Nationals Park – Washington Nationals
Nationals Park opened in 2008, and is located on the Anacostia River in Washington, DC – the Washington Monument and Capitol Building are both visible from the upper deck on the first base side. Currently the home of the Washington Nationals of the MLB, Nationals Park is a beautiful stadium with lots of great amenities, but getting there can present a little bit of a challenge. It is located in a premium tourist destination, however, so it would easily complement a weekend (or longer) road trip.
Food & Beverage 5
Nationals Park has almost any type of food you could ask for, including Kosher and vegetarian options. Prices are a little on the high side, but not atypically so for a professional sports stadium.
Food options include all of the typical stadium fare, plus local items such as traditional country fare and seafood items. Main dishes include ham or chicken biscuits, crab cakes, pizza, chicken tenders, Cuban sandwiches, pulled pork, pastrami, nachos (with cheesesteak, chicken, or chili), bratwurst, Italian sausage, hot dogs, several varieties of grilled cheese, mac and cheese, and hot and cold subs. There is also a Kosher stand that offers hamburgers, schnitzel, smoked sausage, hot dogs, and other items, as well as a vegetarian stand that offers tacos, empanadas, sandwiches, wraps, and hot dogs.
In addition to the above, you can also find plenty of snack-type items, plus dessert items galore. As you make your way around the concourse, look for peanuts, pretzels, fries, and fruit cups, as well as several varieties of ice cream (including hand-scooped, soft serve, Dippin’ Dots, and novelties like ice cream sandwiches), Cracker Jack, cotton candy, and a plethora of baked goods – Nationals Park offers brownies and several types of cookies and cakes. The Kosher stand even sells potato knishes. Prices for all of these range from $6 to $25 (chicken tender bucket with fries and two sodas).
The variety at Nationals Park continues into the beverage arena. Soda and bottled water are of course available, plus lemonade, coffee, and hot cocoa, as well as multiple types of alcohol. Alcohol selections include wine, beer on tap and in bottles, including several craft beers, plus Bourbon tea, margaritas, and even Bailey’s hot chocolate. Prices start at $9 for alcohol and about $5 for other beverages.
If you are in the mood for something out of the ordinary while at the park, try a root beer float, or grab some Virginia Crunch, a delectable treat that mixes peanuts and popcorn with bacon and caramel sauce.
Nationals Park is a beautiful, modern stadium with plenty of great amenities, and comfortable seats.
Some of the park’s most notable aspects are the decor and the myriad rest areas dotted throughout. The inside and outside of the park are both peppered with Nationals decor, including in-motion statues of former players, giant player photos, thank you plaques to donors and sponsors, colorful banners, a board showing a quote from Cal Ripken, and even baseball-themed artwork, including sculptures hanging from the ceiling in the concourse. The trash cans are even topped with Nationals helmets!
In addition to the great imagery, there are also “rest areas” all over the park, where you can sit and eat, or just hang out. These areas feature tables and giant cooling fans, which are a boon on hot days. The best rest area is probably the one on the second level in the outfield, because it has padded wicker couches and chairs. Nationals Park also has cell phone charging stations on the walls in the concourse, and even a nursing mothers lounge. You can also get some great views of the Anacostia River from inside the park.
The staff does a great job keeping the fans entertained during breaks in the action. The most well-known activity is the Presidents Race during the fourth inning, where likenesses of six of the presidents — wearing period costumes and giant foam heads, no less — compete against each other in a race. There are also more traditional activities, such as the dance cam.
All of the seats in Nationals Park are plastic bucket-style chair backs with cup holders, and a good number of them are covered, even in the upper deck. There are also lots of places where you can stand and watch the game, if you like to move around and take in different vantage points. The sight lines here are fine even in the upper deck or outfield, but of course the closer you get to home plate, the more your tickets will cost.
Nationals Park is located in the Navy Yard neighborhood of Washington, DC, and it goes without saying that the entire city is an amazing tourist destination, with plenty of historic sites and museums within a few miles.
