The Best Vacations for Baseball Fans
Summer time is approaching, and you’re looking for a great baseball town to take the kids. Or maybe it’s time for the family vacation and you want to see a new ballpark while you’re there. Or perhaps you’re just tired of the same old boring vacation spots.
Regardless, baseball vacations are a staple of American tradition, and no fan should go their whole lives without visiting a few of baseball’s best cities and seeing the game’s greatest cathedrals. There are dozens of towns and cities rich with baseball tradition and full of passionate fans, but this guide outlines five of the best vacation destinations for any baseball fan. Just be careful what colors you wear!
5. Southern California
Tinseltown may not be synonymous with baseball history, but it’s tough to go wrong with a trip to So-Cal, all things considered. First of all, the weather is pretty much always sunny and nice, so your chances of a depressing wet vacation or a rained-out game are slim. Southern California gets the edge over more storied baseball cities like New York, Chicago and St. Louis because there is so much to do with the family, and there are three great baseball stadiums within driving distance.
Whether your interest is Hollywood, Disneyland, Sea World, the Santa Monica Pier, or miles and miles of gorgeous beaches, southern California is a fantastic vacation spot even if you never make a baseball game. If you do want to squeeze baseball into the equation, you’ve got some great options. For college fans, some of the nation’s most prestigious programs (USC, UCLA, Cal State Fullerton, Long Beach State, UC Irvine and more) play their home games in the greater-Los Angeles area.
As for the big leagues, San Diego’s Petco Park and Anaheim’s Angels Stadium are two of the most picturesque new ballparks in the country. Both will usually always have tickets available, and they’re really fun places to watch a game in the California sun. Furthermore, the west coast may have a shorter baseball history than some eastern cities, but it has its own version of a venerable landmark in Dodger Stadium. The ballpark is unique, the fans are great, the atmosphere isn’t quite like any other stadium, and the Dodger Dogs are a must-try. Dodger Stadium at sunset is an experience no diehard baseball fan should miss.
4. Boston, MA
Unfortunately, the weather is somewhat unpredictable and the tickets are really expensive and difficult to obtain. However, if you can tolerate those variables, there might not be a more memorable baseball experience than Boston. Already a popular tourist city, Boston boasts some of the nation’s most historical landmarks. Many of the city’s original 18th century buildings still stand, allowing visitors to see Colonial and Revolutionary sites such as the USS Constitution, the Paul Revere House, the Old North Church, Faneuil Hall, Bunker Hill and the State House. The locals are extremely proud of Boston’s importance to American history, and that pride extends to their beloved ballpark.
Perhaps Boston’s biggest lure for fans is the fact that it is a baseball city, through and through. Boston has always been and continues to be a Red Sox town, and there’s no escaping baseball, even in the winter. As a result, every home Red Sox game is an event unlike anything else in the league. Fenway Park is always sold out, and every afternoon, Yawkey Way is flooded with fans in Red Sox gear, in what amounts to a veritable street fair.
Top 10 Must-See Active Stadiums
- Fenway Park (Boston)
- Wrigley Field (Chicago)
- Dodger Stadium (Los Angeles)
- Yankee Stadium (New York)
- Camden Yards (Baltimore)
- AT&T Park (San Francisco)
- Busch Stadium (St. Louis)
- PNC Park (Pittsburgh)
- Citizens Bank Park (Philadelphia)
- Coors Field (Denver)
Truth be told, the experience of viewing a game at Fenway Park can be overrated. The seats are cramped and uncomfortable – a relic from a time when people were generally smaller. However, the Red Sox ownership has done an admirable job renovating the stadium over the last decade, and you would be hard pressed to find a more picturesque field.
The famous Green Monster towers over the rest of the ballpark, highlighting and casting in sharp contrast a playing surface on which many of the greatest players of the last century have played. A phenomenon better experienced than explained, visiting baseball’s oldest stadium in one of the nation’s most historic cities should be on any diehard baseball fan’s to-do list.
