If your toddler feels as strongly about all things equine as mine does then a visit to the Kentucky Horse Park may be in order. The park boasts horses for viewing, petting, and riding as well as gorgeous views of rolling Kentucky hills, multiple indoor museums, and a playground! In fact the Kentucky Horse Park bills itself as the world’s only equine theme park (it might be up for debate if the world really needs two of these…)
Consulting work brought our family briefly to Louisville, KY. Lexington, home of the Kentucky Horse Park, is just an hour away which felt like the perfect car trip duration for a toddler who frequently fights nap but tends to pass out in the car. Enter the Kentucky Horse Park. While I might have been more inclined to visit a distillery or renowned restaurant I am typically beholden to the interests of a two year old.
What to do at the Kentucky Horse Park
The Parade of Breeds
Known to those in the know as ponies dancing. The parade of breeds is a fun show set to music showcasing 5 or 6 of the equine residents at the Horse Park. After the show visitors can pet all of the horse. My daughter loved the “horsie in the blue dress”, aka a horse dressed up like it was going to war. She also had a blast dancing along to the music. The bleacher seats are nicely shaded.
The kids barn is designed for you guessed it: kids! Everything here is child sized right down to the ponies. Kids can pretend to groom a fake horse, jump obstacles themselves, participate in a scavenger hunt, and pet a pony.
Meet & Greet at the Big Barn
Regardless of if you decide to do the Meet & Greet or not the Big Barn is not to be missed. Home to the workhorses, this barn houses some of the most incredible horses I have ever seen. The Meet & Greet is on a smaller set of bleachers than the Parade of Breeds and I was concerned by toddler wouldn’t last through the whole demonstration. We parked ourselves on the outskirts behind a small white fence (where all the kids congregated). I was then shocked to find she was riveted by the demonstration of how to gear up one of the trolley pullers.
The trolley ride is included in your admission and relatively short. But toddlers love all things that move!
For an additional $5 your child can ride a pony. There is a handler, another child on a pony, and you. I had shied away from this after our first visit. My daughter was only willing to touch horses’ backs and even then very briefly. My husband on the other hand is brave. So he went, booked her two pony rides, and that was that. I am now relatively convinced we are going to have to buy a pony. SOON.
Catch a Competition
I won’t pretend to know anything about horses but we had an awesome time watching some kind of horse competition that was being held the first weekend we visited the Horse Park (that’s right I said first). We never got to see any horses jumping but that would definitely make a toddler happy!
OK, so you don’t necessarily want to pay to go to a playground. Understandable. However, it is conveniently located by some picnic tables and the pony rides. And it is a really great playground with a smaller off shoot for little kids. We typically spent an hour at the playground per visit.
Know Before You Go
During peak season, adult admission is $20 and children under 5 are free. But wait, that covers TWO days of admission! So if like my toddler, yours wakes up shouting “see ponies” after their first visit you can go back for free 🙂 Parking is an additional $5.
The Kentucky Horse Park has restaurants. However, I like to keep my costs low by bringing my own food. The park has multiple shaded picnic table areas making it perfect for this kind of cost saving strategy.
Kentucky is hot in the summer! While there is shade a good amount of your walking will be out in the sun. Plan to go on cloudy days or make sure you bring a lot of water! The visitor’s center has water fountains for refilling bottles.
Make sure you bring it! There is a lot of walking to be done at the Horse Park and you’ll want to be there for a few hours. Small legs tire out fast!
Toddler Friendly Rating
10/10. We ended up going back to the Kentucky Horse Park a total of five times in four weeks. Two hours driving round trip. That is how much fun we had! I am actually kind of concerned about finding horses to visit in NC.