I am visiting Park # 12 today on this beautiful 78 degree sunny Saturday afternoon in our Nation’s Capital.
Rather than drive I-95 and deal with the hassle of traffic and parking, I let Amtrak chauffeur me down in comfort. The whole trip was a little over 3 hours. With the whole day ahead of me before game time, I set out on foot and staring exploring, in my opinion, the best ‘walking around’ city in the country.
Pretty much any direction you walk from the center of town you will come upon a point of interest every block or so. Between the monuments, museums, hotels, restaurants even the government buildings, there are countless things to grab your attention. Even if you’ve been to DC before, the hop on hop off tour is a great way to get around and will take you to all the relevant sites. I happened to have on my FitBit this day and it recorded 84,000 steps.
Despite the gorgeous weather, I spent close to 3 hours in my favorite DC museum, the Smithsonian National Air & Space Museum which has some amazing historic aircraft and space artifacts, such as the 1903 Wright Flyer and the Apollo 11 Command Module.
Taking a beak from the historic sites and saving some for the morning, I grabbed an Uber over to Georgetown for a late lunch and then back to the hotel to rest up before the game.
Nationals Park is located out by the old Navy Yards which is not terribly convenient and (especially at night) not terribly safe. Traffic to the park on game day is usually a bitch and parking can be a hassle and expensive. There is a subway stop nearby but again, the subway at night is not so wonderful.
The exterior of the park is aesthetically pleasing with a sleek, more modern design that features a mostly glass and steel facade.
Most of the seats in the park offer great views of the field and most are covered. There are some ‘club sections’ which offer better access to concessions, restrooms and A/C on hot days. There is plenty of nice memorabilia and displays throughout the park showcasing not only the brief Nats history, but also of the Expos and the old Senators teams as well. Fans can visit the PNC Diamond Club, a baseball inspired restaurant that celebrates Washington’s baseball history.
In addition to the general seating, there are plenty of standing room rest areas throughout the park that offer great vantage points and access to food/beer. The best of these may be the “Red Porch which is right above center field. Directly above which is the Red Porch Restaurant.
All of the seats in the park are blue except in this section. There are also fourteen Kwanzan Japanese cherry trees are located in the centerfield plaza and left field concourse.
Food offerings – In addition to the legendary Shake Shack (where lines can get long as hell – just like in Citi Filed) and the Budweiser Brew House, there’s 2 other noteworthy stops – The Virginia Country Kitchen (where you can get a selection of amazing homemade Virginia biscuit sandwiches including ham, fried chicken and chicken fried steak) and ‘Throwin’ Cheese’ which features decadent macaroni and cheese and grilled cheese sandwiches
Lots of nice craft brews are available – but I stuck with the Special 10th year Nationals Anniversary Sam Adams which is only available this year and only at Nationals Park.
The fans were generally friendly and into the game although some gave me shit for wearing a Mets hat.
The game didn’t have much suspense or drama as the Nats jumped out to an early 3-0 lead on a 2 rbi double by Wilson Ramos and an rbi single by Ian Desmond. But the star of the game was Stephen Strasburg who was making his first start coming of the DL. He went 7 innings allowing only 3 hits , 1 run 0 walks and struck out 12. He also went 3 for 3 at the plate.
Again, not such a great neighborhood so nothing to do outside the park after the game. I was lucky enough to flag down a cab back to my hotel without too much hassle. Overall a fun night. More sightseeing planned for tomorrow before my Amtrak back home.
Fans – C – Not a lot of warmth given to me since I was wearing a Mets cap. Otherwise they were enthusiastic and supporting their Nats
Features – B – Nice layout to the park. Red Porch is nice. Plenty of artifacts and memorabilia including Negro League stars, Washington Senators and Montreal Expos. The ‘Presidents Race’ was fun.
Location – C – The old Navy yards section of DC is not the ghetto it once was, but still not the nicest part of town. A little tough to get to also.
Food – B+ – Just like at Citi Field, they have a Shake Shack and Blue Smoke. A lot of locally based food vendors as well. Anniversary Sam Adams was nice
Game – B – I’m not a Nats fan – but it was a pleasure watching Stephen Strasburg deal his A game.
Overall Experience – B – Nationals Park is a fun place to watch a game. You can enjoy the game, food, etc. without ever having to go to your seat.