Are you planning a trip out to Santa Anita Park to catch some of the best racing this spring, but are not sure what to do with your down time?
Below are six spots to check out while you’re not at the races around Los Angeles. Each of these suggestions are within 20 miles of the track and can be enjoyed on almost any budget. All locations have been Ciara-tested and approved!
Take a Hike!
Grabbing the moon during the moonlight hike at Eaton Canyon
Ever wonder what it’s like to explore those majestic mountains in the background at Santa Anita Park? Start your race weekend off with a nature hike through one of the local parks on the base of the beautiful San Gabriel Mountains.
Eaton Canyon Natural Area Pasadena is less than five miles from the track and opens as early as 9 a.m. A morning nature walk may be just what you need while you reflect on the racing card for the day. Make sure to check Eaton Canyon’s website to see when they are hosting moonlight walks. I’ve gone on one before, and it was memorable – and free!
Channel your Inner Jockey:
Horseback Riding at Griffith Park: $ – $$
A little selfie time with Midnight before our trail ride! (this took some skill.)
I recently cured my jealousy of watching exercise riders work horses at Clockers’ Corner in the mornings by going for a ride myself! Griffith Park, located about 20 miles west of Santa Anita in the neighborhood of Los Feliz, is a must-see destination in Los Angeles. I was aboard Midnight — no relation to Midnight Lute — and he was an absolute joy to ride. With thousands of acres and numerous trails, it’s the perfect spot to take a morning ride and channel your inner jockey. A one-hour guided tour will run you about $30, and the first ride starts as early as 8 a.m. Depending on the weekend you choose to visit Santa Anita, Griffith Park also offers a sunset ride to a nearby Mexican restaurant for $75 a couple. What a fun way to end your day at “The Great Race Place!”
Go to another Sporting Venue!
Photo by WikiMedia Commons
Home of the UCLA football team and the annual Rose Bowl post-season football game, the stadium is a historic sporting venue only miles away from Santa Anita. Sports junkies can head over to take a tour of the stadium that has hosted countless memorable sporting events, from the Olympic Games to the Super Bowl to the World Cup. If thrifting is more your style, catch the famous Rose Bowl Flea Market on the second Sunday of each month from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. local time. It’s definitely worth stopping by before your day at the track!
Go to a Museum!
Huntington Library – $$
Photo by WikiMedia Commons
There is no shortage of cultural destinations in the greater Los Angeles area, and the Huntington Library is one of the most cherished. From the library’s extensive art and transcript collections to its botanical gardens, there is beauty at every turn. Plan to dine for breakfast or an early lunch at the cafe and enjoy the grounds before Santa Anita’s first post time! Visit the Huntington Library’s website to make reservations in advance.
You didn’t think I would leave out food, did you? There are there are so many great spots to eat around the track, but here are two of my favorites:
The Derby – $$- $$$
I love a good heavy pour!
I’m pretty positive that I’m not alone in saying that The Derby needs to be on your dining list when visiting Santa Anita Park. For more than seven decades, The Derby restaurant has been the dinner spot for well-known horse racing professionals and celebrities. The main entrance is filled with glass cases of racing memorabilia gathered over the years from Santa Anita, and the dark wood and fireplaces make you feel very cozy in this old-school style steakhouse. Grab a cocktail after the races and listen to live music around the bar area or order one of their famous steaks that are named after celebs such as jockeys Mike Smith and Gary Stevens!
The Blind Donkey – $- $$
Photo courtesy The Blind Donkey
What horseplayer doesn’t enjoy good bourbon? If you’re in the mood for some fun into the night, this whiskey bar is one of Pasadena’s gems that’s only a short Uber ride away from Santa Anita. Come here and sample a flight of whiskey or try one of the amazing signature cocktails. The crowd is always lively and you’re right in the center of all the action of Old Town Pasadena. Also, rumor has it The Blind Donkey’s specialty fries are out of this world!
To view this article on America’s Best Racing’s website, click here.