Baseball season is in full swing, and catching a game at Nationals Park makes for a super fun and entertaining outing with the kids. However, one complaint I often hear about taking the whole fam out to the ballgame is the cost. Tickets alone can put a dent in the wallet; tack on concessions and parking, and it’s an all-out splurge. Luckily, there are some easy ways to save on the family ballpark experience and still have a great time. Here are some tips for doing a Nats game without breaking the bank.
Before you purchase tickets through the Nationals website, do some comparison shopping. Discount seats are almost always available through online ticket outlets, especially if you buy far enough in advance and have some flexibility with dates and seating preferences. These are a few of my go-to sites for ticket deals:
– StubHub is a popular one, conveniently listing the ticket price, seating section, and number of seats still available.
– SeatGeek uses its Deal Score to tell you how good of a deal you’re getting.
– Goldstar sometimes has Nats tickets among its discounts on live entertainment and events.
Packages & Promos
There are sometimes special ticket packages and deals to take advantage of when you do purchase through the Nationals website. One of the best for families is the Harris Teeter Family Fun Pack. Available for Saturday & Sunday home games, tickets start at $20 and include a ticket, hot dog, bag of chips, and bottle of water. Other specials, like the Bud & Baseball and Military & Government Employee Discount might appeal and/or apply to you and are worth checking out along with all of the deals available to fans.
Just about every home game has a promo going on, usually some kind of swag giveaway, but every once in a while there are $1 hot dogs or ice cream. If you’re familiar with the ballpark food prices, then you know this is a great deal.
Also, a friend told me she just Googles “Nats ticket promos” and often finds some goods ones.
Take your chances and try to get really cheap seats the day of. Two and a half hours before every home game, you can get $5 tickets at the Box Office. You won’t be sitting behind home plate, but, hey, you’re in for five bucks! It’s not a guarantee since a limited amount are available, so have a back-up plan — be prepared to pay more for other available tickets or do something else altogether. (Yards Park and Canal Park boasting fountains that welcome kids to play are nearby, as are many eateries that show the game on TV.)
Ballpark fare is part of the whole baseball experience, but eating and drinking at a game adds up quickly. (Where else do you pay $9 for a Miller Lite? (Update: Nats Park is now a Bud Lite ballpark.) But while you can’t BYOB, you can BYO snacks and water. Food must be brought in single serving bags, and one unopened bottle of water per person is permitted. So, while it might not be easy to pack up freshly grilled hot dogs (though you can certainly try), you can bring your own peanuts and cracker jacks to keep the kiddos snack-happy. Get more details on the outside food policy in the Nationals Park Information Guide.
Join the Club
If you anticipate bringing the kids to at least a few games, then signing them up for the Jr. Nationals Kids Club is practically a no-brainer. The $20 membership gets them all kinds of great benefits: a free meal at the ballpark, an opportunity to watch batting practice from the field, meet and greets, a special line for Kids Run the Bases, a coupon for buy one get one free tickets, Nats swag, and even more. Between the BOGO tickets and comp meal, it pretty much pays for itself — and it helps you save (to pay for the pricey beers). Read more about the club here. [Update: Some membership benfits may have changed.]
Don’t drive if you don’t have to. It’s difficult to find street parking near Nationals Park, and parking in the garage or a nearby lot can be expensive. Ride bikes if you can — not only is cycling there fun, an awesome bike valet makes it easy to stash your ride once there. It’s free to leave your bike, but plan to tip the guys running it — they deserve it. Metro is also a great cheaper option. The Navy Yard station on the Green Line is just a block from the ballpark. Or you can ride the Blue/Orange Line to Capitol South, then take the shoe leather express from there.
For other transportation alternatives, see The Way to Go to Nationals Park.