It’s off to the races at Arlington International Racecourse, exquisite home of Thoroughbred racing…and family fun. If you’ve never experienced the out-and-out excitement of this horseracing jewel, now’s the time. There’s no better place to be on a sunny afternoon. Take in the festive atmosphere. Admire the jockeys in their colorful silks atop sleek Thoroughbreds. Place a bet. Then listen to the thundering hooves and the roar of the crowd as the horses rush to the finish line. The racing season runs from early May to September, and there are 71 racing days to choose from.
First opened in 1927, Arlington International has been called “America’s most beautiful racetrack.” And it’s easy to see why. The immaculate grounds are lushly landscaped with manicured lawns, flower displays and stands of trees. The track’s infield is graced with majestic weeping willows and a large blue pond.
An impressive, six-story grandstand overlooks the famed one-mile and one-eighth oval track and can seat 50,000 cheering fans. Tickets are very affordable. And if you buy your tickets in advance, you’ll also enjoy discounts.
If you like your horses close up, stroll to the paddock area where the steeds are walked just before each race. By the way, the extensive stables on the backstretch can shelter over 2,000 horses.
Not sure how to bet? Take a free ‘Betting 101’ class before the first race and learn the basics of wagering.
One of the choices you’ll make is where to sit. Lawn seating and benches are free. The options go up from there: Standard Box seating, Executive Boxes and Luxe Boxes. Where you sit (and dine) determines how you’ll dress. Casual clothes are fine for the Pavilion, while fancy dress is required at the elegant Governor’s Room.
Food at Arlington International is exceptional, and there are plenty of options: from burgers, BBQ, carved meats and more at the first-floor food court, to the refined pub fare of the Cowboy Grill, to the elegant dining experience of The Million Room.
You can also bring in your own food and non-alcoholic beverages. Smaller bags and coolers enter free. Larger ones require a cooler pass. Be sure to reserve a picnic table for your family or group and enjoy the day!
The highlight of the season is the world-famous Arlington Million (America’s first ever million-dollar Thoroughbred race) in early August. It’s an international turf showcase of champion Thoroughbreds. The fashions and pageantry are sights to behold. Be sure to reserve your spot ahead of time.
Horse racing isn’t the only pastime that draws visitors. Arlington International is also a destination for the entire family. You’ll find plenty of exciting events for every age. On the last Sunday of every month, Arlington International pulls out all the stops with a themed Family Day, featuring concerts, roving magicians, crafts, face painting, a petting zoo, pony rides and pint-sized amusement rides.
Adults can rock out at one of the lively Party in the Park After Dark bashes, featuring live music, games and plenty to eat and drink.
Sample the enticing fare of the Food Truck Festival. Hoist a glass at Septemberfest. Enjoy family movie nights and lots more.
Arlington International is easy to get to. There’s plenty of parking. And Metra trains from Chicago stop near the front gates.