Louisville, KY to Nashville, TN Road Trip – 3-Day Itinerary

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The Louisville to Nashville drive is jam-packed with unique, family-friendly experiences waiting for you to explore! 

Caves that whisper ancient tales, Instagram-worthy spots that practically beg for a selfie, and museums full of captivating stories.

Nashville is a mural mecca! My sis and I had fun finding and posing with them on our last girls' trip! We also enjoyed a 10-mile run through Mammoth Cave National Park!

Buckle up because we're about to embark on a whirlwind road trip across the East South Central Region of the United States. The trip will be part exploration, part adventure, and a whole lot of fun. 

Imagine spelunking through subterranean worlds, striking your best pose against backdrops that could make any influencer envious, and immersing yourself in the fascinating museums.

You will explore all of this while navigating the highways and a few detours as we journey from the heart of Louisville, KY, to the lively streets of Nashville, TN. 

Colorful mural on the side of a building. Mural says "Best of Nashville" and has a rainbow, dog, boat, birds in background.

Life's a bit like a road trip – unpredictable, occasionally chaotic, but always worth the ride.

Follow along as we break down a 3-day escapade that promises caves that will ‘rock' your world. The attractions will make your camera work overtime, and the outdoor adventures will make you feel like Indiana Jones with a touch of sophistication.

So, grab your map, your sense of adventure, and a good playlist because this is no ordinary road trip. This trip is a journey into the heart of discovery, peppered with a dash of humor, a pinch of spontaneity, and a whole lot of memories on the horizon.

Below is a done-for-you 3-day Louisville to Nashville itinerary. Now, hit the road and make a few stories of our own.

Check out this Two Day Nashville itinerary to extend your trip!

Day 1: Louisville, KY to Cave City, KY

Welcome to Day 1 of our Louisville, Kentucky to Nashville, Tennessee road trip! Today, we're diving headfirst into a journey that promises a blend of history, exploration, and captivating sights. 

Our first stop is the Louisville Slugger Museum, where you can learn about the iconic baseball bats that have shaped the game's history.

Next, you'll venture into the depths of Mammoth Cave National Park, a natural wonder that beckons us to discover its mysterious beauty.

And as if that weren't enough, you'll wrap up the day at Dinosaur World, where life-sized replicas of ancient creatures await to transport us back in time. 

Activity 1: Louisville Slugger Museum

The Louisville Slugger Museum is a fascinating destination for baseball enthusiasts and anyone interested in sports history. Here's an overview of what you can expect to see and do at the Museum:

Bat-Making Process: One of the highlights is the opportunity to witness the bat-making process. You'll get an insider's look at how the famous baseball bats are crafted, from the selection of wood to the finishing touches.

Baseball bat wood blanks and bats in slots for players that use Louisville Slugger Bats.

World's Largest Baseball Bat: Outside the Museum stands a towering replica of Babe Ruth's bat – the world's largest baseball bat. It's a popular photo spot and a great way to start your visit.

Baseball Memorabilia: The Museum houses an impressive collection of baseball memorabilia, including historic bats used by legendary players, jerseys, and other artifacts that span the sport's history.

Interactive Exhibits: Interactive displays allow you to test your baseball skills, from swinging a bat to throwing pitches. These hands-on activities make the museum experience enjoyable for visitors of all ages.

Tours: The Louisville Slugger Museum offers a 30-minute guided factory tour that takes you through the bat-making process.

While you don't necessarily need to take the tour to explore the Museum, everyone receives a miniature souvenir bat at the end. 

Family standing in front of the Louisville Slugger Bat outside of the Museum Entrance. A great start to your Louisville to Nashville Drive!

How much time should I plan to spend at the Louisville Slugger Museum? On average, visitors spend around 1.5 to 2 hours exploring the Museum and participating in the factory tour. 

Address: 800 West Main Street, Louisville, KY 40202

Hours: Monday – Saturday, 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM; Sundays, 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM

Cost: Adults (13-59) $22, Seniors (60+) $21, Children (6-12) $14, Children under 5 free

Parking: A city-owned parking garage is located directly behind the building, and some street parking is available.

TIP: Consider grabbing lunch at one of the many dining options near the Museum before heading out for the next stop!

Drive Time to Next Activity: Approximately 30 minutes

Activity 2: Bernheim Arboretum & Research Forest

Nestled along the outskirts of Clermont, KY, the Bernheim Arboretum & Research Forest beckons with its tranquil beauty and diverse landscapes.

