Going to a Nationals game in Washington DC is something I LOVE to do when the weather gets nice!
If you’re a tourist or a local that’s never been, I totally recommend going to a Nationals game a least once (at Nationals Park) in Washington DC. Yes, yes you must – if only for the drinking. Seriously. I’ve been to quite a few and here are my tips & tricks for having a grand ole’ time and showing your “Natitude!”
I prefer going to baseball games vs. football games because you can get up in between innings to get more food + drinks, use the bathroom and come back without feeling like you missed part of the game. For non-serious baseball fans, you can sit on The Red Porch and enjoy “real” food but still get some of the experience.
Tickets can be pretty cheap and you can get them from the official website: http://www.nationals.com. Sometimes there are deals on TravelZoo.com but those games tend to be on weekdays.
Weekend games are definitely easier to attend but weeknight evening games are pleasant too – it’s much cooler than a hot summer day game. Other online ticketing sites like stubhub.com are also an option.
+HOW TO GET TO NATIONALS PARK:
Take the DC METRO. The green line runs frequently during games and it’s an easy walk to/from the stadium. However, be prepared for the crowds. Locals: don’t forget your smart card. Tourists – be prepared to stand in long lines to get a fare card and remember – WALK LEFT, STAND RIGHT on the escalators. The locals tend to get quite annoyed if you’re in the way. Sorry!
If you drive — it’s easy to get to the game but it’s still driving in the city which can be a pain. Parking spot tickets are available when you buy your tickets online or you can pay cash at parking areas outside the stadium. These tend to go for around $20. There’s free parking if you decide to explore the area but it can be a far walk and be careful during night games.
+ BALLPARK BUS: If you live in northern VA or Maryland and don’t want to deal with the Metro or drive, this is another great + safe option. These shuttles have pick-up spots at restaurants in Ashburn, Fairfax, Gainesville, Reston, Rockville, and Gaithersburg! Prices are under $20 (sometimes $29) and you don’t have to worry about parking OR driving drunk!
+ WHERE TO SIT:
+ If you can afford it or have some crazy hook up (like I did — once), get the Presidential seats RIGHT behind home plate. There’s an indoor luxurious buffet before & bar with the option of yummy snacks served at your seat during the game.
You can watch the indoor Nationals’ batting practice tunnel + the post-game press conference live! It’s a pretty kick-ass experience and tickets have a face value of $325. You’re also on TV – which can be a good or bad thing….so don’t get too sloshed. 🙂
If you’re usually a regular plebeian like me, I have a thing for sitting at the 300 level seats right behind home plate. The first photo is where those seats are taken. It’s a grand full view of the field.
For day games, rows 1-10, the sun beats down on you for a time but the sun will move and you’re in the cooler shade. If your seats are a little higher up and back, you’ll have shade majority of the time.
Another plus about where I like to sit: restrooms are right nearby, food + the refreshment stands where the BEER, WINE + LIQUOR are!
+ DON’T sit in the lower right-field seats. You’re in the shade but you can’t see the entire field nor the scoreboard. There’s TVs showing the game but that’s boring. Just don’t do it. I also avoid the outfield unless you want to get heatstroke. Not Fun (speaking from experience here).
+WHAT TO EAT/DRINK:
Nationals Park has a great selection of food for a sports stadium. There’s the usual greasy hot dogs, pizzas, chicken tenders + fries but you have The Red Porch (that I mentioned above) with indoor & outdoor seating & quality food like nachos, salads & sandwiches with great views. Great for the non-serious baseball fan but wants to have a decent time at least eating & drinking.
Above the Red Porch is the Red Loft, an outdoor bar area. There’s jerk ribs & chicken and it’s the same level as the party areas in right field. It’s far from the field but a great place to hang out if you don’t care about the distance or if you got one of the $5-10 cheap tickets.
There are local institutions such as Ben’s Chili Bowl & Hard Times. If you’re a New York fan, there’s Shake Shack and some cheesesteaks from Steak of the Union for the Phillies fans too.
+ Beer, wine & liquor beverages: Each person can get two drinks at a time. I always ask them to pour two wines into one bigger cup for me so I don’t have to walk around double fisting my alcohol. 🙂
+Prices: Let’s be honest. Stadium food is never cheap so be prepared to spend some dough on food + drinks – oh and you’re in Washington DC where crap is expensive for just being expensive. A beer averages for $9 a bottle and wine is $8-9 as well. Water is $4.25 a bottle. I’ve noticed that the prices have gone up the past few years and it’s probably because the Nats have gotten better through the years.
+ Things to not miss:
+ The Presidents Race! It’s a hilarious wacky race held during the 4th inning (again if there’s a 13th inning). We get five (used to be four) of our former presidents (George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt & William Howard Taft ). It’s a hilarious race with them wearing big foam caricature heads and it’s always has extra props involved or kooky sabotage. Teddy used to NEVER win and there was a huge fan campaign about “Let Teddy Win” and he finally did in 2012!
The seventh inning stretch tradition. “Take me out to the ball game” is always played and “Take on Me’ by A-Ha is also played in tribute to Michael Morse in 2012 when he used it as his walk-up song.
+ It’s acceptable to bring in two sealed water bottles to the game – they don’t want you dehydrated and dying at the game when it gets super hot and humid around here.
So there you go!
Let me know how your experience has been at a Nats game or if there are any other useful tips you want to share!