On the Road with Eli(zondo) and Adric at Dodger Stadium
So you’ve decided to heed the call to adventure. Good for you. If you need to refer back to what the Guide actually is or who I actually am, please refer to the included links.
My Blue Heaven
The Guide has the following to say about going to a game at Dodger Stadium:
You would never think that this ballpark is the third-oldest in the Major Leagues. Admittedly, the addition of the front door was a welcome and needed development. They say heaven is blue on earth.
This entry of the Guide is geared toward Dodger fans who do not live in Los Angeles and do not have the opportunity to go to Dodger Stadium on a regular basis. Most of the regulars of this website will not need this entry to the Guide, because they have their own routines, preferred seats, and rituals for enjoying a game at Dodger Stadium. This Guide does not dispute any of that and encourages folks to keep doing what they are doing, provided that no violence and/or hooliganism is involved.
But for those of us who like going to Dodger Stadium but happen to live in the wrong part of California, this Guide entry is for you. Or maybe you’re that unicorn of a Dodger fan who has never been to Dodger Stadium - I shall help where I can. Generally, even if Dodger Stadium was not the home of our team, going to a game at Dodger Stadium would still rank as a top-five experience in the Major Leagues. I have been to Dodger Stadium multiple times, the following Guide entry is the sum total of what I have learned about making the most of going to games at this venerable ballpark.
The Five Questions of the Guide
1. Is it worth going here?
Obviously. I cannot reconcile never going to Dodger Stadium and being a Dodger fan unless you were from Brooklyn.
Iconic is the word that comes to mind when I think about my adventures at Dodger Stadium. The views, the food, and the atmosphere are the strengths of Dodger Stadium. Once you are at Dodger Stadium, you are likely to have a lovely time, regardless of who the Dodgers are playing, based on the atmosphere and ambiance of the ballpark. If you have never been to Dodger Stadium: you would be well served to visit any Fan Service Station for a complimentary “1st DODGER GAME” button and if you email firstname.lastname@example.org with the date of your trip and your name, you will be emailed a First Visit Certificate.
The experience is not perfect, but if you like baseball, Dodger Stadium needs to be on your bucket list. Now getting to and from the ballpark is iconic in a bad way - that experience is generally terrible requiring either a tolerance for sitting in traffic or the wherewithal to bring a book to read while Dodger Stadium empties out. I have also previously discussed elements of the Dodgers fanbase that should be excised.
But if you follow the Moscow Rules or if you act like a decent human being, the lingering hooliganism problem should not be an issue for you. Also, ticket prices are typically going to be as expensive as you are likely to see in the Major Leagues, outside of the playoffs, especially if you want to sit close to the action.
If able, taking a tour at Dodger Stadium is a wonderful addition to a visit to Dodger Stadium, as you will likely see parts of the park you otherwise would not. For the first-time visitor, one can go to Guest Services and collect a First Game Certificate and button. If you miss out on the certificate at the ballpark, you can request it online later, but you will miss out on the button.
2. How should I get there?
If you are in California, then you have the option to drive to Dodger Stadium. Granted from Central California, that drive will take in excess of five hours (one way), so it is theoretically possible to drive from Fresno (or thereabouts) to Dodger Stadium and back in a single day. That timeframe is the itinerary of a younger person and I certainly would not replicate that today.
Flying to Los Angeles is a viable option, but you will likely need a rental car if you want to traverse the vast sprawl that is Los Angeles. Using rideshare will get expensive quickly due to the distances involved. Using public transit is cumbersome from Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), but an option to get to Union Station in downtown Los Angeles. Using rideshare from Union Station is often cheaper and faster than attempting to do some from LAX. As for actually getting to the game itself, you basically have three options, all of which are degrees of bad.
- You could drive yourself and park at the ballpark. This choice is always an option, but the traffic to and from Dodger Stadium is infamously terrible. Plus, unless you leave early or arrive late, in which case you are doing something wrong, you are likely going to be sitting in a sea of traffic both coming and going. Plus, you will be paying for parking in both money and sanity.
- You could rideshare to Dodger Stadium. This option is marginally better than driving yourself, but the designated rideshare lot leaves you a bit of a walk to actually reach the stadium. Moreover, finding your way back to the rideshare lot to leave is much more difficult due to the traffic, being turned around, and the inevitable “surge pricing” that you will likely have to endure.
