By Mary Charlebois
There’s more to do at AT&T Park than watch the 8-time, World Champion, San Francisco Giants play baseball. Explore the stadium with a behind the scenes tour. The ocean view park has a playground. Attend concerts, races, rugby matches, and Cirque du Soleil. Arrive by ferry or a vintage MUNI trolley car. Immerse in SF Giants history. Honor great players at the Wall of Fame. Eat, shop, learn to cook. Kayak into Covey Cove for a Splash-Hit catch. Picnic and play catch, commune with locals and Giant Fans. Even for the non-baseball fan, AT&T Park is an exciting weekend getaway.
Behind-the-scenes tours of AT&T Park are spectacular. During the 90-minute walking tour, you’ll go down to the field, sit in a dugout, visit a batting cage, go to the visiting team’s clubhouse, walk through the press box, investigate a luxury suite, explore off-limits areas with bay and city views few ever see. The last stop is The Giant Vault, a museum filled with momentous and artifacts from 60-years of Giants history. Tours are available on most non-game days. Tour prices range from $22 to Free. It’s worth every penny and can be enjoyed by all ages and abilities.
The Fan Lot
Inside the park, AT&T’s Fan Lot is open year-round. On game-days, Fan Lot is reserved for ticket holders. A children’s playground gives youngsters the chance to run the bases in a miniature version of the ball field. They whoosh down the Coca-Cola Superslide. There’s a Fantasy Photobooth or get a shot at the Giant 1927 Old-Time Four-Fingered Baseball Glove. Autographed plaques with etchings of Giants players are a ‘get it anytime’ place for fans to collect rubbings of their favorite teammate.
Wall of Fame
On the brick walls surrounding Giants Baseball Stadium, bronze plaques acknowledge distinguished Giants players. Greats such as Willie Mays, Juan Marichal, Vida Blue, Barry Bonds, and many more, have been inaugurated into the San Francisco Giants Wall of Fame. The honorees have played at least nine seasons for the San Francisco Giants or five seasons with a minimum one All-Star selection. There is no admission, and the Wall of Fame is always open.
China Basin Park
Gather here before or after a game to commune with other fans, picnic, play catch on the green, or stroll the Giants History Walk where plaques represent Giants teams from 1958—1999. A 570-foot seat-wall contains the names of Giants players throughout the era.
Made from recycled shipping containers, this pop-up village is home to an ever-changing array of food and entertainment. Traditional favorites cozy-up to experimental cuisine. Musicians and artist add a friendly San Francisco neighborhood vibe.
The best sports bar in San Francisco, pop-in for food and sports TV.
Shop at the park
The official San Francisco Giants store. You can browse forever here, especially if orange is your favorite color.
A ballgame at AT&T is a Giants fan’s #1 fantasy. But even ‘I’m not into baseball’ folks love going to the stadium on game day. It’s beautiful. The view of San Francisco Bay is one of the best ship spotting locales in town. All seating is comfortable, without a wrong view anywhere. You can buy tickets for luxury boxes or bleachers, and everything in between. Check out StubHub for great deals on any level seating.
The above-field digital screen is a true Jumbotron. Live game action and game stats are displayed on state-of-the-art screens everywhere. You never miss the action. When they ‘hit em out of da park,’ the crowd hopes for a Splash Hit into Covey Cove in San Francisco Bay. Small boaters in the cove wait for the chance to retrieve one of these prized baseballs.
The food is outstanding. This is San Francisco, you can’t get away with bad food, not even at a ball game. Traditional favorites like hot dogs, beer and peanuts are everywhere. You can also enjoy gourmet meals in sit-down restaurants. Libations offered range from canned beer to craft cocktails.
The Garden is open 2-hours before the first pitch on game days. The Garden is a living classroom that encourages children to live healthier, more active lives. In this innovative area, children learn the value of healthy eating. They see where food comes from and how it grows. Bay area chefs hold cooking classes where kids can learn healthy-cooking techniques.
There are a few hostels, but not many hotels in this part of the city. A 20-minute walk or a 15-minute MUNI ride from AT&T, Harbor Court, is a top choice. On Embarcadero, across from the Ferry Terminal and 2-blocks from Embarcadero Transit hub, I’ve stayed here many times. It’s a lovely, small hotel, set in the historic YMCA Building on the waterfront. Get a Bay View room for spectacular views of the Bay Bridge and the waterfront. Check for vacation rentals close to the stadium. There are some excellent values during non-Giants season.
DON’T DRIVE – it will induce insanity. The most ‘San Francisco’ way is to take the ferry. From the Larkspur Terminal, take the Giants Ferry directly into Covey Cove. It’s the best ride to the game you’ll ever have. Available only on home-game days. Take public transit. Any line along Embarcadero is perfect. Download the app to see schedules and pay fares. Uber is fast and inexpensive in the city.
There’s plenty to do in this buzzy part of San Francisco. If you go during the off-season, it will have a residential feel. No matter when or where you go, it’s a sensational weekend getaway.
All photos by Mary Charlebois