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The 5 Best Ballparks in the United States

Why not celebrate summer at one of the country’s best ballparks?

Now, I know what you’re going to say: Samantha, how can you say which ballparks are the best? Well… of course I can’t. There’s a lot that goes into making for incredible ballpark experience, the first of which is your love for a team (the second is the quality of the beer and hot dogs). However, there are a few parks that stand out to me from a historical or geographical standpoint. Here’s where I’d like to take in a game this summer.

Fenway Park – Boston

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How can you talk about iconic baseball stadiums without mentioning this Boston classic? The ballpark opened in 1912, and is the oldest baseball stadium still in operation. Taking in a game here feels more like a lesson in history and Americana versus just another sports game. It’s been home to such greats as Ted Williams, Wade Boggs and David Ortiz, and who can ignore the Green Monster, who could qualify for the All-star team on its own.

The only drawback with Fenway is price. It’s notoriously the most expensive ballpark in all of major league baseball, with a typical day at the park costing over $150 (that’s factoring in tickets, hot dogs, beers and parking for two). It’s also one of the most popular parks, has one of the lowest stadium capacities and almost always sells out. So get your tickets early, or prepare to shell out some serious cashola to some dude hawking tickets on the street.

But is it worth it? Certainly, especially if you’re a history or sports nerd.

Wrigley Field – Chicago

wrigley field - best ballparks- samantha brown

Whether the Cubbies are winning or losing, their fans love to celebrate this legendary team. A Cubs game perfectly melds the party atmosphere with sports. You’d be a fool to skip a pre-game bite and beer at one of Wrigleyville’s iconic sports bars like the Cubby Bear, Casey Moran’s, Slugger’s or Mullens. Sure, it’s a little bit of a frat party, but that’s all part of the fun.

Wrigley Field has a lot in common with Fenway. It recently celebrated its 100th birthday (built in 1914!), and it home to its own green icon: the ivy covered outfield wall, which was planted in 1937. That’s the same year the team installed its beloved scoreboard, which is still manually operated today. It’s also one of the most expensive ballparks in the country, with tickets for two, plus two beers, dogs and parking adding up to over $115. My suggestion? Take the train and save your beer money.

Yankee Stadium – New York

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Love ‘em or hate ‘em, there’s one thing everyone can agree on: the Yankees play in a beautiful ballpark. I’m a bit nostalgic and wish the historic stadium (which was built in 1923) was still standing. That said, the new ballpark is simply stunning. And it should be: the place cost $1.5 billion, the most expensive stadium in baseball history.

Even though the building has changed over the years, the Yankees’ offer some enchanting history. Babe Ruth, Joe Dimaggio, Lou Gehrig, Mickey Mantle, Derek Jeter and A-Rod have all donned the classic pinstripes. Like everything about the Yankees, a game isn’t cheap. One of the 50,000 seats sold for each game average $28 a pop, with many costing waaaaay more than that. 50,000 x $28… Now I think I know why their players get the big bucks.

Camden Yards – Baltimore

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When it comes to teams, the Orioles aren’t the sexiest, the most storied or legendary (that’s not to say they aren’t a great team—they are!). But their ballpark plays a significant role in the direction of modern baseball. Specifically, in how style and design. Camden Yards opened its gates in 1992, the first of many new stadiums to embrace the retro look and feel instead of a symmetrical, multi-purpose stadium.

One of the most unique aspect of Camden Yards is the inclusion of the B&O Warehouse, which happens to be the longest building on the east coast. Instead of tearing down or truncating the building, stadium planners incorporated it into the design. The brick warehouse contains offices, service spaces, and a private club. It’s such a cool space, no wonder Cal Ripken, Jr. wanted to show up for work 2,632 days in a row.

Petco Park – San Diego

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When it comes to stadium locales, it doesn’t get much better than San Diego’s Petco Park. It’s just a block from the historic Gaslamp District, and a stone’s throw from the water—giving baseball fans lots to do before or after the game. Much like Camden Yards, Petco Park incorporated a historic building (the Western Metal Supply Company) into its design instead of tearing it down, which gives a fun old school vibe to the modern day facility, which opened in 2004.

One of my favorite things about this stadium is the Park at the Park, a 2.7 acre grassy section sloping above the outfield fence where fans can sit and watch the game for just ten bucks a pop (kids 36” and smaller are free!). Bring your own picnic lunch, or buy something from the concourse—you have full access. When the team’s out of town or off, the park is free and open to the public.

What’s your favorite ballpark? What makes it so special? Share in the comments!

There's a lot that goes into making for the best ballparks, both geographically & historically. Here's where I'd like to take in a game this summer.

