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6 Horse Racing Tracks Worth a Visit
Springtime means a lot of things to a lot of people. This year, given the crazy winter throughout parts of the country, spring means getting outside and enjoying whatever it is you haven’t been able to do with 6 feet of snow on the ground.
When spring rolls around, I always think of horse racing. Since I’m not a huge sports nut and horse racing involves parties and fancy hats, it’s a good bet that I’d fit right in. Here are several racetracks that would make an excellent weekend getaway:
Keeneland, Lexington, Kentucky
If you’ve never been to a horse race before, then I recommend you try Keeneland. It’s less glitz and glamour and more traditional horse racing. There are two meets, one is held in April and the other in October. Plan to go for several days so you can relax and enjoy the pristine grounds and amazing atmosphere. Once you go, you’ll be hooked. Book early and get grandstand seating so you can stay out of the sun and the occasional rain shower.
Churchill Downs, Louisville, Kentucky
Going to see the Kentucky Derby is on a lot of people’s must-do list. If you can plan ahead and get tickets to the Derby, then you’re pretty much guaranteed an unforgettable vacation. The star of the show is the historic Churchill Downs, a huge part of horse racing tradition and Americana. Come for the fancy drinks, horses and hats, but stay for the tours and museum plus exploring all the unique things to do in Louisville.
Pimlico, Baltimore, Maryland
If you miss the Kentucky Derby and want to see the second leg of the Triple Crown, head on over to Baltimore to see the Preakness at Pimlico Race Track. Pimlico first opened in 1870, which makes it one of the oldest tracks in the U.S. While it’s older and a lot less glamorous than Churchill Downs, you’ll love the people, food (think crab cakes), and horse racing. If you like to party, make sure you get an infield pass and I recommend the VIP parking pass, well worth the cost on Preakness Day.
Belmont Park, Elmont, NY
The third and final leg of the Triple Crown, The Belmont Stakes, is run every June at Belmont Park in New York. If you can get there, I highly recommend it, and it’s a pretty short drive from NYC. It’s a great and (mostly) affordable family atmosphere. Bring your picnic or cooler and eat in the beautiful park. The kids will love the horses and you can spend a lovely day outside in the midst of a fantastic party, concerts and other activities.
Saratoga Race Course, Saratoga, NY
While the season officially starts in July, Saratoga Race Course is a one of the best family attractions in the area. It gets really crowded on the weekends, so plan a visit where you have at least one or two weekdays mixed in. You can bring your own food, beer and umbrella and setup at the picnic area (hot tip: arrive early and reserve your spot). Parking is free and it’s a great place to hang out and enjoy music, food and horse racing. Racing starts July 18th and runs through September 1st.
Del Mar Racetrack, California
If you’re on the West Coast and want to see some horse racing, then you should check out the Del Mar Racetrack about 20 miles north of San Diego. This iconic track was built by a celebrity partnership of Bing Crosby, Gary Cooper, Oliver Hardy and others. It became a summer playground for the rich and famous Hollywood stars. Today, it’s an exceptional place to relax by the Pacific, watch a good race, eat some excellent food and enjoy the day.
What’s your favorite springtime pursuit?
More from Samantha Brown:
5 Great Ideas for Family Spring Break
St. Patrick’s Day Travel: Must-See Ireland
This Post Has One Comment
If you can, you should try to visit Churchill Downs sometime after the Kentucky Derby because it’s much less crowded. Although that being said, the KY Derby is a must see at least once in your life!