Spanning over 16,000 acres, this living laboratory offers a wide array of experiences for visitors seeking to immerse themselves in the great outdoors. Below are some options for exploration:

Canopy Tree Walk: For an elevated adventure, the Canopy Tree Walk is a must-do. This series of connected walkways takes you through the treetops, offering a unique perspective of the forest's intricate ecosystem.

The walk is 75 feet off the ground, so you should skip this activity if you are afraid of heights!

Hiking Trails: Bernheim boasts an extensive network of hiking trails (40+ miles), catering to all levels of outdoor enthusiasts. Wander through forests, meadows, and wetlands, encountering native flora and fauna.

Try the Giants Trail to meet three gentle giants along the trail. Due to the deteriorating condition, the park will likely remove the forest giants in 2024.

Visitor Center: A stop at the Visitor Center is a great place to start your journey. Grab a map and check out the educational displays about the forest's ecology and ongoing research efforts.

One of the gentle giants, a wooden art exhibit, at Bernheim Arboretum and Research Forest.

How much time should I plan to spend at Bernheim Arboretum & Research Forest? A casual visit to explore a trail or two, and the Canopy Tree Walk could take 2 to 3 hours. If you're an avid nature lover or a photography enthusiast, consider more time capturing the beauty of this sprawling forest.

Address: 2075 Clermont Road, Clermont, KY 40110

Hours: Park open daily from 7:00 AM to 8:00 PM, Visitor Center and Cafe from 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM

Cost: Free, though there's a suggested donation of $15 per vehicle

Parking: Available throughout the park

Drive Time to Next Activity: Approximately 50 minutes

Activity 3: Dinosaur World

Dinosaur World, located in Cave City, KY, transports visitors back in time to the era of dinosaurs. Life-sized replicas and interactive exhibits bring these ancient creatures to life.

This park is an engaging destination that appeals to both the young and the young at heart. Below is an overview of what to see and do at Dinosaur World:

Life-Sized Dinosaur Replicas: The main highlight of Dinosaur World is the extensive collection of life-sized dinosaur replicas. Stroll along the outdoor trails and encounter various species of dinos.

Dinosaur sculptures on a grass field with trees.

Fossil Dig Site: Unearth your inner paleontologist at the fossil dig site. Kids (and adults!) can excavate fossils and uncover hidden treasures. There is an additional fee for this activity.

Interactive Exhibits: The park features interactive exhibits that offer insights into dinosaur behaviors, habitats, and more. These exhibits provide an educational dimension to the experience.

How much time should I plan to spend at Dinosaur World? On average, visitors spend around 1.5 to 2 hours exploring this park. 

Address: 711 Mammoth Cave Road, Cave City, KY 42127

Hours: Open daily from 8:30 AM to 4:30 PM

Cost: Tickets start at Adults $20.09, Children (3-12) $15.85, Seniors $17.97, Active Military Free with ID

Parking: Free

Where to stay during the Louisville and Nashville Drive: Cave City, KY

Cave City offers a range of accommodations, including hotels, bed and breakfasts, cabins, and campgrounds. Whether you seek budget-friendly options or a rustic retreat, there are a lot of choices.

We stayed at the Sleep Inn & Suites Cave City on our most recent trip to this area. It was our first time staying at this hotel chain. We were pleased with the price we paid and the quality of the stay. 

As the sun sets on Day 1 of the journey, you may reflect on the captivating blend of experiences that unfolded.

From the reverberating crack of baseball bats at the Louisville Slugger Museum to the serene embrace of nature at Bernheim Arboretum & Research Forest, and finally, walking among dinosaurs. It's been a day of diverse exploration!

If you have extra time before this Louisville to Nashville road trip, consider spending more time in Louisville! The Kentucky Derby Museum is a great option to explore the history of horse racing. 

Colorful rows of Kentucky Derby Silks

Or stroll Old Louisville on a Walking Tour

Bourbon Trail Tours are also a great option! Why not let someone else take care of the driving? Pick three places you want to check out on this (6-12 hours) tour!

Barrels of Bourbon shown on a Bourbon Tour.

Day 2: Cave City, KY to Nashville, TN

As the sun rises on Day 2 of this Louisville to Nashville drive, get ready to embark on a journey that delves into both the depths of the Earth and the corridors of history.

