AT&T Park is one of the best places for tailgating during Major League baseball season. You can experience this time-honoured American tradition with an RV rental from San Francisco, and make a road trip of it to experience Southern California in peak baseball season.
The basics: What is tailgating?
The oxford dictionary describes a tailgate as “a social gathering at which an informal meal is served from the back of a parked vehicle, typically in the car park of a sports stadium.” Whilst technically accurate, the definition lacks the joie de vivre inherent in the tradition.
In fact, tailgating is treated as almost as important a sport as the one which the revellers have gathered to watch. Some tailgates involve a few beers and snacks while gathered around the back of a car; many tailgaters take it much more seriously. Grilling is de rigeur, tents set up in the parking lot are an everyday sight, but that’s not where it ends. Multiple beer coolers, trestle tables, fold-out chairs, RVs, proper cutlery and crockery, decorations, lights, speakers, TVs and more are increasingly popular, and there are even companies in some states which will rent you the necessary tailgate equipment, find you a spot and set up an elaborate event for you.
Why do people go to all that bother and expense for what is really something you could do more comfortably in your own backyard before the game? The answer is simple: It’s the infectious game-day spirit and sense of community which has made tailgating such a phenomenon. There’s nothing quite like it, and adding a tailgate to your RV rental holiday itinerary will certainly make your time in San Francisco memorable.
AT&T Park Giants tailgate
AT&T Park is a new name for a beloved waterfront stadium. Long-time fans might have known it as Pacific Bell Park or SBC Park, as it was officially named from 2000-2003 and from 2003-2006. Real old-timers may even remember when the Giants played at Candlestick Park, their former home located just six miles to the south.
Located right on the waterfront, the park is known as one of the best in Major League Baseball. The setting is unique, the food is great and there are views over San Francisco Bay from the stands. Fans have named the area of water beyond the right field wall McCovey Cove after famed Giants first baseman Willie McCovey, and it has become an important part of Giants lore. During games, those not in the stadium will take to the water in boats and kayaks to attempt to collect a stray home run ball by a left-handed batsman. These impressive hits which land in the cove on the fly are called “Splash hits” and there have been 68 of them by Giants players since the park was opened.
Tailgating is allowed at AT&T Park, in Lots A and D, and outside of Pier 48. Tailgates must be confined to one parking space, but you can also pre-book party spaces in Lot D for big groups. The only cost (besides the price of your game ticket) is the parking fee! Charcoal BBQs only are permitted, and there are orange bins to dispose of hot coals as well as regular rubbish bins located throughout the lots. Lots open four hours before the game starts- and we recommend you get there as early as you can to get a spot!
An RV makes the perfect base for a tailgate- you don’t have to worry about leaving anything behind, as all you need is right there in the vehicle. If it’s self-contained, you can even wash up the dishes, take a shower and use the toilet before heading in to the game! Here are a few things to put on your shopping list before you head to AT&T Park:
A disposable charcoal grill. These are pretty easy to find, and perfect for tailgating while on holiday.
Food for the grill. Burgers, hot dogs and all the things to go with them. Don’t make things too complicated- aim for simple and delicious.
A shirt and decorations to represent your favourite team. Don’t have a favourite team on the field? Pick one to support. It makes the whole experience better!
When it comes to tailgating in San Francisco, AT&T Park is the cream of the crop- but there are other options, especially if you are willing to hit the road. And if you aren’t, well, why did you rent an RV? Make a road trip out of it and head to some of these stadiums in neighbouring California cities:
Oakland is just across the bay from San Francisco, and home to the Oakland Coliseum , a multi-purpose stadium which serves both the MLB team Oakland Athletics and the NFL team Oakland Raiders. There are well-equipped tailgate areas allowed in their A-Lot and K-Lot parking lots, which must be reserved. However, alcohol is not allowed in any of the parking lots, so you will have to save that part of it for the game itself.
Los Angeles’ most well-known Major League Baseball team, the LA Dodgers, is based in Dodger Stadium. Unfortunately, tailgating is prohibited there and the police have been cracking down hard on tailgate-style parties in nearby Elysian Park. The Angels of Anaheim are another MLB team based in LA, and play home games at Angel Stadium. Tailgating is allowed here in general parking areas, but the rules are quite rigid- no alcohol, no early entry. Revellers often congregate across the road in the Orange County Credit Union parking lot instead.
San Diego’s MLB team is called the San Diego Padres, and their home stadium is Petco Park. Tailgating is allowed there, with a few rules- tailgates are limited to the space directly behind your vehicle, kegs and glass bottles are not allowed and alcohol consumption in the parking lot must cease thirty minutes after the start of the game. Designed with crowd control in mind, these restrictions leave plenty of room for a fun tailgate experience.