Loading your recommendations…

4 Can’t Miss Experiences at the Kentucky Derby Museum

Rich in traditions, the Kentucky Derby is not just a sporting event. It is an iconic celebration of southern culture and heritage married with the exhilarating spirit of competition, triumph, and perseverance.

At the Kentucky Derby Museum, don’t just learn the story of this legendary race — live the story through 4 can’t miss experiences. Explore interactive exhibits, stable visits, and immersive bourbon experiences, while gaining a new-found love and appreciation for all things horse racing.

A horse and jockey training at Churchill Downs

1. Go Behind-the-Scenes at Churchill Downs

Enjoy a behind-the-scenes look at the legendary Churchill Downs Racetrack with specialty tours available exclusively through the Kentucky Derby Museum. Gain access to places that are typically closed to the public, such as the Barn and Backside of Churchill Downs, and get up close and personal with horses, jockeys and trainers. Stop railside at the track while you learn about the Derby’s early days and hear tales of renowned winners like Secretariat and Aristides. Seeing life on the backside is a one-of-a-kind, unforgettable experience.

An exhibit displaying trophies and a riding outfit.

2. Explore the Derby’s History

From the inaugural event in 1875 to the most recent champions, explore the history of America’s most prestigious horse race with two floors of interactive, family-friendly exhibits at the Kentucky Derby Museum. Follow the life of record-setting Thoroughbreds from birth to the first Saturday in May, learn the history of Derby fashion trends, and view trophies, awards, photographs, and personal mementos dating as far back as the 1840s.

Bourbon and Bridles tasting flight and card.

3. Sip Bourbon & Make Your Own Mint Julep

With world-famous distilleries just down the road from the race track, it’s no surprise that bourbon and Derby Day go hand in hand.

On the Bourbon and Bridles Experience, start with a tour of historic Churchill Downs, learn why horse racing and Bourbon have become such an iconic duo of the Kentucky Derby, then wet your whistle with a Bourbon tasting along with an interactive lesson on how to make a signature Mint Julep. Throughout the experience, a knowledgeable guide will share stories of distillery owners who have won the Run for the Roses in the past and the creative methods in which guests imbibed during the Prohibition years.

Kentucky Derby Museum’s Derby Cafe & Bourbon Bar is an official stop on Louisville’s Urban Bourbon Trail®, and serves over 150 different Bourbons. So while you’re there be sure to get your digital passport stamped by a certified Bourbon Steward.

The miniature horse, Mighty Aristides, comforting a resident Thoroughbred.

4. Meet the Newest Team Member

No trip to the Derby Museum would be complete without a visit to see the newest member of the team — a newly-adopted miniature horse named Mighty Aristides! Standing only 30” tall, Mighty Aristides (Ari for short) received his name from a public contest which received more than 1,200 submissions. The name is meaningful because Aristides was the first winner of the Kentucky Derby in 1875. Ari has big shoes to fill with his chosen namesake but he’s fitting in just fine and as a companion miniature horse, he provides support, friendship, and a calming presence for our Resident Thoroughbred.

The Stable Exhibit is free to visit (no museum ticket required) and is located outside by the museum’s Oaks Garden Terrace.

Nothing says Kentucky like a true Derby experience so start planning your visit to the Kentucky Derby Museum, where every day is Derby Day!

*This blog post is sponsored by the Kentucky Derby Museum.

About The Author

The Kentucky Derby Museum