The first stop is at the iconic Mammoth Cave. Venture deep underground to discover the secrets held within its labyrinthine passages. 

Next turn your attention to a different kind of exploration – roaring engines and sleek designs of the National Corvette Museum are just around the corner.

As we continue on our path to Nashville, we step into a world where music legends are celebrated, and the country's rich heritage comes to life at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. 

And, of course, no visit to Nashville is complete without soaking in the vibrant atmosphere of downtown's honky-tonk scene.

Day 2 promises a blend of natural wonders, automotive marvels, and the unmistakable rhythm of music that will make this road trip an unforgettable adventure.

Activity 1: Mammoth Cave National Park

Mammoth Cave National Park, located in Kentucky, is a mesmerizing realm that beckons to those with a sense of curiosity and a love for natural wonders.

It's the world's longest cave system, offering an underground world of astonishing formations, labyrinthine passages, and a rich history that dates back millennia. 

There are multiple cave tours; pick the one that appeals the most to you. Or determine what works best for the time you will be there.

Activities like hiking, biking, canoeing, and kayaking are also available. Taking part in a guided tour makes this a must-stop destination!

Historic signatures in Mammoth Cave National Park. A must stop destination on your Louisville to Nashville Drive!

Cave Tours: The heart of Mammoth Cave's allure lies in its captivating cave tours. These guided excursions range in difficulty and duration, allowing visitors to explore different cave sections.

Each tour unveils unique geological formations, historical tales, and the sheer grandeur of the underground world. 

TIP: Book your tour in advance!

How much time should I plan to spend at Mammoth Cave? Plan to go on at least one cave tour, explore the visitor center, and hike to an overlook along the Green River. Allot about half a day exploring the park.

Address: 1 Mammoth Cave Parkway, Mammoth Cave, KY 42259

Hours: Open daily; hours vary by season, but at a minimum, open 8:30 AM to 4:30 PM 

Cost: Free; cost of tours varies

Parking: Free

Drive Time to Next Activity: Approximately 30 minutes

Activity 2: National Corvette Museum

Situated in Bowling Green, KY, the National Corvette Museum is a paradise for automotive enthusiasts and those intrigued by the legacy of the Corvette.

Start your adventure with a quick stop at the Stingray Grill featured on Guy's All-American Road Trip, which airs on the Food Network. Reservations are available by phone or online. 

Exterior of the National Corvette Museum.

Here's an overview of what you can anticipate when visiting this iconic Museum:

Corvette Collection: The heart of the Museum is its impressive collection of Corvettes spanning various generations. From vintage classics to cutting-edge models, you'll witness the evolution of this iconic sports car.

Interactive Displays: Engaging interactive displays provide insight into the engineering, design, and performance aspects of the Corvette. These exhibits offer a hands-on understanding of what makes these cars so remarkable.

Tours: While you can explore the Museum independently, 1 hour long guided tours are available to enhance your experience for an additional fee.

The guided tours provide deeper insights into the Museum's exhibits, the history of the Corvette, and the stories behind the cars on display.

How much time should I plan to spend at the National Corvette Museum? On average, visitors spend 1 to 2 hours exploring the Museum's exhibits and engaging with interactive displays. If you opt for a guided tour, it will be longer.

Red corvette on display at the National Corvette Museum.

Address: 350 Corvette Drive, Bowling Green, KY 42101

Hours: March 1 – October 31, daily 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM, November 1 – February 28, Monday-Friday 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM, Saturday – Sunday 9:00 AM 5:00 PM

Cost: Adults (13-61) $17, Kids (5-12) $12, 4 and under free, Seniors (62+) $15, Simulator $10 per ride

Parking: Free

➡️Book your visit to the National Corvette Museum here!⬅️

Drive Time to Next Activity: Approximately 30 minutes

Activity 3: Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum

Nestled in the heart of Nashville, TN, the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum is a tribute to the rich tapestry of country music's legacy. Here's a glimpse of what awaits you at this iconic musical institution:

Hall of Fame Rotunda: Begin your journey in the Hall of Fame Rotunda, where the plaques of legendary artists who've shaped country music's history adorn the walls. It's a homage to the icons who've left an indelible mark on the genre.

Exhibition Galleries: The Museum features a dynamic range of exhibition galleries, each offering unique insights into different aspects of country music.

From artists and songwriters to the history of instruments, you'll explore the genre from diverse angles.

