While the Orioles haven’t delivered a winning team in 13 years, fans still go to games for the festive atmosphere in and around Oriole Park at Camden Yards (333 W. Camden St.; 888-848-2473). Yankees and Red Sox fans consider the Yards a southern outpost of their ballparks, invading Baltimore whenever the birds battle these AL East rivals. Meanwhile, the Nationals head north for round one of the annual Battle of the Beltways May 20 through 22.
Baltimore’s other birds, the higher-flying Ravens, always sell out. The O’s? Not likely after opening day. But when new skipper Buck Showalter took over the team last August, the Orioles began winning games, and the off-season acquisition of slugger Vladimir Guerrero puts some serious pop into the lineup. In Baltimore, hope springs eternal.
Getting there: Though MARC trains stop at the stadium, the system’s limited hours and lack of weekend service rarely make it a workable option. One way to avoid parking hassles is to stash the car for free at the Cromwell Station/Glen Burnie light-rail station (7378 Baltimore Annapolis–Boulevard Rd.) and ride that local public-transit system to the stadium ($3.20 round trip).
Limited street parking near the stadium can be found along Paca and Hamburg streets, but be mindful of signs and lock your car. An $8-to-$10 parking pass to one of a series of surface lots near the stadium can be bought in advance from the Orioles, or take your chances by just showing up and paying to enter on game day. One off-site parking option is the Penn Street Garage (120 S. Penn St.) on the University of Maryland’s nearby medical-school campus, where game-day parking is around $13.
Tickets: The best bargain is left-field upper-reserve seats, which go for $9 in advance or $10 on game day. When the Yanks or BoSox come to town, those are “prime games” and cost more—the same seat can have four different prices depending on whom they’re playing and when you buy your ticket. The Orioles Web site sorts this all out and also has information about bargain nights and special prices for students.
Where to eat: Probably the best and cheapest place to load up on ballpark food is outside amid the sea of vendors. (You can bring wrapped food and unopened plastic bottles into the park but no alcohol.) Within the park, a fan favorite is Boog’s Bar-B-Q on Eutaw Street behind the centerfield bleachers—look for the puffs of aromatic smoke. The guy the stand is named for, Oriole all-star first-baseman John “Boog” Powell, sometimes serves up the smoky pork, beef, and turkey sandwiches himself. True gluttons for bleacher food might consider the all-you-can-eat left-field “picnic perch,” where your ticket ($40 to $60) comes with endless dogs, sodas, and more.
Pre- and post-game frivolity can be found in the ballpark’s shadow along the 500 block of Washington Boulevard, where Pickles Pub (520 Washington Blvd.; 410-752-1784) and a handful of other watering holes cater to game-day crowds. On sunny days, the strip here becomes a block party thick with food and beer vendors serving mostly a college-age crowd. About a block away, the Pratt Street Ale House (206 W. Pratt St.; 410-244-8900) also swells with fans. If you have youngsters with you, stop by the Carvel Kids’ Corner near gate C in the stadium for batting cages, a moon bounce, and other energy burners.