Historic architecture, lush bedding, and state-of-the-art athletic equipment — no, we’re not talking about luxury hotels. Rather, we’re talking about equestrian facilities! Keep scrolling for the 15 best equestrian venues in the United States.
Ashford Stud (Coolmore America)
Versailles, located in the midst of Kentucky horse country, is chock full of incredible equestrian venues and horse farms. But the cream of the crop is almost certainly Ashford Stud, the legendary Coolmore’s American stud farm. Built on an historic property, Ashford is characterized by its stone barns, picturesque tree-lined walkways, manicured paddocks, and top-of-the-line everything. Most notable, however, are Ashford’s two residents: Triple Crown winners American Pharoah (pictured) and Justify.
Carolina Horse Park
Raeford, North Carolina
Called an equestrian “Field of Dreams,” the Carolina Horse Park is a premiere equestrian venue located in the heart of North Carolina’s horse country. The 250-acre park aims to provide open space for riders’ recreation. Thus, the facility consists of stables and barns, myriad arenas, and a number of trails suitable for many purposes. According to its website, the Carolina Horse Park is the only venue in the mid-Atlantic with facilities suitable for the highest level of equestrian competition.
Churchill Downs is arguably the most iconic and best known of any equestrian venue on our list. Instantly recognizable for its twin spires, Churchill Downs is the home of the Kentucky Derby horse race. Besides the twin spires, Churchill Downs’ includes:
- dirt and turf tracks
- a clubhouse complete with a luxurious section known as “Millionaires’ Row”
- myriad stables
- the Kentucky Derby Museum
The grandstands suitable for upwards of 50,000 people also have of one of the largest ultra high-definition video boards to be found anywhere in the world.
Del Mar Thoroughbred Club
Del Mar, California
The surf meets the turf in Del Mar, California at the Del Mar racetrack. Built in 1949 by a partnership which included Bing Crosby, Gary Cooper, and Pat O’Brien, Del Mar is an absurdly picturesque racetrack located within sight of the Pacific Ocean and the San Diego area’s stunning beaches. The venue is part of a large fair grounds complex, but the equestrian section includes:
- an attractive grandstand
- a top-of-the-line synthetic racetrack.
Devon Horse Show Grounds
Located about 30 minutes from Philadelphia, the Devon Horse Show Grounds is one of the best equestrian venues in America. The grounds are home to The Devon Horse Show, the oldest outdoor equestrian competition in America. It contains the exquisite arenas, stables, and other equestrian facilities. The Devon Horse Show Grounds also offer visitors and competitors restaurant areas, stages, a ferris wheel, and vendor stalls.
Florida Horse Park
Come winter, equestrians from all over the country descend upon Florida to continue competing in the warmer weather. The Florida Horse Park, located in Ocala, is an important venue for these top competitors and their horses. Among other impressive features, the 500-acre park consists of:
- multiple barns
- arenas suitable for everything from polo to rodeo
- a full welcome center
National and international competitions are routinely held here, and it’s currently the official training site for the United States Equestrian Team.
The Hampton Classic Showgrounds
Bridgehampton, New York
Celebrities, politicians, and other A-level crowds all flock to Bridgehampton for the annual Hampton Classic Horse Show. This historic and prestigious event is held at the Hampton Classic Showgrounds, which includes:
- boutique-like vendor spots
- a grandstand
- a grass-covered arena
Amazingly, the show grounds are transformed each year from little more than a field to a venue impressive enough to host some of the top competitors in equestrian sports.
Located in Lexington, Kentucky, Keeneland Racecourse is one of America’s most beautiful and historic tracks for Thoroughbred racing. Not only are its stone buildings some of the prettiest in the industry, Keeneland’s 1 1/16-mile track includes:
- an inner turf course
- carefully manicured bushes that spell out “Keeneland”
- stunning views of surrounding horse farms
Host to a number of graded stakes races and home to the famous Keeneland Sales, Keeneland Racecourse is a designated National Historic Landmark and is included on the National Register of Historic Places.
