A fast track guide to planning a road trip to Derby City
A fast track guide to planning a road trip to Derby City

We’re chomping at the bit for a road trip. With the greatest two minutes in sports approaching, it wasn’t hard to decide what to put our money on. We’re talking about breaking out of the gate and racing to Louisville, Ky. for the Kentucky Derby.

Unless you’re from the Bluegrass State, you may need a little help in planning a drive to the derby. Here are our tips:

Unless you really get started early, you’re not going to find a room at Louisville’s luxury hotels, such as the 21C Museum Hotel, but you will find a few hotels with some rooms available. They won’t come cheap, though. If you can’t find anything reasonable, try neighboring towns, such as Shelbyville, Taylorsville and New Albany or Jeffersonville. An alternative is to search for locals who are renting their homes for the weekend.

Tickets are always made available for purchase online, but if options become slim there is always the option of general admission. Tickets are $50 at the gate, which considering the price of tickets for any other major sporting event, is more than reasonable. If you’re looking for a wild party, head to the infield. If you want a more classic experience, stay on the grandstand side of the track.

Derby Attire
If you’re going to the infield, just go for comfortable because it’s a party that happens to be next to a horse race. If you plan to be in the paddock and grandstand area then take a quick glance at these photos for ideas.

OK, the Derby, but why Louisville?
You mean besides the horse race? Well you can start with about 2,500 restaurants. Louisville is a hot spot for great restaurants and has been getting national attention for its expanding Nulu area, where bourbon, beer, wine and ace restaurants are aplenty. A few of our quick recommendations are Harvest, Toast on Market, Lynn’s Paradise Cafe, Against the Grain and Doc Crow’s Southern Smokehouse and Raw Bar.

In between getting your belly full of grub, be sure to gallop around the area. Within 100 miles of Louisville, 95 percent of the world’s bourbon is produced. You can follow the spirit along the Bourbon Trail, and you’ll likely see why Kentucky is horse country along the way.

You’ve probably heard of another staple in Louisville — the Slugger. You can visit the home of the most famous piece of equipment in sports history, and tour the Louisville Slugger production area and museum.

A few more quick recommendations:

21C Hotel and Museum – The gallery is free and open to the public. The showcase is ever-changing and always interesting.

KFC Yum Center – The only thing Kentucky loves more than bourbon and horses is (possibly) basketball. If you get a chance to see the University of Louisville’s arena, it’s worth it. It’s also conveniently located right next to Whiskey Row.

Waterfront Park – Warning, there are “dangerously high levels of oxygen” with this park. With an excellent view of downtown, space to play and the historic Belle of Louisville, the waterfront promises to please.

Parks – Did you know Louisville has more parkland than Chicago or Denver, and has more green space than Baltimore, Boston and Pittsburgh combined? Many of them were designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, the mind behind Central Park. You shouldn’t have a problem finding a place to go for a morning run.

Louisville Mega Cavern – Some say the underground mine is the safest place in Kentucky, others say it’s the most fun. With an underground zipline, it’s kind of hard to argue against that statement.

Kentucky Oaks Race – If you want to double up on your horse racing experience you can attend Oaks on Friday before the Derby.

Haunted Louisville – Louisville is considered one of the most haunted cities in America, and while it may not be the season for screaming, you’ll find plenty of places to give you the willies, most notably the old tuberculosis hospital, Waverly Hills. You will need to make an appointment for Waverly, though.

Now you have it! Those are our tips. What, you wanted some betting tips? The only sure bet we know is to spend that money on a glass of wine and just enjoy the atmosphere! Beyond that, we haven’t a clue!

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