The Joys of the Kentucky Derby

The Joys of the Kentucky Derby

For the first time in my life I went to the famous US event known as the Kentucky Derby.

My wife has wanted to go for years, I think the enormous, floppy hats and generally poshness has been something she has wanted to be a part of for years.

Here are some of the things I did during this trip along with maybe some suggestions on how to make your Kentucky Derby experience as great as it can be. 



We stayed at a hotel in Shelbyville, KY. It was about a 40-45 minute drive into Louisville but all of the hotels in Louisville were either already booked or just ridiculously inflated. If I were to go again, I think I would just shell out to stay in Louisville. The drive wasn't terrible but it was fairly inconvenient and it left us often not where we wanted to be. We really wanted to be a part of the action in the main city. 


Food and Dining

We ate at several different restaurants. There are several that I'd love to go to again and highly recommend visiting if you go to Louisville. In contrast, there are several that we went to that I wouldn't care to go to again. 

My go to recommendations for dining are:

  • Lilly's - fantastic food and such a fun atmosphere
  • Hammerheads - super fun place and great drinks
  • Jack Fry's - so much history in the building, it made for a fun experience

Places that we ate at that were only okay:

  • 610 Magnolia - pricey with only okay tasting food
  • Jeff Ruby's - this may not be their fault. I am particular about my steaks, in fact, generally, I only eat steaks that I myself grill


Things to See and Do

Since we were there for the Derby we had to go to the Kentucky Derby Museum. It was okay. If I were to visit again, I wouldn't go again by any means.

We heard there was a Muhammad Ali Museum and had to go. It was awesome! I'm not generally a museum advocate but this was a really cool experience. If you're even vaguely into boxing, it's a must.

Louisville Slugger Factory. Totally recommend it. I think it's a must-see for Louisville. Very interesting experience and a lot of history and insight into the town that you wouldn't get otherwise. 

Our experience in Kentucky was lovely. The people were great and the city has all of the southern charm that you hear about. Our experience was so positive we have even considered moving to Kentucky.


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