For some people, summertime is not just an excuse to break out the barbecue or head to the lake or beach. For true baseball fans, summer is a time to head to the ballpark! In recent years, quite a few fans have made stadium vacations downright de rigueur. If you’re thinking of planning your own tour of baseball stadiums, we suggest checking out the following must-sees. From the historic to the state-of-the-art to the downright iconic, CheapAir believes these venues should be on every baseball fan’s shortlist. 1. Dodger Stadium Los Angeles, CA There’s lots to love about Blue Heaven. The baseball world’s most beloved announcer works there (Vin Scully), Dodger Dogs, old-timey peanut vendors (5 of these guys have been slinging peanuts for 57 years!). It’s the third-oldest stadium in the country and it was the second-most Instagrammed place on Earth in 2014 (Disneyland is the first). Like the city it resides in, Dodger Stadium isn’t lacking in interesting quirks. You want your Dodger Dog grilled instead of steamed? Head for the stands behind home plate on each level (the only place you can get ‘em). Nancy Bea Hefley is one of the last performing organists in Major League Baseball. Show her some respect and stand for that 7th inning stretch. And for the real stats nerds among you – did you know Dodger Stadium is the only National League stadium with a completely symmetrical outfield? There are only 4 total in the MLB.
BONUS FUN FACT: There are more home runs during the day than in the evening at Dodger Stadium. Proximity to the ocean makes air denser at night. Balls that cut right through the air during the day have a harder time clearing the fences during night games. Flights to LAX and Burbank are generally pretty reasonable, even during the summer. Round-trip flights from Chicago ($258), New York ($400), and Atlanta ($300) for selected dates in August.
2. Wrigley Field Chicago, IL The second-oldest stadium in the U.S. is home to many interesting factoids as well. Wrigley is the first stadium that fans were allowed to keep their foul balls. Owner Charlie Weeghman began allowing fans to keep the balls way back in 1915 – it was a show of his wealth and generosity, though these days, it’s just tradition the baseball world over. Believe it or not, the iconic Wrigley scoreboard has never been hit by an errant baseball! There is a large gate (kept open for fans year-round) in right field called the “Elephant’s Gate” – so-named because this was where elephants were brought in when the circus was in town. If you live in the neighborhood, you can sit on your apartment roof and watch a game. This became a bit of a problem in the early 1990s when apartment owners began charging people for the privilege. They soon worked out a profit-sharing agreement with the owners of the Cubs, and things have been simpatico ever since.
BONUS FUN FACT: Before Wrigley Field was built, a Lutheran church/seminary occupied the land. So pretty much it’s always been hallowed ground. Round-trip flights from Seattle ($400), San Francisco ($269), and Phoenix ($250) for selected dates in August.
3. AT&T Park San Francisco, CA Home to the San Francisco Giants, this young whippersnapper has been around only since 2000. But the upstart competes easily with the old guard. For one thing, San Francisco was the first stadium that allowed people to watch games for free (there is a section in center field that is the real deal when it comes to “cheap seats”). Some people (we’re some of those people) think the coolest feature of the park is that you can hit a homer into San Francisco Bay. The right field wall butts up against it, so it happens…but very infrequently it turns out. Only 68 times since the park opened, most recently by Brandon Belt against the San Diego Padres in September 2014. Your tree-hugging friends will be happy to hear that AT&T Park is the first LEED Silver Certified MLB Ballpark for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, as well as having been named Most Vegetarian Friendly by PETA in 2005, 2006, 2011, and 2014.
BONUS FUN FACT: You can propose to your sweetie (via message on the scoreboard for the bargain price of just $145 for a weekday game. Weekends are slightly higher at $175.). Round-trip flights from Boston ($422), Miami ($385), and Milwaukee ($335) for selected dates in August.
4. Fenway Park Boston, MA The grand daddy of them all, Fenway’s home to the Boston Red Sox has been in operation since 1912! As such, it has a well-earned reputation of being the most beloved of all the Major League ballparks. But we figure there are still a few facts you might not know about Fenway. The “Green Monster” was built to keep looky-loos out. Yes, the 37-foot wall was built to keep restaurants and bars on Lansdowne Street with an unobstructed view of the ballpark from benefiting from their location. Speaking of the monster, what’s on the other side? Well, a lot of famous ink. It seems that a rite of passage for opposing players is to sign the other side of the wall the first time they play Fenway. The smallest and oldest ballpark in the majors has the largest press box (it can hold up to 50 journalists at capacity).
BONUS FUN FACT: The Grandstand seats are all still original, splintering wood and only 15” across. The current state of the American backside is not pleased. Round-trip flights from Los Angeles ($384), Denver ($389), and Dallas ($227) for selected dates in August.
5. Progressive Field Cleveland, OH The Cleveland Indians’ home field is on our list for its family-friendliness. From the (relatively) low ticket price point, to the two-story Kids Clubhouse in right field (amenities include arts and crafts areas, a climbing wall, a mini-field where children can practice sliding and fielding, and a batting cage), the park has also made other improvements geared towards family fare (including dining options for your little ones) that have landed it on multiple “best for families” lists in recent years.
BONUS FUN FACT: The stadium was built on 12 acres of Kentucky bluegrass. Round-trip flights from Los Angeles ($324), New York ($296), and Chicago ($225) for selected dates in August. What are you waiting for? Get your travel plans in order and come out to see the Boys of Summer play. We’ll help you get there.
*All prices for dates in August 2015 and are not guaranteed until time of purchase.