Attending the Kentucky Derby is a fabulous experience, and one that is unique and wonderful, drawing visitors from the world over. Sure, the race itself may only last two minutes, but they may just be the most exciting two minutes in the world of sports. Besides, there’s so much fun and festivity that’s built up around the Kentucky Derby that going there has become about so much more than the race itself. With that in mind, we’re dedicating this week’s blog to the essential Kentucky Derby experiences you’ll want to check out should you go.
Enjoy the Pegasus Parade. Prior to the Derby, Louisville hosts one of the biggest and most fabulous parades in the US, the Pegasus Parade. Yes there are amazing floats and huge inflatables, as well as marching bands and equestrian troupes, but also some really interesting celebrities act as Grand Marshall (you no doubt already know that the Kentucky Derby attracts a whole load of celebrities every year). Previous years have seen Muhammad Ali, Loretta Lynn, and William Shatner lead the parade.
Sip on a mint julep. You’ll find mint juleps served everywhere in Louisville, including at the bars in Churchill Downs, but there are some places that do this classic drink exceptionally well. The Brown Hotel Lobby Bar (luckily this is the bar that we host our Derby guests at) serves up a tasty julep made with Maker’s Mark, mint-infused simple syrup, a splash of club soda, and dusting of powdered sugar. The Silver Dollar is another top spot to try one, as they elevate the julep to a whole new level through using Four Roses Single Barrel whiskey and topping it with crushed ice. Finding your personal favorite interpretation wouldn’t be a bad way to try and experience Louisville while you’re there.
Buy a hat. Sure, you can head to Louisville with a hat, but you will have no problem at all finding a superb headpiece to wear once you get there. Dee’s Hats is the place to head for an off-the-rack hat, or to have one custom made to suit your chosen race day outfit. The Derby is your excuse to wear something completely wild, whether that be a big and loud hat, or a delicate fascinator. FYI – Kentucky Derby hats aren’t just for the ladies, there are plenty of places to pick up a handsome gents hat too.
Go on a distillery tour. If you love bourbon, then visiting Louisville is going to be such a great experience. There are 11 distilleries in and around Louisville, with each offering something delicious and different. You can sample the very best of Jim Beam, or head to a craft distillery such as Kentucky Peerless Distilling, touring the beautiful Kentucky countryside as you go from one distillery to another.
Louisville is a beautiful city steeped in history, with incredible award winning restaurants, and many fine museums, galleries and attractions. Should you wish to enjoy these, or any of the suggestions above, Roadtrips can create a custom itinerary to ensure that your Kentucky Derby experience is a wonderful one.