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
- The Best 13 Hikes in Louisville, Kentucky (A Local’s Guide)
We also have a Podcast episode all about Louisville! Horse races, bourbon, baseball bats, and a…death tunnel? Today we tell the story of Lia’s hometown: Louisville, KY! We trace the history of the city from its frontier origins to the modern-day. Louisville’s history runs deep, and it’s not always pretty. So pour yourself a bourbon and tune in. Unless you’re driving – that’s not cool.
Listen above or just click here to launch your Podcast app! Oh, and don’t forget to subscribe so you don’t miss new episodes.
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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
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 Old Louisville Ghost Tour.
Prefer your ghost tours to involve a few more spirits? Book a spooky cocktail, food & Prohibition history walking tour! Venture out with Louisville Food Tours on the Phantoms of Prohibition tour and explore the hidden stories of Louisville’s haunted past.
As you eat and drink your way down Whiskey Row, you’ll meet the resident ghosts of Louisville’s historic downtown, trace the footsteps of bourbon magnates and mobsters, see Al Capone’s secret getaway, discover hidden speakeasies, and learn the shocking truth about Prohibition. Use the code PW10 for 10% off your booking.
4. Tour the Waverly Hills Sanitorium Haunted House
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
- Local Travel Tip: The best way to taste the best food in Louisville is on a food and history walking tour with Louisville Food Tours! Explore the story of Louisville and Kentucky while tasting culinary classics like bourbon balls, biscuits, fried chicken, and - of course - bourbon! Use the code PW10 for 10% off your booking on the website.
7. Attend One of Louisville’s Fall Festivals
Louisville LOVES its festivals, and fall is no different! There are so many fall festivals in Louisville to take part in, all celebrating things Louisville loves: food, drink, culture, and the arts.
The season kicks off with World Fest, a free fall festival season on Labour Day Weekend that celebrates the diversity of Louisville.
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…
For more spooky haunts, head over to this local’s guide to the best haunted houses in Louisville.
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 or after 10pm to avoid the lines. For more tips, check out this insider guide to the Louisville Jack O Lantern Spectacular.
- Jack O’Lantern Spectacular | Address: Iroquois Park, 1080 Amphitheater Rd, Louisville KY | Oct 12 – Nov 5
11. Pick Pumpkins and Apples
Kentucky (and Southern Indiana) is full of orchards and pumpkin patches!
- Shady Lane Farm: Located in Shepherdsville, KY (less than 30 minutes from Louisville), Shady Lane is a working farm with a U-Pick Pumpkin Patch on weekends in September & October. You can also ride a wagon to a pumpkin patch maze, carve Jack-O-Lanterns or gourds, and buy fresh-picked apples, hay bales or corn shocks.
- Gallrein Farms: Located in Shelbyville about 40 minutes from Louisville, Gallrein is a working farm that turns into a fall wonderland. Pick pumpkins or sunflowers, enjoy a corn maze, train ride, obstacle course, haunted house, super slide, petting zoo, apple cannons, and “hillbilly basketball,” whatever that is. And be sure to try the homemade fudge and apple cider donuts!
- Mulberry Orchard: Also located in Shelbyville, Mulberry Orchard is is bursting with trees full of a delicious variety of apples, plus local produce, honey, eggs, meats, and other goodies for sale. Take a hayride through the orchard, visit the animals, pick pumpkins and have an adventure in the corn maze, snack on apple cider donuts and caramel apples, pick up a fresh apple pie, and try a pulled pork and apple sandwich on a pretzel bun. Yum!
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
Psst: For even more ideas, take a look at this ultimate guide to things to do in the fall in Louisville on Let’s Go Louisville, a local Louisville blog (that we also happen to run *ahem*)!
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) – or experience them all on a Louisville food tour!
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!
Louisville has lots of great hotels, but unfortunately, most of them are in the East End – a part of town that’s not actually great for visitors and tourists. It’s not accessible by public transit, it’s mostly residential, and it’s far away from the best things to do in Louisville. The reason so many hotels are in this area is that there’s lots of space and it’s near a few business parks. We don’t recommend staying in Louisville’s East End.
Instead, we recommend starting your search closer to Downtown. Old Louisville, NuLu, & Butchertown are our favorite neighborhoods close to downtown. Staying centrally will limit your need for a rental car, so you could get around by bike, ride-share, and bus instead.
We have recommendations for both hotels and vacation rentals in these neighborhoods. Personally, we recommend booking vacation rentals directly through VRBO because it has fewer fees and more flexible cancellation policies than Airbnb – also, we’re not fans of Airbnb’s unethical track record and lax security.
- Old Louisville: This historic neighborhood is full of gorgeous Victorians, and is where we usually stay when we visit home. If you can snag it, our favorite Louisville vacation rental is right on beautiful little Central Park! The Inn at St. James Court is a charming b&b located on the famous fountain court in Louisville, St. James Court. It’s our favorite area to go for a walk and the most iconic part of the neighborhood!
- Butchertown & NuLu: These are two of the most up-and-coming neighborhoods in Louisville, turning old historic warehouses into cool urban-living lofts, galleries, and eateries. These are fantastic walking and bike-friendly neighborhoods, but you won’t find many hotels – so we recommend booking on VRBO! We love this chic, hip loft that’s one street over from the shops and restaurants on Market Street. This colorful, historic apartment is right next to the NuLu Marketplace! And this vibrant apartment is just one block away from our favorite coffee shop, Quills.
- Downtown: Downtown Louisville has a bunch of awesome hotels within walking distance to Museum Row and the waterfront. We love Louisville’s newest boutique hotel, The Grady Hotel, right on Museum Row in the heart of downtown – y’all, it’s real cute! 21C Museum Hotel is both a hotel and a rad contemporary art museum. Plus, it’s also home to one of the best restaurants in Louisville, Proof on Main. If you’re willing to splurge, 21C is super unique and well worth it! Fun fact: there are 21c locations in other cities, but Louisville is the original location.
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.