After my husband and I met and married, we started planning at least one trip a year around seeing a new Major League Baseball stadium. For us, meeting in a different baseball city has become an annual reunion with friends. He’s had a love of baseball since childhood and has managed to see a game in every city with an MLB team.
San Francisco’s ballpark was renamed this past offseason to Oracle Park. The views haven’t changed, though, and the stadium’s outfield offers the perfect frame for San Francisco Bay. There’s usually a fan or two in a kayak waiting to collect a “splash hit” ball—a home run hit into the water.
The San Francisco Giants went from having one of MLB’s worst ballparks in Candlestick Park to one of its jewels when this park opened in 2000. The stadium honors the long Giants history, from exhibits in The Vault to sculptures of legends like Willie Mays.
Don’t miss: The outfield concourse has an 80-foot-long slide in the shape of a Coca-Cola bottle and a massive replica 1927 four-fingered baseball mitt that stands 26 feet tall and 32 feet wide.
Flying in? Land at San Carlos Airport about 30 miles to the south and catch an Uber, or at Metropolitan Oakland International Airport about 20 miles to the southeast and ask the fixed-base operator to give you a ride to the Bay Area Rapid Transit.
We saw St. Louis slugger Mark McGwire in 1999 when he was hammering home runs, and he used the higher elevation and lower air density to put on an exhibition during batting practice, then he hit No. 35 during the game on his way to 65 homers that season. It’s hard to take your eyes off the Rocky Mountains beyond left field. Another unique aspect of Coors Field is The SandLot Brewery, which opened in 1995 with the stadium as the first brewery inside an MLB ballpark. As a plus, you can walk from Coors Field to other downtown Denver attractions.
Don’t miss: Head up to The Rooftop party deck above the right-field seats for excellent mountain views, and notice one row of purple seats in the upper sections that mark one mile above sea level.
What the home of the Kansas City Royals since 1973 lacks in neighborhood ambiance, Kauffman Stadium makes up for inside the Missouri ballpark. A huge center-field scoreboard is topped with a crown, and beautifully illuminated fountains dance just beyond the outfield fence. Outfield seats give you a chance to peek into the bullpen or chat up an outfielder between plays. You’ll find signature beef and barbecue options at the concession stands, plus craft beer from nearby Boulevard Brewing Co.
Don’t miss: The free 7,000-square-foot Hall of Fame Museum offers multimedia exhibits on baseball history, displays Royals artifacts, and showcases the club’s 1985 and 2015 World Series championship seasons.
Flying in? Charles B. Wheeler Downtown Airport is 10 miles away.
While Minute Maid Park isn’t as quirky as the Astrodome, it boasts a view of the city skyline (even when the dome is closed), inventive food options, and downtown walkability. A favorite place to hang out before the game is Hall of Famer Craig Biggio’s sports bar in the nearby Marriott Marquis hotel.
Don’t miss: Watch for the 15-foot-high replica 1860 train, filled with Minute Maid oranges, running along 800 feet of track above the outfield when the Astros take the field during the first inning, hit a home run, or win a game. The train is one of many nods within the ballpark to the adjacent Houston Union Station, opened in 1911 and no longer in operation.
Flying in? Pearland Regional Airport is 24 miles away.
There’s something magical about being in the country’s oldest MLB park, but the experience in the neighborhood immediately around the stadium is just as special. Home to the Boston Red Sox since 1912, Fenway Park is brimming with more than a century of history and personality inside and out. Give yourself time for Jersey Street (formerly Yawkey Way) and the rest of the pregame experience before heading inside to see the iconic 37-foot-tall left-field wall dubbed the Green Monster.
Don’t miss: Look for the lone red seat in right field section 42. This marks the longest home run in the park’s history, 502 feet hit by Ted Williams in 1946.
Flying in? Norwood Memorial Airport is about 20 miles south of the stadium.
Even though my husband and I are not New York Yankees fans, we couldn't miss the home of the 27-time World Series champions. Both the old stadium and the new ballpark that opened in 2009 celebrate the ball club's storied history.
Don’t miss: Monument Park, in center field, recognizes legends who have played at Yankee Stadium; plan accordingly as it closes 45 minutes before first pitch. The free New York Yankees Museum is also inside the park and is open until the end of the eighth inning.
Flying in? Three general aviation airports are fairly close to the metropolitan area. Essex County Airport is about 25 miles to the west, Westchester County Airport is 30 miles to the north, and Linden Airport is about 30 miles to the south.