CP Travel Ambassador Mary House stayed stateside and traveled to one of the most iconic events of American culture: The Kentucky Derby! Find out why this event is so lively and full of history and the bourbon tour you must take.
What specific cities and /or countries did you visit? Louisville, Kentucky
What was your favorite memory from this trip? Attending the Kentucky Oaks and Kentucky Derby with our friends. We traveled by car and arrived the Tuesday before the races. We toured several distilleries before the races. We actually did a bourbon tasting in a Horse Barn with 2 retired race horses. Horses love peppermints!
Top excursions and landmarks/sites to visit: Churchhill Downs is a beautiful track. We were there for 2 days for the Oaks on Friday and the Derby on Saturday. The atmosphere is so electric and everyone is decked out with their finest clothes and hats. Food, music, adult beverages, and the most hospitable people. We had a package that included our seats, affirmed lounge (included all music, beverages, food, and access to the Kentucky Derby Museum), and hotel accommodations. Hermitage Farm Bourbon tasting was so unique and really interesting. They are an active horse breeding farm and do not have a distillery. They go to several distilleries and select a special barrel distillation for their tasting.
Were there any standout restaurants or foodie must-haves on this trip? We had dinner one evening at Captains Quarters Riverside Grill. We had a beautiful view of the Ohio River. We all decided to have a Kentucky Hot Brown and you've never seen such clean plates. I've had hot browns before but theirs was the best I have ever had. On our way home we stopped in Jaspers, Indiana and had a Mother's Day Brunch at Schnitzelbank Restaurant. Huge feast of great food and wonderful staff.
How would you describe the people and culture of this destination? Any interesting cultural lessons? The hospitality of the people of Kentucky was wonderful. We stayed at a Holiday Inn Express and the staff was so happy to see us and treated us great from beginning to the end of our stay. As we were checking out, I thanked the Management for our stay and their response was they were so happy to see us. They were working on next year on how they were going to improve the decorations and our experience. Met with a welcome smile and left with a thank you for staying.
What is something people would be surprised to learn about this destination? I'm not sure they will be surprised but the horse farms are gorgeous. The countryside is amazing. During the Derby week, school is canceled Thursday and Friday before the Derby.
Top 5 Tips and recommendations for this trip:
- Give yourself plenty of time to really experience all that Louisville, Kentucky has to offer you.
- Book your hotels for next year now. Don't overschedule yourself. Factor in some free time, in case you run into something you want to stop at.
- Research restaurants and reviews and book reservations ahead of time.
- Remember you will be outside at the Derby and you need to plan for the weather.
What makes this destination a must-see in your opinion? Churchhill Downs and the Kentucky Derby.
Additional thoughts and insights? We purchased a Kentucky Derby Experience Package through QuintsEvents. We used them 5 years ago and had a great time then. We upgraded our package and the experience was even better. A package with transportation to and from the Derby is the only way to go.
To plan your Kentucky Derby trip now, contact a Cruise Planners advisor near you!