A Beautiful Ballpark that Pays Homage to Its City - via Flickr user Keith Allison
Oriole Park, sometimes called Camden Yards for its surrounding neighborhood, is the marquee "retro-park".
When Oriole Park was built in 1992, it paid homage to Baltimore's long history of baseball, as well as the history of the sport at large through monuments and visual styling. The retro-park craze followed, but many consider Oriole Park at Camden Yards to be the best example of the style, laden with little easter eggs and buttressed by the beautiful B&O factory.
Paying Homage to Baseball History
Three blocks from Oriole Park is the childhood home of Babe Ruth, which now hosts the Babe Ruth Birthplace and Museum. Visit the museum first, then follow the painted baseballs on the street from the house to the stadium - representing the 60 home runs Ruth hit in '27. Inside the house, learn about Ruth's family and childhood, see priceless memorabilia, and walk through the rooms he lived in for years.
When you get to the park, tip your hat to Babe with a photo by the giant statue.
Arriving at Oriole Park at Camden Yards
Alternative/Public Transportation to an Orioles Game
There are a number of public transport options available for Oriole Park, and the Maryland Transit Authority has made a separate webpage to help explain these options. However, this webpage is actually a bit confusing. Even the 2016 brochure, which is a little more visual, is still confusing.
There is a light rail stop directly next to the park (Camden Yards) and one just down the street (Convention Center). All three connect to the Yellow and Blue light rail lines, as well as the Penn-Camden shuttle.
If you are You can also take the MARC train on the weekend, which connects Washington-Union station in DC with the Baltimore-Penn station hourly. Then take the quick Penn-Camden light rail shuttle. You can do this on weekdays too, but it's not recommended because of all the commuter traffic between the two cities.
But if you are doing a weekend of baseball, the MARC is a way to do two parks in one day. It's fairly easy to get to Nationals Park from Union station via subway. So you can manage a 1pm game at one park and a 7/8pm game at the other. It will be tight, and not for the faint of heart, but for those coming from the West Coast, you can walk away with one heck of a story to tell.
There are a number of buses which pass by the park. I typically don't recommend buses, especially if there is a subway/light rail option, but many of these buses connect parts of Baltimore not serviced by the light rail. But if you are staying in an AirBnB in a neighborhood serviced by bus, this can be an option that saves you a lot of money. Again, check the list on the MTA website.
Now, if you're looking for a party bus, Rally Bus offers a great choice. You ride the same bus back and forth, so can leave stuff on the bus, and it's a great way to travel with friends for cheap.
As I'll discuss below, the Camden Yards area is safe and easy to walk through, but that's not the case for much of the rest of Baltimore. If public transportation options don't appeal to you, you can always take the safe route of using Uber, which will drop you right at your hotel lobby or AirBnB door. If you haven't used Uber before, click here for a free ride.
Driving to an Orioles Game
Free Parking near Orioles Park is practically non-existent.
You can sometimes find a free spot on the street in the neighborhood to the west of the stadium, but you’re going to have to hoof it around 15 minutes. Start on Hamburg Street, pay attention to the street signs, and be aware of your surroundings. Signposting isn't great - make sure your phone's Google Maps is charged.
WARNING: if you are a woman/group of ladies, a family, or planning to be very intoxicated after the game, maybe this isn't the choice for you. The area around Camden Yards is safe and well lit, but once you leave the area, that changes. Baltimore is one of America's most dangerous cities. If all this makes you too nervous, there are lots of options that are close, safe, and cheap.
If you’re really trying to game the system and save a buck or two there are a couple of options for you. First, there is the occasional business in the area that will be offering a spot in their lot for five bucks or so. A few laps around the surrounding neighborhoods should bring you quick success.
The neighborhood to the east of Camden Yards, Federal Hill, is good for a bite to eat before the game and has cheap metered parking if you can snag a spot on Charles Street. Meters run until 8:00pm, you can feed them for a few hours and take off. The Maryland Science Center nearby offers game night parking.
Federal Hill Neighborhood, with the Maryland Science Center on the Right
Most of the parking lots in the area immediately surrounding Camden yards are reserved, and not open to those without passes. You can purchase passes online from the Orioles with a mark-up.
The best deal that you’re going to find for parking around the stadium is in official lots F,G, and H. They all cost less than $10 cash on game-day and there is plenty of space available. These lots are situated at the base of the Ravens stadium, with lot F being a quick 5 minute walk to the stadium. Lot F can be accessed on the east side of the Hamburg St bridge.
