San Diego

A Sweet Surprise in San Diego

California Dreaming

Over the hills and not so far away, San Diego.

I always said when I was younger if I was ever going to go on vacation in California, it would be to San Diego. Growing up, it just always seemed like a city that had enough to interest me for a week’s vacation. There’s the San Diego Zoo, SeaWorld, Point Loma, Balboa Park, the San Diego Padres baseball club, etc. The Padres are what of course sealed the deal for me. I just didn’t know when I would get the opportunity to go to San Diego.

Little did I know that my first trip to San Diego would come on my first time out to the western United States. I had previously wrote about my ventures out to Chase Field in Arizona. Well, Chase Field was just one of three ballparks my friend Todd and I hit up on our vacation. I’m always looking to do as much as I can on a vacation, even if it means more traveling (driving, which we did a lot of on this vacation).

So out of curiosity, I Google Mapped directions from Phoenix to San Diego to see how far it was. When I saw it was five and a half hours, my next thought was to check and see if the Padres would be home the weekend we were in Arizona. Low and behold, they were!

Now to just convince Todd. I was not sure how he would respond to the question. Him saying no would not have ruined the vacation, but I was honestly shocked when he said he was absolutely all for it without any doubt. For the first time in both our lives, we were going to California.

Coming into San Diego

That Saturday we were out there, we got up early and hit the road westward for San Diego. It was a fun drive, but that’s not why what I am here to tell you. However, before I get into Petco Park, San Diego is an absolutely BEAUTIFUL city. Flat out gorgeous, with just incredible sites. If money were no object, I think I’d permanently move there. It’s seriously that beautiful of a place.

What A Pleasant Park

We spent the day exploring San Diego, primarily Point Loma and catching a view of the Pacific Ocean. Then we got downtown a few hours before first pitch that evening. It was the Padres home opening weekend. They were playing the San Francisco Giants, and plenty of San Francisco fans had made the trip down the coast, too. There was a street closed off near the ballpark with vendors, games, and music. It was one big party with a true Southern California vibe.

The exterior of Petco Park provides you a sense of what you’re about to see inside.

I had not really heard much about Petco Park before I went there. I knew that Petco was a fairly new park (opened in 2004) and had some interesting features like the Western Metal Supply Co. building in left field and the Park at the Park behind center field. But I was blown away by how incredible Petco Park was. In the words of former Padres broadcaster Dick Enberg, my oh my! Petco Park is the perfect representation of San Diego. When you go, you will see why the Padres draw good crowds, even when the team is struggling on the field.

I would recommend getting there early to check out the Park at the Park. The Park at the Park is a grassy area beyond the center field wall where you can chill out and just take in the atmosphere. If you have wanted to lay out a blanket and just look up at the sky while enjoying the sounds of a major league ballpark, Park at the Park is the place for you. It is the perfect place for kids to run around and have them burn off energy. There’s a mini field for kids to play on as well. No actual real baseball, just wiffle ball. You don’t want any horrific freak accidents. Out here is also where you will find the statue for the late great Padre Tony Gwynn. Of course, don’t limit yourself to just the Park at the Park.

The Park at the Park is the perfect place to hang out before a game.
Tony Gwynn spent his whole 20 year career with the Padres, winning 8 batting titles.

There isn’t a bad view at Petco Park. A nice compliment to a ballpark is a downtown city skyline. Downtown San Diego provides one of the best backdrops a ballpark has to offer. Sitting in the upper deck along the first base side, I marveled at how incredible our view of everything was. Looking out towards downtown we were able to see it stretch for miles, providing an eccentric backdrop to the ballpark. I made sure to take it all in, walking around the whole stadium to get the entire perspective of the ballpark and what it had.

Downtown San Diego providing the perfect backdrop.

One thing I remember distinctly while walking around the concourse was the hanging ivy.  The hanging ivy along with palm trees everywhere is what really gave Petco Park that San Diego vibe. I’m not much for tan colors, but the light tan that was on some of the walls of the park fit perfectly. I thought it was nice touch. It was the perfect vibe for what seemed like the perfect park. Also, San Diego folks are very relaxed and friendly, and they made us feel welcome.

The hanging ivy gives the concourse a unique touch.

The sun sets on a perfect April night in San Diego.

I rate this ballpark a 12/10. When/if you go to San Diego, try to make sure the Padres are in town. Even if you are not the biggest baseball fan. I promise you will enjoy the sights of Petco Park. Heck try catching more than one game if you can. I know I sure would if I could.

-Evan Lewis

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