A ball game may seem like the perfect family activity; however, it may be difficult to get your kids to sit still for nine innings. If you plan on attending a baseball game with young children in tow this summer, consider visiting a ballpark that features free onsite activities and distractions (trust us, when your little ones need a break from the bats and/or are overheated, you'll want to have these amenities). To help you plan your next family ballpark outing, we rounded up our favorite U.S. baseball stadiums that offer tremendous value for kids and parents alike.
1. Nationals Park, Washington D.C.
The Washington Nationals offer discounted game tickets and food to nurses and government workers (including military personnel, first responders, teachers, and their families. Also, Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts (plus their families) get reduced tickets, as well as a limited edition team patch and a chance to run the bases after the game. Children of all ages will enjoy a range of themed free giveaways all season long. They'll also love Fireworks Fridays, when the sky lights up with color all around them. On Sundays after the game, kids get to run the bases.
Need a break from the game? Head to the Family Fun Area (near the right field gate) where, after racing through several slides and climbing, kids can cool off at the giant misting machine. Children 10 and under will appreciate the new PenFed Kids Fun Zone, which is complete with a virtual reality game that lets the little ones experience the thrill of hitting a home run.
Also, if you're looking for maximum savings, bring along a soft cooler with snacks in plastic bags and drinks (no containers allowed) — so you won't have to spend the time (or money) waiting on line to buy pricey snacks.
Pro tip: Sign your little ones up for the Jr. Nationals Kids Club and they'll receive a lanyard and exclusive email offers (added bonus: they'll gain access to special meet-and-greet opportunities). Also, if it’s your kids’ first game, head to any of the guest services locations and pick up an adorable (and free) “First Game Certificate."
2. Oracle Park, San Francisco, CA
Because the stadium is vertical, even the nosebleed seats allow you to feel close to the action — so there’s no need to splurge on premium seats. Before you buy your tickets, be sure to check out the park’s promotions and giveaways schedule for special offers such as the Summer Friends and Family Pack, which includes four tickets and a $40 food credit ($99).
Baseball fans 14 and under will love the Fan Lot: a free interactive play area where they can “slide” into home plate from one of the four slides inside a giant wooden contour bottle. Here, kids can also sit in the world’s largest vintage-style baseball glove, hit softballs, and run the bases inside Little Giants Park, a 50x50-foot replica of Oracle Park. Mega-fans can also collect rubbings of players’ autographs from the plaques that hang on the wall. Before you go, be sure to take a family photo on the green screen with the background of your choice.
It's also worth noting that if you're not sure your kids can make it through the entire game, consider checking out the small standing-room-only viewing area near McCovey Cove, where you can watch up to three innings for free.
3. Globe Life Park, Arlington, TX
Who doesn’t love ticket and food discounts on a hot summer day? At Globe Life Park, save 20% on tickets in the All You Can Eat Porch section, which features grilled chicken sandwiches, nachos, and other ballpark snacking staples. If you’re looking for even more savings, bring your own food and drink: the park allows soft coolers of food as well as sealed, non-alcoholic beverage in plastic bottles.
Globe Life Park also offers discounts to military servicemen, veterans, and first responders. Save 40% on special Dr. Pepper Can Days and up to 55% when you purchase the Coca-Cola Family Pack, which includes four tickets, four jumbo hotdogs, four soft drinks, two Kids’ Zone wristbands, and a souvenir. Children under 13 qualify for reduced tickets in the upper sections, and kids under 36 inches tall get in free as long as they sit on a ticket holder’s lap.
When the little ones get overheated, head to the air-conditioned Kid's Zone, which has a baseball bat slide and an array of interactive games. Rangers Captain (the mascot) pops by to sign autographs during the 5th inning. You'll also find free attractions like Vandergriff Plaza’s Wiffle Ball field, pitching games, and tee-ball cages. While you’re here, take a stroll through the Rangers’ Walk of Fame.
4. Tropicana Field, St. Petersburg, FL
In honor of select Sunday home games, baseball fans can buy Family Packs that include three or more outfield tickets and a 20-ounce soft drink.Military personnel, teachers, and first responders receive two free tickets for Monday home games, as well as additional dates throughout the season. Also, select home games offer $2 tickets for kids 14 and under with the purchase of an adult ticket. At Friday home games, which are sponsored by 7-Eleven, tickets cost — you guessed it — $7.11. Kids will love Grand Slam Alley, which features arcade games, a video batting cage and speed pitch machine, a make-your-own baseball card booth, and even a crafting station to make signs to hold up during the game.
Bonus: Sunday home games feature Family Fun Days, which feature complimentary and kid-friendly entertainment, craft stations, and live music before the game. After the game, kids can run the bases and partake in a dance party.
5. PNC Park, Pittsburgh
PNC Park features panoramic skyline views of Pittsburgh and the Allegheny River. If you're looking to score the best value-packed deal, consider purchasing tickets in the upper sections, which are just 88 feet from the field. On Sunday afternoons, the park offers Kids Day, which features an array of kid-approved activities, like running the bases. The park also has a Family Fun Zone that opens several hours before game time.
In addition to military discounts, check out the Student Tickets and Fan Value specials, such as the Pirates Chick-fil-A Friday 4-Pack, which includes four tickets and four meals for $100. You can also purchase seats in Pirate’s Cove, ($30), which includes unlimited popcorn, peanuts, and soda. Children up to 32 inches in height are admitted to the ballpark for free as long as they sit on an adult’s lap. Also, be sure to be on the lookout for giveaways, which are always a fun add-on.