THE BIG LEAGUE TOURS BLOG

Trip to Marlins Ballpark

Posted by Glenn Dunlap on Tue, Sep 03, 2013 @ 09:22 AM

The new Marlins Ballpark was opened in 2012. It was the first new Major League ballpark since the Twins' new facility, Target Field, opened in April 2012 in Minneapolis. If you had ever gone to a Marlins game at Dolphin Stadium, you knew it would be great if the team had a facility that was dedicated to baseball. 

Marlins Ballpark exterior

Unlike Dolphin Stadium, which is right off the interstate and very easy to get in and out of, Marlins Ballpark is tucked into a neighborhood that makes it harder to get in and out of the game. For this visit, we were headed to the ballpark not as a group tour, but just as a family tour. We paid for stadium parking in advance, which at least eliminated our concern about where to park. It didn't help us get out any faster, though. 

The outside of the ballpark is very space-age looking. The columns in this picture support the roof when they open up the stadium. There was a threat of thunderstorms when we were there so they kept the roof closed. 

View of Marlins Ballpark

Inside, the park carries the sites and sounds of Miami throughout - Latin-influenced and very colorful. Even the smells in the stadium were different than others because of the wide range of food offerings. 

My overall impression? It's a much needed improvement over Dolphin Stadium to see a baseball game. My opinion is undoubtedly tainted in that I don't like watching baseball games under a roof. I understand the reason for it, but I think it kills the atmosphere of a game that's supposed to be played out doors. (My opinion is the same of all dome or retractable roof stadiums in the Majors...)

What could have helped? If the roof would have been open, I'm sure it would have influenced my opinion. If the ballpark had been built in a neighborhood that either grew up with it (think Fenway Park or Wrigley Field) or had developed around it (think Coors Field or Camden Yards), then it could have been a better experience. (Once you go in doors, though, it doesn't really matter.) The locals will tell you that fielding a better team would make all the difference in the world. I can't blame them...

Without any new ballparks under construction anywhere in the Majors, Marlins Ballpark will remain the newest park for the next several years. If you're planning to make a trek to Miami for a game, my suggestion would be to go at night (hoping the roof will be open), choose an opponent with a large road following (so there will at least be somebody's fans in attendance), and give yourself plenty of time to get in and out of the ballpark. 

Tags: baseball vacations, Marlins, Marlins Ballpark, Miami, baseball road trips, family tours

Our 2013 Luxury Baseball Tours

Posted by Doug Lawson on Sat, Oct 27, 2012 @ 03:11 PM

Big League Tours Group

They're ready!  We are excited to reveal our 2013 Season Tour Packages to our fans.  We have all your favorites like the Hall of Fame Tours, West Coast Tours, and the Midwest Tours; but we've also added Southwest, Southeast and Windy City tours to our schedule.  Plus, NEW for this year are our Destination Tours and Getaway Day Tours for guests who want a shorter Big League Tours adventure.  Click below to go directly to the Big League Tours website:

BIG LEAGUE TOURS 2013 SCHEDULE

EARLY BOOKING PROMOTIONBook your 2013 Tour before Nov.21, 2012 and receive 5% off your total package price. Just use the coupon code "Early Bird" when booking your tour. 

 Please call (866) 619-1748 with any questions. 

 

Tags: baseball vacations, Luxury baseball, baseball road trips, baseball trips, baseball tours, baseball stadiums, baseball travel, baseball vacation package, ballpark tours, big league tours, MLB tours, group tours, family tours, MLB road trips, Baseball

8 Things I Love About Our Baseball Tours (and Can't Wait For!!)

Posted by Glenn Dunlap on Thu, Jan 19, 2012 @ 11:30 AM

As we're putting our finishing touches on the 2012 Baseball Tours (and as the snow flies outside my window...), I was thinking about all the things I love about taking our tours and thought I'd share the list with you:

8) Family Time - I love going to games with my family. In fact, that's largely what got me into the business. Sometimes I'll travel with one family member, make it a guys trip, or take the whole clan. It doesn't really matter to me. Quality time with my family at the park is always a great time.

7) Food - So I like to eat. Nothing's as good as Dad and daughter with me at Yankee Stadiumexploring new restaurants around the country and trying out new cuisine. We have found some great places this way. If you are a foodie, too, let us know and we'll help you find something that suits your tastes.

6) New Stadiums - Most baseball fans have at least one stadium on their bucket list - if not all 30! I'm no different. I have just a couple left on my bucket list so I'll be completing it soon. It's always a treat to make it to a new stadium.

