Major sporting events, such as the Super Bowl, the Kentucky Derby and the World Series, offer enticing entertainment worth traveling for, said Craig Fravel, president and chief executive of the Breeders’ Cup, the annual international horse racing championships.
“There’s so much energy around big sports games and races, and anyone can have a good time at them even if they’re not into the sport,” he said.
Fravel shares his advice on how to make the most out of a trip to see a popular sporting event:
Stay at an affiliate hotel: Most notable sporting events have a few partner hotels that offer attendees favorable rates and attractively priced themed packages. These properties also usually provide free shuttles to and from the event, alleviating the hassles of navigating through traffic and finding parking. But Fravel’s top reason to stay at a partner hotel is because attendees are surrounded by like-minded fans. “You’re in the thick of the action,” he said. Find an affiliate hotel by looking on the event’s website or by calling the venue’s box office.
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Dress the part: Following the fashion traditions associated with the sport you’re going to see makes the occasion that much more enjoyable, Fravel said. Do some research ahead of time about the appropriate garb, and pack accordingly – at horse races, for example, women typically wear dressy hats while men don bow ties. At golf tournaments, preppy plaids are the way to go, and at tennis tournaments, attendees often dress in white.
Indulge in local specialties: What fun is it to see a big game or race without some good eating thrown in? “Having great food on your sporting getaway can be as memorable as the event you’ve traveled to see,” Fravel said. He recommended trying dishes the area is famous for – in Baltimore, that’s crabcakes, and in San Diego, it’s fish tacos. And, if you’re traveling to the Kentucky Derby in Louisville, trying a mint julep or a Derby pie is a must. Often, the sports arenas where the events are held sell these local favorites.
Don’t forget the other events: Fravel said that there are usually plenty of nonsport happenings around town pegged to big games and races, such as concerts by well-known musicians, cocktail tastings at local bars and special dinners at popular restaurants. “These events are ideal for people who may not necessarily be sports fans,” he said.
Make a vacation of it: Building time into your schedule to explore the destination you’ve traveled to will make for an all-around relaxing getaway. For example, the Breeders’ Cup will be held in November this year in Del Mar, California, just north of San Diego, and Fravel said that he knows of many ticket holders who are planning a weeklong vacation around the race so that they can enjoy the area’s beaches and other attractions.