Going to the 2013 Kentucky Derby in Louisville KY? 10 Tips for a Great Visit to the Kentucky Derby!
By Diane Watts Roy
Louisville's Kentucky Derby is a two-day horse racing extravaganza, famous for attracting an international crowd and inspiring elegant and unique attire, in tandem with memorable parties, social gatherings and wide variety of entertainment options. Traditionally held the first Saturday in May, and sometimes called the "fast two minutes in sports," the 2013 Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs will be held on Saturday, May 4.
If you have never been to the Kentucky Derby and you are coming to Louisville from outside of Kentucky, chances are you've got some planning to do to make sure your experience during this special event goes smoothly. While the Derby experience can range from infield tickets costing around $50 a piece to box seating priced at thousands of dollars, planning ahead, regardless of your plans, makes for a smoother and easier time.
10 Things you Need to Know About and Plan for Before you go to the Kentucky Derby
- Transportation to Louisville, KY - Whether you are planning on arriving in Louisville, Kentucky, by car, bus or plane, you have a range of options. Louisville is home to an international airport (IATA airport code SDF) called Standiford Field. You can catch many of the major airlines there including Southwest, Delta, United, American, and more. In addition, the airports in Cincinnati and Lexington are comparatively short drives to Louisville, offering you more flight options if you can't find the air travel you are looking for coming directly into Louisville.
- Tickets to the Kentucky Derby - If you haven't been lucky enough to land a free box with a finish line view from a rich uncle or a generous boss, you can buy tickets to the Kentucky Derby that range in price from around $50 for general admission to upwards of thousands of dollars for box seating. If you are looking for premium seating, it is advisable that you do this as early as possible since availability narrows and prices often tend to climb as the event draws closer. It is important to note that general admission tickets to the Kentucky Derby do not include a seat or visual access to the Churchill Downs racetrack. You can plan on seeing the races through TV screens situated throughout the track facility.
- Transportation to the Churchill Downs Race Track - Unless you are planning on staying in a neighborhood very close to the tracks so that you can walk, chances are you'll need some type of transportation to Louisville's Churchill Downs racetrack. Provided that you have a vehicle, you can drive a car to the Churchill Downs. Many of the houses around the tracks offer parking for prices ranging from $10 and up for the day. If you are planning on taking a cab or a bus to Churchill Downs for the Kentucky Derby, it is helpful to plan ahead. This is a very busy time of year in Louisville and it can sometimes be difficult to get the cab or van service you want without advanced reservations. For the adventurous, there are sometimes rickshaw bicycles pedaling around town offering transportation to and from the tracks to downtown Louisville and nearby neighborhoods like Old Louisville.
- A Place to Stay During your visit to Louisville, KY - If you are coming to Louisville from out of town to attend the Kentucky Derby, you'll want to find a place to stay well before you arrive for the event. Hotels often fill up far in advance for many miles around the tracks and many charge higher than usual prices for this premium event. If you are traveling with your family or in a larger group, you may want to rent a house in Louisville during your visit to the Kentucky Derby. There are many comfortable and appealing house rentals located near Churchill Downs during the Kentucky Derby.
- Something to Wear to the Kentucky Derby - If you dress comfortable, coordinated and elegant (with a hat) you will fit right in at the Kentucky Derby - If you like dressing up with your own stylish flair, than the Derby is just the event for you. People wear all sorts of gorgeous and memorable attire to the Derby - you'll see hundreds of very fancy and well-coordinated suits, dresses and shoes, many with matching hats, of course.
- A Plan for Food (box lunches, eating from vendors at the tracks, packing snacks) - There is plenty of food at Churchill Downs for those who don't want to plan ahead and bring food to the Kentucky Derby. You can also opt to bring your own food and many of the local restaurants in Louisville feature special Kentucky Derby box lunches that highlight local fare. For example, Louisville's own Cheddar Box cafe features a Derby Week Box Lunch menu complete with beef tenderloin and Henry Bain sauce, Turkey with Chutney Mayonnaise and Country Ham.
- A Change of Shoes - One thing about the Derby is that it really is a full day event and unlike other events where you might plan on sitting for most of the day, the Derby provides you with plenty of opportunities to get up and walk around, whether walking to and from your parking place, placing your bets, checking out the horses in the paddock, searching for some of the famous faces attending the Derby, or connecting with friends. If you are wearing the perfect shoes that match your outfit but offer little in the way of comfort, consider bringing an extra pair of flip flops or slip on shoes in case you find yourself needing a more comfortable option when you are walking around.
- Dinner Plans for After the Event - Many people leave the Kentucky Derby around 7 p.m. and are ready to hit Louisville's local restaurant scene for some drinks, dinner, and more fun and excitement. Louisville is home to dozens of wonderful local restaurants offering up all types of food ranging from steaks and seafood to local produce and meat, Asian cuisine, southern fare, and anything else you can imagine. If you have your heart on a certain destination, make your Derby eve dinner reservations in advance so that you aren't disappointed.
- Spending Money for horse betting, tipping in the restrooms, buying mint juleps, etc. Even if you are not all that knowledgeable about horse racing, chances are, the excitement of the Kentucky Derby might make you interested in plunking down a few dollars for a possible win. You'll also want to be able to tip a few dollars to the kind people who keep the restrooms clean and also provide you with various toiletries and other cosmetics you might unexpectedly need, and then... of course... don't forget about the official drink of the Kentucky Derby - the world famous mint julep - served at the tracks in collector derby glassware featuring a complete listing of all the winning derby horses over the decades.
- An Alternative Weather Plan for rain, snow, sleet or heat. Louisville has a gorgeous spring and if luck prevails, the Derby can be quite a time to show off this temperate and beautiful time of the year... but sometimes nature doesn't quite cooperate and you are sure to hear some stories about the year it stormed, sleeted or snowed during the Kentucky Derby. In the event that you should experience unpleasant weather, it is advisable that you have a backup plan for your shoes and attire, whether it be the addition of boots, if needed, or an attractive coat or sweater to match your outfit if it feels more like winter than spring.
Like a lot of famous destinations and international events - e.g. the Olympics, the Boston Marathon, Mardis Gras, Tour de France, Scandinavian Summer Solstice, Orlando's Disneyland, Quebec's Winter Carnival, New York City's Madison Avenue, the Louvre or Eiffel Tower in Paris, or Egypt's Pyramids - attending Louisville's Kentucky Derby is truly an amazing trip where you are sure to have truly cherished memories that last a lifetime. If you are planning on attending the 2013 Kentucky Derby, start making your plans now so that you can kick back and enjoy yourself during your visit to Louisville!
Diane Watts-Roy is a Louisville local and co-owner of Louisville Derby Rentals, a house rental company offering premium housing rentals to visitors attending Louisville's Kentucky Derby. Specializing in large, comfortable and elegant rental homes situated close to the Churchill Downs racetrack, Louisville Derby Rentals offers a wide range of accommodations to serve individuals and groups of all sizes. Find out how to list or rent a house for the Kentucky Derby at http://www.louisvillederbyrentals.com today!
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