5) My Team - My team is the Cincinnati Reds. If I'm not at the ballpark for one of our tours, I'm typically watching or listening to their games. It's great to see them play at home or on the road.

4) New Cities and Sites - One of the best parts of travel is getting to see new cities. Every place has its own culture, feel, and vibe. And whether it's the first time or fiftieth, there are always new things to see and do.

3) Seeing Families Connect - I knew that starting a baseball travel business would allow me to travel with my family and experience things together. What I didn't expect was how much I would appreciate and enjoy seeing our guests connecting. Hearing a grandpa tell his grandkids about players, stadiums, and games from a different era has been great. Added bonus! (And tell me those kids won't remember that forever..?)

2) Meeting New Ballplayers - We arrange player meet & greets on all of our tours which is always a guest favorite (and mine, too!). Talking shop with Big Leaguers and getting their take and perspective from inside the game is very interesting.

1) Fenway Park - What can I say? Fenway is my favorite park in all of baseball. I love the neighborhood, the atmosphere, the age and smell of the park, the Green Monster, wood seats and 100 years of history and nostalgia. It's hard to match that experience anywhere else!

That gives you a few hints about my plans for the summer and what I'll be doing on our ballpark tours. How about you? What do you like about baseball road trips? What do you look forward to the most? Drop us a note so we can share it and potentially incorporate it into our tours!

Tags: baseball road trips, bucket list, Fenway Park, MLB tours, family tours

Announcing Our 2012 Baseball Tours

Posted by Glenn Dunlap on Wed, Nov 23, 2011 @ 10:15 PM

Everyone at Big League Tours is excited to present our 2012 baseball vacation packages. We used the info we collected from our “bucket list” survey, as well as, customer comments and experiences to put together our baseball tours. We think this is one of the most varied and extensive seasons we have ever offered. We will be adding a College World Series package soon, so keep an eye on our website and your email for info on that tour.  

We hope you will join us in the Big Leagues on a Big League Tour in 2012. Please click on the links below to see the tours. As always, call or email with any questions.
 
EARLY BOOKING PROMOTION
Book between now and Dec. 23, 2012, and you will receive one free extra hotel night per room. That means you can go to your first destination a day early, or stay a day afteryour tour, and Big League Tours will pick up the room. Some restrictions apply.
 
Hall of Fame Tour 1- includes Fenway Park, Yankee Stadium and Citi Field
May 14- 19, 2012

 
Big Apple Tour- includes Yankee Stadium and Citi Field
May 16- 20, 2012

 
Hall of Fame Tour 2- includes Yankee Stadium, Citi Field and Fenway Park
June 4- 8, 2012

 
East Coast Tour – Touch ‘Em All Out East!!- includes Nationals Ballpark, Camden Yards, Citizens Bank Park, Citi Field, Yankee Stadium, The Hall of Fame, and Fenway Park
June 21- 28, 2012

 
Hall of Fame Tour 3- includes Yankee Stadium, Citi Field and Fenway Park
June 24- 28, 2012

 
Texas Swing Tour - Includes Rangers Ballpark and Minute Maid Park
June 22- 27, 2012

 
West Coast Tour – Touch ‘Em All Out West!! – includes Safeco Field, AT&T Ballpark, The Coliseum, Dodger Stadium, Angels Stadium, Petco Park and Chase Field
June 29- July 8, 2012

 
Baseball on the Bay with Seattle- includes Safeco Field, AT&T Ballpark, and The Coliseum
June 29- July 3, 2012

 
Southern California Tour with Arizona- includes Dodger Stadium, Angels Stadium, Petco Park and Chase Field
July 4- 8, 2012

 
Midwest Tour 1- includes Target Field, Wrigley Field, Miller Park, US Cellular Field, and Busch Stadium
June 29- July 5, 2012
 

Chicago/ Milwaukee- includes Wrigley Field, Miller Park, and US Cellular Field
June 30- July 4, 2012

 
Hall of Fame Tour 4- includes Fenway Park, Yankee Stadium and Citi Field
July 16- 21, 2012

 
Midwest Tour 2- includes Great American Ballpark, Comerica Park, Progressive Field and PNC Park
July 19- 23, 2012

Tags: bucket list, baseball tours, group tours, family tours, MLB road trips

2012 MLB Schedules Have Been Released

Posted by Big League Tours on Wed, Nov 23, 2011 @ 03:45 PM

September 16, 2011 -  It might be hard to believe, but it's time to begin making plans for the summer of 2012. With the release of the MLB team schedules for next season, we've begun the planning and logistics for our sports travel and tours. It's a time that brings out a little bit of creativity and a lot of nerd in us!

