Part of the fun in visiting an MLB ballpark is experiencing the city it’s in. It’s your chance to see some sights, try the local fare, and take in the culture. An ongoing joke with my friend Liz is that our pictures should always “capture our essences.” I found many times ballparks did just this- they captured the cities they’re in’s essence. Going to the park is great (obviously, since it’s the reason you’re visiting) but don’t sell yourself short and miss out on the park’s inspiration! While I didn’t always get to fully explore the cities I visited since I was cramming in 30 parks, I did always make an effort to see what I could.
For those who are thinking, this is going to rack up my trip cost, I say “Not so fast my friend!” (yeah I just quoted Lee Corso, happens). Here are some ways to save when sightseeing in the cities of the AL Central… and even some free activities!
Chicago: (White Sox)
- Plenty of free sights to see in downtown Chicago- The Navy Pier, Magnificent Mile, Millennium Park (free concerts on Mondays in the summer), and the Lincoln Park Zoo.
- Illinois residents can take advantage of free days each month from a plethora of Chicago’s renowned museums.
- Out of towners can use Gold Star to search for discounted tickets or purchase a City Pass for admission to 5 of Chicago’s most popular attractions including the Skydeck and Shedd Aquarium.
- The Chicago Children’s Museum offers free days and coupons making it easier to bring the whole family out.
- If you’re feeling very ambitious, purchase the Go Chicago Card. It gives you admission to 26 of Chicago’s must-see attractions for a fraction of the cost!
- Be sure to check the Student & Budget Travelers section of the Chicago tourism site. It includes tips, events, and even hotels and restaurants for those looking to save.
- Cleveland is very underrated, but there are plenty of free things to do and see- Cleveland Art Museum, Little Italy, Coventry, Cleveland’s Lake View Cemetery (final resting place of President James A. Garfield and John D. Rockefeller) , Lake Erie (I recommend sitting on the rocks at Edgewater), and of course a visit to the Free Stamp (just kidding, unless you like weird art).
- The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is probably the most popular attraction and is next to the Great Lakes Science Museum. Unfortunately both don’t participate in any city pass programs. They do offer discounted tickets on their sites though.
- The Cleveland Pass (through the Cleveland tourism site) gives visitors access to some of Cleveland’s best family attractions like the Cleveland Zoo.
- The Cleveland Orchestra is one of the best in the world, so get your culture on by attending a performance! There are free concerts every year and discounted tickets available to students. If you can’t make it to a performance, try the Cleveland Institute of Music which offers free concerts as well.
- A city that will definitely surprise you! Detroit has a lot to offer visitors including these free activities- Detroit RiverWalk, Greektown Casino, sailing lessons from Michigan’s Sailing Club, Chene Park Amphitheater, and self-guided tours of the city with maps courtesy of Experience Detroit.
- Free days are always helpful too! The Detroit Historical Museum offers all visitors free admission on the 3rd Sunday of the month, Bank of America cardholders can enjoy the first weekend of the month free at the Detroit Science Center, and every Friday residents can enjoy the Detroit Institute of Arts. Detroit residents can also take advantage of the Detroit Museum Adventure Pass at their local libraries.
- A trip to Detroit without a visit to the Henry Ford Museum would be remiss for car and history lovers alike. Luckily DFCU Financial offers a print out coupon on admission.
Kansas City: (Royals)
- Kansas City’s tourism website is AMAZING! It has a zillion ways to save when sightseeing in the city. There are plenty of free activities like shopping at The Crown Center, strolling through the Ewing and Muriel Kauffman Memorial Garden, or taking a tour of a Harley Davidson Factory.
- Kansas City is nicknamed the City of Fountains and is only second to Rome. Set out on foot and explore the city and see some of the fountains. A map can be found at The City of Fountains Foundation website.
- Families should check out Kaleidoscope where kids can use their imagination and create using leftover materials from Hallmark. Admission is free, but space is limited, so try calling ahead.
- Minneapolis has plenty of free sights and activities to keep visitors busy- Midtown Global Market, the Chain of Lakes, Uptown, Weisman Art Museum, and this little place called Mall of America.
- Never ever pass up on free admission days at museums. One of life’s gifts! Most Minneapolis museums have free days or free collections.
- Craving some culture? You’ll find it in the parks with free plays and concerts all summer.
- Pack in three days of fun with The Big Ticket™. Enjoy the best the Twin Cities with discounted admission to attractions like Nickelodeon Universe, Sea Life Aquarium, and the Minneapolis Zoo.
- Make sure to check out Minneapolis’ tourism site for timely deals and great tour ideas.