Potential "bachelor" Summer Sports Vacation destinations?

#1
Middletown, IL
Hey everyone:

Since you guys were so helpful with my Indianapolis inquries...I thought I'd ask another.

Every summer I tend to go to what I like to call my "baseball getaway". Now it's almost always been in St. Louis...but I'm getting kinda tired of going there.

Where would you guys suggest would be the next possible place for me to go? Now it isn't just baseball that I go see....while in St. Louis, I'd go to the brewery tour, the museum/zoo in Forest Park, etc.

So...what other cities should I be looking at that not only gives me my baseball fix...but my history and culture fix as well (as I put my pinky in the air to show my "class" lol)

I've been thinking about possibly Washington DC as a potential week long destination...but at the same time...the cost is kinda high.

Thanks everyone. It's never too early to start planning a summer vacation.
 
#2
Northwoods of Wisconsin
Milwaukee isn't too far away. Miller park is nice to see at least once and downtown Milwaukee is fun occasionally for a woods rat like me. The art museum on the lakefront (designed by Calatrava) alone is worth the trip to Milwaukee.
 
#3
That's a winner!!
OH
Since pizzaman went local, I'll go local with Cincinnati, you can get up to Dayton one day for the Air Force Museum, take in a Reds game, hit up Northern Kentucky for the bourbon trail. Museums in Cincinnati include Underground Railroad Freedom Center, Museum Center, you have the zoo, art museum, NKy for night life.
 
#4
Northwoods of Wisconsin
Since pizzaman went local, I'll go local with Cincinnati, you can get up to Dayton one day for the Air Force Museum, take in a Reds game, hit up Northern Kentucky for the bourbon trail. Museums in Cincinnati include Underground Railroad Freedom Center, Museum Center, you have the zoo, art museum, NKy for night life.
I'm 250 miles north of Milwaukee so my visits to Miller Park fall into the "road trip" category. If you want to get on a plane and go somewhere very different than the midwest, I'll head for Seattle or San Francisco. Both will get you into a nice ballpark with great cities and a west coast vibe. Also cost a lot more than a trip to Milwaukee or Cincinnati.
 
#6
Ugh. I'm not a fan of Denver.

Try NYC, although if money is an issue that's probably not your best bet. I'm curious if baseball or MLB is the main issue. Arizona Fall League is fantastic! I'd highly recommend it. The Cape is also great. These are places to see prospects rather than the real thing, but you get a lot for your money.
 
#7
Ugh. I'm not a fan of Denver.

Try NYC, although if money is an issue that's probably not your best bet. I'm curious if baseball or MLB is the main issue. Arizona Fall League is fantastic! I'd highly recommend it. The Cape is also great. These are places to see prospects rather than the real thing, but you get a lot for your money.
Well, he mentioned the brewery so I imagined good beer would be important, there's some gooood beer coming out of the state of Colorado. And I'm not talking Coors. I thought Coors field was a great venue.

Another great place would be San Diego. Petco Park, Seaworld, the SD Zoo, Sea World, Legoland, the beaches, etc.... what more could you want?
 
#8
Well, he mentioned the brewery so I imagined good beer would be important, there's some gooood beer coming out of the state of Colorado. And I'm not talking Coors. I thought Coors field was a great venue.

Another great place would be San Diego. Petco Park, Seaworld, the SD Zoo, Sea World, Legoland, the beaches, etc.... what more could you want?
Undeniable fact, and from that perspective you are correct. San Diego is fine too, but I find it's dinner/post-dinner options a bit lacking.
 
#9
Middletown, IL
actually...I don't drink beer...I just like the brewery tours...kinda of interesting on how things are made and such.

and no...it doesn't have to be MLB...Triple A would suffice as well. But my main things are

1) Good Food

2) Good clean downtown atmosphere with everything close and within walking distance

3) Relatively inexpensive hotels in the area near the sites
 
#10
In terms of MLB here are what I'd suggest:

Washington - you get two teams and D.C. is great as are certain parts of Baltimore

NYC - everything you want except it's very expensive

Minnesota - Minneapolis is a very underrated city and in the summer it should be above freezing, although barely.

Toronto - World class city. You'll have a great time

In reality though, any MLB city will work for you. Corporate presence and the culture that goes with it is a necessity to support 81 home games every season.
 
#11
Undeniable fact, and from that perspective you are correct. San Diego is fine too, but I find it's dinner/post-dinner options a bit lacking.
For sure, some of my favorite beers (Oskar Blues Old Chub, Ten Fidy & Gubna) are made in Colorado.

