|by Justine Sharrock||California, San Francisco||5|
Baseball fever has officially hit San Francisco, especially after two Opening Weekend wins over the Atlanta Braves this past weekend. A summer trip to the city just isn't complete without a visit to our famously beautiful stadium.
AT&T; Park (or Pac Bell Park, as many locals still call it), sits just by the Bay and offers postcard-quality views, gourmet food, a 56-foot-long Coca-Cola bottle-shaped superslide, and the excitement of a home run splashing into the water. Even non-baseball fans will have a blast.
An exciting opening coincides with the 2010 season: Traci Des Jardin, the James Beard award-winning chef of Jardiniére, is debuting two brand new restaurants adjacent to the park. Mijita will serve Mexican food like mahi mahi tacos and jicama, grapefruit, and avocado salad. Next door is Public House, a high-end sports bar serving gourmet takes on classic bar food like grass-fed burgers with avocado, bacon, Grafton cheddar cheese, and house-made pickles. Plus, Public will have one of the largest menus of draft beer and cask ales in town, including local Magnolia brews. It's all perfect for a pre- or post-game noshing adventure—or if you can't score tickets, just enjoy the game atmosphere right next to the park (24 Willie Mays Plaza, 415/644-0240).
Surely we've convinced you to go by now! If so, check out our handy tips on everything from how to get there to what to eat.
Getting there: By public transit: Take BART to the Embarcadero stop and then transfer to the N and T Muni trains, which stop right next the ballpark. Buses 10, 30, 45, and 47 stop one block away. See more at sfmta.com. On game days, public transit will be jam-packed, so it's often better to just make the 15-minute walk from Embarcadero.
By bike: It's an easy and scenic ride along the Embarcadero from either Fisherman's Wharf or downtown to the ball park. The stadium even offers valet bike parking, located on the Port Walk between the CHW Health Center and the foul pole.
Scoring tickets:This year the park is introducing dynamic pricing, similar to the stock market, where ticket prices will increase with demand. So you should buy early online or plan to attend one of the less-popular games.
Where to sit: To get the best bang for your buck, sit in a bleacher seat (from $9.50), which offers the best views and a chance to catch a home run, particularly in sections 137-139. For less hardcore fans, the reserved sections offer stunning views of the Bay with gorgeous sunsets (from $8). If you can't score a seat, you can always catch a glimpse of the game from the right field wall outside the stadium for free. Usually people just stop by this area instead of staying to watch all nine innings, but important games do draw a line (like when Barry Bonds was trying to break the home-run record.)
Grub to get: Garlic fries are a must, and forget Budweiser—the park is all about locally brewed Gordon Biersch and Anchor Steam. If you want to splurge, the fresh crab sandwiches are worth the $15. To save money, you can also bring in outside food and drink (just no glass or metal bottles). Also good to know: The shortest lines for concessions and bathrooms are at center field.
What to wear: Black and orange, of course! For night games, layers are essential—it can get chilly, especially in the reserved sections.
Stay connected: That's right, in this tech-obsessed town, our whole ballpark has Wi-Fi. There's even a Digital Dugout app, available for download only inside the stadium, that features instant video replay, scores, stats, a pitch tracker, and player profiles, plus interactive games (in case the live game isn't exciting enough.) Use the included food finder to locate the closest food and drink options from your seats.