Originally built to haul coal, named the Idlewild, the Belle of Louisville offers narrated excursions on the Ohio RIver, providing plenty of the history and geography of the city. This is an authentic steamboat, built in 1914, and is a National Historic Landmark. Operated by the city since 1962, she races the Delta Queen from Cincinnati each year during Derby Week.
An interesting feature, unique among boats, is the Belle's authentic steam calliope. Originally developed for churches, this keyboard instrument produces a sound considered too bright for a solumn occasion, such as a church service. So it's been used in mainly in the circus. It contributes to the Belle's unique character.
Louisville grew as commercial riverboat traffic was forced to stop at the falls on the Ohio River. The best known Louisville symbol for this past is the steamboat "Belle of Louisville" which races every year during Kentucky Derby week with the Delta Queen. The Belle is the oldest operating steamboat in the nation. Cruises are available year round. Rates range from $12 to $32 for adults (the more expensive price includes a dinner cruise) with less expensive prices for senior adults and children. Taking a riverboat ride gives you a great view of the modern city while giving a taste of the days when steam boats were the primary means of transportation on the Ohio and Mississippi rivers.
While in Louisville you must take 4th street to the Ohio River and take a ride on the Belle of Louisville, a floating National Historic Landmark. The Belle is a restored river boat that offers dinner cruises up and down the Ohio River. It drives home the feelings of what it was like 100 years ago on the river.
A steamboat on the Ohio River. You can take a cruise on this... you can almost always see it when you're passing by River Road downtown, which is where it's docked. It plays a tune on its whistles too.