville!
Things To Do In Louisville, Kentucky, for Halloween
1. Get Scared at the Best Haunted Houses in Louisville
There are a huge amount of Haunted Houses in Louisville annually, a fact that is directly tied to the thriving local theater scene. Actors love a chance to douse themselves in fake blood and chase after terrified guests while wielding chainsaws.
The last time I went to a Haunted House in Louisville, my hilarious best friend (who is also a local actor) took me on a haunted house tour run by his acting associates. We got “special” treatment. What I mean by that is that I ended up cowering in a corner trying to escape a dude with a REALLY BIG chainsaw while my friends all laughed at me. Apparently the chainsaws in the Haunted Houses in Louisville aren’t real, but like, HOW WOULD I KNOW THAT?!
Anyway, if you want some really convincingly scary Haunted Houses, Louisville is the spot – but prepare to be terrified.
2. See the Lights at Halloween on Hillcrest
You know how there are those certain neighborhoods that get REALLY into Christmas light displays? Like, aggressively so? To clarify: we fully plan to be those competitive a**holes in the future.
Well, that’s how Halloween in Louisville is. Most of Louisville goes all out for Halloween, but one street, in particular, celebrates the holiday like no one else.
Hillcrest Avenue is the best place to see amazing Halloween light displays, complete with graveyards, interactive displays, and – last time I was there – a zombified Selfie Booth. A walk down Halloween on Hillcrest in October after dark is guaranteed to get you in the Halloween spirit!
If you’re lucky, maybe you’ll be able to witness a fight between 2 dads who have been competing for years for the best Halloween lawn display. Gosh, darn-it Brian, Steve has just about HAD IT with your strobe light BS.
- Halloween on Hillcrest | Address: Hillcrest Avenue & Frankfort Avenue, Louisville, KY
3. Go on a Haunted Walking Tour of Old Louisville
Old Louisville is one of the most beautiful neighborhoods of Louisville (actually, it’s my favorite neighborhood in all of Louisville. Sorry other neighborhoods, I love you too, but Old Louisville is bae).
The streets are lined with massive old trees and the largest collection of historical Victorian homes in the world. Suck it, San Francisco! A walk through this historic neighborhood in autumn is the best way to fully absorb the fall colors and see some truly incredible Halloween lawn displays.
As you explore blocks of gorgeous, mansion-esque, Victorian homes, you can uncover the chilling stories of their former inhabitants. That’s right, Old Louisville is one of the most haunted places in Louisville! You can get all of the spine tingling details on the America’s Most Haunted Neighborhood Tour through eerily beautiful Old Louisville.
- Quills Coffee | Address: 327 West Cardinal Boulevard, Louisville KY
4. Tour the Waverly Hills Sanitorium (A Terrifying Haunted House in Louisville)
If you’ve ever watched a TV show about the most haunted places in the world, you’ve probably heard of the Waverly Hills Sanitorium.
The old tuberculosis Sanitorium was filled to the brim with the sick and dying during the first half of the 1900s. There were so many dead that the Sanitorium built an infamous body chute to send the deceased directly down the hill to the crematorium. Creepy!
Today, the building itself is spooky enough to give anyone chills. But during the Halloween season, Waverly Hills turns itself into a thrilling Haunted House. There are said to be several ghosts still haunting the echoing halls.
Where else can you visit a literally haunted Haunted House but in Louisville, Kentucky?
- Waverly Hills Sanitorium | Address: 8501 Standing Oak Dr. Louisville, Ky
5. Bourbon Tasting on The Kentucky Bourbon Trail
Just like California has Napa Valley (and Paso Robles), Kentucky has The Bourbon Trail. Bourbon is Kentucky’s proudest creation. Sure, it’s legally possible to create bourbon outside of Kentucky, but I’ve never had anything that compares (so you guys might as well just stop trying).
The secret behind Kentucky bourbon is the sweet limestone filtered water which flows naturally through the state. Bourbon distilleries which rely on this sweet natural water source are sprinkled throughout central Kentucky, all within a beautiful 2-hour drive of Louisville.
Unlike Napa, it takes a few days to see all of the distilleries on the Bourbon Trail, so we typically pick a couple each time we visit for a day trip. An inexpensive visit to a bourbon distillery always includes an informative tour of the distillery and a tasting of several types of bourbon, often paired with chocolate bourbon balls!
