The first Saturday of May is a big day in the Bluegrass State, as thousands flock to the Kentucky Derby. For many, this is an annual tradition, but if you are a first time Derby-goer, the entire process may seem a bit overwhelming. How do you get there? Where should you stay? And most importantly – what should you wear? The Travel Products team is here to help!
If finding an affordable flight to Louisville proves to be nearly impossible, there are a number of nearby airports to try. Indianapolis, Cincinnati, and Lexington are all within reasonable driving distance. Just make sure that the cost of a rental car doesn’t surpass the cost of a Louisville flight!
Securing seats for the Kentucky Derby is easier said than done and can cost a pretty penny. However, general admission tickets are available for $40 and grant you access to the Paddock areas, the infield, and other Standing Room Only areas. You can purchase them ahead of time or at the gate.
Seasoned Derby-goers suggest staying at a hotel on the east side of the city for easy access to the race. If cost or availability prove to be an obstacle, consider finding a hotel in a nearby town. Bardstown and Shelbyville are within an hour’s drive, while Frankfort is around an hour away. Lexington is an easy drive from Louisville, taking about an hour-and-a-half. And don’t forget about Louisville’s close proximity to Indiana. Jeffersonville and New Albany are Louisille’s suburbs across the river in Indiana.
You don’t want to spend your entire time at the Derby battling the elements. So before you even make a packing list, check the weather and pack accordingly!
Also keep in mind that certain items may not be allowed inside Churchill Downs. Cell phones, cameras, sunscreen, binoculars, and snacks in clear plastic bags or containers are allowed, as are purses, diaper bags, and seat cushions. You may bring chairs, pop-up tents, blankets, and coolers for use in the infield only.
You may not bring alcohol, glass containers, grills, backpacks, wagons, or umbrellas, among a few other items. Double check the Security Information section of the Churchill Downs website for a complete list of permitted and banned items on Derby Day.
So what should you bring?
- Weather appropriate clothing –- if the weatherman is predicting a chilly day, layers will be your best friend. Remember, you can always remove them if the sun comes out
- Comfortable shoes –- if you’re planning to watch the race from the infield, there is a bit of walking in store for you
- Document holder or messenger bag –- pick-pocketing does occur (particularly in the infield) so take extra care with your personal belongings
- Snacks –- not only will this save you time waiting in line, it will also save you a few bucks on expensive concessions
Fashion has always been a rich part of the Kentucky Derby tradition. However, what you should wear depends heavily on where you’ll be sitting. The Churchill Downs website offers dress code guidelines for those in the premium reserved areas. If you plan on watching the race from the infield, anything goes –- from shorts and flip-flops to a wide-brim hat and heels. If you need help deciding what to wear, our friends at A Tip of the Hat have Derby Day fashion guides for both men and women.
Image source: bluegrasstours.com