Last Monday I embarked on the granddaddy of all baseball trips with the goal of visiting five ballparks in five days. Through Expedia, I booked my flight to Atlanta with AirTran and booked my hotel for the night using Priceline’s Express Deals page. I stayed downtown in the Hyatt right off the MARTA for $78 ($98 with tax) as opposed to $193 a night without tax as it was listed normally. While traveling, especially solo, I try to stay somewhere I feel safe and provides me easy access to the city and public transportation. There were a few two-star hotels downtown around $70, but the reviews via TripAdvisor made me go with the Express Deal instead.
When I landed in Atlanta I noted the time to estimate how long it would take to get from the terminal to the hotel so I’d know how early I’d need to leave the following morning to get back. If you haven’t flown into Atlanta, give yourself a lot of extra travel time, the place is huge! It took me almost 30 minutes to get from the Terminal to the MARTA. Once I got to the station I purchased four trips ($10) instead of the day pass ($9) since it expired at midnight. The trip to my hotel only took 20 minutes and I was able to check in early and nap before exploring the city and heading to Turner Field for the game.
I’d never visited Atlanta before and from what I saw, you could spend a week there and still not have time to see everything the city has to offer. I was hell-bent on visiting the Coca-Cola factory and spent about an hour walking around the museum and trying all the different Coke flavors from around the world- there were some hits and some serious misses! The area around the World of Coca-Cola is packed with family-friendly activities and the city of Atlanta has great package deals including tickets to Braves games that make it affordable for the whole family.
After my self-guided tour of downtown, I walked to the Five Points MARTA station to take the stadium shuttle to Turner Field. The shuttle is $2.50 round trip as opposed to taking the 49 bus that would be $2.50 each way from the same station. The ride to the park was short and they dropped us off at the parking lot next to the main entrance. Turner Field has the best parking lot of any ballpark- hands down. The parking lot sits where the former home of the Braves, Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium used to stand. There is a field painted on the pavement and a tribute to the spot that Hank Aaron hit his 715th home run in 1974. I love that they preserved this piece of baseball history for future generations of fans to appreciate. It was unexpected and I ended up standing in awe of the wall for a few minutes before heading back to Turner. Would recommend any fan visiting do the same and if you haven’t seen the video of him hitting that home run, you better watch it here!
As I walked to the ballpark, I passed some tailgating before I hit the fence that welcomes you into Monument Grove. There are a few entrances around the park, but if you haven’t visited Turner Field before, you should enter here for sure! The grove houses statues of former Braves legends and giant retired numbers and baseballs that line the plaza. At the end of the ticket windows next to the Braves Museum and HOF ($2 on game days) is where you can buy $1 tickets. Yes, you read right, I saw the Yankees play the Braves for ONE DOLLAR. I had a hard time wrapping my head around that too and must have asked the guy if he was sure that was the proper price like five times. Highway robbery! Those tickets are for the 400 level Skyline and are cash only.
After I purchased my ticket I entered through the centerfield gate and headed over to watch the Yankees batting practice. The 100 level is closed off to non-ticket holders, but you can stand and watch from the walkway between the 100 and 200 levels. Before the game started the Braves ran an Inside Look on the Yankees video and encouraged Braves fans to give a cheer to welcome the team and show them some southern hospitality. The fans did just that, some of the most gracious hosts of all the parks I’ve visited thus far!
Before first pitch, I headed towards the center field to check out Scouts Alley and the Outfield Plaza behind the scoreboard. Scouts Alley is the walkway behind right field where you can find batting cages, the Braves Museum, and a few party rooms for rent. The walls are lined with old team photos and Braves accolades. Walking out of the alley is the Outfield Plaza filled with concessions and live music before and after the games. There was a Beatles cover band playing and the whole plaza had a summer festival vibe going. Off to the back right of this concourse is the Taco Mac Family Zone with plenty of activities to keep the kids busy if they don’t want to watch the game.
I walked up some steps to the 200 level concourse and passed The Braves Chop House, which is a two-story sit-down restaurant. While both floors are open to the field, the upstairs bar looked like it had a better view of the game action. On the other side of the Chop House is the Braves bullpen (visitors is in left field) and in the right field concourse is the Tomahawk Tavern which has an impressive draft beer selection. I made my way to the standing room above home plate and behind the 200 level to watch the anthem and a few innings. The view from this area is great and there are even rails to set down your food (or lean on).
After watching almost half of the game (was a pitcher’s duel for a while, went quickly!), I reluctantly pried myself away and continued on to the 300 level. While most of this level is closed off for club and suite seating, there is a bar under the Gas South sign in right center field open to all fans. The view of the game action from here wasn’t bad and I met a couple Yankee fans visiting from Jersey and South Carolina, so ended up watching the game with them for a bit.
Around the 6th inning, I finally made it up to the 400 level concourse and Sky Field. This area is located over the retired numbers in left field and next to the tomahawking cow and light up Coke bottle. In the back are giant chairs facing the city and for there is a run the bases activity for the kids. The view from the standing room was fine, still, can’t believe they only charged $1 for these tickets! I stayed up here enjoying the game atmosphere until the 8th inning before heading back to the standing room behind home plate for the remainder of the game
The tomahawk chop chant (I totally joined in, feeling secure with the Yanks chances) began to play in the later innings as the Braves showed some life, but the Yankees bullpen held them off, securing the victory 3-0. After the game, I hung around the Outfield Plaza listening to the band before boarding the shuttle and taking the MARTA back to my hotel.
For this trip, I spent $435 on my flight (flights to 3 cities actually), $98 on the hotel, $10 on Marta, $16 at The World of Coke, $1 on my ticket, and $12 on food ($572 total). Money well spent- I loved Turner Field, the ballpark and fans made for a great baseball experience. The city of Atlanta has a distinctly southern flavor that the Braves have made sure to capture and deliver with gusto to visiting fans. It’s a top five ballpark in my book!