Churchill Downs

Vacation Travel Guide
Churchill Downs showing horseriding and land animals as well as a small group of people

Find more than mint juleps to enjoy at this iconic racetrack, best known as the annual host of the Kentucky Derby.

Every May, Churchill Downs comes alive, packed with people and horses celebrating the races and excitement of the Kentucky Derby. The crowds have descended on the racetrack every year since 1875, making the Kentucky Derby the longest-running sporting event in United States history.

Take some time out of your packed Louisville schedule to come see the track’s distinctive spires and explore this indelible part of American sporting history. You’ll have lots to see and do year-round.

As you wait for one of the hourly tours to begin, stop in the Kentucky Derby Museum, which explains the history of the track, the jockeys and the horses. Settle in for a wild ride while watching the 360-degree film, The Greatest Race, which has stools that rotate as the immersive video screen shows all the action.

You may not want to leave, but follow your tour guide outside as he or she gives you a lively historical tour of the grounds and the track.

Visit the paddocks to glimpse a few of the magnificent animals in training for races. Walk around the track, imagining when horses such as Secretariat, who still holds the Derby record, thunder down it.

Take refuge from the heat in the clubhouse with a mint julep, which comes with a keepsake glass and offers an excellent opportunity to linger in front of the 36-foot (11-meter) mural of all of the jockeys who have won the race.

Be part of history by placing a bet and putting your feet up, watching the horses run and run.

Churchill Downs is in southern Louisville, a 10-minute drive or 30-minute bus ride from the city’s downtown. Walk here in 20 minutes from University of Louisville’s main campus. Free parking is available at the site.

Choose from a variety of tour options available to book on the racetrack’s website. The racetrack and museum are open daily during business hours with somewhat later start on Sundays. Racing takes place in three meets in spring, summer and fall. The Kentucky Derby is always the first Saturday in May.

Top Hotels Close to Churchill Downs

Private Room Near UofL, Churchill Downs&Downtown King Bed
Private Room Near UofL, Churchill Downs&Downtown King Bed
Louisville, KY
Located in South Louisville, this vacation home is within a 15-minute walk of Kentucky Derby Museum and Churchill Downs. Speed Art Museum and University of Louisville ...
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Private Room Near UofL, Churchill Downs&Downtown King Bed
The Churchill Backside-WALK TO DERBY!  KY EXPO, U of L, NULU
The Churchill Backside-WALK TO DERBY! KY EXPO, U of L, NULU
Louisville, KY
This family-friendly vacation home is located in the city center, within 1 mi (2 km) of Kentucky Derby Museum, Churchill Downs, and Cardinal Stadium. Speed Art ...
4.9/5 Exceptional! (23 reviews)
Beautiful updated home fora large group
"We had a great stay at this location. Plenty of room for six people. Everything was clean and the beds were comfy. The host was amazing at responding whenever we had a question. The reason for the four stars instead of five is because the homes surrounding the property were unkept, and we felt the ..."

Reviewed on Sep 13, 2021

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The Churchill Backside-WALK TO DERBY! KY EXPO, U of L, NULU
Triple Crown ★ Modern Loft +Sky Deck~Walk to Derby
Triple Crown ★ Modern Loft +Sky Deck~Walk to Derby
Louisville, KY
Located in Wyandotte, this condo building is within 1 mi (2 km) of Kentucky Derby Museum and Churchill Downs. Cardinal Stadium and University of Louisville are ...
5/5 Exceptional! (1 review)
Louisville Trip!
"We had a great stay at this property! Our check in/out process was very easy. Very clean and comfortable. Great amenities provided. About 10 minutes away from downtown, overall felt safe in the neighborhood although we did not walk to anything. Would definitely stay here again!"

Reviewed on Sep 20, 2021

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Triple Crown ★ Modern Loft +Sky Deck~Walk to Derby
Lowest nightly price found within the past 24 hours based on a 1 night stay for 2 adults. Prices and availability subject to change. Additional terms may apply.

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Best Lodging Options Near Churchill Downs

Four Points by Sheraton Louisville Airport
Four Points by Sheraton Louisville Airport
3 out of 5
2850 Crittenden Dr, Louisville, KY
The price is $84 per night from Nov 1 to Nov 1
Four Points by Sheraton Louisville Airport
Private Room Near UofL, Churchill Downs&Downtown King Bed
Private Room Near UofL, Churchill Downs&Downtown King Bed
Louisville, KY
Private Room Near UofL, Churchill Downs&Downtown King Bed
The Churchill Backside-WALK TO DERBY!  KY EXPO, U of L, NULU
The Churchill Backside-WALK TO DERBY! KY EXPO, U of L, NULU
Louisville, KY
The Churchill Backside-WALK TO DERBY! KY EXPO, U of L, NULU
Triple Crown ★ Modern Loft +Sky Deck~Walk to Derby
Triple Crown ★ Modern Loft +Sky Deck~Walk to Derby
Louisville, KY
Triple Crown ★ Modern Loft +Sky Deck~Walk to Derby
Galt House Hotel Trademark Collection by Wyndham
Galt House Hotel Trademark Collection by Wyndham
4 out of 5
140 North Fourth Street, Louisville, KY
The price is $127 per night from Oct 31 to Oct 31
Galt House Hotel Trademark Collection by Wyndham
Modern, industrial-chic loft.
Modern, industrial-chic loft.
Louisville, KY
The price is $175 per night from Oct 29 to Oct 29
Modern, industrial-chic loft.
The Greenhouse of Louisville
The Greenhouse of Louisville
Louisville, KY
The price is $166 per night from Nov 2 to Nov 2
The Greenhouse of Louisville
The Call to Post! - 3 bed / 1.5 bath - Walking distance to Churchill Downs
The Call to Post! - 3 bed / 1.5 bath - Walking distance to Churchill Downs
Louisville, KY
The Call to Post! - 3 bed / 1.5 bath - Walking distance to Churchill Downs
Hilton Garden Inn Louisville Airport
Hilton Garden Inn Louisville Airport
3 out of 5
2735 Crittenden Dr, Louisville, KY
The price is $112 per night from Nov 20 to Nov 20
Hilton Garden Inn Louisville Airport
Lowest nightly price found within the past 24 hours based on a 1 night stay for 2 adults. Prices and availability subject to change. Additional terms may apply.