Few things signal the coming of summer more than baseball season.
More than perhaps any other sport, attending a baseball game is about all the things going on outside the lines as much as what is happening between them.
The sounds, smells, and energy are a strong part of the experience; often, the best memories of going to baseball games are hitting the social scene with friends, firing up the grill in the lot, or playing catch with a kid and seeing the game through their eyes.
In other words, when it comes to Major League Baseball parks, much of the fun is done before the ticket is scanned.
Bookies.com has compiled its second annual ranking of the top MLB pregame destinations.
This comprehensive list has been updated for the 2023 season and is born from an algorithm based on multiple factors.
- Miles From City Center: Close to the action, accessible to fans
- Tailgating: The ability to park and enjoy a summer day with a beverage and grill.
- Entertainment Around Stadium: A vibrant bar and restaurant scene within walking distance to your seat.
- Family Sentiment: Is the area safe and entertaining for kids and those with kids?
Best MLB Ballparks To Visit By Pregame Experience
30) Miami Marlins
Miami is Miami, but a big reason why the Marlins consistently rank low in attendance is how difficult it is to get to the ballpark.
Most of the parking consists of concrete ramps, which costs an arm and a leg and offer zero tailgating. There is no central nightlife spot near the place.
Last year: 29th
29) Oakland Athletics
The only thing around RingCentral Coliseum is parking lots. Fortunately, tailgating is allowed – but like most other California stadiums, booze is prohibited. It ranked near the bottom for amenities for families and fans and dead last for food and drink options.
Last year: 30th
28) New York Yankees
The pregame options around Yankee Stadium ranked in the bottom 10 in three of the four categories, one of four teams to score that low. It ranked particularly low for families and ease of location (not surprising, being in NYC).
The bar scene isn’t bad, and parking is better than one might think, though alcohol is prohibited in the lots.
Last year: 28th
27) New York Mets
There are no bars within walking distance, and while ample parking is in the stadium’s adjacent lots, tailgating rules prohibit alcohol and open flames.
It has many of the same issues the other New York team deals with, though the Mets ranked considerably better for families.
Last year: 26th
26) Toronto Blue Jays
There is no tailgating around the Rogers Centre, and parking is among the costliest in pro sports. Also not helping: Blue Jays games ranked bottom-five in family and overall fan entertainment.
Fortunately, the bar scene around the stadium ranked upper half, and right off the highway, it’s accessible.
Last year: 23rd
25) Washington Nationals
The bar scene around Nationals Stadium is sporadic, but there are places to hit. Tailgating isn’t allowed, and families kept it in their bottom 10 once again for 2023.
Anyone that’s been to the Washington D.C. area knows nowhere is easy to get to, including Nats games.
Last year: 24th
24) Tampa Bay Rays
Inside Tropicana Field is considered laughable compared to many of MLB’s palaces. The outside isn’muchon better, as there is no bar scene and no stadium is further away from its city center.
Fortunately, the parking lots are huge, and the team allows just about anything in them. Tampa ranked No. 2 in all of MLB in tailgating.
Last year: 22nd
23) Los Angeles Dodgers
Parking is great, and the games inside are usually great for Dodgers fans. But despite being surrounded by parking lots, tailgating is prohibited and it’s strictly enforced thanks to past issues.
The safety issue greatly affected family sentiment.
Last year: 27th
22) Los Angeles Angels
The weather is nice in Orange County, but there are no bars and it’s not overly close to many local Angels fans. Parking is plentiful, and tailgating is allowed with one major caveat – no alcohol.
Last year: 25th
21) Houston Astros
Minute Maid Park is smack dab in the middle of the action in the nation’s fourth-largest city. Perhaps surprisingly, the nearest bar scene is a hefty seven-block walk. Tailgating doesn’t happen in the city center, but ample parking lots make up for it.
Last year: 21st
20) Chicago Cubs
Anyone who’s been to Wrigleyville knows few scenes can compete with the vibe around the venerable Cubs stadium. In fact, no place ranked higher in terms of bars and entertainment. But it’s a land of extremes; the Cubs also ranked dead-last in parking and tailgating, and the location is an extreme chore to get in and out of.
Last year: 20th
19) Chicago White Sox
Most lots around Guaranteed Rate Field offer tailgating and are open two hours before gametime. It ranked top 10 for tailgating, but bottom 10 for families, as area safety has become a growing concern. While not close to downtown Chicago, the access off the main interstate can’t be bet and is certainly easier compared to the northside rivals.
Last year: 16th
18) Kansas City Royals
Kauffman Stadium is considered one of the top parks for family entertainment, and the ample parking area it shares with the Chiefs’ Arrowhead Stadium offers additional ease.
Despite all the open space, true tailgating is inexplicably not allowed in a lot of areas, and it’s a bit of a hike for most fans.
Last year: 18th
17) Boston Red Sox
Few places can match the spectacle of entertainment around Fenway Park before games – as long as you’re an adult beverage consumer. The area ranked 21st in overall fan and family sentiment, and you’re on your own when it comes to parking.
Forget tailgating. One good thing ahead of the 2023 season, you’ll be able to wager on Red Sox games on Massachusetts betting apps for the first tie, once they go live on March 10.
Last year: 17th
16) Texas Rangers
Few fans can get after it in the parking lots like Rangers fans. There is ample parking, and grilling and beverage partaking is open three hours before the first pitch.
The stadium sits between the Dallas and Fort Worth metro areas, so it’s a drive for everyone. Those looking to hit the bars before do so before parking.
