About The Park
Hours of Operation
Park: 6:00 a.m. - 11:00 pm
Waterplay area: 11:00 am - 8:00 pm, in season
(The waterplay area is open seasonally from May through September. Exact opening and closing dates depend upon the weather.
Total acreage: 85 acres
Annual Attendance: 1.5 million +
All areas of the park are handicapped accessible
Size: 13 acres
Cost: $41 million
- Big 4 Pedestrian Bridge
- Lincoln Memorial
- The Swing Garden
- Lawn areas
- Walking paths, picnic and play areas.
For those who have never had the pleasure of living in a city with a vibrant urban parks system, it's hard to imagine the many uses and benefits that urban parks offer to downtown workers, residents, and visitors. Louisville Waterfront Park is the front door to Kentucky, a playground for people of all ages, and a gathering place for folks from all over the community. It offers a grand view of the river, space for concerts and festivals, quiet places to read a book, picnic spaces for your family and friends. The parks hosts crowds of 350,000 for Thunder Over Louisville, and groups of 25 for family reunions.
The Park is made up of three phases and totals 85 acres. The last phase, Phase III, is currently under construction and will be completed (with the exception of the Big Four Bridge and ramp) in June 2009.
Phase I was completed in 1999 and contains broad, open spaces appropriate for large events, as well as smaller spaces intended for family gatherings or enjoying the Ohio River in a secluded setting. The centerpiece of Phase I is the Great Lawn, the park's most distinctive open space. Touching the Ohio and rising gradually over its 14 acres, it ends at Witherspoon Street, connecting the river to the city. Phase I is where the largest waterfront events take place, including Thunder Over Louisville in April and the Fifth Third Waterfront Independence Festival on July 3rd and 4th.
Directly up River Road from Phase I, Phase II has a distinctly different take on what a waterfront park can be. Phase II is a ribbon of medium to small spaces, suitable for picnics, weddings, parties, and events of moderate size. In contrast to Phase I, Phase II is a place where it is possible to feel nature without a reminder that the city is right over your shoulder. Home to Tumbleweed Southwest Grill and the Adventure Playground, Phase II is one of the busiest areas of the park during summer months.
Phase III connects the first two phases and completes the original vision laid out in the Waterfront Master Plan. It includes the Promenade along the river, the Swing Garden, walking paths, picnic areas, parking and restrooms, and the Lincoln Memorial, which commemorates Abraham Lincoln's lifelong Kentucky connections.
Phase III's most anticipated feature, the Big 4 Pedestrian & Bicycle Bridge, has been funded and work will begin in Spring 2011 and be completed about 18 months later. The bridge will serve as a connection between Louisville to Southern Indiana.
To quote from the Waterfront Master plan: "In broad philosophic strokes, the Master Plan seeks to pull into the 21st century the cultural waterfront heritage of the 18th and 19th centuries, to interpret and restore the ecology of the river as it was before western civilization, and to extend downtown Louisville to the river--and conversely, magnify the presence of the river and extend the river into downtown. In so doing the Waterfront can be come a vessel for public activities, with the natural systems of the Ohio River Valley generating its structure and power. Finally, it is the spirit of the people who will fill this space that adds the most necessary dynamic, that of the natural exuberance of human life."