From the Super Bowl and the World Series to the Kentucky Derby and the Indianapolis 500, many Americans love sports and attending sporting events. While countless numbers of sporting events are held across the country, the opportunity to witness the most famous events can be the culmination of a lifelong dream. Regardless of the price and distance of travel, some premiere sporting events should be included on a sports fan’s bucket list. The following are five of the best American sporting events worth traveling to.
Known as the Great American Race, the Daytona 500 is widely considered the most prestigious race on the NASCAR circuit. Held annually in February at the Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, the 500-mile race features some of the best race car drivers in the world, such as Jimmie Johnson, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Jeff Gordon, and draws an estimated 250,000 spectators. Tickets are already available for the 2014 Daytona 500 on Sunday, February 23, with prices as low as $32. While the Daytona 500 is a single-day event, NASCAR fans can actually camp right next to the speedway for an additional fee with advanced reservations.
The Super Bowl is widely considered the biggest American sporting event of the year and is treated almost like a national holiday. The NFL championship game is also one of the most watched events on television with more than 111 million people watching Super Bowl XLVII. Unfortunately, the face value of a single ticket to the 2014 Super Bowl has skyrocketed to $2,600, which for many Americans, is an average monthly salary. Nevertheless, with the 2014 Super Bowl being held at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey, it might well be worth the cost for fans to watch their favorite NFL team compete for the Vince Lombardi Super Bowl trophy and the prestige of being the best football team in the NFL.
The Masters Tournament
The Masters Tournament, or simply the Masters, is one of golf’s four major championships and arguably the most prestigious tournament a professional golfer hopes to win. An invitation-only event first held in 1934, the tournament takes place annually at the Augusta National Golf Club, widely recognized as one of world’s finest golf courses. Since 1949, the Masters winner has been awarded the coveted “green jacket” and inclusion into the exclusive club of Masters champions, featuring a bevy of golf legends, including Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson. Due to its immense worldwide popularity, tickets for the 2014 Masters Tournament have already sold out well in advance, although some tickets may be found through the secondary market albeit at higher prices. Even if fans can’t make it to next year’s tournament, it should be high on their list of must-see sporting events.
U.S. Open Tennis
One of four Grand Slam tournaments in professional tennis, the U.S. Open is held annually at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows, New York. With several events held over a two-week period, visitors have the opportunity to see many of the world’s greatest tennis players, especially during the first week of play, where several matches are played simultaneously across the 46-acre complex. Tickets for most of the two-week matches can be obtained without much difficulty, although price and demand soars for the men’s and women’s finals during the last two days of the tournament. The U.S. Open is easily accessible by New York City’s public transit system by taking the 7 Flushing subway line or the Long Island Railroad from Manhattan to the Mets-Willets Point Station.
With a rich American history dating back to 1869, baseball has long been considered America’s pastime, like hot dogs and apple pie. While some sports fans may argue that professional football has surpassed Major League Baseball in popularity, the baseball championship matching the best teams from the American League and National League remains one of the best sporting events worth traveling to in the country not only for the thrill of the games, but for its rich, cultural importance. Some of the most iconic names in American sports have participated in the Fall Classic, including Babe Ruth, Ty Cobb, Lou Gehrig, Ted Williams and Willie Mays. Although prices for a World Series game remain high, starting at $125 for the 2013 World Series, it’s far more affordable than the cost of going to the Super Bowl.
Randy Yagi is a freelance writer covering all things San Francisco. In 2012, he was awarded a Media Fellowship from Stanford University. His work can be found on Examiner.com Examiner.com.