The Kentucky Derby is the most well known horse racing event in history. Each year in May, thousands gather at the Kentucky race track, Churchill Downs , to watch the fastest Thoroughbred horses in the world compete in races that, if won, will earn horses and their owners celebrity horse racing status for years to come. The Kentucky race has been occurring every year since 1875 and is one of the reasons that Kentucky getaways are so popular. For a chance to see what happens behind the scenes, take advantage of Kentucky Derby tours .
There is more to see than horse racing at the Kentucky Derby. For years, visitors have enjoyed spotting celebrities, U.S. presidents, and members of the British Royal Family who sit in the “Millionaire’s Row” seating section at Churchill Downs. Through the years, the allure of the races has even attracted some unwanted celebrities, such as the infamous outlaw Jesse James and members of his outlaw gang. Kentucky history books often mention bank robbers who have made scandalous appearances at the races.
The Kentucky Derby often conjures up images of the preferred drink of the Kentucky Derby, the mint julep, which is a concoction of Kentucky whiskey, mint, and sugar. The drink is so popular that nearly 120,000 of the drinks are served at the festival each year.
Be sure not to miss out on a visit to the Kentucky Derby Museum . At the museum you can see what the Kentucky Derby was like back in 1918 through a time machine exhibit that takes visitors on virtual tours of the grounds of Churchill Downs as they were in earlier times. A recent renovation is said to have made the museum even more user friendly for visitors. The Finish Line Gift Shop offers souvenirs of all sorts, from posters to t-shirts.
It is possible to take guided Kentucky Derby tours. One of the sites you may see on the tour are the grave sites of past famous Kentucky Derby winners, such as Brokers Tip who won the race in 1933 and was laid to rest in 1953. Kentucky Derby tours will also visit the press box. It is recommended that you make reservations for the tour in advance and wear comfortable shoes.
Plan to visit Louisville a week early to be a part of the events at the Kentucky Derby Festival. The Kentucky Derby Festival consists of great concerts, fun parades, and dazzling fireworks displays. The event is such a success year after year thanks to the help of thousands of volunteers who share an interest of Kentucky Derby horses and Kentucky racing.
There are several hotels for Kentucky Derby races located within a few miles of Churchill Downs. Kentucky Derby accommodations range from business like airport hotels to more intimate bed and breakfasts . There are a few hotels that offer Kentucky Derby tickets and lodging as a part of a package. If you are on a budget, staying at a Louisville airport hotel is a good option. The Louisville airport is less than two miles from Churchill Downs.
If you are planning on attending the Kentucky race and the Kentucky Derby Festival, it is essential that you make your travel arrangements early. A chance to see Kentucky Derby horses is at the top of thousands of people’s spring travel arrangements, so tickets and hotel rooms have a tendency to sell out early.
Besides watching the prolific Kentucky Derby horses, be sure to check out some of the other Louisville attractions on your next vacation. The EP Tom Sawyer State Park is an outdoor lover"s dream. It features plenty of opportunities for hiking and picnicking. The thrill of riding in state of the art roller coasters brings thousands of tourists to Six Flags Kentucky Kingdom each year.
Be a part of a longstanding state tradition by attending the Kentucky Derby next May. The beauty of the Thoroughbred Kentucky Derby horses will amaze the entire family and the Kentucky derby festival is a great way to celebrate the tradition of the greatest Kentucky race in history.
Top image: Bill Brine (flickr)