How long has it been since you were in San Diego? The Gaslamp Quarter, walking distance from Petco, should provide all you need. The La Jolla/Pacific Beach/Mission Bay area gives you all that AND the beach. Not to mention the trolley system that will take you from Tijuana to Oceanside and all points in between, with perhaps a short taxi/bus ride to nearby places.
 
#12
For sure, some of my favorite beers (Oskar Blues Old Chub, Ten Fidy & Gubna) are made in Colorado.

How long has it been since you were in San Diego? The Gaslamp Quarter, walking distance from Petco, should provide all you need. The La Jolla/Pacific Beach/Mission Bay area gives you all that AND the beach. Not to mention the trolley system that will take you from Tijuana to Oceanside and all points in between, with perhaps a short taxi/bus ride to nearby places.
3 years I think. It's not my style of town. But we all have different tastes. The area is beautiful to be sure, but I just don't love it.
 
#13
Springfield, IL
Of the parks I've visited, the one I would suggest as a "MUST-SEE" is PNC Park (Pittsburgh).

Here is a long write-up I did on the trip after returning (2007):

Friday morning, my friends Sandi and Elaine arrived at my house and we embarked on our journey in Sandi’s SUV. During the ride, we checked in a time or two with Sandi’s friend Deb, who was flying to Pittsburgh from Chicago. She beat us by about 4 hours and let us know that we hit the jackpot and that we were in the team hotel. She watched as several of the players and personnel boarded the team bus to head over to the stadium. She said Kip Wells was walking with his phone up to his ear, but not talking. In other words, he seemed to just be using it as a buffer between himself and any fans. She gave him a look like “I know what you’re doing” and he just smirked. When Elaine heard that, she said that Kip Wells should have been begging people to ask for his autograph. She is very blunt and even more sarcastic (which is why I love her). After about a 10 hour ride (including stops) to Pittsburgh, the other three of us arrived at the Westin Hotel.

We mostly just unpacked and then headed over to the stadium that night. I enjoyed my first of several trips walking across the Roberto Clemente bridge. Our seats were in Section 116, row AA (about 35 to 40 rows directly behind home plate). For my food choices that night, I had a gyro and since I was in Pittsburgh, I had to try the pierogies (they were yummy). Our usher couldn’t have been friendlier or concerned more about everybody’s comfort. All of the ushers there were on the ball. Anytime a foul ball was hit in a section, they literally SPRINTED towards the area…ALL of them. I’ve never seen ushers at Wrigley or Busch move like that. The girl sitting in front of me was quite interesting in that she was wearing a Nationals visor, a Cardinals (Edmonds) jersey, and a Pirates headband. Hey, at least they were all National League teams I guess.

The Cardinals won an easy one, 6-1, highlighted by a 3-RBI pinch-hit by Edmonds. After the game, they had a special fireworks display because it was the final weekend. They shot them off over the river and the lights reflected in the glass of the windows of the buildings across the water. It was truly spectacular. Following the display, we walked back across the bridge and to our hotel (it’s about a 1-mile walk -- and very scenic). As we were doing so, we were talking amongst ourselves, but keeping to ourselves. A group of roughly college age guys wearing Pirates gear walked past us and hollered rather gruffly, “You know what?! The Cardinals suck!” I just grinned and used my last weekend of opportunity to say that they were the World Champions. This kid absolutely screams, “THEY SUCK!” I can’t imagine what joy he must have gotten from trash-talking a group of women in their 30s and 40s. Elaine’s retort (which she didn’t say loudly enough for him to hear) was “Yeah, I remember when I had my first beer too, Kid.”

Saturday morning, we got up early and headed over to do the PNC Park tour. Our tour guide, Dave, was full of great information. We got to go in the Pirates dugout (but not the clubhouse) and some of the boxes. They have a party area called Keystone Corner that has billiards tables and a luxurious bar. A trivia question I’ve heard before is “what city’s professional sports teams all wear the same colors?”, so I was aware that the Penguins, Steelers, and Pirates all wore black & gold. What I didn’t know was that the reason they do so is that Pittsburgh (the city) actually has official colors -- black & gold. He reminded us that Pittsburgh has won 5 of the 7 World Series in which they’ve participated. I knew they had a glorious past, but didn’t remember them winning so many world championships. It’s just a crime that their history is so rich, but their teams have been so bad for almost 3 decades.
The field at PNC Park is a blend of 5 types of Kentucky Bluegrass and is mowed twice on game days. It is able to drain up to 12 inches of rain PER HOUR, which is just astounding to me. The ‘dirt’ track is actually crushed volcanic ash from a dormant volcano in Colorado. The outfield walls are 21 feet high, in honor of Clemente’s jersey number. He apparently chose that jersey number, because his full name (Roberto Walker Clemente) has 21 letters. The lockers in the clubhouse are 4 foot by 7 foot and have their own safes, internet hook-ups, and video game hook-ups. Between that and the fantastic fitness equipment, plus the players’ chef, Dave said that players often begin arriving around lunchtime for an evening game.

