Thanks to TravelAndLeisure.com for this week’s top 10: america’s most sports-crazed cities. You can read the full list here.
Heartaches over the years may have only deepened the fans’ commitment. To mingle (or commiserate) with locals—who, alas, don’t rank well in the survey for being athletic themselves—check out a Chickie’s and Pete’s sports bar, and try the famous “crab fries.” Or, make like Rocky, and run up and down the steps at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
With seven championships in 11 years—from the Bruins, Celtics, Patriots, and Red Sox—Boston fans have plenty to be proud of. Not that they would gloat—of course not—but Boston locals are also pretty brainy and tech-savvy, according to voters. Sports tourists can explore Fenway (which celebrates its centennial in 2012), or follow in the footsteps of Boston champions by doing a Duck Tour, which every big team has done after bringing home a title since 2000.
Wrigley attracts plenty of stadium purists—you can take insider tours around the field, dugout, and press box—and it may have helped the city score at the top for its cool local architecture. Another way to experience the sports scene is to chow down: at Michael Jordan’s Steak House, Harry Caray’s Italian Steakhouse, or on the more casual end, Pequod’s Pizza. The latter is covered with Blackhawks memorabilia and is an excellent place to sample the city’s top-ranked pizza.
4. New Orleans
“Who dat?” indeed: the city that won the survey for civic pride, wild weekends, and live music knows how to shower affection upon its beloved Saints. If you’re in town on a game day, head to Champions Square, just outside the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, for music, local cuisine, and the chance to embrace another great spectator sport: people-watching, another survey category that New Orleans has won yet again.
Fans in the Mile High City may harbor fantasies of being called in from the stands to help Tim Tebow win the game. It wouldn’t be a bad idea: the locals rank as the most athletic in the nation, according to voters.
The survey’s champion for affordability has a serious case of basketball fever: every March, Kansas City hosts more college basketball games than anywhere else in the country. It’s also a great destination for fans of sports museums—notably, the interactive College Basketball Experience and the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum. Just don’t miss a chance for tailgating-style cuisine: this year, Kansas City also won the barbecue category.
7. San Juan
This is the only city in the survey where the word football usually means soccer, but San Juan sports fans also have passion for boxing and baseball. It has hosted the Caribbean World Series nine times. Voters also gave the city high marks for its hotel options—the Ritz-Carlton’s casino is a popular place to watch games—but you can get year-round baseball magic, as well as margaritas, at Old San Juan’s Lupi’s, owned by former Yankee Eduardo Figueroa.
Camden Yards—two blocks from Babe Ruth’s birthplace, and the first of the new traditionalist stadiums—celebrates its 20th anniversary next year, and it’s a must-stop for baseball stadium lovers. For football-related thrills, look for Ravens refueling along Water Street at spots such as the Havana Club and the local Ruth’s Chris.
9. Dallas/Fort Worth
While still heartsick over the Rangers’ World Series loss, Dallas fans do have the NBA champion Mavericks—and a love-hate relationship with the over-the-top Dallas Cowboys Stadium. But you don’t need stadium tickets to hang with fans: at downtown’s Victory Park, you can watch the local teams’ away games on moving TV screens. It may be the best entertainment in town, according to voters, who ranked Big D near the bottom for theater.
10. Providence, RI
Rhode Island sports enthusiasts are often happy to hop a train to support Boston teams. But if you’re staying local, the Dunkin’ Donuts Center—home of the beloved Providence College Friars basketball—is well situated near some of the city’s highly ranked micropubs, such as Trinity Brewhouse and Union Station. Locals also love the AAA baseball Pawtucket Red Sox, whose stadium was home to the longest game in professional baseball history (33 innings).
Click here to read ‘The top 20 Sports-Crazed Cities’
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