But hey, if you are planning family tours to baseball stadiums or taking small group tours with some old friends, tell us where you want to go. We would love to hear from you. What stadiums do you want to see, cities would you like to visit, or attractions would you like to stop at in between destinations? What's a spot that you've been to that you think others should see? What's a feature that we should incorporate into our group travel tours? Now is a great time for us to build those items in.

In the mean time, we'll keep plugging away and hope to have our 2012 Tour Packages announced really soon!

Tags: group travel, baseball road trips, sports travel and tours, baseball stadiums, baseball travel, big league tours, group tours, family tours, Baseball

How Does This Keep Happening??

Posted by Big League Tours on Wed, Nov 23, 2011 @ 01:15 AM

July 23, 2010 - I think it was Woody Allen who said that, "90% of life is just showing up." That certainly seems to be the case for my son. As we walked of the "El" and into Wrigley Field for the Sunday afternoon game between the Cubs and Cardinals, he was stopped by a young woman who asked if he would be interested in watching batting practice from the field. She was wearing a shirt that said Chevy on it so I asked if I had to buy a car or something to make it happen. After all, things like that just aren't free, are they?? She assured me that I didn't and gave everyone in our group passes to get down to that section with him.

Since it was a Sunday, and hotter than blue blazes, I didn't think either team would take batting practice. As it turns out, the Cardinals did. (This might have proven beneficial as they went on to crush the Cubs that day and Sir Albert hit three dingers himself...) A few of the Cardinals were also kind enough to visit the on-field section and sign autographs for the kids on the field. My son received signatures from Tony LaRussa, Mark McGwire, and Albert Pujols. He was pretty stoked about starting his day at the ballpark on the field.

There are never any assurance of events like this happening when you show up at the baseball stadium, but we've found that showing up early, whether it's on one of our baseball vacation packages or just one of our family tours, is key to being in the right place at the right time. It doesn't hurt to have on team gear and demonstrate that you are a true fan, either.

Feel free to share with us the cool things that have happened to you when at the ballpark! Many times those are the things that make your sports vacations truly memorable.

Tags: baseball stadiums, baseball vacation package, Wrigley Field, sports vacation, family tours, Cardinals, Cubs

Our Take on Turner Field

Posted by Big League Tours on Wed, Nov 23, 2011 @ 12:45 AM

May 22, 2010 - We've had a chance to see most of the stadiums in the major leagues either on our family tours and on the baseball vacation packages that we offer. This trip was to Atlanta and Turner Field (or "The Ted") for a two-game stand. It was great to get to see the stadium for a night game and a day game. Sometimes the stadiums have two completely different personalities based on the time of the game.

We stayed in downtown Atlanta so the stadium was only a 1.5 - 2 miles from our hotel. TheCenterfield concourse at Turner Field concourses were really wide and made getting around the stadium very easy. Here's a photo taken from right inside the centerfield gates. As you can see, there is a ton of room for getting people in and out of the stadium.

The Ted also has plenty for kids to do at the park. The Cartoon Network Fun House offers a break for the kids as does the many different batting cages and pitching booths that they have all along the third base side. They also offered face painting which seemed apprapos given the team's mascot.

The concourses around the outside of the stadium reminded us of Jacob's Field in Cleveland. (I'm sure that should be said the other way around based on when the stadiums were built but we were at the Jake first...) They were easily maneuverable but, they do cutoff your sight lines to the field.

We weren't knocked out by the food, either. We were sitting in the premium seats so we were able to order and have it delivered to us. The menu was your basic ballpark food but nothing that really stood out. We've grown accustomed to local restaurants or foods being incorporated into the ballparks like the Primanti Brothers in Pittsburgh or the Montgomery Inn in Cincinnati. Or the other thing parks have done is include former players into the mix like Boog's Barbeque in Baltimore, El Tiante's Cuban Sandwiches in Boston, or Bull's Barbeque in Philadelphia. All great features that represent the team well. We didn't find this at The Ted.

All in all, we had a great experience. It would be hard to beat the southern hospitality that everyone working at Turner Field displayed. So if you are looking for a place for one of your baseball road trips, I would definitely recommend Turner Field.

