Have you seen the Swinging Friar? If you go to one of the Padres games, you probably have. He is their mascot and has been since 1958. A chubby little cartoon man dressed as a friar who rings the mission bell every time the Padres win a game. The San Diego Padres are a Major League Baseball team in the National League and were founded in 1969 in San Diego, California.
Even though the state of California has five professional baseball teams, the Padres are one of only two that originated there. The other is the Los Angeles Angels. The home games are held at Petco Park, which is in Downtown San Diego. With a backdrop of the San Diego Bay and the west coast skyline, the 40,209 seats are all part of the incredible atmosphere with retro style red and green brick design.
And the park hosts more than just baseball. Some of the other sporting events held there include basketball, golf, motorsports, tennis, rugby, football, and ice hockey. There have also been many concerts held at Petco, including the Rolling Stones, Madonna, the Foo Fighters, Paul McCartney, the Eagles, and Billy Joel. However, the main events at Petco are the San Diego Padres games.
The food at the park is not your typical hotdogs, cracker jacks, and peanuts like your grandparents raved about during games. Nowadays you can get every kind of food you can imagine and others that you can’t with more than 50 food vendors in the stadium. From fish tacos to sushi and ice cream sandwiches to tri-tip sandwiches, you can find whatever you want and then some. And of course, there are the usual (and unusual) cold beverages to wash it all down.
Children under 36 inches have been free in the past as long as a paying adult accompanies them. One of the best experiences for families with kids is the Park at the Park. This is a 2.7-acre grassy area with a mini baseball field, a Tony Gwynn statue, picnic tables, and lots of room to spread out and watch the game on the huge television monitor. And while you cannot do any RV camping at the stadium, you won’t have far to go to find a place to park the rig for the night.
Tickets for San Diego Padres games can be found starting around $10 to over $500, depending on the seats, who they are playing, and what time of year it is. Then there are the season tickets, suites, and premium seating. Whichever you choose, you are sure to have a great view because all the seats provide an excellent view of the game as well as the surrounding beauty of the North San Diego Bay.
In the heart of Downtown San Diego, a short five-minute drive from the bay, Padres fans will find Petco Park on Park Boulevard just off of I-5. You can reach I-5 from I-15, CA-163, CA-94, I-805, or I-8. Your route may land you only 15 minutes from Chula Vista, which is the second-largest city in the San Diego area, and right next to the San Diego Bay National Wildlife Refuge. These are awesome places to visit while you are in town for a San Diego Padres game. And while you are at it, check out the San Diego Zoo on I-5 just a few miles to the north.
Parking in Downtown San Diego is a struggle on any day, let alone on game day. However, with some planning and getting there early, your time can be simplified. If you are prepared, you will be able to camp nearby and take public transportation to the stadium.
Otherwise, you can use pre-paid parking, which will guarantee you a spot. Petco teams up with Ace Parking to provide parking with over 27,000 spaces. Fans often park at some of the businesses nearby or in a downtown public or private lot.
There is typically a fee of $10 to $50 depending on which lot you choose, and you will need to note your vehicle dimensions, especially if parking a big rig because some of the lots are unable to handle them.
Luckily, San Diego County has a plethora of public transportation for San Diego Padres games. The trolley, bus, and coaster are all available on a daily basis to transport you just about anywhere in the city, as well as to and from the ballpark.
The trolley has three stations, which are the Gaslamp on Harbor Drive, 12th Street and Market, and 12th and Imperial. The bus has quite a few stations, including several on 12th Street, Imperial, and along I-5.
The Coaster is a unique way to get to the park from anywhere in the county and has several free parking areas where you can catch this train. The park also provides a rideshare loading and unloading zone on Park Boulevard by the Convention Center if you plan to use a rideshare app.
There is no camping, RV or otherwise, at the ballpark. Fans are not allowed to stay overnight in an RV, truck, camper, or any other vehicle on the premises. Parking lots in the area may have their own rules about such things during a San Diego Padres game, but it is up to the parking lot owners to make those decisions on their properties.
