The Louisville Slugger Museum, Mahaummad Ali Museum, and the Churchill Downs Museum are all located in Louisville, Kentucky, these museums show the spirit of Louisville. Louisville has a river running straight through it, it has one of the most iconic horse races in the world, and is fully of hipsters and has a tagline of “keep Louisville weird”. Different than the rolling hills of Lexington and horse farms, Louisville is vibrant and fresh.
Muhammad Ali Museum
I got to the Muhammad Ali Museum before it even opened. I didn't know what to expect, it was apart of "museum row" that you can find in downtown Louisville. I walked into this massive, beautiful building that was fairly new, very commercial and four stories. I bought my ticket to get in, and they shuffle you to the movie to start off your museum experience. The movie was about 15 minutes long and tells you about Ali's life. How he started off boxing, what his name was before he converted to being a Muslim, how the war affected his career, and the challenges and victories he had. I went into the museum not knowing very much about him, nor his career. I had watched “Ali”, I knew who he was, but I had no idea how much of a trailblazer he actually was. When the movie finished we were shuffled out to the actual museum. The museum chronicles his life from when he was born until currently. It details his history of boxing, racial issues, his Islamic faith, and life. It was full of memorabilia of his career and quotes from him. I didn't realize before I went there just how much of an activist, role model, and gentle person he is.
Bottom line: It was a good museum, not the best that I have ever been to, but not the worse.
Admission: $8.00 with AAA card
The Louisville Slugger Museum
I wouldn’t say this is a museum per-se, it’s a factory that has some history in it. There are so cool mannequins of famous baseball players, a huge timeline of how Louisville Slugger came to be, and other historical facts. when you tour is ready, you go into the actual factory where the bats are made. This, my friends, is the coolest part. You see how they made the bats BY HAND for many, many, many years. You see someone actually spin a bat and then you see the finished product. Coming from a baseball family (and finding myself obsessed with the sport), this process was fascinating. All the Sluggers I have ever held have have been made here. The history is a little overwhelming, but it is really an experience. You 'swing' (no pun intended) by the machines that make famous baseball players bats to their exact measurements. Then you past the dipping station and where they bats get painted and stained and even though you thought you would be going to a museum, you actually get to see where the bats are made.
No matter if you are a not a baseball fan, or the biggest fan on earth, you will love this place. It's an iconic place of americana and it's not to be missed.
Ticket price: $5.00 after 5pm during the summers (check their website for details)
Although Churchill Downs is not on "Museum Row" in downtown Louisville, it is located in an outlying area in Louisville. This, again, is not-miss-attraction while in Kentucky.
Like everything else I went to in Kentucky, Churchill Downs has an incredible amount of history. Opened in 1875 Churchill Downs has had countless races ran, and the Kentucky Derby continues to be the biggest horse race in the world. The museum ticket also includes a short tour to the actual derby grounds and a tour guide along the way. They tell you about the meaningful statues, the history of the race, how many triple crown winners there are, and the jockeys that have won the derby. They tell you about the rainy races, the sunny races, and the early races. Even if you are not a horse fan, this visit becomes more and more fascinating. The horse country that Kentucky has truly culminates here, at the Kentucky Derby. It is the top slot, it's the most prestigious horse race to win, and all horse farms hope to some day get to the horserace, and, in their wildest dreams and goals win the race. After the tour that's included in your ticket, you get to explore the museum. The museum has everything from the outfits that famous people wear, to a horse race where you can get on the fake horse and pretend via a video game that you are racing with each other. The museum shows every single horse winner, owner, and jockey, every year of promotional bourbon cups, a 360 movie of what it is like on race day and what it feels and sounds like. The whole museum is well thought out and gives you the experience of what the Kentucky Derby is like every year. They don't just focus on the history of the race, they also focus on the trainers, owners, the jockeys, and the fans. The museum gives a good well rounded experience of what the Kentucky Derby is like for the two days out of the year when it happens. Now, because of this I have added yet another thing to my bucket list: Attend the Kentucky Derby.
Bottom Line: A must go when in Louisville. Do not miss this, even if you are not there for the race.
Tickets: Museum Admission (which includes a 30 minute tour of the facility) with AAA discount $13.00