- You could take the Dodger Stadium Express. We have covered this service before on this website. You would have to find a way to Union Station, either on foot by staying in Little Tokyo or by parking your car at Union Station, which you will have to pay for but at last check, it is less than Dodger Stadium ($8 vs. $25), then take the Express. The Express will drop you off closer than the Rideshare lot, but at last check, it will not be in front of the stadium. To return, you will just have to catch the Express at Centerfield. Make sure you catch the return bus to Union Station instead of South Bay, otherwise, you will be nowhere near Union Station.
3. Where should I stay?
Honestly, finding a place to stay for going to games at Dodger Stadium is the most troublesome part of the whole experience. If money is no object, then most hotels in downtown Los Angeles will work, but be mindful that you will be paying a premium. As shown above, the closest option is a Super 8 motel in the working-class neighborhood near Dodger Stadium. Under no circumstances would I recommend walking the distance between the Super 8 and Dodger Stadium because of the traffic and the actual distance involved.
Now, if you forego a vehicle and focus on using Dodger Stadium Express and rideshare, I would recommend staying in Little Tokyo and then going by foot to Union Station to catch the Dodger Stadium Express. However, I would not recommend walking back from Union Station to Little Tokyo at night due to the presence of multiple homeless encampments that were on the route between Union Station and Little Tokyo.
During the day, I have never had an issue getting to Union Station, but I have seen extensive police activity in the area during the evening. So I would order a rideshare back to get back to Little Tokyo. I have stayed at the Hotel Miyako in the past, as there are plenty of food options nearby and you are close enough to Union Station to freely go back and forth to Dodger Stadium. As I recall there is no included parking for a rental car at Hotel Miyako.
The biggest issue with the Hotel Miyako option, apart from the previously identified ones, is the cost as sometimes the nightly rate is quite pricey. In September 2021, I stayed at the Hollywood Inn Express South. It was fine...apart from the conditions of the room. You get what you pay for.
I used this place for a few days as I took rideshare to and from Union Station, taking advantage of the Dodger Stadium Express to get to and from games. Ultimately, in my view, unlike Pittsburgh and St. Louis, there is no optimal option for a place to stay if you go to Los Angeles to go to a game at Dodger Stadium.
This analysis will change if the Dodgers actually do develop their parking lots to include commercial buildings, including a hotel, which is outside the scope of this travelogue series.
4. Where should I sit?
As I alluded to earlier, going to a Dodger game is an expensive affair. There are deals from time to time, but generally, there will be a lower range ($20 to 40) but you will be sitting in the literal rafters and there will be an upper range typically equalling a rent payment for most ($1250). There is the school of thought of sitting in the Loge section, as many True Blue LA commenters, will attest to, but that advice is fairly obvious.
Now there are steps between these poles, but let me be clear: If you want a decent seat at Dodger Stadium, there’s always the secondary market, but realize you are not going to be paying Pittsburgh prices or even Wrigley prices. And this statement is not condoning the pricing structure, just look at the intolerable situations occurring in Cincinnati and Oakland: raising prices without fielding a competitive team.
Oddly enough, if you were solely interested in a decent view at Dodger Stadium, the best time to have gone was the period of socially distanced games in the first half of last year. I was able to sit in seats that were normally $800 for 1/8th of the cost, which was pretty neat. But socially distanced baseball is not really true baseball.
Personally, I would eat before going to the ballpark. If you have the capacity and the time and for some reason, you have never gone - go to The Apple Pan. It’s practically in Santa Monica and nowhere near Dodger Stadium. It does not matter - it is that good. Get a Hickory burger and a slice of Cherry Cream or Apple Pie. If you have someone with you, get fries, otherwise, you are going to be drowning in potatoes. Worse ways to go, but it seems like a sin to waste thick-cut, steak fries.
If you want to grab something a little closer to the ballpark, you have options. The pandemic has been catastrophic to the restaurant industry so many places that had been previously recommended are now gone. Katsu Sando is still around though and I remember eating to contentment while respecting my wallet.
As for the food at Dodger Stadium, get a Dodger Dog - the best hot dog in the Major Leagues. Get the original in the blue wrapper, which is pork. Now a hot dog is distinct from a bratwurst before anyone from Milwaukee bites my head off. Everything else is fine...just overly priced. I would not turn down a Michelada either, especially if I spring for fancy seats but I will get into that in a bit.
