Inn at Woodhaven

Two hands hold up waffle cones filled with scoops of melting chocolate and vanilla ice cream.

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The Best Places in Louisville to Cool Down on a Hot Summer Day

With talks of summer heatwaves, it may be hard to think about doing anything this summer besides hunkering down indoors with some cool A/C and an iced beverage in hand. But the summer sun doesn’t mean you can’t plan a stellar vacation here in Louisville. We’ve made a list of our favorite local spots to cool down on a hot summer day. And, of course, you’re always welcome to enjoy the respite of our cozy, comfortable bed and breakfast at the Inn at Woodhaven after a day of touring the town.

A porch view with two adirondack chairs and two glasses of iced tea with lemon slices on a table between them.

A Cool Museum with Ties to the Bourbon Trail

First stop, the Frazier Museum! Louisville is full of museums to suit anybody’s interests–from the Louisville Slugger Museum to the Kentucky Derby Museum at Churchill Downs, to the Kentucky Center for African American Heritage. One of our personal favorite places to go, though, is the Frazier History Museum. An affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution, this museum features an extensive collection of artifacts, rotating exhibits, and informative tour guides to share the history of Kentucky and how it connects to the world. 

The Frazier is also home to the Bourbon Trail Welcome Center if you’re looking to include some distillery visits in your Louisville vacation plans. It’s the perfect place to start and grab your guidebook while planning your visits with a professional concierge. 

With three floors and 7,500 square feet of exhibit space, you’ll keep cool for hours while you soak up some of the most fascinating, surprising, and scintillating history around. The Frazier Museum is open seven days a week, making it an easy addition to any Louisville vacation plan.

Green road sign that says Louisville Route 64

Getting Even Cooler Underground

Our next destination takes you underground into the Louisville Mega Cavern. This 4 million square foot limestone quarry is actually considered the largest building in the state of Kentucky–even though it is underground. It’s a cool space (in all meanings of the word) with the average temperature year-round hovering at 58F and geologists have said it’s the safest place in the state.

For thrill-seekers, the Mega Cavern features the only completely underground zipline course in the world, with six zip lines and two challenge bridges. You can also try the Mega Quest Cavern Challenge for two hours of adventure over 76 course obstacles.

If you’d prefer something less intense, you can get tickets for the Mega Tram for a 60-70 minute tram tour led by a guide. It takes you on an underground adventure through a man-made cavern, showcasing the cavern’s geology, history, and more. The Mega Cavern also features 70-minute walking tours through some of the cavern’s most fascinating features all in a climate-controlled environment. Whatever activity you choose, be sure to dress for the cool temperatures and wear closed-toe shoes.

Yellow flowers in front of Louisville high rise buildings.

A Chill Place to Eat

With Louisville’s diverse food scene, we have so many places to recommend. But one where you surely won’t mind being indoors is The House of Marigold, with its bright and polished decor that is a favorite backdrop for the social media crowd. It’s a family-owned, female-owned, and Black-owned business offering an ever-changing menu of locally sourced cuisine paired with a beverage list that is sure to quench your summer thirst.

With menu items like honey cornbread bread pudding with bourbon caramel sauce to Brunch Brisket Hash with red wine braised beef, breakfast potatoes, caramelized onions, farm fried eggs, chives, and bechamel– the only downside to this place is that it’s a challenge to decide what to order. We highly recommend that you make reservations before going. It’s important to note that the restaurant is open from 9-3 pm on weekdays and 9-4 pm on weekends.

Louisville’s Coolest Hangout since 1867

It almost goes without saying that summertime is the best time to get ice cream and we would be remiss if we didn’t include Ehrler’s Ice Cream on this list. Just slightly younger than the Inn at Woodhaven (our Main House and Carriage House were built in 1853), Ehrler’s is a nostalgic place for many generations of families who grew up in Louisville.

You can keep your order classic with two scoops of strawberry in a waffle cone, or try something new with their Bourbon Sundae that features housemade bourbon caramel sauce, bourbon pecan fudge ice cream, and a brownie. With two Louisville locations, Ehrler’s is easy to spot thanks to their signature orange cow logo.

Purple tulips on a table next to a love seat with a book and glasses next to it. A bed and lamp in the background

The Coolest Place to Rest Your Head

No summer vacation in Louisville is complete without staying at the Inn at Woodhaven. We’re happy to host both our out-of-town visitors and our local staycationers looking for something fun over the summer. Check out all of our chill spaces and see which newly renovated room best fits your style. While you’re here, we’re happy to share many more of our favorite local places to help you make the most of your trip– personalized service in a way that only a bed and breakfast could offer!

And now… a recipe!

Two glasses of bourbon with cubed ice on a wooden table.

Basil Bourbon Kentucky Summer Cocktail

1 ½ oz Evan Williams bourbon

¾ oz Maraschino liqueur 

1 oz lemon juice

¼ oz simple syrup

5 basil leaves

2 oz club soda

1 lemon wedge and 1 basil leaf for garnish

  1. In a cocktail shaker with ice add Evan Williams bourbon, Maraschino liqueur, lemon juice, and simple syrup. Shake until mixed and chilled.
  2. Add basil leaves to the shaker and shake vigorously.
  3. Strain the liquid through a fine mesh strainer into a glass filled with ice.
  4. Add a splash of club soda and garnish.

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