Last year: 15th
15) Philadelphia Phillies
Philadelphia’s proximity to the other pro sports spots in the city allows for ample parking, and they open a whopping five hours before game time, making Phillies games the No. 1-ranked spot for tailgating.
There’s also a casino, racetrack, and sportsbook adjacent to the stadium.
Last year: 10th
14) Minnesota Twins
Target Field is in the middle of the Minneapolis action, a requisite for MLB’s fourth-newest stadium. Minnesota’s proximity to the city and the adjacent bar and entertainment action boosted the Twins’ home game location.
Families and overall fan sentiment, however, has dwindled compared to 2022 due to perceived safety concerns in the region.
Last year: 7th
13) Arizona Diamondbacks
Chase Field sits downtown in Phoenix and is just two blocks from the Phoenix Suns’ arena, so there are ample pregame spots to hit. Parking is OK, but tailgating isn’t allowed.
Overall fan amenities rank in the middle of the pack. The stifling summer heat may push you right into the domed stadium anyway.
Last year: 14th
12) Detroit Tigers
The entertaining Greektown District is a 10-minute walk, but good luck finding a spot to park by Comerica Park. Tailgating isn’t much of an option, despite the stadium being adjacent to the Detroit Lions’ Ford Field.
Families ranked the experience in the top 10 of MLB. That’s held steady in 2023.
Last year: 13th
11) Atlanta Braves
The area built around Truist Park has turned the Braves’ new stadium into a destination, part of the reason why this ballpark has climbed our rankings to No. 11. In fact, it now ranks only behind the Cubs and Padres for bars and entertainment.
But it is quite the hike to the outer suburbs for most for Atlanta residents. While the bar scene thrives, tailgating is permitted in just one lot.
Last year: 19th
10) Milwaukee Brewers
No place is more synonymous with beer and sausage than Milwaukee, and Brewers fans take it to heart. There’s enough parking for everyone at American Family Field, and there are nearly zero team restrictions as to what you can bring or do when they open three hours before game time.
A limited bar scene is a shuttle away, but the great majority don’t want to leave the lot, anyway.
Last year: 12th
9) Cleveland Guardians
Progressive Field was part of a big turnaround for downtown Cleveland, and it’s still a big part of it. The area ranked top 10 in three of the four major categories, including both bar life and family activities. There’s nowhere to tailgate, but parking options aren’t as bad as other heart-of-downtown stadiums.
More good news? Ohio betting apps are now live, and betting on the Guardians is legal.
Last year: 9th
8) Colorado Rockies
LoDo has become a go-to spot in downtown Denver, and Rockies fans fill the bars on game nights. But the area around Coors Field isn’t just a spot for drinkers. While the bar scene ranks Top 10, families ranked the area top 10 as well.
The lack of parking and zero tailgating dipped the score, but it’s easy to have a good time in that area. It’s risen a couple of spots from 2022.
Last year: 11th
7) Baltimore Orioles
Decades after Camden Yards raised the bar as to what stadium areas can do for a community, Orioles games still rank near the top in most instances. It ranked No. 6 in overall fan sentiment, though that was down from No. 1 of a year ago.
It remains an active area, but get there early and don’t pack the grill. Parking is a nightmare, and there is no tailgating.
Last year: 5th
6) Seattle Mariners
T-Mobile Park has established itself as a fun, go-to spot for everyone, as one of just five stadiums to rank top 10 in three of the four main categories. Its location, family friendliness, and bar scene were all near the very top.
The parking situation left much to be desired, and tailgating is prohibited, keeping Seattle just outside the top 5 for the second straight year.
Last year: 6th
5) St. Louis Cardinals
Tailgating doesn’t really happen at Cardinals games, surprising to some, considering the history and tradition associated with the team. But Busch Stadium has its own red-and-white district with drinking and kids’ games, helping it rank top 8 for social types and the family types alike.
Its location, near everything, including the Gateway Arch, pushes it into the top 5 for the first time.
Last year: 8th
4) Cincinnati Reds
Cincinnati may have ranked No. 1 had its parking and tailgating options been better; it’s tough to get down there, and your only real option is to park and walk. But Great American Ballpark is on the banks of the Ohio River and right in the heart of a Reds-related entertainment district. Families ranked the area 6th for them, and the kids and adults ranked it sixth for the bar scene.
Last year: 4th
3) San Francisco Giants
Picturesque Oracle Park has it all, and for all ages. The area around the stadium has the bars but is flush with activities for families, too.
It was the only stadium to rank in the top 3 in two different categories, taking No. 2 in fan and family sentiment and No. 3 in overall entertainment. The Giants have built Oracle Park as a destination stop.
Last year: 2nd
2) San Diego Padres
You can’t beat the weather, and you can’t beat the location when it comes to pregame fun. Petco Park and its area ranked top 10 in location, family activities, and ease, and No. 2 in bars and other entertainment adjacent to the stadium.
Now, after years of playing second fiddle in SoCal to the Dodgers, the team is a contender, adding to the vibe. That helped it bump up one spot from 2022.
Last year: 3rd
1) Pittsburgh Pirates
For the second consecutive year, PNC Park ranked No. 1 in all of MLB. And yet, it didn’t rank No. 1 in any of the four key categories. What it did do is rank in the upper half in all four aspects and the top six in three of the four.
Its proximity to the city itself, while maintaining a spot that suits both adult groups and families, set the City of Bridges apart from the rest of MLB once again.
Featured Image: Bookies