The Kentucky Derby is one of America’s most popular sporting events with around 165,000 punters attending the race every year. If you want to be one of them, it will take careful planning to get the most from your stay in Louisville.
Book Your Hotel Early
The influx of tourists that the race brings sees the most conveniently located Louisville hotels fill up fast. You’ll need to book early if you want to stay at the Crowne Plaza Louisville Airport Expo Center, The Brown Hotel, or the Hilton Garden Inn Louisville Airport. Tariffs soar around the big May race, so be prepared to spend a little more on hotels close to Churchill Downs. Alternatively, you might find a bargain if you stay farther from the track.
Like hotel rooms, flights to Louisville also tend to fill up around derby time, so it’s important to book early to avoid disappointment. There aren’t really bargains to be had during the derby, but flights are at their lowest well before the race. Hipmunk.com, the “world’s best travel site,”according to Forbes.com, says Delta, United, and American Airlines typically operate the most affordable flights to Louisville. Check these carriers first to save cash.
Book Reserved Seats
Racegoers hoping to sit in the reserved seats should book early through the Churchill Downs website or online ticket brokers. It’s not wise to use scalpers, as the racetrack is cracking down on resold tickets and entry may be refused. If you miss out on these prized tickets, you can still secure a general admission ticket at one of
the entrance gates. An unlimited number of these tickets are sold, so arrive at the race early to secure the best viewing position.
Plan Your Outfit
A day at the races requires a special outfit, so it’s smart to think about yours in advance. Dress in the reserved seating areas is formal; think smart dresses for the ladies and seersucker suits or sports coats for the gents. And don’t forget your hats! Things are a little more casual in the infield, where comfort comes first. While they’re not permitted in the reserved seats, you can wear blue jeans and tennis shoes here. Cute sundresses and polo shirts are also appropriate.
Research Other Horse Racing Attractions in Louisville
The Kentucky Derby lasts for just two minutes, so it’s smart to have other attractions on your itinerary. Head back to Churchill Downs to see the Kentucky Derby Museum, a celebration of America’s greatest race with interactive displays spread over two floors. A walking tour of Churchill Downs is included in the price of admission. The race might be short, but the Kentucky Derby Festival lasts two whole weeks. It kicks off every year with the impressive Thunder Over Louisville show, which is the largest fireworks event in North America. Visit the festival’s official site to see the rundown of parties and parades, and secure your tickets to the social soirees. With careful planning, you can make the most of your stay in America’s racing capital.
Guest Author: Lauren Katulka has relaxed on the beaches of Fiji, been dazzled by the bright lights of New York City, and sipped shiraz in the Barossa Valley. A keen travel writer and foodie, she looks forward to where her sense of adventure, inspiration, and stomach will take her next. She currently is working on the Hipmunk City Love Project.