Kentucky Derby Travel Guide

Kentucky Derby Travel Guide

“The Most Exciting Two Minutes in Sports” is coming down the stretch, and fans from around the world will flock to the 142nd Kentucky Derby on May 7, 2016. But the first jewel of the Triple Crown is just the finale of a two week festival that takes over beautiful Louisville. Make your stay in Louisville just as action packed as the big races with our Kentucky Derby Travel Guide below.

Get to Know Churchill Downs & the History of the Kentucky Derby

Kentucky Derby Travel Guide presented by Ticketmaster

Even with a capacity for 165,000 people, race fans are still packed in for the whirlwind excitement that the Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks have brought to the racing world every year since 1875. In addition to its famous 1¼ mile track, Churchill Downs is known for the twin spires that adorn its grand stand. And fans looking for extraordinary accommodations can enjoy one of the Downs’ 79 luxury suites for the best views of the track.

Remember to take a trip to the Kentucky Derby Museum at Churchill Downs to learn more about this National Historic Landmark and about the history of thoroughbred racing in America.

Check Out These Events Ahead of the Kentucky Derby on May 7

The Kentucky Derby Festival starts with a bang on April 23rd, thanks to Thunder Over Louisville, a stunning fireworks display over the Ohio River. This charming city comes alive with dozens of other festivities leading up to the main event on May 7—take a look at some of our favorites below.

Apr. 23: Thunder Over Louisville
The biggest annual fireworks display in North America is also sure to inspire some big smiles.

Apr. 30: Great Balloon Race Lift Off
Dozens of hot-air balloons color the sky the weekend before the Derby.

Apr. 30: Opening Night sponsored by Stella Artois and Old Forester
Can’t-miss live racing and entertainment presented by Stella Artois and Finlandia Vodka in celebration of the Kentucky Derby.

May 3 – May 5: Dawn at the Downs
Watch morning workouts from the Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks contenders while listening to expert commentary.

May 3 – May 4: Derby Week Racing
Be a part of the excitement leading up to the Kentucky Derby as thoroughbred racing takes over Churchill Downs.

May 4: Steamboat Race
Join spectators on the banks of the Ohio River as they cheer historic steamboats like the Belle of Louisville to victory, or be a part of it by riding on one of the ships’ decks.

May 5: Thurby
Thurby offers a chance to celebrate three of the things that people love most about Kentucky—horse racing, bourbon, and live music!

May 5: Taste of Derby
Enjoy an upscale party where you can experience the most flavorful fare Louisville has to offer.

May 6: Longines Kentucky Oaks
The Longines Kentucky Oaks is the fillies’ time to shine in a thrilling race that rivals Saturday’s Derby. Ladies and gentlemen all dress in pink, and 142 survivors of breast cancer and ovarian cancer walk proudly along the track to help raise funds and awareness for breast and ovarian cancer.

Plan your Kentucky Derby trip and get more ideas for your visithere.

Explore Louisville Landmarks, Restaurants & More

Louisville embodies everything that makes the Bluegrass State great. Check out these points of interest to see the best of what the Derby City has to offer.


  • Hit a home run with a trip to the Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory, and learn about the world’s most famous baseball bat.
  • The Muhammed Ali Center gives you an insight into one of the most iconic athletes of all time—who also happens to be one of Louisville’s favorite sons.
  • Spirits connoisseurs won’t want to miss the Urban Bourbon Trail, which gives tourist a taste of the several distilleries that have left their mark on the city.
  • History buffs can’t pass up a trip to Locust Grove, the former home of General George Rogers Clark, Revolutionary War hero and founder of Louisville.
  • For a little local color, head to the Flea Off Market—a combination flea market, art fair, and street party just outside downtown Louisville.
  • Check out the Louisville Mega Cavern for a wide array of family fun opportunities in this former limestone mine.


  • The Oakroom
  • Corbett’s Fine Dining
  • Havana Rumba
  • Blue Dog Bakery and Café
  • City Café
  • Comfy Cow

What to Wear to the Kentucky Derby

This is where history and fashion meet. Take a look at these tips on what to wear from the Kentucky Derby for the biggest fashion trends as stylish people from all over the United States descend on Churchill Downs this spring. But don’t forget – it’s all about the Kentucky Derby hat!

To experience the thrills of the Kentucky Derby in person, check out our Kentucky Derby Tickets.