Louisville, KY Parks Guide
Louisville’s Metro Parks maintains a whopping 14,000-acres of natural and open space. The city also has 16 community centers. The citizens of the city enjoy access to over 120 parks that are maintained by 85 full-tme, 60 part-time, and 600 seasonal workers. Here are some of the more interesting and diverse possibilities for outdoor recreation in Louisville:
Park Times & Locations
Shawnee Park — Open: dawn til dusk. Located at Broadway and the Southwestern Parkway. The golf course is at 460 Northwestern Parkway. Phone: 502-776-9389.
Central Park — Open: dawn til dusk. Located at Fourth Street and Park Avenue.
Louisville Extreme Park — Open: 24 hours a day. Located just east of downtown Louisville near the intersection of Clay Street and Franklin Street.
Jefferson Memorial Forest — Open: 8am to dusk. The “Welcome Center” is open Wed-Sat 8:30 to 4:00 and Sun 10:00 to 3:00. It is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays. The entrance is off the Gene Syder Freeway 20-minutes from downtown at 11311 Mitchell Hill Rd. Phone: 502-368-5404.
Iroquois Amphitheater — Open: for performances. The administrative offices are open Mon-Fri 8:30 to 4:30. The Iroquois Amphitheater located in Iroquois Park near the intersection of Kenwood Drive and New Cut Road. Phone: 502-368-5865.
Riverside, the Farnsley-Moremen Landing — Open: sunrise to sunset 7 days a week, all year long. The Visitors Center is open Tues-Sat 9:00 to 5:00. The Riverside, southwest of downtown Louisville, is located along the banks of the Ohio River at 7410 Moorman Road. Phone: 502-935-6809.
History, Facts, & What Each Park is About
Frederick Law Olmsted created Shawnee Park as the centerpiece of public space for Louisville. Since 1892, this historic park has hosted parades and a variety of public gatherings. Today, the 285-acre park offers beautiful settings along the river for picnics. Shawnee Park also includes a pond for fishing.
The sports complex is comprehensive, with multiple basketball courts, ball fields, football fields, soccer fields, and five tennis courts. There’s even the 18-hole Shawnee Golf Course. Adjacent to the regulation course a three hole layout has been added for youth golf at the BellSouth Youth Golf Academy.
Louisville’s most historic park is perhaps Central Park, a 16-plus acre gem that opened over a century ago in 1903. It is the home of the C. Douglas Ramey Amphitheater that is known for its free Shakespearean performances every summer.
Six tennis courts, volleyball, picnic tables, and a playground are counted among the park’s features. Now, a “sprayground” has been added as well. The magnetic arbor and the pergola invoke a beautiful sense of the past.
Louisville Extreme Park
Skateboarders, bikers, and in-line skaters get special attention at Louisville’s Extreme Park. Imagine 40,000 sq-ft on outdoor concrete surfaces and a wooden vertical ramp. Better yet, it’s open 24 hours a day.
Louisville’s got a great one here — one of the country’s very best skate parks that includes a 24-ft full-pipe. Metro Parks operates the skate park that includes a balance of transition-style, street-style, and verticals. It’s located right near Slugger Field and Waterfront Park, and it’s been in use since 2002.
Jefferson Memorial Forest
The foresight of community leaders over the years has resulted in a massive amount of acreage left in a natural state, right on the edge of town. The Jefferson Memorial Forest is south of the Gene Snyder Freeway. It is located between I-65 and the Dixie Highway. The forest is dedicated to those Kentucky veterans that have served their country in times of war. It encompasses 6,218-acres, and hundreds of additional acres still being added.
The storied Iroquois Amphitheater was thoroughly updated in the year 2000 after being built as a public works project in 1938. The Iroquois hosts top performing arts and other cultural events. It is in fact the official amphitheater for the entire Commonwealth. Seating capacity is 2,366.
The 2000 renovation included restoring the stagehouse to its original design. The restoration was completed in 2003, and the first full season of performances in the renewed facility occurred in 2004. A partial roof has been built to shield the stage from the vagaries of the weather. As a result, cancelled performances are a thing of the past. Still, the open-air nature of the amphitheater has been preserved, much to the delight of most.
Riverside, the Farnsley-Moremen Landing
A gentle rise overlooking the mighty Ohio River is the site of the Riverside, a place where farm life of the 19th century is carefully preserved and celebrated. This 300-acre property features he original farm house built in 1837. It is called the Farnsley-Moremen House to honor the two families that cultivated the surrounding fields and traded on the Ohio River. They maintained a riverboat landing that was a popular stopping point for travelers to rest, take on more fuel, and trade goods. Also, a ferry regularly departed from the landing to promote travel and trade between Indiana and Ohio.