There are a few campgrounds in the area near Petco Park to stay at for a San Diego Padres game. In fact, there are five within five miles of the park. In addition, the San Diego Metro KOA is just nine miles from the park and has provisions for RVs up to 70 feet. There is also a pool, wi-fi, cable TV, 50-amp electrical hookups, a dog park, and a playground for the kiddos. And if you prefer a beach park, Silver Strand State Beach is only 10 miles to the south on CA-75. The beach provides access to those with RVs up to 40 feet with electric as well as sewer and water hookups.
The park is large, and they know that their guests sometimes need a lift during a Padres game. So, they provide a shuttle service from the park to the MTS Garage, Tailgate Park, and the Parkade as well as other frequently used areas. You can expect the shuttle to be available two hours before a game until a half-hour after a game. The after-game pickup is located at the Guest Service Center by the Home Plate Gate.
The weather during the game varies due to the range of dates, but the typical weather in this part of California is mild and sunny. Less than an hour from Mexico, you may want to pack shorts and tanks because it can get hot during the day no matter what month it is this far south. Also, pack some warmer clothes for the evenings and for sitting around the camp at night.
Recently, bags and backpacks up to 16 inches have been allowed but are subject to search. Soft-sided coolers are also allowed, under 16 inches as well. You can bring bottled water if it is not in glass but is in sealed containers. Pack your camera, phone, and tickets for a fun and easy transition into Padres Stadium.
Water is essential to stay hydrated during the summer months, no matter whether you are drinking other beverages or not. Be sure to pack bottled water in your pack or bag. You will also want to bring insect repellent and heavy-duty SPF sunscreen with you. Other items you may need, including medications and wallet, can also be stashed in your bag.
If you are camping at the KOA or state beach, you will have access to utilities as well as campfire grills so you should have no trouble cooking no matter what. Some of the other campgrounds are dry or primitive but have campfire grills and picnic tables for your convenience. However, it is always good to be prepared with another form of cooking no matter where you are camping.
The only reason you will need to leave Petco Park for a meal is if you want to explore San Diego after a game. The region has everything imaginable from the fancy to the fast and kids’ meals to adult beverage bars. However, if you do want to go into San Diego for a meal, you will find California cuisine, lots of seafood places, Mexican, Greek, and Asian restaurants, pizza, and much more.
Petco Park houses 28 concession stands just on the field level, so you know you are going to have options if you want something specific. Padres fans can view a concession guide online or pick one up at the park. The second level has 19 concessions to choose from, including sushi, burritos, and even oysters. You will find 11 places to choose from on the upper deck, from hot dogs to ice cream. And the Western Metal Building has a buffet and a rooftop BBQ joint.
And if you are looking for Padres gear or souvenirs, you won’t have to look far as you will pass them on your way into and out of the stadium. The ballpark also has its own souvenir shops, and several merchandisers are set up as well.
Not only are there metal detectors and security checkpoints at each gate and entrance, but there is also a security command center on the service level by the loading docks if you need help at any time. Be sure to go online and check out the prohibited items, so you do not have to make any trips back to your vehicle. Some of these include weapons, fireworks, drugs, and drones. Also, leave your glass containers, beach balls, and frisbees at the campsite.
The weather in San Diego is typically warm and sunny but gets hot during the summer months. May through August tend to be in the 70s and 80s for the highs and 60s for the lows. Rain and storms are unlikely during these months, but it is best to keep a weather app on your phone to follow the forecast.
Petco Park takes your health seriously, and they have several first aid stations in the park. Sections 131, 129, and 101 are a few places where you can find medical staff. Fans can find first-aid assistance in Power Alley and the Guest Safety Center on the Service Level. If you need medical help, grab a nearby employee, or call 911. There are four major hospitals within 10 miles of the park as well.