There are few American sporting events with the history and popularity of the Kentucky Derby. Its rich traditions – sipping a mint julep, donning a beautiful hat, and joining fellow race fans in singing “My Old Kentucky Home” – transcend the Kentucky Derby from just a sporting event, making it a celebration of southern culture and a true icon of Americana. America’s greatest race, the Kentucky Derby, has run continuously since 1875. It is the longest continually held sporting event in America, and it is one of the most prestigious horse races in the world.
Day 1, Thursday, May 4
We begin our journey to Louisville, Kentucky, the home of the one-and-only Kentucky Derby, where we will check in at our hotel for the next three nights, Drury Inn, Louisville. At the Jeptha Creed Distillery in Shelbyville, a new farm to bottle distillery, you enjoy an evening on the patio with a Bourbon, Barbecue and Country Music Dinner. There will be dancing and distillery tours – plus a bourbon tasting opportunity. This is one of the most modern bourbon distilleries in Kentucky and we have a festive evening planned here as our kick-off event to the Derby. (D)
Day 2, Friday, May 5*
You don’t have to be a baseball fan to love Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory. On a fascinating tour of this iconic attraction, we visit interactive exhibits and learn why baseball is such a big part of American history and culture. Even if you are not a baseball fan, it is sure you will find a connection here. Lunch today will be in the banquet room of Claudia Sanders Dinner House. This restaurant is a replica of the elegant, old home opened by Colonel Sanders of KFC fame, in 1959. It was from this very building that Kentucky Fried Chicken grew into a world-wide organization. After lunch, you can visit a Derby Hat Boutique where you can buy hats and accessories for both men and women. Having just the right Derby Hat, with the right accessories, is a very important part of the Kentucky Derby Experience.
During today’s touring we will explore a horse farm and training facility and actually see training in progress. At this time of year it is also possible to see a new foal up close and personal. This afternoon you return to your hotel to rest up before tonight’s dinner. This evening’s “Off to the Races” Dinner Party features a special “Taste of Kentucky,” including renowned Kentucky favorites with Derby Pie for dessert. During dinner, we will have some Derby Racing fun. You can place bets (play money) on pre-recorded horse races projected on the big screen. Consider this a warm up to the big race tomorrow. It’s a chance to make few bets, cheer for a favorite and share a few laughs. You will be rolling in the aisles with fun. (B, L, D)
*The sequence of events in your group’s itinerary for this day may not be as shown here.
Day 3, Saturday, May 6
Today’s first event is the Derby Day Riverboat Race. We will take a ride in one of two paddlewheelers upstream as we get insider tips from some Derby Race experts. They will talk about the Horses, how they run in different conditions, who has the post and what does that mean, plus information on the trainers and more. You will also enjoy a seminar on how to place a real bet at Churchill Downs. Near the end of our boat tour, the Sternwheelers will turn downstream and with those big red paddlewheels kicking up a feather trail of whitewater, we will race each other back to Louisville.
The 149th Kentucky Derby – Lower Level Seats
Next is the highlight of the trip! You have a VIP Fast Access Pass to Churchill Downs and 1st floor Grandstand Seats near the Starting Line. Help yourself to unlimited food and drink (including beer, wine & cocktails). This is one of the world’s greatest and most celebrated sporting events and you are on hand to experience it all! (B, L, D)
Day 4, Sunday, May 7
This morning, with hat boxes and suitcases loaded, we depart for home with another event checked off your bucket list. (B)
- The Kentucky Derby – Reserved Seats – With All-Inclusive Food & Beverage (including wine, beer, and cocktails)
- 1st-Floor grandstand seats near the Starting Line
- Derby Day Riverboat Race – Belle of Louisville vs. The Mary M. Miller
- Bourbon, Barbecue and Country Music
- Louisville Slugger Museum
- Lunch at Claudia Sanders Dinner House
- Horse Farm and Training Center Tour
- Derby Hat Boutique
- Bourbon & Chocolate Gift Box
- “Off to the Races” Dinner Party with Kentucky Derby Museum
- 3 Nights Drury Hotel
- 8 Meals: 3 breakfasts, 2 lunches, and 3 dinners
- All taxes and gratuities
- Deluxe Motorcoach Transportation
- Churchill Downs VIP Fast Access Pass
- Fully Escorted by Jane’s Journeys
NOTE: Even with premium motorcoach parking, it is still a long walk to the grandstand. You may walk close to a mile. You must be capable of walking to enjoy this trip.
Cost Per Person:
Because of restrictive payment schedule for this tour, all reservations and final payments must be received by 1/4/23. $500 deposit with reservation.
The Kentucky Derby is America’s most extravagant springtime sports party. While there is a horse race at the heart of this spectacle, there are many other intriguing aspects within this Louisville tradition. It is a festival and fashion show, it’s a Parade and a Race, it’s Mint Juleps and Riverboats; it’s about Horses and it’s about time you see it!