Gulfstream Park Racing & Casino
Courtesy of Gulfstream Park

Not so long ago, Gulfstream Park was a desolate place, inhabited only by grandpas and other Sansabelt-wearing creatures. It came alive only when crowds filled the rickety bleachers for the occasional Blondie reunion show or Tiffany concert. So we had our doubts in 2006 when it underwent a multimillion-dollar renovation. Who goes to horseraces anymore? we questioned. Fast-forward and, well, these are some bitter words we're eating. Never again will we underestimate the power of a Crate & Barrel, some slot machines, and a Container Store. Today, Gulfstream is a palatial shopping, dining, and gambling complex that is, during season, slammed — thanks in part to the fact that admission and parking are free. We admit: It's a little titillating to order a mint julep from one of the many bars, watch the breathtaking horses trotted around the paddock before a race by dapper jockeys, and march up to place a bet. Warning: This is only a "cheap" thrill if, and we repeat, if you stick near the minimum-dollar bets.

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