When he’s not doing 200 mph around the racetrack, NASCAR champion driver Kurt Busch is feeding a need besides speed: his love of sports. “After the NASCAR schedule comes out, I strategically make plans to get to a unique sporting event at least once a month,” says the passionate fan, making a point of visiting baseball parks and other sports attractions like museums and stadiums along the racing circuit.
And he’s hardly alone. Sports-related tourism is big bucks in America. Super Bowl XLVIII was widely touted (if disputed) as having a $600 million economic impact in the New York City region. Chump change next to the billions surrounding the XXII Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, Russia.
But avowed sports nuts don’t need big-ticket events to bring out their passion. Under-the-radar activities and the chance to show their love of the game—any game—while on vacation can transform a trip into an unforgettable experience.
How about running the bases on the actual Field of Dreams in Iowa? Standing in the Baltimore bedroom where Babe Ruth was born? Skating the “Miracle on Ice” rink from America’s own Olympics in Lake Placid, NY? Or, as Busch suggests in his home state of North Carolina, visiting Charlotte’s NASCAR team race shops?
“As a car guy, it’s such a treat,” he says, “but you don’t even have to be a sports fan to appreciate the quality of work that goes into all of these cars.” And if you head to Indianapolis or Orlando, FL, you can even drive one.
From shooting hoops in Springfield, MA, to surfing San Diego’s waves, we’ve sweated the details to identify itineraries for sports fans whatever their home team may be. Game on.