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Booking a Kentucky Derby trip - FBG expertise needed!


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Looking to go to the Kentucky Derby next year.  Looking for FBG guidance.

1) Itin - We were thinking flying from CA on Wed.  Do something like a bourbon trail/horse farm type day on Thursday including maybe out towards Lexington.  Kentucky Oaks on Fri, Derby on Sat, fly home on Sunday.  Ideal or should we shift that thinking?

2) Lodging - I know rooms are tough to come by.  2 years ago I was able to use Marriott points to book the downtown Marriott (unfortunately I had to cancel).  Is that a good spot? Anywhere downtown? Marriott hasn't opened up May 2022 dates yet. I know there are hotels closer to Churchill Downs but I'd like to be walking distance of the action (bars, restaurants, etc).  Some friends of mine have done VRBO etc to get a bigger house.  Good option? If so what are ideal areas?

3) Activities - any recommendations on a bourbon trail/horse farm type of day?

4) Restaurants

5) Parties - we'd like to go to some of the charity events with music/food. Any you recommend and how do we get tickets?

6) Oaks/Derby tickets.  Any recommendations? Want relatively good tickets.  No sure if the VIP experiences are the way to go or worth it. I know there are sites like this for packages.  Anybody have better connections?

https://derbyexperiences.com/kentucky-derby-2022

Any recommendations appreciated! 

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Posted (edited)

You’re correct not to stay near the track.  Downtown is fine and relatively convenient, though the best restaurants and fun neighborhoods tend to be in areas to the east of there.  If you rent a house instead, look in Clifton/Frankfort Avenue or Highlands/Bardstown Road areas.  

I haven’t been there, but my cousin’s restaurant seems to win all kinds of awards:  La Chasse.  Known for their cocktails, too.

Speaking of cocktails, don’t miss Hell or High Water, one of the coolest speakeasies I’ve ever been to.  You have to make a reservation even though, yes, it’s a bar.  You also do a quiz before you go in.  Altogether unique experience.

ETA:  lots of other great restaurants.  I’ll post more suggestions when you’re getting closer to the date.

Edited by krista4
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Posted (edited)

I lived in Lexington for years.  My two cents:

For lodging, one of the best experiences you will find is to stay downtown in the Gratz park inn area.  Hotels are hotels all over the world and the Mariott is the Mariott and nice but if you want a unique experience that is very cool and screams Kentucky Derby vibes, try the Gratz Park area and nearby.  They are small, quaint, have character. Can't be beAt and that puts you in walking distance of the campuses which means fun, bars, food, etc.  Book EARLY.

For things to do, the bourbon trail tours are cool if you're really into bourbon but you're going to invest a lot of your day into it.  But if you do, I'd try one of the ones near Frankfort.

If it were me, my activity of choice would easily be to go to Keeneland horse race track in Lexington.  It is THE thing to do on Derby weekend in Lexington.

Also consider the horse farms.  They are nice to tour.  Paris Pike road and Taylor farms are nice. 

Food-Tony's steak house or Chris Ruth.  There are lots of good places to eat in Lexington that you won't find everywhere but those two are the crem de la crem or however you say it.  If you go to Tony's you MUST try the bourbon whipped sweet potatoes.  It will change your life.  You must also reserve EARLY.  Can't emphasize enough.  It's a tough gig to get.  

You will hear people say Malone's, Azurs, Dudley's, etc, but they are a clear tier down.  If you go to The Summit complex there is a group of nice restaurants and J. Alexander's tends to be great if you're a steak guy that likes good wine pairings.  

Also, at Keeneland, you can actually do a very nice meal there in either the Phoenix or Lexington room.  Both are reservation/coat and tie affairs but give good food and great atmosphere (you can watch the races from inside the rooms because they oversight the track).  

At the event itself avoid the inner pit.  If you're a college kid it's cool but if you're more "mature", it's a pain and if it rains it's nasty.  

 

Hope that helps.  

 

Edited by Shutout
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1 hour ago, Shutout said:

I lived in Lexington for years.  My two cents:

For lodging, one of the best experiences you will find is to stay downtown in the Gratz park inn area.  Hotels are hotels all over the world and the Mariott is the Mariott and nice but if you want a unique experience that is very cool and screams Kentucky Derby vibes, try the Gratz Park area and nearby.  They are small, quaint, have character. Can't be beAt and that puts you in walking distance of the campuses which means fun, bars, food, etc.  Book EARLY.

For things to do, the bourbon trail tours are cool if you're really into bourbon but you're going to invest a lot of your day into it.  But if you do, I'd try one of the ones near Frankfort.

If it were me, my activity of choice would easily be to go to Keeneland horse race track in Lexington.  It is THE thing to do on Derby weekend in Lexington.

Also consider the horse farms.  They are nice to tour.  Paris Pike road and Taylor farms are nice. 

Food-Tony's steak house or Chris Ruth.  There are lots of good places to eat in Lexington that you won't find everywhere but those two are the crem de la crem or however you say it.  If you go to Tony's you MUST try the bourbon whipped sweet potatoes.  It will change your life.  You must also reserve EARLY.  Can't emphasize enough.  It's a tough gig to get.  

You will hear people say Malone's, Azurs, Dudley's, etc, but they are a clear tier down.  If you go to The Summit complex there is a group of nice restaurants and J. Alexander's tends to be great if you're a steak guy that likes good wine pairings.  