Tags: Atlanta, Turner Field, Jacob's Field, Cleveland, baseball vacation package, Pittsburgh, family tours, Cincinnati

Road Tripping with the Family

Posted by Big League Tours on Wed, Nov 23, 2011 @ 12:30 AM

May 22, 2010 - I just returned home from our Atlanta Tour - a three-day, two-night trip that featured two baseball games at Turner Field. We had fantastic weather, the hotel was great, our seats were even better (pictured on the left), Dad and Son at Turner Fieldand both games ended with walk-off hits or homers. They don't get much more exciting!

But as I reflect on the tour, I'm reminded of the things that caused me to want to start Big League Tours in the first place.

I really love the game of baseball and want to experience it in a unique way every time I take a trip. That's why we get to the park early, sit in great seats, and arrange for meet and greets with MLB players.

I also really enjoy getting to spend quality time with my family. On this tour, I was accompanied by my dad and son, the two folks who inspired me the most to start this business. Our small group tours provide you with the advantage of having things included that I mentioned before and also giving you the flexibility to do things on your own. And when taking family tours, we think it's important that you get that time so we make it available to you.

And finally, traveling can be difficult or at least a challenge, especially if the mode of transportation isn't great or the locations of your stay are suspect. We make sure that all of the logistics are top notch and take care of all the details so that you can just show up and enjoy a premier sports travel tour.

Those things sound simple but they are what make us different from the other guys. It's what got me in this business and it's what we love to do.

Tags: Atlanta, Turner Field, sports travel and tours, big league tours, group tours, family tours

Planning for Road Trips

Posted by Big League Tours on Tue, Nov 22, 2011 @ 11:00 PM

April 12, 2010 - USA Today recently printed an article, "How to Plan Your First Road Trip." The author provides nine pointers that would be a good idea for you to incorporate if you're taking family tours or sports vacations of any kind. Here's are the highlights:

Overview
The iconic road trip seems to be reserved for young people, heading out with a few buddies and nary a care in the world. But first road trips can occur at any age and can last from a couple of days to an entire summer. Planning any trip requires a little care and consideration, but in the case of a first road trip, it is especially important to be thorough and leave leeway for the unexpected.
  • Step 1 - Purchase roadside service insurance.
  • Step 2 - 
Bring your car in for a once-over.
  • Step 3
 - Keep a small kit of safety supplies with you.
  • Step 4
 - Buy a paper map.
  • Step 5
 - Make a list of places you want to see and prepare a realistic time line.
  • Step 6
 - Plan overnight stays.
  • Step 7 - 
Record a hefty playlist for your MP3 player.
  • Step 8
 - Keep a small cooler stocked with beverages and a couple of snacks.
  • Step 9 - 
Allow time for the unexpected.
This looks like a great list if you have time to do this on your own and you're interested in looking up all the details for your baseball road trips. But what occurs to me is that we've already done all this work for you at Big League Tours when you purchase one of our baseball vacation packages. That's one of the things our clients tell us they love the most - the fact that they can show up for the tour and everything is taken care of for them.

Tags: baseball road trips, baseball vacation package, big league tours, sports vacation, family tours

Eating Our Way Around the MLB

Posted by Big League Tours on Tue, Nov 22, 2011 @ 08:45 PM

January 26, 2010 - I was talking today to one of our customers who commented about some references that I made to food in a previous blog. She professed to be, like all of us at our house, a Food Network junkie. Admittedly, the dark side of the channel is that it's hard to watch your weight when you are watching great chefs prepare awesome meals that end up making you crave something from the kitchen. For me, it's always Guy Fieri's fault because it seems like Diners Drive In's and Dives is the show that makes me the hungriest.

But one of the best parts about the network is that it exposes us to restaurants, bakeries, and hangouts all over the U.S. that we would likely not know about any other way. It's become a passion of ours while on our package tours to seek out these establishments that usually are only known by the locals.

Take, for instance, The Stand. Here's a burger joint on 12th Street just a few minutes away from our hotel, that a typically traveler would never know about. It was featured on Food Network for one of their milkshakes, a toasted marshmallow milkshake (pictured to the right). They were incredible. It was like a creamy campfire. In addition, their burgers were out of this world. And in a city that can easily be an expensive place to visit, this was one of the most reasonable meals we've had on any of our MLB Tours and one of the best!

So if you enjoy food the way that we do, I would suggest catching up on some programming from Food Network and laying out your plans to visit some great establishments - whether you are traveling on your own family tours or taking group travel tours. The other option is to join us on our baseball vacation packages and we'll lead the way!

Tags: group travel, baseball vacation package, MLB tours, group tours, family tours