The most well-known, of course, are the Smithsonian, the Washington Monument, the Lincoln Memorial, and Arlington National Cemetery, but there are plenty of other options, as well. If you are in town for the weekend, I would recommend the Pentagon Memorial or the International Spy Museum. The Pentagon Memorial is a small park designed for quiet reflection, but is beautifully designed with benches and shallow pools. Located right next to the Pentagon, it is not too crowded, and may provide a nice respite from some of the more bustling attractions, with their long lines and crowds of people. Admission is free, and the memorial is open 24 hours a day.
The International Spy Museum may sound kitschy, but is actually a lot of fun. There you can see devices used by the OSS during World War II, and learn about spying during the Cold War, including ways to detect listening devices, as well as ingenious ways to transport information and people. They sometimes have special exhibits, as well; for example, an expose on Bond villains.
The fans at Nationals Park are solid, and you will see plenty of red in the stands when you visit. The crowd will also be fairly large on most days; while you usually won’t see a sell-out, you should see at least twenty-five thousand-plus at a typical game (about two-thirds capacity or more).
There will be a good bit of crowd noise during the game, and the fans have had a lot to cheer about in recent years, given the Nationals strong on-field performance. It is interesting, however, that the stands look emptier at times than they actually are; while the games have great attendance, you will see a lot of fans in the concourse during the game, either taking advantage of the rest areas and cooling fans, or waiting in the long lines at the concessions.
Perhaps the only downside to attending a Nationals game is actually getting to the stadium. Washington, DC is thick with traffic at the best of times, and there isn’t really a direct route from the city center to the ballpark.
Fortunately, you can get to Nationals Park on Metro’s green line, using the Navy Yard station. Plan for extra time if you go this route, and be cautious about taking the subway alone at night. On the plus side, taking the subway is much cheaper than parking, which can run $40 if you want to be right outside the gates, in one of the surface lots next to the park. Despite the expense, that is actually your best option if you choose to drive, because parking in one of the garages farther away and walking is a bit of a hassle, and is pricey, as well.
One really cool feature, however, is that you can ride your bike to the game, and they even have bicycle valet, so your ride will stay secure while you are inside.
There are plenty of gates that go into the stadium, and the walkways are very wide, so there won’t be much of a line getting inside.
However, the concessions lines are very long, so you may want to wait for one of the vendors who walk around in the stands (or visit the less-popular Kosher and vegetarian stands). On the plus side, there are plenty of bathrooms, and the lines for those are not bad at all.
Return on Investment 3
As with most stadiums, the closer you get to the action, the more you will pay for tickets, and parking and concessions are not cheap, either.
Tickets start at about $17 in the upper deck, and go up to $70 for regular seats on the lower level closer to home plate (and then a lot more for premium seats). Parking could run as much as $40, but you could save money by taking the subway. Concessions are pricey, which is normal for professional stadiums, so you may want to eat before you come.
Any park that offers Kosher AND vegetarian options deserves extra praise.
The decor is also great; the in-motion statues are a little disconcerting, but are interesting, and great fodder for selfies.
Having the subway AND bicycle options is a big plus, especially in a high-traffic city like DC.
The rest areas, nursing mothers lounge, cooling fans, and cell phone charging stations are brilliant touches, and really enhance the experience.
If you are wiling to spend the money, Nationals Park is a great baseball stadium, with some wonderful amenities, and a pretty good team of late. Getting to the park may be the only downside, but its location near all that Washington, DC has to offer makes it a perfect weekend destination to take in America’s national pastime.
Grand Hyatt Washington
1000 H Street NW
Washington, DC 20001
Homewood Suites by Hilton Washington DC Capitol – Navy Yard
50 M St SE
Washington, DC 20003
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Latest Crowd Reviews
Nationals Park is a shiny, new park that ticks most of the boxes. In my opinion though the stadium itself is fairly standard, with most of the unique features of a visit to Washington being the city rather than the stadium. However, the Presidents Race is one of my favourite promotions in all of baseball.
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