Summer is the best time to take a road trip to see the best ballparks in baseball. So what makes one ballpark better than the next? It's a number of things: 1) the history 2) the crowd's energy and excitement during the game 3) the unique characteristics of the ballpark itself 4) the quality of the food and 5) the surrounding areas of the ballpark for pre-game and post-game activities. Here's a look at the ten best ballparks in Major League Baseball.
Most people know about the history of Wrigley Field and it starts when you see the red marquee before entering and feel all warm and fuzzy inside. You can stand on Waveland Ave before the game to collect balls hit over the fence during batting practice. Once you’re done with that, grab some drinks in at one of the many bars around Wrigleyville. (Or you can do that after the game too.) Once you get inside, it’s the ballpark that time forgot since you won’t see much advertising during a game and can focus on the baseball. The ivy and the scoreboard in center field just make everything seem right. And of course there’s the always entertaining “Take Me Out to the Ballgame,” which is usually done by a celebrity now that Harry Caray has passed. It doesn’t have the upgrades that Fenway has made, but the historic impact is why it sits on this list.
The first thing you think of when you talk about Coors Field is the amount of offense that occurs in the ballpark. That obviously makes for exciting baseball, but there are plenty of other positives qualities to Coors Field. It’s located downtown, making it very accessible while offering opportunities to enjoy yourself at the local restaurants and bars before and after the game. The Rocky Mountains add a beautiful view to the backdrop with the scoreboard in right field adding a unique look. Given that it’s a ballpark named after a beer, make sure you head over to one of the park’s enjoyable features, the Blue Moon Brewing Company.
One of the older “modern retro” ballparks still has plenty of redeeming qualities to make it one of the best ballparks in the country. Most ballparks with retractable roofs look ugly when the roof is open or closed, but Safeco still feels like a baseball stadium in both situations. The roof is only a covering and the facility is still open air even with it on. Photo ops can occur at the ballpark with the bronze glove or Mariner Moose. They layout of the field may not be that different that other ballparks, but the sightlines are really good from every seat. You will also be happy with some of the best food at any ballpark, whether it’s New Haven style pizza from Apizz, dirty tots from The ‘Pen, or sushi because you’re in Seattle after all.
Anyone who's been will tell you this ballpark has the most atmosphere you'll get at a baseball game that's not on the East Coast. Even a regular Tuesday game in May has the same amount of noise as other team's playoff games. Given the great history of the Cardinals, many a statue stands outside the team store with names like Hornsby, Gibson, and Smith. Seeing the beautiful arch in the background over right-center field adds a nice touch. The best food item at Busch Stadium is the pulled pork sandwich from Broadway BBQ, which has locations around the ballpark. You’ll have to compete for the nachos, since Busch supposedly sells more of them than any other stadium in the country. The area around the ballpark isn’t great, but you can find somewhere to start or finish your gameday if you need to.
Oriole Park at Camden Yards
Baltimore started the trend of the “modern retro” ballpark and it’s held up through the test of time. The Orioles have continued to improve the ballpark over the years, which is the way every ballpark should do things. The B&O Warehouse behind the right field wall is the visual that people remember, even if it’s only been hit once by a ball courtesy of Ken Griffey Jr. during the 1993 Home Run Derby. Eutaw Street, between the right field wall and the B&O Warehouse, is an area fans enjoy walking about during game to grab concessions, specifically barbecue from former Oriole Boog Powell’s stand. You’re also in Maryland, so you need to grab something crab related while at the game.
A nice ballpark goes a long way when your team has spent the previous 28 years in a big, baggy dome. Target Field has many positive qualities, starting with its convenient downtown location featuring many good bars and restaurants in the vicinity. During the cold months, you can sneak up to the area behind the left field wall that has fire pits and views of the Minneapolis skyline. Home runs feature a hand-shaking of a suddenly-lit “Minnie” and “Paul,” the team’s mascots. People also enjoy sitting on the “Golden Glove” for photos in Target Plaza behind right field. The Club areas are some of the nicest in all of baseball.
The oldest ballpark in Major League Baseball certainly has some cachet because of its history and the Green Monster, but its place on the list is stronger because of how it's stood the test of time. The seats on top of the Green Monster added something incredibly unique, while the Budweiser porch in right field and the EMC/.406 Club have increased the capacity for more people to enjoy the experience. The bleacher seats are always a good time during a summer game. (Just don’t sit in the grandstand seats that have you facing center field instead of home plate.) The energy during a playoff game is second to none and the Fenway Frank is the best hot dog you’ll find at any ballpark. The bars and restaurants around Fenway make pre-game and post-game activities incredibly fun.
There's always something nice about a ballpark that has a view of the city's downtown in the background. That alone will tell you it's easy to access by walking over the Roberto Clemente Bridge from downtown or driving in from the suburbs. It's basically what a baseball stadium should dream to look like with a unique characteristic, the right field wall, and a whole lot of charm. There isn't a bad seat in the house here with the furthest seat being only 88 feet from the field and you can do a full lap around the ballpark by walking around the field level. Manny’s barbecue in center field and the newly added tachos put it over the edge. Oh and there’s that whole well-known Primatni Brothers sandwich thing. It definitely helps that the team has improved in recent years.
Giants fans got lucky when they traded in Candlestick Park for AT&T Park. Sitting along the water, the ballpark offers nice views even if you’re not looking at downtown San Francisco. Before or after the game, the area around AT&T Park offers a number of quality options. McCovey Cove is the well-known attraction at the ballpark, but it’s only that cool if you’re on a boat fishing out one of the 97 home runs that have splashed down since the ballpark opened in 2000. Just don’t be afraid of the foghorn when it blows after a Giants’ home run. The scoreboard and wall in right field adds a unique element and AT&T Park’s outfield makes for a triple hitter’s heaven. Left field has the Coca-Cola bottle slide, which is enjoyed by both kids and adults, and the old-fashioned glove. Wireless internet is everywhere in the ballpark after a 2004 renovation, which is very important given how often people are on their phones these days. Once you’re off your phone, enjoy a cha-cha bowl (a Caribbean mix of meat, rice, beans, and salsa) from Orlando’s, barbecue from California Cookout, Gilroy garlic fries, and a hot chocolate from Ghirardelli. The biggest catch is the temperature as it can get somewhat chilly on a summer night in San Francisco since its warmest months are September and October.
No other building in the Majors can say it's left field foul pole is the corner of a hundred-year old brick building, but Petco can say that as it pertains to the Western Metal building. The building also hosts the suites, "The Rail" - San Diego's answer to Green Monster sears, a rooftop seating area, a restaurant and the team store. There's also the "Park at the Park" beyond the center field wall where people can hang out and catch the game for $5. They've also incorporated the local food and drink culture better than anyone else. Phil's BBQ and Hodad's are great food destinations in San Diego, so it's fantastic that they have locations inside the ballpark as well. Microbrews are a thing in San Diego as well so the Ballast Point Beer Garden on the first base side and the Stone Brewery Deck in the Upper Level offer enjoyable local draft beers to go with your baseball. The organization is always making upgrades to the ballpark even though it's highly regarded and still new, which is never a bad thing. And you know the weather will be good for almost every game of the season.