Photos by Rob Cogswell, Geoff Livingston, Kevin Tostado, Liz Daly

This Post Has 22 Comments

  1. I have a bias in favor of my home city of Philadelphia and Citizens Bank Park, home of the Phillies. The park is beautiful and the opportunity to eat cheese steaks there make it unique for me.

    1. You left off the one with the best views, ATT park in San Francisco. Sell out crowds every night. Great food and nice comfortable weather!

      1. Wrong!!! The ballparks of San Francisco & Pittsburgh blow all of these others away. Yankee Stadium is a giant concrete toilet. The Met’s have the best NY stadium. Fenway is overrated and some the seats don’t even face the action.

  2. You forgot the ballpark ranked #1 in the city ranked #1 as the livable city in the U.S! PNC Park home of the Pittsburgh Pirates!

  3. Live outside of Baltimore and I agree Camden Yards is a great park to see a game. Hint: Buy club level tickets sections 200 and feel like a VIP with better food, airconditioning on a hot day and suites available for private partys.

  4. In June 1995 my husband and I enjoyed a classic summer night at John O’Donnell Stadium in Davenport Iowa. The weather was perfect for this minor league game and we could look across the Mississippi to Illinois from seats near the top of the stands. This became our field of dreams.

  5. I think AT&T Park in San Fran is the place to see a game (after choking down that AT&T has the naming rights) because the fans actually are into the game and the stadium doesn’t blast ear-shattering heavy metal music throughout the entire game . While Fenway is historic and has to be on every baseball fan’s bucket list, it’s a dump. Wrigley – ditto but it’s trying not to be a dump. The new Yankee Stadium is just a shopping mall that occasionally has baseball games – the Steinbrenners designed that monstrosity for one purpose – to coerce every “fan” to blindly spend every dollar they have. Petco is totally lame. Citizens “Band Box” Park is a joke. And finally, why isn’t Coors Field or even the Big A on this list?

  6. Love my Comerica Park, home of the Detroit Tigers. It’s my Happy Place! The attention to detail in every facet is amazing, from our baseball ferris wheel to our carousel, to the wide variety of seating choices. Love it!

  7. Good choices, for sure. But I’d consider Seattle’s Safeco Field to be in that list. Great show sight lines from all over the park. Whatever your ticket, take a stroll on the 100 level and you can walk all around the ballpark and never lose your view of the game. And if it rains, Safeco simply rolls its roof into place.

    1. I agree! I always suggest a tour of Safeco Field to visitors–baseball fan or not. Walk in at center field to get the wow factor. I’m a die-hard Dodger fan and I love Dodger Stadium. I’ve also visited most of Samantha’s top five. I will be visiting Miller Park in Milwaukee this June (for a Dodger game, of course!)

  8. John O’Donnell Stadium on Davenport Iowa provided my favorite baseball experience. On a perfect Midwest evening overlooking the Mississippi River eating Blue Bunny ice cream.

  9. Wow you people have no clue! Fenway and Wrigley are both old toilets with support beams you have to look around! Where is PNC in Pittsburgh? Have you seen a game there? If you did you would have it at the top!

  10. No better way to celebrate the end of a tough training week at the Academy than to go across the street, have a Dodger Dog and a cold beer at Dodger Stadium, Los Angeles.

  11. AT&T home of the San Francisco Giants!!!
    Absolutely beautiful sights.
    Great food!!!!
    Spectacular fans.
    Definitely child friendly

  12. Yankees fan here, but I have to admit the “new” Yankee Stadium does nothing for me. PNC Park in Pittsburgh wins best ballpark that I’ve visited so far (and I’ve been to 4/5 of the ballparks on this list).

  13. Best park in MLB is PNC Park in Pittsburgh. It’s more intimate than any park in baseball and the views of the skyline and Clemente Bridge are nothing short of breath-taking. Anyone who’s been there will agree with me!

  14. SF Giants’ AT&T Park is definitely one of, if not the best ballpark to watch a big league game in. A beautiful, comfortable venue with great views from every seat. Great food too. The Giants treat their fans like royalty.

  15. Pittsburgh, PNC, hands down #1, and I’m a 71 year old lifelong Yamkee fan
    The best views from any other park, intimate in size, great midwestern food, fun street vibe outside before games, where else can you walk across the bridge from downtown workplace to the park over kayakers Riverboats and joggers, very affordable prices, cordial fans and staff members-geez, they even politely ask you to not walk down aisles during at-bats so as not interfere with other fans, and on and on and on.
    New Yankee stadium is a charmless, grey coffin with overpumped noise because the fans seem bored (except for the bleachers)

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