In a city full of things to do, it’s sometimes hard to actually find something TO DO. That sounds impossible I know, unless you live here – then you get it. NYC is like Goldilocks and the three bears – it’s too far, it’s too many transfers, it’s too small for strollers, it’s too many stairs and no elevator. Realize, that I actually live 15 MINUTES from Manhattan and I find myself saying – UGH it’s toooo far! That’s the problem with a city of convenience. You get TOO comfortable.
Then comes along the perfect activity. It’s great for adults, it’s great for kids, it’s easy to get to – AND it’s available during the week and weekends – What could be soooo accommodating for the ever-busy New Yorker?
I didn’t know (so I am totally going to guess you don’t know either), but horse racing is actually a year-round sport (well, okay it closes a couple months) – it’s not just one race a year and that’s it. Seriously – someone slap me for being so in the dark about this. Also – when I think horse racing, I think back to my twenties when we would annually make the trip to the “pit” at Preakness to see who could black out first. I swear – this one year, someone came up with the idea to try and run across the tops of all the port-o-potties not only without falling off, but by being pelted with FULL beer cans. You couldn’t even stand in line without taking a hit or two. Seriously – and we thought this was fun???
So if you are actually somewhat sober, there IS a horse race (or eight) to watch!
Why You Want To Go
So the other extreme are fancy hats and heels. While you can go for the beers, or the boufs on your head, there is also a fun middle ground. Belmont Park is open Wednesday-Sunday for racing. $5 admission lets you into the grandstands and this huge, incredible outdoor park full of tables, benches, food and of course tv monitors to watch the races.
This means for $10 you and the kid can spend the day in a beautiful park (and playground!) – did someone say playdate? With drinks? Well, I’d NEVER! Plus, you can take the LIRR from Penn Station right to the Belmont Park stop that is directly outside the venue.
What To Expect
Plan to spend your afternoon enjoying the sunshine, or walking around the grandstands. For typical races, there is no assigned seating, so you can walk around and sit anywhere you would like – including the dining tents outside. There is also a buffet-style restaurant that looks down on the race track all the way on the 4th floor.
The park opens around 11am, and there are on average eight races per day starting at 1pm. That means you have the entire afternoon to check out and bet on the races, and you can come at anytime. There are plenty of food options if you want to eat at the park, or your are even allowed to bring your own (just no glass).
How To Dress
It really depends on what you plan to do there – if you want to take all the girls and have a Sunday Funday, dress up because there are lots of photo opportunities! (The above photo is a fellow sorority sister of mine, Victoria– we love to plan girls days at the races!) It’s also a great afternoon date venue for you and the hubs (or even a first date for you single ladies!). It’s not too busy, so you can really get to spend time together bonding over which horse is going to win! Also – if you want to just take the kids for a fun, relaxing afternoon, you’re totally fine to enter in your mom leggings.
How To Bet
Horse racing is an art, so be sure to pick up a program to try and test your luck against the odds! You can bet as low as $1 per race – and you pick many different ways to win – like overall winner; first, second and third place; placing at all – among others. Basically, it’s ALL about the jockey. If it’s a good jockey – they know how to ride. Try to ask who the best jockeys are for that day. Then of course, look at the horses – if they look wild – hey, they just might pull up to win at the last minute. That’s how I picked my horses anyways. haha. The machines are pretty easy, and the people working the counters are also very helpful – just make sure you don’t hold up the line! It’s just like ordering lunch in the city – if you don’t know what you want- get out of line. You don’t want some old man yelling at you from behind!
Hours and Admission
Location: 2150 Hempstead Turnpike, Elmont, NY 11003
Hours: Wednesday-Sunday; 11am – 6pm Wednesday, till 11pm on Thursday, Friday Saturday, and 8pm on Sundays.
Cost: $5 admission! You are also allowed to bring in your own food and drinks (just no glass).
How to get there: LIRR to Belmont Park stop (from Penn Station). There is also plenty of parking if you choose to drive. See full list of directions, here.