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If the rush of competition and the thrill of seeing extraordinary skill on display makes you smile, you’ve come to the right place. It is said that the people of Kentucky live and breathe sports, which means visitors to the Bluegrass State have a wide range of sporting options to enjoy while you are here.
It should come as no surprise to anyone that Kentucky is home to legendary horse racing venues. Are you a fan of harness racing? The Red Mile, in Lexington, is the place to be. European-style thoroughbred racing is on the schedule at Kentucky Downs Race Course in Franklin, and Keeneland Race Course hosts exciting thoroughbred racing throughout the year. And, of course, Louisville’s Churchill Downs plays host to the world-famous Kentucky Derby. Naturally, equestrian competitions are also popular throughout the state, including at Kentucky Horse Park – the location of the Parade of Breeds.
Baseball and Soccer
When the warmer weather arrives, you’ll start hearing the crack of bats around Kentucky. If you visit Louisville during the summertime, schedule time to go downtown to Louisville Slugger Field. It’s the home field of the Louisville Bats, the triple-A team with a Minor League affiliation with the Cincinnati Reds. Louisville Slugger Field is also home to United Soccer League’s Louisville City FC.
If you’ve ever watched March Madness, you know that Kentucky takes its NCAA basketball very seriously. Whether you are cheering for the Wildcats of the University of Kentucky in Lexington or the Cardinals at the University of Louisville, terrific basketball is waiting for you.
Test your swing on the challenging championship-level golf courses throughout Kentucky – there are more than 300 public and private courses available. Eighteen of those courses are part of the larger Kentucky State Park Golf Trail, including Yatesville Lake, Pine Mountain, Grayson Lake and Deal Hollow which have already received kudos for affordability from Golf Digest. If you find yourself in Ashland, set a tee time for Sandy Creek Golf Course. It features challenging holes and impressive landscapes overlooking the Little Sandy River.
With so many lakes, streams and wild rivers, Kentucky is an angler’s paradise. If you are interested in taking your skills into a competition, here are several tournaments that might coincide with your travel plans: St. Jude’s “Fishin’ for a Cure” plays out in Green River Lake and “Fishing with Veterans at Rough River Lake” joins volunteer fishermen and disabled veterans for a special one-day event in Western Kentucky. Lake Cumberland plays host to “Battle of the BASS,” “Lake Cumberland Bass Fishing Tournament” and the “Annual Open School Bass Tournament.” Lake Nolin’s “USA Bassin Next Generation at Nolin Lake” also draws crowds.
The 158-acre Elizabethtown Sports Park offers 12 multi-sport fields and 12 baseball diamonds. It was designed to meet the needs of local events and major national sports festivals. If you are in Elizabethtown, stop by – there is always something going on!
The State’s love for sports is further supported by numerous sports museums. Horse lovers will want to schedule the time to explore the American Saddlebred Museum, the International Museum of the Horse and the Kentucky Derby Museum at Churchill Downs.
The Louisville Slugger Museum and Factory is a must for baseball fans who want to get a behind-the-scenes look at the facility. The Muhammad Ali Center reveals the details of this champion boxer through interactive and multimedia displays.
Auto racing fans staying near Bowling Green will love exploring the National Corvette Museum. Vintage Corvettes are on display and visitors can gain information on every generation of this beloved car. You may even get to see races across from the Museum very soon.
Plan out your next visit to Kentucky. Of the many attractions you can see and explore in the Bluegrass State, one might stand out above the fold – especially if you're the sporting type. Make your way to Elizabethtown, just south of Louisville, and check out the very fun and popular Elizabethtown Sports Park.
This park is a major highlight of the Elizabethtown area, and it was designed to host a range of sports festivals, from the national to smaller, local events. Spread across 158 acres, this sports park is massive and a true sight to behold. There are 12 baseball diamonds, 12 multi-sport fields, all with plenty of lighting for night games.
Enjoy a night of fun in Lexington, watching live Thoroughbred horse racing. Make your way to the Keeneland Race Course, where exciting racing action has taken place since the course opened in 1936. This incredible race course is located across Interstate 60 from the Blue Grass Airport, southwest of Georgetown. While in town during April or October, head to the track to watch the live races.
Throughout the year, enjoy a self-guided or guided tour of the Keeneland's paddock area to see where the horses are trained, during their morning workout. Kids love the trackside show-and-tell show, the activities and meeting the Keeneland mascot, Buckles. Stroll through the Keeneland Library to view over 15,000 volumes of books, newspapers articles, thousands of photographs and videos. This wonderful eastern Kentucky attraction is also an ideal venue for weddings, events and meetings.
Draw up plans to visit Kentucky in the late spring. Each year, Louisville is host to the Kentucky Derby Festival, a two-week celebration of life, culture, fun, and everything Louisville. It all leads up to the actual Kentucky Derby horse race, which takes place on the first Saturday in May.
The Kentucky Derby Festival is one of the biggest and most exceptional celebrations you'll find in Louisville. It features Thunder Over Louisville, North America's largest annual fireworks display, and the Great Steamboat Race where you can see the Bell of Louisville.
Other events at the yearly KDF include the Pegasus Parade, the Kentucky Derby Festival Marathon & miniMarathon, and the Kentucky Derby Festival Basketball Classic.
On your next tour of Louisville, be sure to enjoy an afternoon of exciting baseball at Louisville Slugger Field. Found right in the heart of downtown, Louisville Slugger Field is where the Louisville Bats play all their home games. The Bats are the AAA, minor league affiliate to the Cincinnati Reds.
Opened in 2000, Louisville Slugger Field seats 13,131 fans for Bats games, and 8,000 for soccer matches – the Louisville FC of the United Soccer League also call it home. The AAA minor league season starts up in early April and plays through early September – don't miss a pitch during your visit to greater Louisville.
Make plans to visit the Bluegrass State and do not forget your clubs. Out in the eastern region, in Ashland, discover one of the state's premier golf experiences Sandy Creek Golf Course. Accessed easily from Highway 60, and found just along the eastern shore of the Little Sandy River, this golf course rarely disappoints.
Opened for play in 1979, Sandy Creek Golf Course is a par 70, with a slope rating of 106, and a course rating of 67.1. Across the 18 holes at Sandy Creek, which play to a max of 5,755 yards, you'll find unique and stunning landscapes, all mixed in with fun challenges. Ideal for golfers of any age or caliber.