Discover the Best Places for Sports Fans To Travel
- Miami, FL, is the best city for sports fan vacations, followed by Minneapolis, MN.
- San Antonio, TX, is the lowest-ranked vacation destination for sports fans.
- Florida sports fans will travel the farthest to watch their teams play: Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Miami Heat, and Tampa Bay Rays.
- Fans of the Arizona Cardinals, Dallas Mavericks, and Washington Nationals are willing to spend the most money on away games.
A Guide to Sports-Centric Vacations
For sports fans, a vacation is more than just an opportunity to relax and recharge. Whether following their favorite team to an away game, checking out local sports bars, or enjoying the thrill of sports betting, dedicated fans prefer their adventures centered around the spirit of competition.
To find out just how dedicated team fans are, we surveyed 1,005 sports fans in the U.S. about their favorite teams and average game season travel. We also used Yelp data to evaluate and determine the best U.S. cities for sports-centric vacations. Let’s tee up and kick off!
Score a Dream Vacation
There are lots of options for sports-related activities while on vacation, but some cities cater to sports fans more than others. We ranked 42 major sports cities across eight categories to find the top sports hot spots in the country.
Home to many major sports franchises, Miami earned bragging rights as the best vacation destination for sports fans, scoring 45 out of a possible 100 points. The Magic City boasts some of the country’s best stadiums, facilities, and hotels. Sports fans can catch live games in the often sunny afternoons and then travel around the city and enjoy high-quality accommodations at night.
Following Miami, Minneapolis ranked second. The Minnesota city scored highest for best stadiums and arenas, making it a premier destination for live games. Rounding out the top three was Washington, D.C., home to 2018 Stanley Cup Champions, the Washington Capitals and 2019 World Series Champs, the Washington Nationals.
On the other end of the field, San Antonio, TX, fumbled its way as the lowest-ranked city for sports vacations, followed by Jacksonville, FL, and San Diego.
Sports City Standings
Let’s take a closer look at our sports vacation city ratings and check out the five top cities within each category.
If you’re looking to take in a big game, sports stadiums and arenas in Minneapolis, Miami, and Oakland were rated the best in the country. For a pre or post-game drink, Wisconsin’s sports bars have you covered, as Green Bay and Milwaukee ranked first and second among city sports pubs. Meanwhile, Vegas earned top honors as the gold standard for sports betting and casinos. Sin City raked in over $1 billion per month in casino earnings over the last two years.
If shopping is more your game, consider a trip to Orlando or Pittsburgh for top-rated sportswear, or head to Buffalo or Salt Lake City for winning sports equipment shops. If you prefer to play in the game rather than simply spectate, Oakland and Boston earned the highest marks for their sports facilities. As for where to head when your sports-filled day is over, hotels in Miami and Washington, D.C., were the best for winding down.
While nice hotels are certainly a perk, many fans have one main goal on a sports vacation: supporting the team. How far will fans travel to root for their favorite teams, and how often do they venture into rival territory?
On average, fans ventured out to 2.7 away games per season and traveled just over 141 miles per game. But some teams inspired more dedicated travel. In the NBA, Brooklyn Nets fans attended an average of 3.7 away games per season, a full game more than the overall average. In the NFL, Cardinals and Ravens fans were the most dedicated, heading to 3.5 away games, and in the MLB, Padres fans attended the most at 3.4 away games.
Some fans may attend fewer away games, but their dedication shows in the sheer number of miles they’re willing to travel—and Florida fans go the distance. Going farther per game than any other fans in the leagues, Tampa Bay Buccaneers fans traveled over 205 miles on average, Miami Heat fans almost 176 miles on average, and Tampa Bay Rays fans over 182 miles on average.
Wherever fans went, 87% typically traveled by car to get there. With current gas prices lower than last year, fans may be able to squeeze in an extra game this season.
Making a Game Plan
As 2023 rolls along, some fans are already planning their sports vacations. How much do fans spend on an average sports-related trip, and what are the most important considerations when planning?
Overall, fans spent just shy of $360 to attend away games, including transportation, lodging, and food. But fans were willing to spend significantly more—up to $620 per game on average and higher for individual teams. Fans of the Washington Nationals ($752), Arizona Cardinals ($828), and Dallas Mavericks ($1,049) were willing to shell out the most among the three major leagues.
With no small chunk of change needed for these sports vacations, almost one-quarter of respondents said they set aside 5% of their monthly salary to save up for away games. Fans were careful when spending this hard-earned money, as 81% considered travel costs when planning a sports trip. To help offset costs, most respondents used travel websites or searched for favorable flight deals when building their trip itineraries.
For the Win
Sports fans are a dedicated group, spending weeknights and weekends cheering on their favorite teams at home and spending cold, hard cash to support them on the road. Willing to travel over 150 miles and spend anywhere from $300 to $1,000 to attend a single away game, fans prove their dedication each season as they follow their teams across the country. From Miami to Minneapolis to Washington, D.C., there are tons of great cities for sports fans to flock to. So grab your favorite jersey, some face paint, and a fellow fan and head out to your team’s next game to cheer them on to (a hopeful) victory.
The metaranking for the best cities for vacations for sports fans synthesized the following variables per city:
- Professional sports teams
- Stadiums and arenas per 10,000 residents
- Sports bars per 10,000 residents
- Sports betting and casinos per 10,000 residents
- Sportswear stores per 10,000 residents
- Sporting goods stores per 10,000 residents
- Hotels per 10,000 residents
- Sports facilities per 10,000 residents
We used Yelp data for all variables, except for the number of professional sports teams. The data shown represent places with a rating of at least 3.5 on Yelp.
We also surveyed 1,005 sports fans. Among them, 58% were men, 41% were women, and 2% preferred not to answer.
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Fair Use Statement
Know any sports fans looking for a great place to travel? Feel free to share these findings for noncommercial purposes, but provide a link back to this page so readers can access our full sports travel stats.