Pittsburgh’s ball club was originally the Alleghenys. In fact, the side of Pittsburgh in which the stadium lies used to be Allegheny City. The name change was due to a story involving a second baseman named Louis Bierbauer. In 1890, the Philadelphia Athletics, for whom Bierbauer played, failed to reserve him, so MLB awarded him to the Pittsburgh Pirates (for whom Bierbauer preferred to play, because he was from Erie, which is closer to Pittsburgh). Supposedly a newspaper headlines read “Pittsburgh Pirates Bierbauer”. Pittsburgh liked that term better than “Alleghenys”, and so it stuck. After the tour, as we walked by the Clemente statue, a guy walking his dog walked up and rubbed the buttocks of the statue several times. We wondered if this was some local tradition, but according to some stadium employees, it was just some weird guy.

For lunch that day, we drove to a Primanti Brothers restaurant, based on several recommendations. The sandwiches, served on bread made by the restaurant itself, have Cole slaw and French fries included (ON the sandwich itself, not on the side). They were scrumptious. The restaurant was near several blocks of street markets. We browsed through them, but there was far more Steelers merchandise than Pirates (or Penguins). I was good…there was a table of all sorts of home made baked items, but I just kept walking. I did get pictures of a couple of amusing t-shirts, including one which read, “my liver is evil, it must be punished”. We also walked by the home of the “Roethlisburger”.

Back in the hotel, while Elaine & Deb napped, Sandi & I people watched in the lobby. I wanted to get some pictures of some of the players; she was more interested in autographs. We met up with and chatted with a guy originally from Peoria who now lives in Ohio. He was there on a last minute weekend trip with his youngest (13-year old) son, a big Jim Edmonds fan. He (the boy) was also collecting autographs. I didn’t feel right stopping any of the guys that were just walking through, but 4 of the guys (Rick Ankiel, Anthony Reyes, Ryan Ludwick, and Aaron Miles) were standing in the lobby for about 20 minutes, so I did eventually get those autographs myself. I have a ball cap on which I already had Mike Matheny, Steve Kline, Ray King, and Ray Lankford autographs (I got Matheny & Kline at the old Busch and King & Lankford at Wrigley). It’s not worth anything to anyone but me, and I don’t try real hard to get autographs (or I could probably have several more). I asked Ankiel to sign under the bill, next to Matheny. He cracked, “is it more enticing if I sign next to Matheny?” I said, “Absolutely!” He said, “It’s not to me.” Anthony Reyes couldn’t have been nicer. I hope he finds his groove somewhere.

Eventually the team bus pulled up, at which point, the head of security walked over and said that autograph seekers would not be allowed in the lobby while the team bus was loading. He said we could stay since we were guest of the hotel, but we could no longer approach the players. He said we could talk to them and ask for an autograph, but not approach unless we were given permission. At that point, I decided not ask for any more, but just stick to my original plan of getting pictures. I got pictures of So Taguchi, Albert Pujols, and Jim Edmonds. Edmonds signed for Sandi and he signed two items for the 13-year old kid (both a baseball and the back of his Edmonds t-shirt). I got a picture of Mike Shannon autographing this month’s Game Day magazine (it has his picture on the front) for Sandi. I congratulated Mike on 50 years with the club and told him how much Bob Uecker cracked me up during the ceremony honoring Shannon. As Jason Isringhausen walked by, I told him I was a Carlinville girl (same county as Brighton, where he grew up) and asked if he’d have his picture taken with me. He was very gracious and seemed sincerely appreciative when I told him how much I enjoyed his comeback this year.

The head of security (who told me he was a former winner of Pennsylvania’s Fireman/EMT of the Year) kept talking to us and was really nice. He told us that when San Francisco is in town, Barry Bonds gets his own FLOOR of rooms. He also said that one morning, Bonds was eating breakfast in one of the hotel restaurants, in a corner by himself. In another corner of the restaurant, Larry Holmes (the boxer) was eating breakfast. Holmes was chatting with fans and signing autographs and of course Barry was being Barry. I do have to concede I’d never bother an athlete while he was eating though. Anyway, after Holmes finished eating, he walked over to Bonds and told him he needed to change his ways. Bonds jumped up and said, “Oh, I’ll have my picture taken with YOU.”

