By Lauren Wulf LaRoche
Though Churchill Downs is over 300 miles away, there are still plenty of places to get in on the action in Chicago. The official Kentucky Derby race post time is 5:24 p.m. on Saturday, May 7th. Here’s a round up of a few of the best viewing parties and places to watch.
Arlington Park Race Track
2200 West Euclid Avenue
Arlington Heights, IL
A day at Arlington Park is as close as you can get to a day at the race in Chicagoland. The daylong festivities provide viewing and betting on the Kentucky Derby along with signature mint juleps, live music and more.
Come dressed to impress in your best derby wear. Arlington’s Derby Party Zone, features a red carpet experience with an all-inclusive food and drink package.
Joe’s Bar On Weed Street
940 West Weed Street
Joe’s 4th Annual Derby Days Street Festival kicks off at noon and goes until 8:00. With official off-track betting, a jumbotron and Derby themed activities, you’ll feel right in the action. Partygoers can also get a taste of Chicago BBQ with offerings from Bub City and Dinosaur BBQ.
1638 West Belmont Avenue
The Pony’s Derby viewing party takes place from 3:00-6:00 with live music, food and more. Tickets are $45 and include Woodford Reserve Mint Juleps, imported and domestic pints, Pony Punch and wine. The all you can eat buffet includes a bourbon glazed smoked pig from Frontier, fried chicken, mac and cheese, coleslaw, baked beans, salad and cornbread. There will also be a best-dressed contest for best outfit and hat.
180 North Wacker Drive
Pearl Tavern will celebrate the 142nd annual Kentucky Derby starting at 3:30. This event is benefiting the #CraveCCC campaign for the Chicago Children’s Choir.
Place your predictions on who will be taking home the win while spending the day filled with bourbon tastings, complimentary mint juleps, and small bites. Enjoy live coverage of the Derby from anywhere in the room.
Derby party attire is required. Award for best hat, most dapper gentleman and best-dressed couple will be award after the races!
Tickets are $45 per person and group reservations are encouraged. A portion of the proceeds from each ticket will be donated to Chicago Children’s Choir.
180 North Field Boulevard
And they’re off to the rooftop. III Forks will host a Derby Day soiree on the steakhouse’s rooftop lounge starting at 4:00. Partygoers are encouraged to dress for the occasion. A “Win, Place, Show” contest will take place prior the race, with prizes awarded to the guests that select the correct first, second and third place horses (1st place: $100 dining gift certificate; 2nd place: $50 dining gift certificate; 3rd place: $25 dining gift certificate).
Derby Day drink specials, including $5 Maker’s Mark Mint Juleps, $5 Effen Cucumber Collins, $6 Knob Creek Old Fashioneds and $6 Maker’s Mark 46 Sazeracs. The full dinner menu will be available on the rooftop.
Coverage of the event will be shown on multiple outdoor television screens. III Forks’ rooftop lounge offers plentiful seating, cabanas with built-in heaters, stone and glass fireplaces and great views of the city and park.
Belly Up Smokehouse & Saloon
1132 South Wabash
Catch all the Kentucky Derby action in the South Loop with a special $10 Bullet Bourbon Mint Julep featuring a candied bacon garnish. Belly Up will broadcast the race on all 10 TVs with full sound. Viewers can also enjoy traditional BBQ and country music.
Lauren Wulf LaRoche writes about living in Chicago on a budget on her website, A Poor Girl’s Guide Chicago.