Kentucky Derby Museum

704 Central Avenue
Louisville KY 40208
80 Reviews

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Opening Hours

  • Mon: 8am-5pm
  • Tue: 8am-5pm
  • Wed: 8am-5pm
  • Thu: 8am-5pm
  • Fri: 8am-5pm
  • Sat: 8am-5pm
  • Sun: 11am-5pm

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If you can't seem to get tickets to the Kentucky Derby in May, your next best bet is to stop in at the Kentucky Derby Museum and see just what all that fuss is about. The Kentucky Derby Museum, on the grounds of Churchill Downs Racetrack, is a museum solely dedicated to that famous race, almost 150 years strong, and the most famous horses and jockeys who ever participated. Start your visit with a short movie and then trot your way through the museum, seeing exhibits and artifacts about racing and dressing, for both the horses and the spectators. The museum has several indoor, stationary exhibits about racing, but you'll also get to step outside into the stables and view some real, live Kentucky thoroughbreds as well as see the grave sites of five past Kentucky Derby winners.

Best and worst time to go to the Kentucky Derby Museum
The worst time to go is during the Kentucky Derby Festival, which is held just before the Kentucky Derby on the first Saturday in May. Mother's Day and Easter are other really busy times. Generally, Saturdays and Sundays are pleasant days and any weekday when a field trip of local schools isn't present.

Must see or do at the Kentucky Derby Museum
The 360-degree movie about the history of the Derby is a must-do. On busy days, you might have to wait your turn, but it's well worth the wait to see past races galloping past your eyes on the huge screen. If you're not a sports fan, don't despair. The museum has amazing exhibits of the crazy Derby fashions and hats of the last century or so. The museum also has revolving exhibits that focus on African American involvement and even Hollywood stars.

Admission to the Kentucky Derby Museum
Prices range from $14 for a full tickets, with discounts and cheaper prices for seniors, military, kids, AAA, and others. Your ticket price includes the museum tour, a walking history tour of Churchill Downs, and the movie.

Parking and public transportation to Kentucky Derby Museum
There is parking on site, usually for free, but there is a charge on race days during the season. Check the calendar to see if this applies, which is nearly everyday in the spring or summer. TARC does provide public transportation on Route 4, which also services the downtown area. Taxi services are also always available.

Food at the Kentucky Derby Museum
There is a cafe at the museum, the Derby Cafe, open each day for lunch hours only, which serves typically unique Kentucky fare like Burgoo and Hot Brown for reasonable prices. The cafe is closed during holidays and special occasions, so be sure to check the website before you plan on lunch. On really busy days, there is no menu available; instead, a buffet service is offered.

Insiders tip for Kentucky Derby Museum
The Derby Cafe is part of the Kentucky Urban Bourbon Trail, a marked trail of bourbon tasting spots in Louisville. Visitors who really want to sample the best of that spirit can make reservations to try a flight of Kentucky's best bourbons including Maker's Mark, Four Roses, Woodford Reserve, and Buffalo Trace served by actual bourbon authorities. These events are held throughout the year, but must be reserved in advance.

Author's bio: CC Thomas is freelance writer and Kentucky native who loves to travel. Follow the adventures at