Arlington International Racecourse America's Most Beautiful Horse Racing Track
First opened in 1927, Arlington International Racecourse has been called "America's most beautiful racetrack."
If you've never experienced the out-and-out excitement of this horse racing jewel, now's the time. Take in the festive atmosphere. Admire the jockeys in their colorful silks atop sleek thoroughbreds. Place a bet. Then listen to the thundering hoofs and the roar of the crowd as the horses surge to the finish line.
An impressive, six-story grandstand, which seats 50,000 cheering fans, overlooks the exquisitely landscaped grounds and famed one-mile and one-eighth oval track with its majestic weeping willows and blue pond. Tickets are very affordable, especially when you buy them in advance. The racing season runs from early May to September, and there are 71 racing days to choose from.
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 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 nonalcoholic beverages. 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, and 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-size 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.
Because of its location and unique setting, Arlington is also a popular venue for meetings, conferences, expos and trade shows. More than 100,000 square feet of flexible, indoor exhibition and meeting spaces are available, as well as extensive banquet facilities.
Arlington International is easy to reach. There's plenty of on-site parking. And Metra trains from Chicago stop near the front gates.
• Dave Parulo is president of Meet Chicago Northwest.