historic lodging is a beauty with its chandeliers, elaborate plaster ceilings, equestrian paintings, marble floors and intricately carved European furniture. This downtown hotel draws bluegrass music lovers, bourbon drinkers and Derby Day celebrants alike. No visit to Louisville is complete without dining in the hotel’s English Grill and trying “The Hot Brown,” the hotel’s traditional dish. The open-faced turkey sandwich, first introduced in 1926 to feed guests after the nightly dinner dance, is topped with bacon, sliced tomatoes, grated cheese and Mornay sauce. After indulging in the sandwich you may as well tackle a slice of derby pie; filled with a gooey mix of butter, chocolate and walnuts and topped with whipped cream, it’s sure to finish you off nicely.
racetrack hosts the Kentucky Oaks race each year on the Friday before the Kentucky Derby. The winner receives a $1.25 million purse, the “Lillies for the Fillies” garland and a sterling silver trophy with horse-head handles and a silver horseshoe on top. The first leg of the Triple Crown—the Kentucky Derby is also known as The Run for the Roses and is said to be the most exciting 2 minutes in sports. Started in 1875, this race featuring 3-year-old Thoroughbreds is always held on the first Saturday in May.
When in Derby City, make time to dine at this iconic restaurant.
was established in 1933 and named for the original owner who was a big fan of amateur boxing and betting on the ponies. His place became a hangout for sportsmen, reflected in the historic photographs that line the walls. Southern food with a French twist, live jazz music, a connoisseur’s wine list and classic cocktails make this fine dining restaurant a local favorite. Enjoy their signature burger, “Jack’s Burger,” made with ground chuck, served on a brioche bun and topped with caramelized onions, lettuce, tomato and spicy Habagardil pickles—cucumbers pickled with a blend of habanero peppers, garlic and dill. And don’t skip dessert. Paired with house-made ice cream or sorbet, seasonal fruit cobbler is one of the restaurant’s specialties.
Even if you’re not in town during the two racing seasons in April and October, this Thoroughbred horse racing facility is a destination not to be missed. Watch the horses strut their stuff as trainers get them ready for their next race, daily 6-10 a.m. You will be struck by the beauty of the rolling landscape, and the stone buildings and fences. Admission is free.Read MoreAAA / Diana Wix
Kentucky Derby Museum
Visiting the Kentucky Derby Museum
, a AAA GEM
® attraction, is one of the fun things to do with friends while in Louisville. Enjoy “The Greatest Race,” a 360-degree high-definition film about the life of a Thoroughbred; derby footage makes this an exciting sound-and-sight experience. Two levels of exhibits display the history of the race, the champions and the traditions that make the race what it is today. If you’re looking for just the right derby hat or planning a derby party, stop by the Finish Line Gift Shop.Read MoreiStockphoto.com / Robert Terry
iStockphoto.com / Robert Terry
Kentucky Horse Park
Of course it’s all about horses at the Kentucky Horse Park
, a AAA GEM
attraction. Take a horse-drawn trolley ride pulled by draft horses, go horseback riding or take a tour of area horse farms. Two museums, the American Saddlebred Museum and the International Museum of the Horse, are both informative and fun for the whole family. With its top-of-the-line competition facilities, the park hosts events throughout the year. Outdoor enthusiasts will love the resort campground, set among the rolling hills.Read MoreCourtesy of Marriott Griffin Gate Resort & Spa
Courtesy of Marriott Griffin Gate Resort & Spa
Lexington Griffin Gate Marriott Golf Resort & Spa
The serene grounds of the Lexington Griffin Gate Marriott Golf Resort & Spa
, a AAA Three Diamond
lodging, are surrounded by white split rail fences. This location is a good place to stay during your vacation due to its proximity to nearby equestrian-related points of interest. Contemporary décor with an equestrian theme, a spa, a golf club, a state-of-the-art fitness center, and indoor and outdoor pools make this a great place to relax or work out. For the home stretch, JW’s Lounge rustles up some delicious handcrafted martinis, including the Kentucky Peach Martini, made with bourbon and peach schnapps.Book Now
AAA Travel Editor Stephanie Simpson
Stephanie Simpson is a AAA Travel Expert.