"The most exciting two minutes in sports."

"The run for the roses."

Kismet Farm HorsesIt has several nicknames, but there’s just one Kentucky Derby. As one of the largest sporting events held annually anywhere in the world, with in-person crowds reaching nearly 150,000 in 2022 and millions more watching on TV. The fun doesn’t just start with the infamous call to the post and end when the fastest horse crosses the finish line, though. This year, enjoy a more leisurely Kentucky Derby and bring the festivities to ShelbyKY — Shelbyville, Simpsonville, and Shelby County, Kentucky. See Thoroughbreds, Saddlebreds, and even Icelandic horses up close and personal while enjoying fantastic dining, shopping, and more!

See and pet a horse in person

ShelbyKY is home to many breeds of horses, including the renowned Thoroughbred and Shelby County’s claim-to-fame, the American Saddlebred. While you may not be able to get an up-close and personal experience while attending the Kentucky Derby, you can in ShelbyKY! 

Horses grazing in the pasture at West Meadow Farm in ShelbyKY, the American Saddlebred Capital of the World
West Meadow Farm

Dotting the rolling hills of ShelbyKY are many picturesque horse farms. Kismet Farm, home to dozens of American Saddlebred horses, and West Meadow Farm (pictured), one of the largest thoroughbred farms in ShelbyKY, welcome thousands of guests each year. Willow Hope Farm, an extension of the Kentucky Humane Society, gives new life to dozens of horses rescued from bad situations like natural disasters. Willow Hope Farm even takes in and domesticates feral horses.

An Icelandic horse at Léttleiki Icelandic Horse farm in Shelby County, Kentucky.
Icelandic horse at Léttleiki Icelandics

ShelbyKY is also home to Kentucky’s largest Icelandic horse farm, Léttleiki Icelandics. The distinct breed is friendly and beautiful with a long, flowing mane and a unique walking style, named tolt. Near Léttleiki Icelandics is Cerulean Farm, the only horse-friendly bed-and-breakfast in the state. Home to thoroughbreds, Irish Draught horses, and many other breeds, a visit to Cerulean is a way to unwind and get in touch with Kentucky’s famous equine industry. 

Kentucky’s best Hot Brown and other fantastic food

Kentucky’s native famous open-faced sandwich might have originated in Louisville at the Brown Hotel, but one of the best-kept secrets of ShelbyKY is that it is home to the best iteration of the infamous and decadent meal. The Bell House restaurant on Shelbyville’s historic Main Street features a hand-crafted Hot Brown with locally raised turkey and bacon, house-made mornay sauce, and tomatoes sourced from local farms.

Bell House Hot Brown
The Hot Brown at Bell House Restaurant

In addition, several other farm-to-table restaurants like The Farm Kitchen and B&N Food Market are excellent ways to experience the best of Kentucky’s authentic southern hospitality and cuisine. Enjoy an excellent steak at Cattleman’s Roadhouse — the first of many Cattleman’s is in ShelbyKY! — and make sure to visit Claudia Sanders Dinner House for the original Kentucky fried chicken recipe. 

The best places to stay near the Kentucky Derby

ShelbyKY’s prime position on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail® and just a half hour from Churchill Downs makes it a great place to stay while you’re planning a Bourbon Trail trip or looking for last-minute Kentucky Derby accommodations. Plus, home to two distilleries, one on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail and the other on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail Craft Tour, ShelbyKY is within an hour’s drive of nearly all of the distilleries on the Bourbon Trail. In addition to our two distilleries and a short drive from nearly all the others, ShelbyKY has the best places to stay near Louisville. 

The exterior of Cerulean Farm Bed & Breakfast
Cerulean Farm Bed & Breakfast

Cerulean Farm Bed & Breakfast is the only horse and person bed and breakfast in Kentucky. Located on an expansive and stunning horse farm, Cerulean is a relaxing and beautiful place to stay while responsibly enjoying the Kentucky Bourbon Trail and celebrating the Kentucky Derby. And, the stunning bed and breakfast is just a short drive of your favorite distilleries on (and off) the Kentucky Bourbon Trail® and Kentucky Bourbon Trail Craft Tour®. If you’re planning a visit to Maker’s MarkWoodford ReserveBuffalo Trace, or Angel’s Envy, ShelbyKY is the best place to stay.

Bottled in Bond interior Bottled in Bond
Bottled in Bond loft

On Shelbyville's historic Main Street is the stunning Bottled in Bond loft. Swanky, refined, and even featured on HGTV, the Bond Loft, as it is affectionately called, is one of many breathtaking accommodations available in ShelbyKY. While looking for places to stay near the Kentucky Derby, click here to see all of ShelbyKY's many vacation rentals, hotels, and charming bed and breakfasts.