A classic baseball outing in the United States begins long before the game starts.
In many cities, fans flock to the areas surrounding the ballpark hours prior to the first pitch. Spending time in these energetic neighborhoods is one of the best ways to experience a city’s culture, identity and food and drink scene. Here are five great outside-the-stadium scenes to catch baseball’s spirit.
LoDo — Denver, Colorado
Coors Field is located in LoDo, a corner of low-rise industrial buildings in downtown Denver that has been transformed into a hub of bars, restaurants, shops, galleries and condos. When the Colorado Rockies play, people line up on Blake Street to get into bars with arcade games and impressive craft beer lists. The party continues after the games, but be warned: If you’re not used to high altitude — Denver is 1,609 meters above sea level — a few beers can have a strong effect.
What to Eat and Drink: Colorado is beer paradise. You’ll find hundreds of locally brewed options, from IPAs to wheat beers. Hungry? Denver cuisine is on display, from grass-fed beef burgers to burritos.
Iconic Local Establishment: Drink Blue Moon where it was invented. Blue Moon Brewing Co. at the SandLot is attached to the stadium and it experiments with new brews for MillerCoors.
Denver’s LoDo neighborhood, home to Coors Field, features plenty of restaurants for pregame meals.
Ballpark Village — St. Louis, Missouri
Clear views of the iconic Gateway Arch, a passionate fan base and a successful St. Louis Cardinals team make Busch Stadium one of the most energized U.S. ballparks.
The surrounding streets are full of sports-themed hangouts, including Ballpark Village, a complex with baseball-inspired bars and restaurants. It’s not unusual to arrive four hours before the game starts, and the party keeps going until 3 a.m. on weekends.
What to Eat and Drink: This stadium is the place to drink a Budweiser, more commonly known as a Bud. After all, the ballpark is named after the beer’s brewer, Anheuser-Busch. Bud is one of many local beers; Schlafly is another popular option.
Iconic Local Establishment: Cool off with a sundae at local favorite Ted Drewes. The beloved frozen custard vendor has an outpost in Ballpark Village.
Wrigleyville — Chicago, Illinois
Built in 1914, Wrigley Field is a legendary ballpark. And the surrounding neighborhood, named Wrigleyville, is filled with beer gardens, street musicians and people looking to have a good time (who may not care about the Chicago Cubs’ fate). For a Wrigley-only baseball experience, buy tickets to one of the rooftops neighboring the stadium.
What to Eat and Drink: Local brew Goose Island and a Chicago-style hot dog. The local delicacy comes heaped with relish, onions, mustard, tomatoes, a pickle spear and more.
Iconic Local Establishment: Local chain Giordano’s serves traditional Chicago-style deep-dish pizza. Try the thick, cheesy pies in the stadium, or at a restaurant about 1 kilometer away.
Chicago’s Wrigleyville neighborhood takes its name from its centerpiece, the Chicago Cubs’ home, Wrigley Field.
Fenway/Kenmore — Boston, Massachusetts
Fenway Park — the oldest ballpark in the U.S. (built in 1912) — sits in Boston’s Fenway/Kenmore neighborhood, and on game days the surrounding neighborhood swells with fans hours before the first pitch. Many people in “Red Sox Nation” head to the bars — you’ll find sports bars, dive bars and pubs that offer a more reserved atmosphere. On Yawkey Way, the street turns into a bazaar on game days, with a party atmosphere and souvenirs from T-shirts to baseball hats.
What to Eat and Drink: Try a Sam Adams Boston Lager to keep it local, and sample some New England seafood — oysters, fish and the Boston favorite, clam chowder.
Iconic Local Establishment: Cask ‘n Flagon, a Red Sox institution that’s one of the top baseball bars in the U.S.
China Basin — San Francisco, California
AT&T Park is one of the most pleasantly situated baseball stadiums — about 2 kilometers from the city’s downtown core, it overlooks the San Francisco Bay. A winning team has made San Francisco Giants fans used to success, and the ballpark’s neighboring streets have seen an infusion of trendy bars and upscale comforts. For a one-of-a-kind baseball experience, rent a kayak and paddle out to float near the outfield before the game. You may catch a practice ball.
What to Eat and Drink: Wine isn’t a traditional ballpark beverage, but here you’re about an hour-plus drive from Napa Valley, a top U.S. wine region, so it makes sense to indulge. Try the standard baseball fare like hot dogs or burgers with a San Francisco twist: a sourdough bun.
Iconic Local Establishment: Eat sweet treats from Ghirardelli, San Francisco’s iconic chocolatier. It’s served inside the stadium, and the original factory is about 6 kilometers away.
AT&T Park sits at the edge of the San Francisco Bay. Sometimes, players hit baseballs out of the park and into the water.