A southeastern suburb of Louisville, Jeffersontown was founded in the late 18th century at the crossroads now known as Gaslight Square.
Tens of thousands of people descend on Gaslight Square every September for a vibrant street festival that traditionally marks the transition from summer to fall in Louisville.
The city is crossed by the I-64, and the intersecting Hurstbourne Parkway is a commercial corridor, lined with local attractions from family entertainment centers to escape rooms to multiplex theaters.
The Floyds Fork river flows past Jeffersontown to the east and south, and in the summer is a popular waterway for paddling, with numerous parks and put-ins and rentals available via the Parklands of Floyds Fork.
1. Historic Gaslight Square District
Announced by evocative steel truss arches, Jeffersontown’s Gaslight Square is at the intersection of Taylorsville Road and Watterson Trail, where the town’s first businesses set up shop at the end of the 18th century.
That crossroads is the anchor for local government and a collection of attractive small businesses, including restaurants like Feast BBQ, El Nopal Mexican Cuisine and the Gaslight Diner.
Close by, in an historic former church building, sits Jeffersontown’s craft brewery, 3rd Turn Brewing.
Also near the intersection is the permanent pavilion for the Jeffersontown Farmers’ Market, running on Saturday mornings, April through October, and loaded with vendors from the area.
2. Jeffersontown Gaslight Festival
For many, this annual event in Jeffersontown on the third weekend of September heralds the start of fall for Louisville.
The origins of the Gaslight Festival go back to an effort by the Jeffersontown Restoration Society to spruce up the town square in the mid-1960s.
After one of the gaslights that had lit the square in the early 20th century was rediscovered during a church renovation, replicas were made, and these continue to line the renamed Gaslight Square.
To celebrate the new look, the first Gaslight Festival soon followed in 1970 and hasn’t looked back.
The event now brings upwards of 200,000 visitors to the square with a multitude of vendors, a parade, a car show, a 5k run, a motorcycle rally and the unforgettable Gaslight Balloon Glow at Skyview Park.
3. Jeffersontown Historical Museum
Also in the Gaslight Square District is the city’s local history museum, which was established in 1972 and moved into the library building in 1996.
Browsing these exhibits you can pick up the trail of intriguing local figures like the Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, Henry Watterson (1840-1921), who was editor of the Courier-Journal, or the Kentucky Derby-winning jockey, Roscoe Goose (1891-1971).
The museum is known for an extensive doll collection, numbering more than 1,250, some going back hundreds of years.
Look out for the rotating exhibit, updated every six months. When we compiled this list the theme was the archeology of Native American settlements in the Ohio River Valley.
4. Malibu Jack’s Louisville
The standout among that slew of attractions along Hurstbourne Parkway is this enormous family entertainment center, packing ten different attractions and something for all ages.
By way of summary, there’s a karting track, laser tag, 18 holes of miniature golf, 16 lanes of bowling, an arcade, bumper cars, a 4D dark ride and a choice of indoor coasters.
For parents with children under 10 years old, Bounce Beach is a spacious indoor play zone, with seating available for grownups.
Entry is free, and you’ll be given a “Play Card” that you can charge with funds for each attraction or game. For dining, Jak’s has a menu of comfort food, from boneless wings to burgers to pizza.
5. Beckley Creek Park
A tributary of the Salt River, Floyds Fork meanders southwestwards through riparian meadows and forest in the eastern Louisville metro area. This waterway is the uniting feature for a chain of public parks, known as the Parklands of Floyds Fork, each with their own personality.
The parklands are a recreation mecca, with sixty miles of hike-bike trails and 22 miles of paddling trails in some of the cleanest waters in the region. Blue Moon Canoe & Kayak of Kentucky offers paddling rentals, as well as bike rentals for the park system.
At the north end, within touching distance of Jeffersontown is the 616-acre Beckley Creek Park. This centers on the sweeping, 22-acre Egg Lawn, and has fishing lakes, a playground and splash pad for little ones and paved and natural-surface trails along the creek.
6. Blackacre State Nature Preserve and Historic Homestead
Much of Jeffersontown feels new, but there’s a preserved homestead, dating back to the 18th century a stone’s throw away. The encompassing preserve is on just over 270 acres, made up of forests, streams and undulating fields that you can explore on trails.
Children will love the farm animals kept here, including goats, cows and horses.
Among the historic buildings are three original structures going back to 1790. These are a stone cottage, the springhouse (used for refrigeration) and the double-crib Appalachian barn, made from locally harvested poplar and now containing a display of historic farming implements.
The main farmhouse, the Presley Tyler home, dates to 1844 and contains a visitor center for the preserve.
7. Pope Lick Park
South of Beckley Creek Park, Pope Lick Park is another revitalizing public space on Floyds Fork.
With access to the Louisville Loop, the 100-mile trail system gradually encircling Louisville, Pope Lick Park is an ideal spot to begin your walking, bicycling or paddling adventure. On land you can discover smaller loops in the peaceful Big Beech Woods or a Trestle Point.
