Who doesn’t love the Kentucky Derby? But even if you can’t travel to Kentucky, you can enjoy live horse racing closer to home. The Parx Horse Racing Track in Philadelphia is a small, family-friendly horse racing track that lets you get up close to the horses and jockeys. Only about 40 minutes from Center City Philadelphia, your family can enjoy an afternoon of watching horses race just a few feet away. And it’s free!

Everyone loves the thrill of the Kentucky Derby. But if you can’t travel to Kentucky to see that horse race in person, you can enjoy the thrill of live horse racing closer to home by visiting the family-friendly Parx horse racing track, just outside Philadelphia.

Horse racing in Philadelphia

And they’re off! You can watch horses race up close in Philadelphia (Photo Philadelphia TMOM Sarah Ricks)

Up Close to the Horses in Philadelphia

Parx Racing is small enough that you can experience the races outside, standing right next to the track, near the finish line. Your kids can walk right up to the fence to see the horses, jockeys, and trainers up close. Before each race, enjoy watching the thoroughbred horses as they parade and warm up for the race in front of the viewing stand.

At Parx Racing you can stand close enough to the track to see and hear the horses pound by as they race to the finish. When the horses are on the far side of the track, a huge outdoor screen lets you keep tabs on their progress.

Who knew you could watch horse racing in Philadelphia?

The thrill of watching horses race from just a few feet away, in Philadelphia. (Photo Philadelphia TMOM Sarah Ricks)

As soon as the race is over, the winning horse and jockey march in the winners’ circle. And Parx Racing is small enough that you can stand just over the fence, to see the beautiful horses up close, sweaty and muddy from the race.

Watching the horses break from the starting gate was exhilarating! We were surprised that the starting gate was movable. For each race, the starting gate was moved so that each race ended in the same place, right in front of the viewing stand, even when races were different lengths.

You can watch horses race from up close in Philadelphia

Starting gate at the Philadelphia racetrack (Photo Philadelphia TMOM Sarah Ricks)

Family friendly horse racing just outside Philadelphia

Parx Racing is a family-friendly place to see live horses racing. Free admission. (Bets are not free, of course.) Races are Saturday – Tuesday, year round, in the afternoons. The first race is at 12:25 p.m. Free and ample parking. The track is located in Bensalem, Pennsylvania, about 35 minutes from Center City Philadelphia.

You can relax between races on park benches located outside, adjacent to the finish line. You can also watch from the grandstand, inside and farther from the track. Or bring your own food to eat outside in the grassy outdoor area near the finish line, the Picnic Grove.

You can watch horse racing up close in Philadelphia

Cooling down right after the horserace (Photo Philadelphia TMOM Sarah Ricks)

Lots of families gathered near the finish line to watch the horses shed their colors for a cool down walk after each race. At this Philadelphia horseracing track, you can stand close enough to the horses to see the shimmering sweaty muscles of these elite athletes as they cool down from the exertion of the races. Another TMOM says Saratoga Springs is also a family-friendly spot for horseracing.

Special Horse Racing Days – Kentucky Derby

Parx Racing has special events for big horseracing days, like the Preakness, the Belmont, and the Pennsylvania Derby. For the Kentucky Derby, on May 7, Parx will have free family fun, with a moonbounce, live music, food specials, and of course a contest for Best Hat. 

Horseracing in Philadelphia

Family friendly horse racing, right up close to the track, in Philadelphia (Photo Philadelphia TMOM Sarah Ricks)

Point and Shoot Camera for Horseracing

To capture the horses as they flew by, I used a point and shoot camera, the Panasonic Lumix ZS60, which was provided to me for review. This camera was so easy to use, I skipped reading the instructions and just enjoyed playing. Do you like the photos? I do, especially the quality even when zooming in on a fast moving horse. Now I’m ready to experiment with more of the camera’s features, using this easy guide and this easy guide.

Have you ever visited a horse racing track? What did you think? Tell us about it in the comments.