Since yesterday was baseball's full opening day, it's time to start thinking about a family trip to the ballpark, whether in your home town or as part of a vacation. Although baseball seems less fan-friendly than ever with the multimillion dollar salaries and performance enhancing drugs (and the earning of multi-million dollar salaries by taking performance-enhancing drugs), rest assured that there's plenty for your kids to get excited about on a visit to the ballpark. For example:
- Aramark offers kid-friendly food options at each of the 12 major league stadiums for which it runs the concessions. Some ballparks even have their own kids' concession stand, like Bucaroo's at Pittsburgh's PNC Park, which offers kid-sized versions of traditional ballpark favorites.
- Several ballparks will allow kids to run the bases after select games. For example, New York's Shea Stadium offers 5 games after which kids 12 and under can participate in the "Mr. Met Dash" while San Francisco Giant fans 14 and under can run the bases at AT&T Park after every home game. One of the best things about these base-runnning extravaganzas is that the kids usually require a chaperone to escort them onto the field. Even though you don't get to run the bases, you do get the thrill of at least walking the field. That never gets old for this big kid.
- Several stadiums offer great kids activities for all 81 home games, like the Kids Zone at Baltimore's Oriole Park (what happened to Camden Yards?), which offers a moon bounce, speed pitch, coloring station, and more. Same for the White Sox' U.S. Cellular Field, which, among many kid-friendly offerings, has the 15,000 square-foot Fundamentals Area, where kids can get instruction from White Sox Training Academy coaches and enjoy a youth-sized wiffle ball diamond.
- Also, be sure to check a team's schedule for some kid-friendly giveaways. You should see the lines outside Wrigley on the American Girl doll giveaway day! Espn.com also has a funny article about the best and worst ballpark giveaways this year. Florida Marlins car freshener day, anyone?
No matter which stadium you plan to visit, you're sure to find something for the kids in addition to the action on the field. Just make sure to do a little advance research by visiting mlb.com and then visiting the home team's website. From there, you can click on a link for the stadium, which should provide you with all of the home team's kid-friendly offerings.