The Kentucky Horse Park
The Kentucky Horse Park hosts a number of national and international equestrian events each year, including the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event. This is the top-ranked event of its kind held on U.S. soil. The park does so using its state-of-the-art competition facilities, which include:
- a world-class cross-country course
- polo fields
- the large indoor AllTech Arena
- a massive outdoor arena complete with grandstands
But the bucket list-worthy Kentucky Horse Park isn’t just a competition venue. It’s also a theme park dedicated to “man’s relationship with the horse.” Visitors can wander through the International Museum of the Horse, watch performances showcasing various horse breeds, meet equine celebrities in the Hall of Champions, and even go on a trail ride.
Palm Beach International Equestrian Center
Located in Wellington in southeast Florida, the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center attracts top horses and riders from all over the world. Some of that has to do with the fact this amazing equestrian venue plays host to some of the most prestigious competitions on the winter circuit. It also has much to do with the venue itself. The 160-acre facility is comprised of 18 competition arenas and barns consisting of 256 permanent stalls for horses. When the equestrian center hosts the Winter Equestrian Festival, the entire complex turns into a Grand Prix Village complete with:
- horse-themed street names
- shops and vendors
- nearly 60 miles of trails for hacking.
Pennsylvania Farm Show Complex & Expo Center
Opened in 1966, the Pennsylvania Farm Show Complex & Expo Center is an historic venue used for concerts, agricultural exhibitions, indoor football, and of course, equestrian events. While this particular facility isn’t as exclusively equestrian as many of the other items on our list, it does have a ton to offer. This includes:
- a main hall dating from 1931
- the 28,000-square foot New Holland Arena
- the 39,200-square foot Equine Arena
- a 4,000-square foot sale arena
The complex’s architecture is also unique, and includes impressive reliefs of various animals all around its exterior.
Pinehurst Race Track
Pinehurst, North Carolina
Pinehurst Race Track may not be the fanciest or most modern, but this harness racing track is notable for its charm and historical significance. The current oval-shaped track was laid in 1915, and is still used for the racing and training of harness horses. The venue’s facilities include:
- barns built around 1910
- six paddocks dating from about 1916
- a harness shop from 1930
- a farrier shop from 1910
- a clubhouse from 1916
- the oldest fair exhibition hall in North Carolina
For all of its historical significance, Pinehurst Race Track has been placed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Santa Anita Park
Not only is Santa Anita Park one of the most beautiful Thoroughbred tracks in the country, it boasts quite a bit of natural beauty. Located in Arcadia, the track sits just below the San Gabriel Mountains, which provide quite the view to racegoers seated in the historic grandstands. Other features of Santa Anita include:
- a one-mile dirt track
- a turf track with an unusual hillside section
- a particularly picturesque saddling paddock.
Saratoga Race Course
Saratoga Springs, New York
Thinking of Saratoga Race Course incites visions of Victorian-era groups of friends and family enjoying a day at the races. Indeed, this incredible equestrian venue opened for Thoroughbred racing in 1863 (it had previously hosted harness racing since 1847), and has held races every year since. “The Spa,” as it’s known due to the existence of nearby hot springs, includes a number of unique features. In addition to its main dirt and turf tracks, there is also:
- a seven-furlong inner turf track
- a warm-up track called The Oklahoma Training Track
- one of the most recognizable saddling paddocks in the industry.
South Carolina Equine Park
Camden, South Carolina
Camden, South Carolina is big time horse country. One of the reasons for this is the existence of the South Carolina Equine Park. It’s a top-notch equestrian venue that hosts competitions and other events an average of 30 weekends each year. Everything about the park has been carefully designed for the comfort of horse and rider. Facilities include:
- various rings and arenas
- a covered all-weather show pavilion
- RV parking spots.