I generally try to visit any horseracing track that I come across whether it's for horse related business or just for fun. Tampa Bay Downs ranks with my favorites because I'm not a big gambler and just like to enjoy the spectacle in a fun environment, which this tracks delivers. Admission is free on weekdays and draft beer is $2 until 3pm! Best to come early by noon because the parking lots fill up fast.
Lots of huge picnic tables right on the track rail get you close to the action and encourages strangers to sit together, so it's easy to meet and talk to people. There's even a big tent with picnic tables and concessions outside of the grandstand right on the turn for home, where you can bring your own picnic food! You won't see any of this at big corporate tracks like Churchill Downs or Gulfstream Park (as of Feb 2012 anyway).
Interesting that Tampa Bay Downs has a Poker Room but no slot machines or other table games, and it has big windows looking over the racetrack. I loved sitting in there at the bar watching the races while my husband tried his skills at Texas Hold'em. The food in the Poker Room is an excellent value, with waitress table service, and something for every taste on the menu. This spot called "The Silks Room" gets a huge favorable review from me.
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