We didn't take the kids along, since we rarely get a break from them. But when we arrived at Emerald Downs we saw families and strollers and little kids walking around everywhere. The age range of the spectators was huge- everyone from little babies to senior citizens was there watching the races.
We ended up arriving several hours into the horse races (they started yesterday at 2 and went on until close to 7, so it can be an all-day activity, if you want it to be), so had to park in the furthest general parking lot. I was initially worried, since I was in high heels, but we caught a free shuttle bus from our free parking and were at the grandstand within minutes. You can pay for valet or preferred parking if you'd like, but general parking is plentiful and free and the shuttles run constantly, so I'd suggest sticking with that option.
Admission to Emerald Downs is really affordable- just $7 to get in, with kids 17 and under getting in free. Inside there are tons of places to eat and lots to see and do. Once we arrived and got settled, we started perusing the tip sheets and information books to pick our bets for the races. Betting was easy and you can place a bet as low as $2, so it doesn't have to be expensive. We lost some and won some and I think we ended up down just a dollar or two for the day. It was fun to pick a horse and cheer as it raced- it gave me the feeling that I was a part of the excitement!
There is quite a bit of downtime (20 minutes or so) between races, so you have lots of time to choose your horse to bet on or walk around and get food or learn more about horse racing in the educational areas. On Sundays, June 20 through September 6 of this year, there are family events going on during the day including face painting, pony rides, a moonwalk and more, all included in your admission price. Trust me, you won't get bored!
My husband with his first bet. He won!
Us at the races!
Yesterday was the big race of the year, the 75th running of the Longacres Mile. My horse, which I scientifically picked based on which jockey's uniform I liked the best, didn't win, but I still had a great time and loved the atmosphere and the excitement. After the races we had an invite to the post-race VIP party, where we were fed some really good food. All in all, a fabulous outing.
Horses coming in for the big race
Me and my bet for the Longacres Mile. I did not win, but had fun watching anyway!
So if you're in the area and want an affordable, out-of-the-ordinary family activity, check out Emerald Downs. We'll definitely be going back with the kids sometime in the future!
Disclosure: We received complimentary tickets and access to a VIP viewing area and a party for this event. However, I was under no obligation to post a positive review of my experience and all opinions posted here are 100% my own!