As well as canoe/kayak launches, Pope Lick Park has a playground, soccer fields, picnic areas and interpretive signs about its various habitats.
Directly downstream from this space is The Strand, a long linear park through riparian habitats, taking you all the way to Turkey Run Park, which we’ll talk about later.
8. Plainview Swim Center
Jeffersontown’s outdoor aquatic center is in a residential part of the city, within walking distance of no fewer than 1,500 homes.
On eight acres, the facilities are clean, well-maintained and offer all you could need for a family outing in summer. There’s an adult lap pool, a 15-meter junior pool, a children’s pool, a dive pool and a children’s playground.
Added to that there’s a snack shack, a gazebo and an entertaining resident DJ on weekends. Planview Park is home to Jeffersontown’s tennis center, as well as the palatial Tway House, built in 1923 and now rented out for events.
9. Veterans Memorial Park
This 25-acre park in Jeffersontown is significant as the first in the state to be dedicated solely to veterans.
The mainstay at Veterans Memorial Park is the Walk of Veterans, made up of some 6,000 brick pavers, approximately half of which are inscribed to honor veterans as a remembrance or tribute. Ceremonies to dedicate new bricks take place on Veterans Day and Memorial Day.
Hard to miss along the walk are some impressive pieces of military hardware, including an M-60A tank, a Huey helicopter and a pair of guns from the U.S. Navy.
There’s also a 60-foot flagpole and a variety of amenities, including two playgrounds, six pavilions, a softball complex and a basketball court.
10. Skyview Park
Known for youth sports, this park is a green oasis in a light industrial corner of Jeffersontown.
The softball complex at Skyview Park has staged some important events, like the Kentucky High School Athletic Association FastPitch Softball State Tournament, and the Little League World Series for senior league girls softball.
For families making a casual visit in summer there’s a marvelous splash park, with 26 interactive features and a special retention basin that recycles water for the park’s ballfields.
In addition, there is a multi-use trail leading along the railroad corridor for a little way, as well as a pavilion, playground and a concession stand.
11. Full Throttle Adrenaline Park
There’s an indoor karting track hiding in a warehouse a minute or two from Skyview Park in Jeffersontown.
Unlike many karting facilities, Full Throttle Adrenaline Park caters to walk-ins (subject to a race license), and has a range of karts to suit all drivers from the age of just three years old, and up to 350 pounds. The karts here are also known for their speed, with Honda engines capable of up to 40 mph.
If you want to mix things up, there’s also an axe throwing range right by the track, and you can combine these two activities (as well as a rage room), with a 2-hour Adrenaline Pass.
12. Countdown Louisville
The locally-owned Countdown Louisville is the top-rated escape room attraction in the metro area.
If you’re a newcomer to this kind of attraction, you’ll enter a room and have to use teamwork and a range of mental skills to solve interactive puzzles to help you escape before an hour elapses.
A common theme is that collaboration is more important than individual brainpower. Countdown Louisville has won a lot of acclaim for its atmospheric rooms, intuitive puzzles, and for the friendliness of the game master, who will oversee your attempt to get out.
At the time of writing, there were four rooms, for groups of up to eight. These were Phobia (moderate), Manhattan (moderate), Survival (expert) and Ransom (casual).
13. Raptor Rehabilitation of Kentucky Inc. (RROKI)
This remarkable center, rescuing, rehabilitating and releasing birds of prey, was founded in 1990 by a couple of volunteers at the Louisville Zoo.
RROKI takes in up to 350 birds each year, from barn owls to red-tailed hawks, turkey vultures and bald eagles. These may have flown into windows, been trapped in barbed wire fences, or been hit by cars or aircraft.
As part of its mission to educate the public about the various man-made dangers for birds of prey, the center is open for tours.
Led by the center’s friendly volunteers, this is a highly informative experience, with an opportunity to see these magnificent birds up close and learn about their more species, individual stories and rehabilitation.
14. Activate Games
Another of the many attractions along the Hurstbourne Pkwy off the I-64 is Activate Games, which offers a series of high-tech, interactive challenges.
These are designed for teams of 2-5, on a whole spectrum of adjustable difficulty levels. There are 11 games in total, and each one will take around three minutes to complete, testing your team mentally as much as physically.
For example, The Grid is made up of 256 pressure-sensitive tiles, lighting up in various colors, and you’ll need to step on or avoid the right ones to complete the level.
Laser, meanwhile, requires you to navigate a constantly changing field of lasers in a given time, with points deducted every time you trip one.
15. Turkey Run Park
Not far downstream from Pope Lick Park is another of the Parklands of Floyds Fork, where 800 acres of a former golf course and dairy farm has been opened up to the public.
At Turkey Run Park you’ll happen upon the oldest structure in the parklands, the Ben Stout House, dating from the turn of the 19th century and now serving as an events venue.
There’s a pleasing view of the countryside from the Silo Lookout, and the accompanying Silo Center Bike Park is a mountain biking hotspot with flow trails, a skills loop and pump tracks.