Another great option for parking is a service called Spot Hero. They allow you to search for and purchase guaranteed parking spots in Baltimore ahead of time. You can compare prices and locations and select an option that works for you. They’ll email you the parking pass and you can drive to the stadium without worrying about where you’re going to park. Take a look at their options below:
Best Food At & Near Oriole Park at Camden Yards
Save Money on Food
To really save money, you can bring in snacks, as long as they are all bagged or packaged. You can bring in a small, soft-sided cooler.
You can take in unopened plastic bottles of pop or water. Again this will save you several bucks per drink when compared to ballpark prices. There are tons of people selling $1 waters and sodas outside the park on your walk in.
If you are looking for a cheap/dive type place to eat before the game, check out Nick's Rotisserie, about a half mile from the stadium. Fall off the bone chicken with street parking typically available - you could do much worse.
Food at Oriole Park that You Shouldn't Miss
Oriole Park has an outstanding selection of food choices, well-arranged and distributed around the park, making it easy to avoid lines. There are also various price points, so whether you want a small local bite or plan to splurge on many flavors, this ballpark will satisfy your tastes.
1. Boog's BBQ - First timers shouldn't miss Boog’s Barbecue, which is located on Eutaw St. behind the center field bleachers at Oriole Park. Boog Powell, former Oriole great, is a regular at his own booth greeting and selling food to fans. If you are coming from out of town I would say its worth the money to try it once.
Boog's BBQ is the Center of Eutaw Street - via Flickr user Gavin St. Ours
2. The Chipper - great for kids, this chips joint near section 68 offers kettle cooked chips topped with delicious options. Their crab chipper seems an obvious Baltimore choice, but I found the pulled pork chips to be a tasty option with a large enough portion to share (good since this isn't the cheapest option).
3. CRAAAAAAAAAAAAB! - you can find it all over. There's a station on field level dedicated to crab, but a lot of other food locations offer crab related options. Crab pretzels, crab dip with pita chips, Old Bay fries with crab dip, crab mac and cheese, hot dogs topped with crab, crab nachos... You get the point. Other parks offer crab, but this is the best. NOTE: you WILL be paying for the privilege of crab, so plan to share if you are tight on budget.
Crab Dip Waffle Fries - via Flickr user Navan Rajagopalan
Cheap Orioles Tickets
Support science in Baltimore and get cheaper tickets! The Maryland Science Center has a discount program where members can get a discount on Orioles tickets. The cool thing is that most discount programs only apply to the cheapest of tickets; this program applies the discount to tickets from any section.
At this point, nearly every Major League team has some kind of variable pricing model where depending on how in-demand a game is, the ticket prices you'll pay at the gate may go up or down.
Sometimes pricing varies from day to day, other times it is a more formal "tiered" structure where when they are playing a big draw team like the Yankees, you'll pay a premium price compared to a perennial bottom-dweller who might be in the "budget tier."
So rather than focusing on specific prices and sections which tend to change fairly often, I want to talk about general rules and strategies for getting the best deals on tickets.
1. Compare 3rd Party Sites
SeatGeek is a big time ticket comparison site that lets you compare a bunch of different ticket brokers, marketplaces, etc. and find the best price for the game you want to go to. They also have a tool that projects whether ticket prices will go up or down - AKA whether you should buy now or wait.
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It's Pretty Hard to Find a Bad Seat in This House... - via Flickr user Daniel Betts
2. Buy Last Minute
Usually tickets can be purchased for under face value in the Scalp Free Zone which is something that the Orioles facilitate outside of Lot F at Orioles Park; which is across from Russell St. behind the LF area. It is illegal to sell tickets above face value here, so you know you are getting at least as good of a deal as you would at the ticket office.
A good strategy to employ in this area is to buy late. Mostly these are regulars just trying to get something for their unused extras. They tend to be more flexible as the first pitch draws nigh. If you go there and buy 2 hours before the game, the seller is less likely to give a big discount because they expect many people to come by after you.
If you've bought tickets online before, you've heard of StubHub. What you may not know however is that with the rise of print-at-home and tickets on your mobile phone via the Ballpark App that you can usually buy tickets right up to a couple of hours before game time.