Tours: While visitors can tour the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum independently, guided tours are available and highly recommended.

The guided tours provide a curated experience led by knowledgeable guides who offer deeper insights into the exhibits and the stories they tell.

Exterior of the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum on a cloudy day.

How much time should I plan to spend at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum? Plan to allot 1.5 to 2 hours to explore the Museum's various exhibits and engage with interactive displays. If you're a true music enthusiast or choose to participate in a guided tour, you might find yourself absorbed for an even longer duration.

Address: 222 Rep. John Lewis Way S, Nashville, TN 37203

Hours: Open daily from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM

Cost: Ticket prices vary based on age and package; check the official website. Prices start at $27.95 for adults and $17.95 for youth

Parking: Several paid lots are located around the Museum. Check out ParkItDowntown.com for some options.

➡️ Click here to book your Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum tickets! ⬅️

Activity 4: Honky Tonk / Live Music

Nashville is renowned for its vibrant honky tonk scene and live music.

Here are a few of the best honky tonk places / live music venues to visit, along with their addresses and information about whether kids are allowed with adults before a specific time:

Tootsie's Orchid Lounge

Tootsie's Orchid Lounge is an iconic and historic honky tonk destination on Broadway. Steeped in musical history and exuding a timeless charm, you can expect live country music if you visit.

If you stop in, check out the “Tootsie's Wall of Fame” lined with photos and memorabilia. 

Address: 422 Broadway, Nashville, TN 37203

Kids Policy: Tootsie's is family-friendly until 5:00 PM. 

Parking: Parking garages are available in the area.

Exterior sign at Tootsies.

Acme Feed & Seed

Acme Feed & Seed, located on Broadway in downtown Nashville, is a one-of-a-kind establishment that seamlessly blends diverse offerings under one roof. It's less Honky Tonk during the day and is considered a more upscale. 

Acme Feed & Seed is a versatile 3-level venue that hosts live music performances, DJ sets, and a range of entertainment events. From country tunes to rock ‘n' roll beats, the stage is a hub of energy that caters to various musical preferences.

Each level has a unique vibe, and the rooftop bar offers incredible skyline views of Nashville. 

Inside stage view at Acme Feed and Seed.

Address: 101 Broadway, Nashville, TN 37201

Kids Policy: Acme Feed & Seed is family-friendly on all floors.

Parking: Parking garages are available in the area.

3rd and Lindsley Bar and Grill

3rd and Lindsley Bar and Grill is a renowned music venue away from the well-known Nashville strip that offers a dynamic blend of live performances, delectable cuisine, and an inviting atmosphere.

This place is less Honky Tonk but still an excellent venue for music!

The venue hosts a diverse lineup of musical acts spanning rock, country, blues, and more genres. Whether you're a fan of established artists or emerging talents, the stage comes alive with performances that cater to a wide range of musical tastes.

Most of the performances at 3rd and Lindsley require a ticket, so it's a good idea to check the venue's schedule and purchase tickets in advance. 

Address: 818 3rd Ave South, Nashville, TN 37210

Parking: Nearby lots, fees charged

Age restrictions: All ages unless otherwise noted.

As the curtains draw on Day 2, we find ourselves serenaded by a symphony of experiences that spanned the realms of natural wonders, automotive marvels, and the timeless harmonies of country music. 

From the subterranean depths of Mammoth Cave, where ancient mysteries whispered their secrets, to the gleaming corral of history at the National Corvette Museum, the day unveiled the beauty of exploration in its diverse forms. 

1953 Corvette Cutaway on Display at the National Corvette Museum. A unique place to visit on your Louisville to Nashville Drive!

The crescendo of our journey led us to the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, where the soulful melodies of country legends echoed through the halls.

As we embraced the vibrant energy of downtown Nashville, honky-tonk tunes filling the air, we couldn't help but reflect on where we started the day and where we ended up.

Exterior of the Acme Feed and Seed Honky Tonk.

Where to stay during the Louisville and Nashville Drive: Nashville, TN

Nashville offers diverse accommodations. Neighborhoods like Downtown, The Gulch, and Music Row offer upscale options with convenient access to attractions. 

For more budget-friendly choices that still offer an excellent neighborhood experience, areas like East Nashville and Midtown provide a range of lodging options, including boutique hotels and cozy inns.

On our most recent trip we stayed at the Sheraton Music City Nashville Airport. The hotel was nice, but it was disappointing to have to pay a daily parking fee. There is a restaurant in the hotel, which was tasty. The courtyard is large and has a pool.

