Where to watch The Kentucky Derby in San Diego

Zack Garhart
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Known as the ‘fastest two minutes in sports’, the Kentucky Derby is upon us again! With a host of options on where and how to watch the race, check out this list of venues that we’ve picked out for where to watch the Kentucky Derby in San Diego!

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First off, what is the Kentucky Derby?

This wildly popular horse race dates back to 1875, and has been held nearly every year since—with exceptions coming during the Great Depression and both World Wars. With such a rich history and devoted fanbase, this race has become the oldest continuously held major sporting event in the United States! Not only is the Kentucky Derby a spectacle to attend in person, but the event also receives much anticipation in the week leading up to the race.

When is the race? And, what do I wear?

The Kentucky Derby nearly always held on the first Saturday in May, and takes place in Louisville, Kentucky. On the day of the race, men typically don seersucker suits, while women tend to dress up in fun, spring-themed dresses and large hats. Wearing a hat is considered to be good luck for spectators—the more elaborate, the better!

From celebrity sightings and mint juleps to big hats and lavish outfits, the Kentucky Derby is as iconic as it is festive! Many of the traditions of the race have held up over time, which makes the first Saturday in May a highly anticipated event for so many people. 

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Watching The Kentucky Derby in San Diego

Without having to travel to Louisville, Kentucky for the race, there are a lot of ways to still enjoy and appreciate the culture and flare of the event! We especially like Wonderland Ocean Pub, in San Diego’s Ocean Beach neighborhood. In addition to hosting a watch-party, Wonderland will be offering Mint Julep specials, giveaways and also hat contests during the race! Try to track down a seersucker suit or festive dress before the race, and show up to Wonderland in your best Derby-themed outfit to enjoy the day as if you were sitting at the track.

If you’re looking to get in on the action, and want a fun place to watch the race, head on over to the Del Mar Fairgrounds. At the Fairgrounds, you’ll find a free viewing party, with also a handful of food and beverage options available for purchase. Spectators will also be able to place wagers on the race. The event at the Fairgrounds is open to the public, and doors open at 7:00 a.m. Come dolled up and dressed in your best Derby-attire! 

Also in the Del Mar neighborhood is Monarch Ocean Pub, which is featuring their Official Kentucky Derby Fest. This event can be attended by purchasing tickets for entry, and will showcase not only the big race, but also live music and contests throughout the day. With a ticket, there will be food and drink at the event, and also more available for purchase. For a full-on Derby experience, don’t skip out on this viewing party!

If you’re not in the mood to go out, try hosting a watch party at home! Mint juleps and boozy punch are essential beverages, while fried chicken and pecan pie are also classic staples for the race. We recommend tuning into the major television networks like NBC if you’re watching at home. Most importantly, don’t leave your seat during the race—it’ll be over before you know it!

While you’re planning your day, think about heading over to one of our San Diego locations for a good night’s rest. With a great central location, we recommend our Adventure Hostel in Little Italy!

Thinking about having a Derby party of your own? Check out this video for recipe ideas for the big day!

Now that you know how and where to watch The Kentucky Derby in San Diego, get your friends together and enjoy this truly one-of-a-kind event!

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