One of the items on our must-do list in Louisville during our Smoky Mountain road trip was a visit to Churchill Downs and the Kentucky Derby Museum. I am usually not one for museums, but was pleasantly surprised how much fun the Kentucky Derby Museum was. There were a number of different interactive elements scattered throughout which helped break up the visit and made it feel more unique than your traditional museum. I think that these interactive elements take the Kentucky Derby Museum to a different level. Not to mention, it also makes the visit more family friendly for those traveling with children, or just those that are still kids at heart like us.
You enter the museum through horse starting gates, our first fun photo op. You then walk around and learn the history of the Kentucky Derby including derby hats, the Triple Crown trophy and information about previous winners. Naturally there was a lot of information about Secretariat, the most famous racehorse ever, who I learned about by watching the Disney movie with the same name.
Afterwards I challenged Andy on the virtual horse racing game and beat him, even though I had no clue what the different controls did. We also tried on some jockey outfits, in non-jockey sizes of course, which was fun and allowed for another fun photo op.
In the center of the museum there is a small theater that plays a historical film about the Kentucky Derby called “The Greatest Race.” It’s a ten minute film that plays every hour in a 360 degree theater experience. The 360 degree theater gives you the experience of being right in the center of everything and is perfect for simulating the excitement of a race at Churchill Downs.
Following the indoor museum, we joined a group tour of the outdoor area. We saw where the jockeys walk the horses before the race and learned that those bricks are actually rubber to protect the horses hooves. We also learned that a portion of the stands including the iconic twin spires are original and were built back in 1894. I love that this part of the track history was preserved and truly believe that it helps give a historic charm to the track. We also got to the see the track itself which was pretty impressive, you can tell it is very well maintained and for high end racing. Our tour guide was extremely good, very knowledgeable, had a good sense of humor and able to answer any question that he was asked.
Our visit to Churchill Downs and the Kentucky Derby Museum was my favorite thing that we did when we were in Louisville. I think it would be great to go back when there was a race so we could experience the track in all of its glory. Perhaps someday we take another road trip down to Louisville to watch the Kentucky Derby.