Spectator sport is massive in the USA. Whatever your favourite sport, there are fixtures to enjoy throughout the year. For many Americans this is what they do for a big day out, with families and friends going en masse to cheer on their favourite team at their local stadium with a hotdog in one hand, beer in the other. There’s usually a great atmosphere and it’s a great way to try a slice of American life. Here’s our pick of the best ways to experience iconic American sports when you’re in the USA.
Major League Baseball
Major League Baseball (MLB) is the oldest of the four major professional sports leagues in the US and Canada. The season might have started in March but there’s still plenty of time to catch this relaxed game in the USA, beer in one hand, hot dog in the other. It’s usually easy enough to get tickets to this family-friendly game at most stadiums. Head to Philadelphia’s Citizens Bank Park, right, and you can watch The Philadelphia Phillies
play games until 29th September 2019. You can also enjoy host themed nights throughout the season, including a Star Wars™ charity night on 17th July 2019, when fans can dress up as their favourite Star Wars™ character and pose for photographs with characters from the movies at the game. Other great places to catch a game include the Capital REgion, where you can watch The Washington Nationals
and Baltimore Orioles
— the Capital Region’s Major League Baseball teams in scenic stadiums, or Busch Stadium is the home of the 11-time World Series Champion St. Louis Cardinals
. To catch the oldest baseball team in America, the Boston Red Sox, visit Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts. If you can’t make it to the USA then you can see MLB’s biggest names go head to head at the London Stadium
in Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park on June 29th-30th. Watch the Boston Red Sox and the New York Yankees compete in a two-day series as Major League Baseball makes its London debut. [Citizens Bank Park is the Phillies’ home stadium. Image courtesy of Miles Kennedy for PHLCVB]
The Indianapolis 500
Crowds of more than 300,000 fans head to Indianapolis to watch the The Indy 500 race
each May. America’s most famous motor race is hosted at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, with cars hurtling around the 2.5 mile oval at more than 150 mph. The race itself is only part of the experience; there’s a great atmosphere and loads going on around the track. Visitors can also tour round the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame and even take a lap in an IndyCar.
National Football League NFL
One of the biggest events in the NFL year is the annual draft, where leading and up-and-coming players await their selection on one of the NFL’s 32 national teams for the season ahead. Celebrate as players are selected during the three day festival that runs along the 2019 National Football League Draft, from the 25th – 27th April, with games, exhibitions and meet and greets with players. If you’re serious about American Football, then you’ll want to go the iconic NFL Super Bowl, which is a national event watched on TV by about 100 million Americans on TV each year. You’ve got plenty of time to plan your trip to Super Bowl 54 in Miami next February, though let a specialist take the hard work out of securing tickets
You need to be super fit to hang onto the back of a bucking bronco and rodeo is considered a serious sport in the USA. You’ll find the biggest and best rodeos in Texas, huge events with a range of cowboy skills being showcased, from cattle ranching to horse riding and everything in between. The Fort Worth Stock Show & Rodeo
is the granddaddy of all Texas rodeos. First held in 1896, it’s the oldest continuously running livestock show and rodeo in the state.
New sports - Formula E and Sail GP
It will come as no surprise that some of the newest sporting fixtures take place in New York City
. Formula E
, the open-wheel formula auto-racing series that uses only electric cars, returns to Brooklyn 13-14 July 2019. This summer sees the launch of SailGP
, a new global sports series with bold, cutting-edge technology from 21 - 22 June 2019. watch the event as it takes place on the lower Hudson River, with the onshore Race Village located at Brookfield Place.
The USA’s answer to F1, NASCAR racing is hugely popular and a must for motorsports fans visiting the USA. North Carolina is the home of NASCAR and many of the sport’s teams that compete in its races. You’ll get full NASCAR immersion on a trip to Charlotte Motor Speedway to watch the Coca-Cola 600, as the fans scream when the cars roar by.
The US Open Tennis
Held every year at Flushing Meadows just outside of New York City, this tennis major falls in late August/early September, making it a great option to catch some of the world's best tennis players play just before the kids go back to school. As it's so close to New York City, it's a great excuse to combine spectator sporting with a big city break - get a sport travel expert to organise it for you
. Just 20 minutes’ subway ride from Penn Station, you can enjoy action at the court one day, while scaling the Empire State Building or attending a Broadway show the next.
Horseracing at the Kentucky Derby
Love horse racing? You’ll want to head to Kentucky, home to the iconic Kentucky Derby. The race has taken place every year at historic Churchill Downs race track since 1875, has been described as “the most exciting two minutes in sports”. A crowd of 150,000 heads to the race in their glad rags, where they sip on traditional mint juleps (bourbon, mint and syrup) while watching the race. As part of your tour
, head to a local horse farm afterwards, or take a tour and tasting of a local bourbon distillery. The city of Lexington is called the ‘Horse Capital of the World’ with 450 thoroughbred, working horse farms in the area.
NBA, NHL & MLB All-Star Games
Can’t make your mind up? While regular season games are fantastic, the All-Star Games for professional basketball (NBA), Ice Hockey (NHL) and baseball (MLB) bring together the best in their respective sports to battle out it out for supremacy and bragging rights. The NBA event
features a Saturday night skills competition -including the famous slam dunk contest – before the main event on Sunday. The NHL and MLB also feature similar skills events. As the All-Star games move from city to city every year, they also provide the opportunity for fans to visit and experience new US destinations while following their favourite players. The 2019/20 events will be held in Chicago (NBA) St Louis (NHL) and Cleveland (MLB).