Our favorite bourbon distilleries are Woodford Reserve and Maker’s Mark. There are also a few distilleries in Louisville itself, but the gorgeous countryside makes the drive well worth it! On your way to each distillery, you’ll drive past picturesque horse farms and beautiful forests of brightly colored fall foliage.
You can also opt to book a tour with Louisville based Mint Julep Tours who will take care of the planning (and most importantly, the driving) for you. Visiting Bourbon Distilleries is the best way to see the amazing pastoral countryside of Kentucky! Fall in Louisville doesn’t get better than this!
- Maker’s Mark Distillery | 3350 Burks Spring Road, Loretto, KY | $12 Tour
- Woodford Reserve Distillery | 7855 McCracken Pike, Versailles, KY | $14 Tour
6. Fall Races at Churchill Downs
Everyone knows that Louisville is the home of the Kentucky Derby, the world’s most famous horse race. But the Derby is in May, and this is a list of things to do around fall and Halloween in Louisville.
Well, guess what? You can enjoy Mint Juleps, the thunder of hooves, the roaring crowd, and the fanciest hats you’ll ever see throughout the fall at Churchill Down’s Fall Meets! Churchill Downs hosts some of the best Halloween events in Louisville which include exciting races all season long: check the Churchill Downs Calendar for full details.
Psst: This is also an EXCELLENT date idea, and one of our favorite romantic things to do in Louisville.
- Churchill Downs | Address: 700 Central Ave, Louisville, KY
7. Attend One of Louisville’s Fall Festivals
Louisville LOVES its festivals, and fall is no different! There are so many fall events in Louisville to take part in, all celebrating things Louisville loves: food, drink, culture, and the arts.
There’s World Fest, the free kickoff for Louisville’s fall festival season on Labour Day Weekend. Or how about Chocolate Fest? Or CRAFT Louisville, where you can stuff your face with locally made pizza & beer? There’s an LGBT Film Festival, and a weekly Trolley Hop through local art galleries.
But the most famous of all Louisville fall festivals is the St. James Court Art Show. The first weekend of October, the picturesque James Court neighborhood in Old Louisville turns into a huge bustling art fair. An annual celebration in Louisville, The St. James Court Art Show feels a bit like the kickoff of Halloween in Kentucky!
Shop local vendors, admire amazing artisan-created crafts and works of art, and get a feel for the vibrant Louisville arts community.
8. Complete the Danger Run Haunted House Scavenger Hunt in Louisville
As if visiting Haunted Houses weren’t fun enough, Louisville took it up a notch: the Danger Run Haunted House Scavenger Hunt combines the thrill of solving cryptic clues in the car with your friends or family while getting lost in creepy corners and visiting multiple Haunted Houses in Louisville (if you can find them!) – all in one fun packed night!
There’s Haunted Houses in Louisville, and then there’s Scavenger Hunts & Haunted Houses in Louisville. 2 for 1?! Sold!
Jeremy and I did “Danger Run” a couple of years ago with our friends (the same ones who had me cornered at a Haunted House. Actually, that was the same night. Those d***s.) and it was SUCH a blast, chainsaws notwithstanding. You’ll particularly enjoy Danger Run if you’re extremely competitive, like we are. You’ll be screaming in terror at your closest friends while stranded in the middle of a haunted field somewhere on the outskirts of Louisville in no time. Oh, THAT explains the chainsaw thing…
9. Take a Scenic Walk Through Cherokee Park
Nestled among Louisville’s Highlands neighborhood is a beautiful, enormous old park called Cherokee Park.
Winding throughout the park are well-maintained trails which criss-cross the main roads through the park and pass through dense forests and luscious hills. It’s a fantastic park for a scenic hike (or drive) and a picnic in the crisp fall weather in Louisville. Take your leaf-crunching shoes with you for the most satisfying walk possible.
- Cherokee Park | Address: 745 Cochran Hill Rd. Louisville, KY
10. Experience the Jack O’Lantern Spectacular
I can’t tell you how incredibly magical it is to take a glittering candle-lit walk through thousands of impeccably carved pumpkins, all built together to form larger than life works of art.
The Jack O’Lantern Spectacular in Iroquois Park is hands down the most incredible and unique Halloween event in Louisville – do NOT miss it! Local Tip: Arrive a little before dark to beat the lines.
