For devoted sports fans, the very thought of a one-week getaway can be grounds for panic. Just thinking about how many games you’ll have to record and somehow avoid spoilers for can be enough to make you want to skip your trip completely. Not so fast. Everyone needs a little bit of time away from their regular schedule to recharge. As long as you pick the right destination, you can enjoy a great vacation while immersing yourself in sports fandom. Head to one of these five cities, and you’ll see what we mean. You might even get a chance to snag tickets to a game. That definitely beats watching tiny figures run around on your TV screen.
Let’s start with the obvious reason to pay a visit to this city: the chance to run the Philadelphia Art Museum stairs just like Rocky. Travel+Leisure said true boxing fans simply have to pay a visit to Joe Frazier’s gym, which served as the boxing legend’s training ground during some of his most historic duels. It’s not all about the boxing, though. The Philadelphia Sports Complex is home to three venues that host the city’s professional basketball, hockey, and football teams, plus tons of other events.
Philadelphia has plenty of other offerings if you happen to get your fill of sports entertainment. After your triumphant morning run, the Philadelphia Art Museum is really worth perusing. You can stroll through the collections, enjoy a tour, or opt for the museum’s Art After 5 program where you can catch some great performances while having a few drinks and some snacks. A trip to Fairmount Park is also a good idea. Covering 9,200 acres, it’s one of the largest stretches of green in the country where you can hike, fish, bike, and enjoy a game of frisbee golf.
2. St. Louis
For baseball fans, it doesn’t get much better than St. Louis. WalletHub ranks the best and worst cities for baseball fans every year and the home of the Cardinals took the top spot in 2015. While many stadiums fail to fill seats, it just doesn’t seem to be a problem in St. Louis. According to Travel Channel, the fans here are some of the most respectful and well-versed baseball lovers you can find.
This thriving city has plenty of other sights you’ll want to check during your visit. While the Anheuser-Busch Brewery offers tours, you’d be a fool to skip making the rounds to some of the small-scale operations around town. If you blew all your money on tickets to baseball games, no worries. National Geographic shared a list of some of the best free attractions in the city.
Another great destination for baseball fans, Boston is worth a trip just to get a glimpse of Fenway Park. It may have opened in 1912, but the stadium’s still completely capable of hosting a rousing game. Boston’s also home to the ever-dominant New England Patriots. You can also get your fill of lacrosse and soccer. Oh, it’s also home to a running event you may have heard about.
Boston’s also a great place for guys who like to stay active. A location along the Charles River makes it a prime spot for kayaking, sailing, and swimming. For those who prefer the bar scene, Thrillist picked 18 of their favorite places to grab a pint. If you happen to overindulge, feed your hangover with one of the best sticky buns you’ll ever eat at Flour Bakery + Café.
4. Minneapolis-St. Paul
While the winters can be a little bit brutal, the Twin Cities manage to be a a stellar location for sports fans no matter what time of year it is. Travel Channel said all that cold weather makes it one of the best places to get your fill of hockey at the professional, collegiate, and high school levels. Consider Herb Brooks, the legendary coach who guided the 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey team to a seemingly impossible victory over the Soviet Union, got his coaching start at the University of Minnesota.
It’s not all about the ice here, though. Men’s Fitness picked Minneapolis as the top city in the country for sports fans in 2013 thanks to the opportunities to see baseball, basketball, football, and hockey games. But even more notable is the fans’ loyalty despite an unimpressive winning record for just about all the local teams.
When you’re not catching a game, spending some time by the water is a must. Minnesota’s called the Land of 10,000 Lakes for a reason, and that number is actually a lot lower than it should be. You’ll find the Lake of the Isles, Cedar Lake, Lake Calhoun, and Lake Harriet not far from downtown Minneapolis. Called the Chain of Lakes, it’s a great area to kayak, bike, go for a run, or just kick back. The food and drink scene is also booming in the Twin Cities, and you’ll find prices are much nicer than the big cities along the coasts.
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With five professional sports teams, Chicago is a Midwestern mecca for sports lovers. Wrigley Field is one of the most iconic ballparks in the country and definitely worth a visit. And since this city also hosts the White Sox, it’s practically a baseball lover’s dream. Football season here is also pretty fun. The Bears have had a rough go for quite a while, but you wouldn’t know it based on the awesome tailgating scene. Don’t forget about hockey, either, because the Blackhawks have won more than their fair share of Stanley Cup championships.
You can spend your extra time hitting the usual stops like the Shedd Aquarium or the Field Museum of Natural History, but that’s just the beginning. The food here is also hard to beat, and we’re not just talking hot dogs and pizza. The Washington Post highlighted Chicago as one of the most impressive food cities in the country, so dig in.