I love baseball. Alas, as a Yankee fan without a major league income, I can rarely afford to see them, or even the Mets, play live. However, we’ve found a way to attend games: we see baseball when we travel to cities where ticket prices are cheaper. We favor urban ballparks because we try to roll other activities into these trips and stadiums tucked into busy downtowns afford fans a crack at museums and restaurants, too. Here are a few of my draft picks:
San Diego, ever a vacation favorite, is home to the Padres and Petco Stadium. The stadium, which opened in 2004, is right in the heart of the San Diego action, at the edge of the historic Gaslight District, across from Embarcadero Park, and is served by the trolley line. The Omni San Diego, pictured above, connects to the stadium via skywalk, and runs a seasonal baseball-themed package which offers accommodations, breakfast, two tickets to a Padres game, free parking, and apple pie delivered to your room, all for $249.
Baltimore’s Camden Yards, where the Orioles play, manages to balance an old-timey baseball vibe with modern comforts. Its food offerings extend far beyond Cracker Jacks—think crabcakes, barbecue, and locally brewed beer. Last summer, my family stayed at the Hampton Inn Baltimore, mostly because we couldn’t get another room, but ended up loving both its location—across a traffic-restricted street from the stadium—as well as the mammoth Babe-Ruth proportions of our guestroom. The hotel offers a 15% discount to guests who show their Orioles ticket stub or you can snag a Tailgate package, which includes accommodations, breakfast, and a $30 gift certificate to a nearby pub.
The Hilton Baltimore, also a short hop from Camden Yards, runs a Baseball Suite package: rent a two-bedroom hospitality suite with a balcony overlooking the stadium and complimentary food for up to eight guests for $1,500 a night. That’s a quick way to blow your contract bonus.
Fenway Park, the historic stomping grounds of the (reputedly evil) Boston Red Sox, is five-minute stroll from the lovely Hotel Commonwealth, where you can book the Fenway Park Package: overnight accommodations in a Fenway room with breakfast, two tickets to a Red Sox game, and a welcome amenity for prices that start at $325. If that doesn’t have enough ballpark flavor for you, opt to stay in the hotel’s new Baseball Suite, pictured above, all dark wood and leather and tastefully decorated with baseball trading cards (including a 1933 Babe Ruth card, though surely not wearing Yankee pinstripes), historic programs, and vintage photography. A stay in this handsome clubhouse runs $755 (which the publicist helpfully points out is also the number of career home runs hit by Hank Aaron).
After watching last year’s All-Star Game at Busch Stadium, I added St. Louis to my list of baseball-cities-to-visit. The iconic Gateway Arch, looping just beyond the outfield, looks like it was placed there for homerun target practice. Just across the street from the stadium, the Westin St. Louis seems a great place to warm up for a game. Their Escape to Baseball Heaven package will get you a room, breakfast, and free parking (and parking near urban stadiums is rarely a bargain) for rates that start at $197.
I’m also a fan of good public transportation, so if I were in the mood for quieter surroundings, I’d head to the St. Louis Ritz-Carlton. Their Bed and Breakfast package starts at $209. The Metrolink’s Forsythe Station is right outside the hotel, just a 20-minute ride from the Stadium stop.
Out on Seattle’s Puget Sound, Safeco Field made our T+L list of Best Baseball Stadium Food. The stadium sits on the waterfront, not far from Pioneer Square and the Pike Place Market, and the new Silver Cloud Hotel Stadium is right across the street. While the property offers all the usual boutique hotel accoutrements—Aveda bath products, iPod dock, 300-count linens, and hi-def plasma TVs—don’t be fooled. Silver Cloud has one mission only: baseball. Safeco Field is visible from most guestroom windows and the hotel website makes a boast of the fact that the rooftop pool overlooks the stands, as seen below. Nightly rates start $149, and though baseball’s clearly on the roster, there are no themed packages right now.
If you need more than these baseball-happy hotel options to inspire you to take in a game, click through our Best Baseball Stadium Food slideshow. If that doesn’t do it, maybe I can arrange for you to watch a game in the company of my wildly enthusiastic 3rd grader. He’ll be commentating games (on a freelance basis and with a slight lisp) at baseball stadiums up and down the East Coast all season. I’ll provide the peanuts with the money I’ve saved NOT going to Yankee Stadium.
For additional information about hotels near all the major league baseball stadiums, as well as special fan discounts, always check the Stadium Hotel Network.
Ann Shields is a senior online editor at Travel + Leisure.