- Jack O’Lantern Spectacular | Address: Iroquois Park, 1080 Amphitheater Rd, Louisville KY | Oct 12 – Nov 5
11. Pick Pumpkins and Apples at Huber’s Orchard & Winery
Technically, Huber’s Orchard & Winery is in southern Indiana, but that’s kind of like Louisville’s adopted half brother just across the river.
If the Spiced Apple Wine made from locally grown apples isn’t enough of a selling point, the farm is also a great place to experience the best of fall in Louisville: picking pumpkins and fresh apples, hay bale rides, and more!
- Huber’s Orchard & Winery| Address: 19816 Huber Road, Starlight, IN
12. Wander Through the Graves at Cave Hill Cemetery
The enormous historic Cave Hill Cemetery, filled with ancient graves and haunting mausoleums, could take weeks to explore.
Luckily, you can cultivate the spooky Halloween season in an afternoon by taking one of the many guided Cave Hill walking tours hosted by the Cave Hill Heritage Foundation. Or, print out a free informative Cave Hill Cemetary map and go grave-hunting on your own: you’ll find the ornate graves of Colonel Sanders, Muhammad Ali, and Meriwether Lewis Clark Jr. among many other famous historical people.
- Cave Hill Cemetery| Address: 701 Baxter Avenue, Louisville
More Things to Do to Louisville
There are so many things to do in Louisville – here’s a guide to our favorites. While you’re in Louisville, be sure to try some of the delicious foods that Louisville is famous for, like the Hot Brown or Derby Pie (or it’s un-copyrighted knock-off versions). And of course, you have to get some famous Louisville drinks, like a Mint Julep or an Old Fashioned!
Where to Stay in Louisville
It’s hard to experience a city without having a great place to stay. Luckily, there are tons of amazing places to stay in Louisville!
Lovers of art will be right at home at 21C Museum Hotel. You get the unique opportunity to stay in one of the best museums in the city. It’s also home to one of the best restaurants in Louisville, Proof on Main. Check out some of their cool room extras, like the Just Add Bourbon Package: two Evan Williams tickets, breakfast for two, two Urban Bourbon Trail Passports, and a Whiskey Lover’s Kit. If you’re willing to splurge, 21C is worth it!
Another great alternative to a hotel is GraleHaus. There’s not much they don’t have over here: two bars, brunch, coffee shop, and now a Bed and Breakfast! Book early, because there are only three rooms. Each one has a unique style and theme. We stayed in “The Den,” which is covered in wood, brick, fur, leather, and analog music equipment. The room also features one of my favorite showers ever. GraleHaus has awesome add-on packages as well, like the Beer Lover’s Package (wow we really love booze don’t we?) where they put a custom six-pack together for you to enjoy!
- GraleHaus | 1001 Baxter Avenue Louisville, KY | Rooms from $150
If you’ve fallen in love with Old Louisville like we have, there are plenty of adorable Bed & Breakfasts tucked into the gorgeous Victorians. We like Dupont Mansion B&B and Inn at the Park, both of which are located adjacent to (you guessed it) Central Park. Bourbon Inn at St. James Court is located on the beautiful and famous fountain court in Louisville, St. James Court. It’s our favorite area to go for a walk and the most iconic part of Old Louisville!
- Dupont Mansion B&B | 1317 South Fourth Street, Louisville, KY | Rooms from $162
- Bourbon Inn at St. James Court | 1332 South Fourth Street, Louisville, KY | Rooms from $153
- Inn at the Park |413 Park Ave, Louisville, KY | Rooms from $139
Looking for a day trip or weekend getaway from Louisville? Indianapolis is only 2 hours north up I-65! Read our Indianapolis weekend getaway itinerary.
We have a few other posts about my beloved hometown of Louisville! Make sure to take a look at them before your trip and download our printable Guide to Louisville.
- 50+ Awesome Places to Visit in Louisville, Kentucky: A Local’s Guide
- 29 Amazing Places to Eat in Louisville, Kentucky: A Local’s Guide
- The 27 Best Breweries, Distilleries, & Bars in Louisville, KY: A Local’s Guide
- 15 Perfect Things to Do on a Romantic Getaway to Louisville, Kentucky
Oh my god you guys, I have so much nostalgia right now. Have I convinced you to spend Halloween in Louisville, KY yet or what?! What gets you in the Halloween mood? Do you love Halloween as much as we do? Leave us a comment below!
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Note: This post was originally published in September 2016, but was completely updated in September 2017. An early version of post also appeared in HuffPost.