Perhaps as rare as the perfect game is the perfect ballpark. Qualities like exceptional design, a great location, food, and modern amenities make a stadium not just a cozy location to root for the home team, but a destination in its own right.
San Diego’s Petco Park is one such stadium. Ranked No. 1 on USA Today’s list of best MLB ballparks four times since opening in 2004 (including 2022 and 2023), it’s the perfect place to celebrate America’s pastime. With on-site vendors pouring local craft beer and design features that marry the city’s past and present, Petco Park attracts visitors from around the world, including Mexico, Canada, the United Kingdom, Japan, Korea, and even Australia. Get to know the home of the San Diego Padres and why this stadium is a bucket-list item for any baseball fan.
The Heart of Downtown
Nestled at the edge of the Gaslamp Quarter near San Diego Bay, Petco Park is surrounded by a vibrant downtown scene packed with entertainment, dining, and nightlife options. Its central location is part of its appeal, offering stadium-goers plenty of opportunities for pre- and post-game celebrations. There are hotels like the Omni San Diego right next door, making it easy to crawl into bed at all hours of the night if the game goes into extra innings.
Transportation is also a breeze with the city’s trolley system, which runs every 15 minutes or so during the game and has three stations all within two blocks of the stadium. Even if you’re driving in, consider leaving your car at a free park-and-ride lot—downtown parking is limited.
The city vibes extend through Petco’s Palm Court Plaza main gates and into the stands, where you can take in views of the sweeping skyline from your seat (and there’s not a bad one in the house). One of the best can be found in the Western Metal Supply Co. building’s luxury boxes. Located in left field, the four-story brick warehouse was declared a city landmark in 1978 and later became a defining feature woven into the new ballpark’s design. In addition to serving as a makeshift foul pole, the building has rooftop tables for private groups and is home to the team’s store on the first floor.
Before the first pitch, take a pregame tour of the park that ends with an exclusive opportunity to view the Padres’ batting practice (or opt for a VIP upgrade to watch from a dedicated space on the field warning track near home plate). There’s also a year-round daily tour with behind-the-scenes access to spots like the press box, dugout, and visitors’ clubhouse.
A Taste of the Town
If there’s any doubt that Petco Park is an extension of the city, just look at its craft beer offerings. You’ll be hard-pressed to try all of San Diego’s more than 150 craft, micro, and nano breweries in one visit to the city, but a trip through Petco Park’s Craft Row provides a chance to sample your way through tons of local favorites—AleSmith Brewing, Coronado Brewing, Karl Strauss Brewing, SouthNorte, and more.
For a sun-and-suds experience, head past center field to the Craft Pier, a beach-inspired boardwalk area where you can down a pint of Ballast Point and dig your toes into a sandy pit. Or go to the newly revamped Alpine Beer taproom on the upper-level patio for rooftop views of the Coronado Bridge that you can enjoy along with an Infinite Haze IPA and North Park’s Grand Ole BBQ y Asado smoked sausage sandwiches.
Food at Petco Park is as much of an experience as catching a game. Ballpark hot dogs get an upgrade at terrace-level spots like Barrio Dogg, a Chicano Park hotspot that serves its signature offering on brioche buns with toppings like grilled onions and sriracha aioli. Local concessions range from Seaside Market’s tri-tip nachos to Blue Water Seafood’s fish tacos. There’s something for every craving—cheesesteak from Gaglione Brothers, Hawaiian short rib from the revamped Kona Big Wave Patio, and xiao long bao at Din Tai Fung. Don’t head back to your seat without a stop at Hodad’s, a San Diego institution famous for its burgers.
For fans who live for the seventh inning stretch instead of the first pitch, Gallagher Square beyond the outfield may be the perfect spot to socialize while watching the game. A grassy park within the park, it provides open lawn seating for ticket holders with plenty of food and beer outposts surrounding the festive square.
Before every Saturday home game, the new Padres House Band performs for the crowd on the Sycuan Stage in Gallagher Square with a mix of rock, oldies, pop, and country music. The stage also regularly hosts concerts for headliners including past performers Darius Rucker, Weezer, and The All-American Rejects.
Designed as a community gathering space, Gallagher Square is open to the public on select non-game days. Pack a picnic and bring your kids’ gear so they can play on the small baseball diamond—it’s pet-friendly, too, so the whole family can enjoy this San Diego neighborhood gem.