Baseball Trip Planner: Best Place To Stay

Posted by Kurt Smith on Wednesday, November 9, 2011

People have asked me why I don’t include hotel information in Ballpark E-Guides, other than to suggest an area that might make the trip easier for whatever reason, or one that offers a shuttle to the ballpark.

The short answer is that there are hundreds of hotels in each major city, people have different tastes and needs when it comes to their stay, and there would be tons of opinions and such to pore through. The shorter answer is: I don’t have the time.

Besides, I have one piece of advice alone for finding hotels on a trip: use Hotwire. I know people swear by Priceline and I’m not knocking it, but to me nothing beats getting a deal and knowing that this is as good an offer out there. I don’t care about not knowing which hotel it is, I’ve usually never been there anyway. I consistently get great prices on Hotwire, and it’s the only site I use.

But coming from a recent trip that took Ballpark E-Guides on a research mission through Atlanta and Tampa Bay and their ballparks, I’ve been noticing that I’ve been consistently staying near the airport just about everywhere I go these days. And, even though that’s sort of happened by default, it turns out this is a smart idea for a baseball road tripper.

Near the airport is often the best place to stay for several reasons:

1) Hotels near the airport are, by definition, near the airport, and won’t require a car to get to for people flying into the city. Generally, they will be near great and easy-to-get-to restaurants too; most 3-star and above hotels will have a quality eatery on the premises.

2) Airport hotels are generally cheaper than downtown hotels, not just because the downtown hotels have a higher overhead but also because you will not likely have to pay for parking at an airport hotel. Downtown hotels can charge a ridiculous parking rate. Adding the cost of parking to a night’s stay is a ripoff.

3) Airport hotels are generally outside of the city, where a road tripper can access easily and then get rolling afterwards without fighting their way through city traffic.

4) And the best reason: the airport of a major city is nearly always located near public transportation that will drop you off right at the ballpark in one or two rides, and most hotels provide a shuttle that will get you to the airport. Generally, but not always, the airport rail lines run all night.

In Baltimore for example, the BWI airport is at the southern end of the MTA Light Rail line, which puts riders right at Camden Yards’ front door. In Atlanta, Hartsfield International is at the southern end of the MARTA Red/Yellow rail lines, which take riders to the Five Points Station and the Braves Shuttle to Turner Field. In Philadelphia, the SEPTA Regional Rail Airport line goes from PHL to the Suburban Station in the city, from which the Broad Street Subway takes riders to Citizens Bank Park.

The only exceptions to this rule are cities where public transportation is hard to come by, like in Tampa Bay or Detroit. These two areas have few trains to speak of, and most buses don’t run late enough to get you back. But in most cities like this it isn’t difficult to drive to the ballpark.

The only drawback to staying at the airport is occasional plane noise; most places are soundproofed fairly well but airplanes are still loud. I’ve found that it’s kind of white noise after a while; honestly it’s kind of like the train in the Blues Brothers: they go by so often you won’t even notice it.

So if you’re asking me what the best place to stay for a ballgame in Chicago, St. Louis, Cleveland or Boston is, my answer is: beats me. But for best results, use Hotwire and stay near the airport.

Tags: all ballparks  hotels  road trip 
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