Kentucky Derby: Find Your SoCal Party

The clip-clop-iest, go-pony-iest day of the year means mint juleps and sizable chapeaux.

It doesn't matter if your hat boasts a tiny brim or the general, oh-so-amazing circumference of a manhole cover. It matters not if it is covered with silk flowers, or plastic fruit, or tiny plastic horses.

And if you don't own a traditional seersucker suit? Well, bless your heart. It's going to be just fine.

For the annual act of raising a mint julep to the magnificent horses of the Kentucky Derby, the most celebrated race on the pony calendar, is all about chutzpah, panache, and the get-into-it spirit of the day in early May. 

Meaning this: You don't need the bells nor the whistles to enjoy it. You can go fully bell-less and whistle-less to one of the following watch-along gatherings, or, of course, you can don the largest chapeau SoCal has ever seen. So saddle up on Saturday, May 6 and clip-clop for...

Santa Anita Park: No surprises or shockers here, for of horse — we mean of course, of course — the historical race place will be a go-to for the Saturday, May 6 event. A "decadent bourbon tasting" is on the roster, entrance to the Chandelier Room and "(a) catered menu from one of LA's hottest chefs." Ticket? It's a cool hundred.

Shutters on the Beach: Want to take part in the "world's largest Champagne toast" during the derby-fun to-do? "A countrywide G.H. Mumm Champagne toast" is on the roster (it'll be live-streamed, too, on various social media). The live-viewing party also has a hat contest in the works, so best wear your floweriest topper.

Shade Hotel: "Dapper Derby-attire" is requested at this Manhattan Beach bash, a bash that shall include contests (and, you betcha, prizes). There's a small bites menu "inspired" by the celebrated horse happening, and craft cocktails, too. And, of course, traditional juleps, if this is the moment on the calendar you have one.


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Baltaire: Prepare to watch the hoof-happy action on "multiple large projector screens" while sipping Baltaire Juleps or trying a flight featuring Kentucky bourbons. Deviled eggs, house-made biscuits with pimento cheese, and other nibbles will keep your sated, while your stylish hat or bow tie impresses the crowd. There's a contest, oh yes, so keep that in mind.

Ocean Avenue: It's Ocean Avenue's Day at the Races, and the first thing to note is "no sale at the door." So nabbing that ticket ahead of time is key. Another good thing to keep in mind? This is a "culinary walking tour" of eateries along the avenue, with a meetup point at Loews Santa Monica to watch the race. Should you think hats and traditional Derby togs? That's a big yes. Will your tasting ticket support a beneficiary? You bet: the Surfrider Foundation.

The Honest Abe Cidery: Just a pinch below the 91 and just a pinch east of the 110 is this cider-making house, a cider-tastic wonderland that is "(g)etting ready to get down and DERBY!" In the glasses for the Gardena-based bash? Mint Julep Cider, as well as other mead- and wine-lovely libations. You're curious about what a julep-cider tastes like, you want to see the race, and you have a pup or the kids in tow? All good: Here's the info.

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