As someone who has sold a fair share of tickets on StubHub, I also know that sellers are encouraged to set a declining price for their tickets. This means they'll set a starting price and then their lowest acceptable price, and StubHub will auto-magically lower the price of those tickets as the event date gets closer.
So in many cases, a game that isn't sold out will have plenty of below face value deals on StubHub that you can snatch at the last minute and then either print at home, or just use the App on your phone to get scanned into the game.
3. Avoid Craigslist
It's not to say that you can't find ticket deals on Craigslist, you can. It is just more of a peace of mind, safety issue. I'm a Craigslist kind of guy, but I also know it's easy to get screwed buying baseball tickets there.
Remember when I mentioned selling on StubHub? When you list tickets there, all you need to know is the barcode number from that ticket along with the other details on section, row, etc. - So when I sell tickets I never mail them to the buyer, they just print them at home and my actual tickets become void.
If I was a shady character, I could go sell those void tickets to an unsuspecting buyer on Craigslist for cash. The tickets look real, they are "real" in a sense - but what that buyer will find out is when they go to enter the stadium, the ticket scanner will say "thou shalt not enter thy game."
Don't be that buyer.
Stick to buying tickets from SeatGeek, StubHub, or directly from the team. You can still get deals and you never have to worry about being scammed.
Best Value Seats at Oriole Park
Some of the best value seats in Oriole Park on a night in and night out basis are lower reserved sections 55 – 65 and 7 - 17. They go for less than $20 for a standard game, which is significantly less than the seats directly in front of you. You should try to sit in section 55 if you can, as you are practically in what would be considered an infield box seat in other stadiums.
The Lower Reserve Sections are Practically a Steal - via Flickr user Keith Allison
Lower Reserved 17 gives a similar view from the third base side and it is again a good deal at around $20.
Another benefit of these seats (depending on the time of year) is that they are in the shade. If it’s a mid-summer game with a high temperature, there is nothing like enjoying the game from the shade.
Where to Stay While Visiting Camden Yards
My favorite way to travel to a baseball game is to stay as close to the stadium as possible and walk, or take Uber so I don't have to fool with parking in a strange place.
AirBnB is the best way to find a really cool house or apartment to rent so you can hang out with your friends/family before the game and get a more authentic local experience.
Not only is it cooler than a hotel, but you can save $35 on your first stay by using my referral link.
There are 2 types of rentals - those where you rent a private room and stay with a host and those where you rent out the whole place. I've done both, and you'll have some peace of mind about the people you rent from because of the review system they have for the hosts - so you have a high degree of confidence that you won't end up on the bad side of a future Dateline NBC episode.
Best of all, you can always find places right near the Camden Yards area, making visiting Oriole Park on foot a breeze.
Obviously places come and go on the site, but I've used AirBnB a number of times for sports road trips and it's become my default option when I'm traveling. Click the button below to save $35 on your first trip and see what kind of cool places are currently available near the ballpark:
Free Stuff at Oriole Park at Camden Yards
1. Salute to Our Soldiers - while all MLB teams honor military personnel, the Orioles also offer some free bonuses. Active Military Personnel who bring their ID to fan services are given a free Orioles cap. Families of service members coming home from duty can contact Orioles fan services and receive a free "Welcome Home" Scoreboard message.
A Beautiful Day in the Ballpark for All! - via Flickr user Keith Allison
2. Come Free On Your Birthday: The Orioles are offering a free ticket to everyone on their birthday. To participate, visit orioles.com to register your birthday, and they will send you a voucher good for one ticket to a non-prime game in your birthday month.
For those fans with off season birthdays, don't worry! Fans with birthdays from January to March can receive a voucher to an April game, and fans with birthdays in October through December can come to a game in September.
3. The Little Touches - look for the little pieces of history around the park. The massive 9-foot status of Babe Ruth is hard to miss, but also check out the other statues around the edge of the park. Along Eutaw Street, look for the brass ball plaques along the ground where balls have landed after being launched out the park (the Oriole website for this is outstanding and fun).
The foul poles are actually the originals from Memorial Field. Aisle seats include the emblems from the original Baltimore Baseball Club. Find the wall display of the evolution of the mascot, fronted by statues of the earliest versions of the bird. Also look for the two orange seats in a sea of green - the one in left field honors Cal Ripkin Jr. and the one in right field honors Eddie Murray.
The Emblem of the 1890s Baltimore Baseball Club - via Flickr user kristin