I will be presenting seat recommendations a little differently than in other entries of the Guide. If you can find a bargain that is not in the rafters, take it. Otherwise, regardless of where you sit, unless you are by hooligans, you should have a great time. Instead, I am going to recommend that you take a tour of Dodger Stadium in addition to whatever game you go to. Advice such as to sit in the Loge section, to sit behind home plate, etc. are not generally not helpful, but those locations are always an option.
Here are my recommendations for Dodger Stadium.
- Taking a Tour
The value of a tour at Dodger Stadium (and there are multiple tours, depending on whether you go on the regular tour (and you may see the Dodgers’ many, many awards), or the PreGame tour (and you may see batting practice), or the Clubhouse Tour (and you may visit the bullpen, weight room, batting cage, and team clubhouse), is twofold.
First, you get to enjoy Dodger Stadium when it is empty without the hustle and bustle of a capacity crowd, so you can actually soak in the actual beauty of the park. Secondly, the above photo is not possible during an actual game, without going to jail.
I took the regular Tour back in September 2021, and I was blown away by how thorough it was and how much of the park I saw, and the fact that I got to pose with the 2020 trophy. Based on what I know, if you want to be a completionist, you only need to do each tour once and these are separate tickets from actual game tickets.
Moreover, these tickets often sell out quickly, so I would plan and purchase them in advance. The last bit of advice apart from starting and stopping at the Top Deck, by the team store, is that you really should drive yourself as most rideshare drivers are confused by the fact they get to drive so far into the stadium parking lot. And it is quite surreal to navigate the Dodger Stadium parking lot when it is virtually empty.
- The Reserve Level
The seating here, once you actually get seated is delightful. For the view you get, the prices are normally quite reasonable (as I recall $50-70 depending on where; the higher up you go, usually the cheaper it is. However, for the playoffs - except to pay a mint for any seat at Dodger Stadium).
There are two items of note worth sharing as a warning. First, if you have big feet or suffer from vertigo, navigating the stairs in the section will be a challenge, especially if you are carrying something. The best advice I have is to eat before you sit. Second, as you can see from the photo, there’s netting. This netting is not solid, so stuff can and does fall from the upper deck to the folks below. If there was a solid grate there, I would feel far more secure if I was sitting in Row 1 of the section.
- The Field Level
If I were randomly going to see anywhere in Dodger Stadium, it would be in the vicinity of this perspective of the photo. You will likely pay about one hundred dollars for a seat here, but I have found you will be close enough to everything you would need during the game.
At worst, you can get something to eat from the Centerfield Pavilion, eat near there, and then return to your seat. As an additional bonus, the closest I have come to a foul ball was sitting in this section. Granted, it landed nowhere near me, but it was in the vicinity so I had to pay attention to my surroundings, which is solid advice whenever you are at a ballpark.
- The Home Run Seats
These seats are easily the most expensive appearing in this entry of the Guide, usually costing about $250/seat. Admittedly, it’s a gimmick - look how far away home plate is in the picture. There is a bit of a fishbowl effect, but you are literally approximately 390 feet away. Now, if you are lucky/unlucky a home run will come your way, especially if you are in Row 1. Seating here is extremely limited so you will need to plan ahead in order to sit here.
Food and drink (not including alcohol) are included with your ticket, so the only way to make the seat economically palatable is to exploit the heck out of the complimentary food by way of fasting for the day up to the game and then eating entirely at Dodger Stadium. It is ballpark food, so not exactly healthy but in moderation, you should be fine.
The other main feature of the Home Run Seats is the proximity to the AR Dugout where you can take virtual photos and videos in an approximation of the Dodger dugout, but I would do that prior to the game.
5. After your trip, is it worth going back?
After my many visits to Dodger Stadium, here is my rather obvious rating:
- Hey, that was fun! This trip needs to be a yearly event, if able!
Oddly enough, I would not get Season Tickets if I was able to for Dodger Stadium. I learned something important the hard way when I first moved to San Francisco: something special that occurs over and over merely becomes mundane. I went to every Dodgers/Giants game (with one exception in 2018), and by the end, I honestly felt like I was working, as I was going by myself for almost all of them.
Dodger Stadium is a gem and it demands your money and your patience as you try to get to and from the stadium, but if you are able to rise to the logistical and monetary challenges, you can truly revel in Our Blue Heaven as we continue to cheer on the Dodgers for years to come.