3. Omaha, NE
Every summer during the second week of June, the baseball world centers around an otherwise unremarkable city for one of the game’s greatest events. Although college baseball still has somewhat of a niche fan base, the annual College World Series at Rosenblatt Stadium in Omaha has managed to garner an increasing amount of national attention over the last several years. Travel arrangements are reasonably affordable, and you certainly get more bang for your buck than at any Major League stadium. The College World Series is a week-long tournament featuring the top eight teams in the nation (narrowed down from a 64-team field – basically baseball’s version of the NCAA Basketball Tournament).
The best part about Omaha is the atmosphere. For those familiar with the world of college baseball, the CWS carries with it a certain mystique that makes players, coaches, and fans view it with a sort of reverence. During the tournament, fans from all over the country arrive by the thousands to cheer on their alma maters, or simply to watch the stars of the future compete for the highest collegiate honor.
Between the museum and memorabilia shops, the multiple games every day, and the sheer volume of people in town for the week, there’s always something to do. Omaha may not be the ideal destination if you’re looking for more than great baseball out of your vacation, but with a new state-of-the-art stadium under construction, college baseball’s Mecca will continue to be a popular spot for summer trips.
2. Spring Training (Florida & Arizona)
Ever year, most of the country anticipates the 14th of February with a certain degree of disdain or amorous anticipation, depending on personal situations. For baseball fans, however, Valentine’s Day brings the hope and promise of a new season, as pitchers and catchers report for spring training. For the next six weeks, the various spring training facilities in Florida and Arizona are littered with everyone from fathers and sons, to vacationing families, to retired folks, to students on spring break.
Perhaps the most advantageous aspect of spring training games is that you can see big league players in big league-caliber games without paying big league stadium prices. A trip to spring training gives you the chance to escape what can be cold and gloomy weather in much of the country for some baseball in the hot sun. The facilities are in some of the most beautiful spots in the nation, in many cases close to gorgeous golf courses, beaches and other venues geared toward family activity.
In addition, the preseason affords fans their best opportunity to actually meet the players and get autographs. Generally, this is a time when the players are more relaxed and willing to meet fans than during the regular season, and there are several events that the players and teams do in which fans can participate. Ultimately, if you went to any city for a week during the regular season, you might see a couple games, depending on your budget. But in spring training, you can watch your favorite team play every day for a week!
1. Cooperstown, NY
Just as someone might, for religious or spiritual reasons, make a trip to Jerusalem, Mecca, or the Vatican, this small upstate New York town is a destination worthy of a pilgrimage for thousands of baseball fans every year. If there’s a negative to Cooperstown as a potential vacation, it’s that there really aren’t any non-baseball things to do and it’s unlikely that you would be able to see a game (Although there is the yearly Hall of Fame game, as well as the weekly 12-year-old tournaments during the summer at the nearby Dreams Park facility).
Nevertheless, there is no place in America quite like it, with virtually every aspect of the town devoted to the game of baseball. Downtown Cooperstown is a baseball junkie’s dream. The streets are lined with dozens of shops, many with their own specialty (hats, bats, photos, baseball cards, etc.) and each loaded with baseball collectibles. You could spend every hour of every day for a week just visiting shops and perusing the endless quantity of baseball gear and memorabilia if you were so inclined.
The real gem of Cooperstown is the Hall of Fame Museum, which features plaques commemorating all 289 players, coaches, umpires, and executives that have been inducted over the last 73 years. In addition, the museum consists of a seemingly endless display of facts, game equipment, statues, and various exhibits that honor and celebrate the greatest players, teams, and moments in the game’s illustrious history.
Honorable Mention: New York; Chicago; San Francisco Bay Area; Williamsport, PA
For Love of the Game
For a baseball fan, walking through the Hall of Fame can be a goosebumps-inducing experience, which is one reason why Cooperstown gets vaulted to the top of this list. However, you can't go wrong with any destination mentioned here, as well as countless other cities and college towns where baseball thrives. No matter where you choose, a baseball vacation is a great experience to share as a family, and a good way to help your kids develop a love for the game as strong as yours!