Considered by some, including myself, to be the best ballpark in baseball, Petco Park in San Diego offers everything you could ever look for at a baseball game. With great weather, great food, unique characteristics, great site-lines, and plenty of enjoyable restaurants and bars around the ballpark, it's very hard for any other city in baseball to match San Diego's baseball experience. Besides how many other stadiums can say their left field foul pole is as unique as San Diego’s since it’s a part of the hundred-year-old Western Metal Building.
Tickets and Seating Areas
The performance on the field hasn’t exactly matched the quality of the stadium, so tickets for Padres games aren’t that hard to come by. On the primary ticketing side, you can buy tickets through the Padres either online, via phone, or at the Petco Park box office. San Diego variably prices their tickets based on day of the week and opponent. Tickets start as low as $10 if it’s an unfavorable Monday night against a lower level team. There’s plenty of inventory and options for the secondary market.
Petco Park offers many different unique areas to enjoy the game. The coolest seats are those in the aforementioned Western Metal Building. The seating options include 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. While there are no bad seats in the house, just be warned that the seats on the first base side are those in the afternoon sun, so be prepared to sweat it out on a hot day if you end up over there.
Getting to Petco Park is incredibly easy. Located in downtown San Diego, Petco Park is easily walkable from anywhere downtown. You can also take a taxi if you're feeling incredibly lazy. Those coming from outside of downtown can get there by car, with endless parking available downtown in the lots near the harbor or the garages near the stadium. You can also take Amtrak or the COASTER train from places like La Jolla, Del Mar, and further north, which drops you off at Sante Fe Depot and allows you to take a long walk or a quick taxi ride to the ballpark.
Then there’s the trolley, which has three stations that serve Petco Park. There are also bus, ferry, and water taxi options.
Pregame and Postgame Fun
The beauty of Petco Park is that it's located downtown, which not only makes it convenient, but puts it in the heart of San Diego's restaurant and bar scene. Few ballparks in the country can match what San Diego can deliver with ballpark being a short walk away from some pre-game or post-game fun. That means there are numerous options and you can't go wrong with most of them. BUB'S @ The Ballpark is the best sports bar option near Petco Park, with numerous TVs, outdoor seating, and a specialization in tater tots.
(Because who doesn’t love tater tots?)
If you're looking for quick and easy Mexican food before the game, which makes sense because it's some of the best food San Diego has to offer, look no further than Lolita's. It's nothing fancy, but it's simple and darn good class Mexican fare. The Tsunami burrito is the go-to item on the menu, but plenty of things will make you happy. For something slightly more modern and upscale, check out The Blind Burro, which has outdoor seating to go with its wonderful fish tacos.
Things don’t stop there. Tin Fish has plenty of outdoor seating and the quick-service fish tacos and seafood you come to expect in San Diego. Stone Brewing Tap Room is rather self-explanatory based on its name, but it’s worth knowing it has 16 taps and a good selection of flatbreads. Mission Brewery is near the ballpark as well, but be careful of the 11% ABV beers as you get carried away playing shuffleboard. Pizza fans can head over to Basic for some tasty pies and more beer goodness.
At the Game
You surely won’t go hungry or thirsty while at the game. The food starts and ends with many local staples. Phil’s BBQ is the best barbecue in San Diego and its food at the stadium it holds up as if you were at the restaurant location. The El Toro tri-tip sandwich is the best of the options, but you won’t be dissatisfied with the Broham pulled pork sandwich or the baby back ribs that can be found at Park at the Park or near Section 113. Hodad’s is the burger of choice in San Diego with long lines, but the lines at the stadium are more forgiving.
Those looking for sit down dining at the ballpark can head to Rimel’s Rooftop Grill on the roof of the Western Metal Building. Lucha Libre is known for having one of the best surf and turf burritos in San Diego and its new location on the Toyota Terrace will always be a fan favorite. The ice cream sandwiches at The Baked Bear are legendary in the area, so the addition of a stand near Section 123 is a welcome one.
Then there’s the drinking aspect of Petco Park. Stone Brewing not only exists near the ballpark, but also has a presence on The Upper Deck Terrace near sections 309 and 311. The views come with 12 beers on tap. The Draft tap room features more local beers from Ballast Point and burgers from Hodad’s to go with those beers.
There are things for the kids too. Park at the Park has a whiffle ball field that kids love. Once inside, there’s the Power Alley, which features a batting cage and a pitching cage.
Where to Stay
There are numerous hotels located in downtown San Diego if you're flying into town to see a game. A lot of the hotels are within walking distance or a short taxi ride with plenty of brand names like Westin, Hilton, Hyatt, Marriott, etc. You can also stay on the beach a little further north in Mission Beach, Pacific Beach, La Jolla, or Del Mar to get the most out of your vacation. Those locations offer less brand name hotels, but that doesn't mean that the quality of your stay suffers. (The only thing that does is your ability to accumulate rewards points at the brand of your choice.) When in doubt, there’s always an apartment rental through a site like AirBNB.