Also, at Keeneland, you can actually do a very nice meal there in either the Phoenix or Lexington room.  Both are reservation/coat and tie affairs but give good food and great atmosphere (you can watch the races from inside the rooms because they oversight the track).  

At the event itself avoid the inner pit.  If you're a college kid it's cool but if you're more "mature", it's a pain and if it rains it's nasty.  

 

Hope that helps.  

 

Awesome.  Is Keeneland even open then? I thought they shut down the week before the Derby

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1 hour ago, Shutout said:

I lived in Lexington for years.  My two cents:

For lodging, one of the best experiences you will find is to stay downtown in the Gratz park inn area.  Hotels are hotels all over the world and the Mariott is the Mariott and nice but if you want a unique experience that is very cool and screams Kentucky Derby vibes, try the Gratz Park area and nearby.  They are small, quaint, have character. Can't be beAt and that puts you in walking distance of the campuses which means fun, bars, food, etc.  Book EARLY.

For things to do, the bourbon trail tours are cool if you're really into bourbon but you're going to invest a lot of your day into it.  But if you do, I'd try one of the ones near Frankfort.

If it were me, my activity of choice would easily be to go to Keeneland horse race track in Lexington.  It is THE thing to do on Derby weekend in Lexington.

Also consider the horse farms.  They are nice to tour.  Paris Pike road and Taylor farms are nice. 

Food-Tony's steak house or Chris Ruth.  There are lots of good places to eat in Lexington that you won't find everywhere but those two are the crem de la crem or however you say it.  If you go to Tony's you MUST try the bourbon whipped sweet potatoes.  It will change your life.  You must also reserve EARLY.  Can't emphasize enough.  It's a tough gig to get.  

You will hear people say Malone's, Azurs, Dudley's, etc, but they are a clear tier down.  If you go to The Summit complex there is a group of nice restaurants and J. Alexander's tends to be great if you're a steak guy that likes good wine pairings.  

Also, at Keeneland, you can actually do a very nice meal there in either the Phoenix or Lexington room.  Both are reservation/coat and tie affairs but give good food and great atmosphere (you can watch the races from inside the rooms because they oversight the track).  

At the event itself avoid the inner pit.  If you're a college kid it's cool but if you're more "mature", it's a pain and if it rains it's nasty.  

 

Hope that helps.  

 

I'm really confused. Gratz Park is in Lexington, not Louisville.  Are you recommending we stay there for a Kentucky Derby trip? Isn't that a haul to Churchill Downs?

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1 hour ago, Judge Smails said:

Awesome.  Is Keeneland even open then? I thought they shut down the week before the Derby

The actual racing is closed. But the activities and the betting windows are open.  A lot of people go there and make a day of it.   

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1 hour ago, Judge Smails said:

I'm really confused. Gratz Park is in Lexington, not Louisville.  Are you recommending we stay there for a Kentucky Derby trip? Isn't that a haul to Churchill Downs?

It's a short drive and, imo, Lexington is a lot more convenient for a couple days around the Derby.  There's so much going on in Louisville at Derby time that Lexington is just a less hassle.  But if you are in Louisville, 4th Street is the activity center to be at, of course.  

Edited by Shutout
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Posted (edited)

Ahhhh, 4th Street is pretty much the last place I'd want to go in Louisville, so maybe this isn't the thread for me.  Judge, if you end up renting and want advice on a particular locale, or anything else, feel free to PM me.

Edited by krista4
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I’ve been twice (super saver and I’ll have another). one was for a bachelor party and the other time was basically just a drunken guy’s weekend (was actually supposed to be a couples trip but several of the wives came down with a bout of pregnancy and it was down to just my wife and my buddys wife who barely knew each other so we convinced them to stay home)

anyway start looking at hotels now, they may not be up yet but should be soon.  I’d say anything within the loops is fine (I think that’s the nickname for the freeways that run around the city)

I used to go on business a lot too but that was like 15+ years ago, so hard to recommend specific restaurants and my derby trips were usually like chicken wings for dinner and then hit the strip club

we did do one nice dinner at one of the casinos in Indiana

I think Churchill downs website has a link to sign up for tickets, not sure how it has been last few years with the COVID

Not sure budget but I’d say try for 300 level of you can swing it

so unfortunately I’ve probably done different style trips than what you’re looking for, but :white star: for the thread in case I can contribute 

 

 

 

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Oh i know you like to bet, my recommendation is if you are driving and parking or taking a cab/Uber is to stay and play the 2 races after.  All the derby day crowd will clear out and only the true degens will be around so traffic will be much lighter by the time you leave

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1 hour ago, Dan Lambskin said:

Oh i know you like to bet, my recommendation is if you are driving and parking or taking a cab/Uber is to stay and play the 2 races after.  All the derby day crowd will clear out and only the true degens will be around so traffic will be much lighter by the time you leave

Oh I'll be there for the full monty. 

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1 hour ago, Dan Lambskin said:

I’d say anything within the loops is fine (I think that’s the nickname for the freeways that run around the city)

 

It is not.

:bulldolls:

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21 minutes ago, krista4 said:

It is not.

:bulldolls:

i stayed at a motel 6 one of the years, so take my opinion with a grain of salt, but our main goal was affordable lodging 

if he’s getting there prior to post of race 1 and staying through the end he really shouldn’t have an issue with transportation / parking, so probably opens him up to a bigger radius of hotel options

Indiana side is definitely in play too

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