Eventually, I headed upstairs to change into jeans for the game, and discovered that the Illini had beaten Penn State 27-20! Woo Hoo! I knew that they had been winning at half-time and was hoping & praying they could hold on for a victory. Next, Elaine and I walked along the riverfront (which was gorgeous) and up to Heinz Field (where the Steelers play), which looked pretty cool. I guess the Pitt Panthers play there as well, based on the signs at the ticket windows and the names on the gates. We saw the oddest Veterans monument I’ve ever seen and an attractive law enforcement memorial.

That evening, our seats at the game were in section 116, row W (about 6 rows closer, but the same section as the night before). Two of the guys who had been on the tour with us were three rows behind us. They came down and sat with us for awhile and visited. They had flown in from Baltimore and were big Orioles fans. I enjoyed talking baseball trivia with them. There was a free concert in the stadium after the game and we listened to the first 3 or 4 songs and then left. They sounded good, and obviously Pittsburgh loves them, but since we weren’t familiar with them (“The Clarks”), it wasn’t as interesting to us. My supper that night was chicken wings from Quaker Steak & Lube. I got them with L.A. Lickers sauce (a combination of hot & spicy, BBQ, and garlic). They were delicious.

Sunday morning, Elaine & I walked along part of the route of a 10K race that was going on in Pittsburgh. It was fun hearing and watching people cheer as racers arrived at the finish line. We arrived back at the hotel about when the team bus arrived. We watched from our hotel room windows as guys loaded the bus. It was fun trying to decipher who they were from an overhead view (10th floor). Some hairstyles and walking gaits helped as cues. There were 3 kids standing near the bus, wanting autographs. Normally, I don’t blame the players for saying no or ignoring autograph seekers, but there were only three of them. I was disappointed to see Jim Edmonds and Scott Spiezio be the only ones to bother stopping and signing for these kids. Seriously, all the other players did was hop on the bus and have to sit and wait for everyone else anyway, why not put some smiles on the faces of three kids? Meanwhile, down in the hotel lobby, Sandi fulfilled a nearly 4-year quest to get Albert Pujols’ autograph. I think she was on Cloud 9. She has some glorious collage displays of newspaper clippings and pictures in her home. She chose to have him sign a full color Post-Dispatch spread of him under the headline “MVP”. I have to admit, it looked really sharp.

For the Sunday game, our seats were in section 8, row B. Basically, we were right by first base and only the 2nd row from the field. Outstanding! Especially for a big Dave McKay fan like me. The season ticket holder in front of us, George, has had his seats for 39 years and has only missed 16 games during that time. I enjoyed talking to him, but he was definitely an anti-La Russa guy. I don’t have a problem with that, but George was off a bit on a few of the things he was telling me. For example, he asked me if I remembered when all 3 Molina brothers played for the Angels at the same time. (No, I didn’t) He also claims that La Russa is the only manager in the league that goes out to the mound about 50% of the time when he’s not really pulling the pitcher, but only wants to talk to him. As I recall from the games I attend, unless it’s a really unusual circumstance, Duncan always goes out if it’s just a “pep talk”, not Tony. He claims that Tony only bats the pitcher 8th for the “attention” of doing so. I’m not a fan of batting the pitcher 8th myself, but I seriously don’t think that’s Tony’s purpose. However, since George has been in his seats so long, all of the 1st base coaches know him. Dave McKay spoke to him, so I asked him to have Dave come over so I could have my picture taken with him.

PNC Park was beautiful and affordable. My only complaint if I were a Pirate fan would be in regards to the bullpens. The bullpens are in left center field (both of them). The visiting team’s pen is visible to the fans, but the home team’s pen is behind it and not visible. Pirates fans can never see who’s warming up. They do their player statues right, and seeing them only made me more wistful for Stan Musial to get a better statue. Pittsburgh’s reputation as a football city was confirmed when Sunday’s baseball game attendance was the lowest of the three games, in spite of it being the last game of the year and fan appreciation day. They gave away some great prizes -- all-inclusive trips to spring training, trips to fantasy camp, tickets to next year’s games, and an SUV. It was a terrific weekend for a baseball geek like me and I’d recommend a trip to Pittsburgh to anyone. It’s truly a pretty (and well-maintained) city.


http://s62.photobucket.com/albums/h115/braxtina/Pittsburgh2007/?action=view&slideshow=true
 
#14
I would agree with Amy, PNC is along with SF's park (is it AT&T now?) are the 2 nicest of all the stadiums I've been to.