Now that you've reached Nashville, consider a few more activities to extend your trip!

Day 3: Nashville, TN

On day 3, the Louisville to Nashville drive takes you through a few iconic Nashville landmarks, each offering a unique facet of the city's vibrant personality.

From the serene landscapes of Centennial Park to the echoes of history at the State Capitol and the melodic legacy of the Johnny Cash Museum, Day 3 promises a harmonious symphony of experiences.

Centennial Park

Address: 2500 West End Ave, Nashville, TN 37203

Hours: March 1 – October 31, daily 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM, November 1 – February 28, Monday-Friday 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM, Saturday – Sunday 9:00 AM 5:00 PM

Cost: Free, but if you plan to visit the Parthenon, there is an admission fee.

Parking: Free

What to Expect: Centennial Park is a sprawling urban oasis featuring walking paths, gardens, a beautiful lake, and open spaces perfect for picnics and strolls.

The iconic full-scale replica of the Parthenon stands as the park's centerpiece. The Parthenon houses an art gallery on the lower level, and the upper level features a stunning replica of the Athena Parthenos statue. 

Parthenon reflecting off the water at Centennial Park.

Tennessee State Capitol

Address: 600 Dr. M.L.K. Jr Blvd, Nashville, TN 37243

Hours: 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM

Parking: There are nearby paid lots or street meters during the week, and there is free parking in employee lots on the weekend.

Cost: Free

What to Expect: 45-minute guided tours are available Monday through Friday at 9 AM, 10 AM, 11 AM, 1 PM, 2 PM, and 3 PM. Tours start at the Information Desk on the first floor. 

Finding where to enter the capitol building for tours is sometimes tricky. At this capitol, enter the building at the South Motlow Tunnel entrance off Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd., across from War Memorial Plaza.

Or you can try the West step entrance that faces the former Tennessee State Library and Archives and Tennessee Supreme Court.

Tennessee State Capitol Building exterior. A fun place to check out on your Louisville to Nashville Drive!

Johnny Cash Museum

Address: 119 Third Ave S, Nashville, TN 37201

Hours: 9:00 AM to 7:00 PM

Parking: Nearby paid lots.

Cost: General admission is $25.95+tax ($1 discount for AAA, Military, Seniors, Students with ID), youth (ages 6-15) $21.95+tax, Under 5 is free.

What to Expect: The Johnny Cash Museum offers an immersive journey through the life, music, and legacy of the Man in Black.

You'll find a comprehensive collection of artifacts, memorabilia, and personal items as you step inside. You will get an intimate look into Johnny Cash's life and career. 

Exterior of the Johnny Cash Museum building with sign lit up.

FAQ's: Louisville to Nashville Drive

What is the distance from Louisville to Nashville?

According to Google Maps, it's 175 Miles.

What is the Nashville to Louisville Drive time (without stops)?

According to Google Maps, it is a 2 hour and 40 minute drive (note they are in different time zones)

Louisville vs. Nashville, which is more touristy?

Nashville is larger and has more tourist attractions. It is also more expensive.

Final thoughts: Louisville to Nashville Drive

As the Louisville, KY to Nashville, TN, road trip ends, we reflect on the kaleidoscope of experiences that transformed this journey.

From delving into the depths of caves that whispered ancient stories to capturing moments against Instagram-worthy backdrops and immersing ourselves in the rich tapestry of history woven by museums, each day was a chapter in a story of exploration and discovery. 

Red heart with angel wings and a gold crown. "Nashville" on scroll across the heart. Murals in Nashville are a must on your Louisville to Nashville Drive!

The journey from Louisville, Kentucky, to Nashville, Tennessee, is full of surprises, only a few of which I shared in this post. Louisville and Nashville have so many more great places to visit (Ryman Auditorium, Grand Ole Opry, and Belle Meade Plantation). What are you waiting for – get out there and explore! 

Grand Ole Opry row of guitars hanging from ceiling.

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4 images related to stops on a Louisville, KY to Nashville, TN drive: Mammoth Cave, Louisville Slugger, Parthenon, Bernheim Giant
Cutaway corvette at Corvette Museum
Image of 3 places to visit on a Louisville KY to Nashville TN drive: Louisville Slugger, Nashville Mural - heart with angle wings, colorful mural on wall in Nashville.

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