After visiting Louisville a few summers ago, attending the Kentucky Derby has been high on my travel bucket list. I haven’t managed to make it yet, but this year I was able to get dolled up for a derby day a bit closer to home–at New York’s own Belmont Park!
Located in Eastern Queens, getting there isn’t nearly as hard as you may think. If you’re a lucky New Yorker with a car, simply enter 2150 Hempstead Turnpike Elmont, NY 11003 into your GPS and off you go! Door to door from Manhattan it’s about 45 minutes.
No car? No worries! You can easily reach the track by bus, railroad, and even subway! “Subway?!”, you ask. Yes! So simple, I promise! Take the F train to 169th street or 179th street then take the N6 or the Q2 bus to Belmont or take the E train to Jamaica Center (Parsons Blvd.) and then take the Q110 bus to Belmont. All for the swipe of a Metrocard! How’s that for an inexpensive day trip?
What To Do
Once you’re at the track, General Admission is a slight $5 per person (with the exception being Belmont Stakes Day, when it jumps to $15.)
Spectating + Betting
Obviously, watching the horses race and perhaps placing a bet or two are going to be high on your list. I love how up front and personal you can get to the finish line!
Play Dress Up
The day I was at the track, attire of spectators ranged from derby day finest to dungarees–so if the idea of spiffing up in your Sunday best is keeping you from checking out the track, don’t let it. (But if dressing pretty is your jam, by all means, get wild! Gentleman can be seen donning blazers and bowties, and ladies in Lilly Pulitzer and ginormous derby hats!) Also, there are some areas of the Park that adhere to a strict dress code so if you’re interested in box seats or scooping out the Paddock with the horses and jockeys, dress your best!
If you’re of the early risers crew, head to Belmont for breakfast, which runs weekend and holiday mornings. For $8.95 per person, you’ll get a continental breakfast from 7 to 9:30am at the Trackside Cafe. Afterward, you’ll be able to take a free tram ride through the stable area for an up-close view of the horses, complete with a demo of how the horses are loaded into the starting gates before the races begin. Definitely a fun activity if you have horse loving little ones in tow!
There are plenty of on-site options to nosh at Belmont (The Garden Terrace Dining Room for fancier fare or Heritage Club Food Court for quick bites), but bringing a picnic is certainly welcome, too! The Backyard Picnic area is a fan favorite because of its space and accommodations for children, and has several concession stands offering burgers, hot dogs, French fries, ice cream and more. While no barbecues are permitted, you are allowed to bring coolers into this area (just no glass containers.) So pack a picnic of your faves before leaving the city!
Belmont is truly such a quick, easy, and affordable day away from the city–and with all the horses and greenery, you’ll practically feel like you’re in Louisville!
Have you done at day at the races? Share your experience below!
A very special thank you to America’s Best Racing for hosting us at Belmont!