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By Ashley Norfolk, CertifiKID Subscriber
Posted May 03, 2019
Posted May 03, 2019
Nationals Park, home of the Washington Nationals, seats over 40,000 fans with a play area for kids inside the Right Field Gate, state-of-the-art audio and video and some great concession stand food including classic chili dogs from Ben's Chili Bowl and Maryland-style crab cake sandwiches. Take me out to the ball game never rang truer than at a baseball game in Nationals Park!
We recently sent one of our MOM Squad ambassadors and her family to a Washington Nationals baseball game. She received free admission in exchange for providing an honest review of her experience.
Nationals Park, located in Southeast Washington DC, is situated along the Capitol Riverfront, and you can access it by car, metro, or boat. Our tickets were for a 1:35 p.m. game on Sunday, April 28th against the San Diego Padres. We packed our cooler and left our house in Stafford, VA around 11:30 a.m. When we arrived there was a line for bag check and an expedited line for those without bags. Security checked our bags, we walked through the metal detector and scanned our tickets via the MLB Ballpark App.
Once in the park, our three children were each handed a FREE Washington Nationals Kids Watch! The first 10,000 fans ages 12 and under received this promotion. The kids couldn't contain their excitement and we quickly moved to a corner so they could each put their watch on. With our hands full of jackets for the impending rain, our cooler and all three kids asking for help with their watch, we probably looked like a circus. A friendly Park Activities Supervisor approached our family to help and offered advice on where to get the kids some hot dogs and First Game certificates after the game.
Upon entering the park from the third base gate, we were greeted by a sea of red. Everyone was wearing the respective Washington Nationals team colors of red & white. We snapped a quick picture of the kids in front of the scoreboard and proceeded to make our way towards our seats, Section 116, Row EE.
While heading to our section, we couldn't help but be sidetracked by all of the merchandise and varying food options. My husband and oldest son stopped to try on a few of the baseball caps for sale...
...but were quickly distracted when one of the famous Racing Presidents was nearby greeting fans. After a quick high-five with President George Washington, we continued toward our section.
We found our seats located on the lower level, relatively close to the field. The sun was shining, we all had our sunscreen, hats and sunglasses on. Soon after getting settled, it was time for the National Anthem. Everyone in the stands stood and respectfully honored our nation and flag while a choir from a local school sang the anthem. Then it was time to, "Play Ball!" After the celebratory first pitch, both teams took to the field to play the third game in this series.
After the first inning or so, our kids were starting to get hot and asked for their bottles of water. We told them at the bottom of the 4th inning we would get snacks. My oldest two kids and I picked Breyers Ice Cream. There was a line but it wasn't too long.
Our youngest chose cotton candy and that was purchased without leaving our seats. There was no shortage of food vendors up and down the stands the entire game. Bless them for carrying those heavy trays of lemonade and peanuts, as well as buckets of cotton candy, kettle popcorn, and ice-cold drinks for the adults.
As the day went on, the clouds moved in and the sky looked as if it could start pouring rain any moment. However, the rain held off and we started to get chilly.
By this time, our youngest was starting to get weary and anxious from sitting in his seat but was excited at the possibility of catching a T-shirt or foul ball. Between innings, there were tons of T-shirt tosses and fan giveaways. After nine innings, both teams were tied and the game continued on.
Our kids were anxious to take part in the running of the bases after the last inning. However, the game went to 11 innings with the Nats winning and by that time our children were ready to go. We were able to exit the park without a lot of fuss and walked across the street to our car. All's well that ends well.
Getting There and Getting In
Coming from Stafford, VA via the Express Lanes, it took our family of five approximately 45 minutes to get to Nationals Park. There are a few different driving routes available to get to the stadium and we used the Waze app to find the least congested. Once near the stadium, there are plenty of signs and event staff directing traffic. The DC Metro is another option for those looking to get to the game without the hassle of parking. Or you can skip the traffic and avoid the crowds and ride the Potomac Riverboat Company’s Baseball Boat to the game.
Our family entered the stadium via the third base gate and there was no wait at all. Once at the gate, there are separate lines for people with bags and those without bags. We walked right up, opened our bags and went through the metal detectors without any issues.
Time Recommended to Enjoy Experience
This can definitely be an all-day event if you want to experience all that Nationals Park has to offer. Gates open about two hours before the game, plan for a good 6-8 hours for the full experience.
Recommended Age Range
My kids are 7, 10 and 11 and they all enjoyed the baseball game.
Tips for Families
Download the MLB Ballpark app before the game, it's a wealth of information. It streamlines the ticketing check-in and shows you upcoming promotions and giveaways as well as game-day experiences like scavenger hunts or other interactive games.
For parking, I would suggest checking out the SpotHero app prior to game day to pre-pay and reserve a spot at a discounted rate. This prevents you from driving around DC searching for a parking spot. Garages/lots closer to the stadium are more expensive and many are reserved for pre-paid customers. With a little further of a walk, you can find lots for $15-$20.
Food and Beverages
It's important to note that while Nationals park DOES allow outside food and beverage, you CANNOT bring glass, metal, or plastic bottles. You are allowed only ONE sealed water bottle per person and unopened single-serve food items like crustable sandwich packs. As of 2019, there is a new bag policy for the Washington Nationals - backpacks are now prohibited inside the park. The only permitted bags are drawstring bags, diaper bags, and soft-sided coolers that do not exceed 16"x16"x8".
There are tons of food, drink, and snack options inside the park. The best way to see what the park has and where food concessions are located is to check the MLB Ballpark app. From the app, you can find what you're looking for by food type, ie: ballpark food, specialty food, dietary restrictions, and more. They offer everything including BBQ, seafood, burgers, and sushi. You can also find desserts and specialty drinks. Gluten-free and kosher options are also available.
Being front and center in the sunshine made for a very hot afternoon. Our family came prepared with lots of sunscreen, cold bottles of water, battery-powered hand-held fans and raincoats, since the weather called for showers. When choosing seats to the game, I would recommend choosing covered seats since you can enjoy the game without having to remember all of these items.
There are lots of activities geared toward kids at the park. Sign up for their Jr. Nationals Kids Club. It's FREE and includes a membership card and lanyard, special meet and greet opportunities and exclusive email offers.
Sundays are Signature Sundays at the Park where two Nationals Players will sign autographs for fans at every Sunday home game all season long. Signing occurs at the top of the Nationals dugout, 70 minutes prior to first pitch. However, fans must obtain a free voucher in order to participate in the autograph session. All vouchers are first come, first serve. Pick yours up at Section 103. Vouchers become available when the gates open, two hours before first pitch.
Also on Sundays, after every afternoon home game, all kids ages 4-12 are invited to the run the bases, weather permitting. An adult must accompany each child and the run will begin approximately 20 minutes after the conclusion of the game.
The park also offers First Game, Foul Ball and Home Run certificates. You can stop by one of three guest services locations (behind Sections 103, 131, & 320) to pick up your free certificate.
Would Your Family Visit Again?
Yes! Watching a baseball game is always a great time and I love that the Nationals offer so much for kids. Our family had a great time!
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