Turner Field: Baseball Gameday Guide


When the Atlanta Braves—a team that famously went "from worst to first" with their 1991 World Series win—play ball, die-hard fans turn out in droves. In fact, watching the team at Turner Field is one of the only reasons most OTP residents ever venture into the city proper. (This is an Atlanta term: OTP refers to living "outside the perimeter," or outside the I-285 loop that goes around the city.)

Turner Field (named for CNN founder and former Braves owner Ted Turner) is just a mile from the gold-domed Georgia Capitol building, yet its biggest criticism is that unlike ballparks in many other cities (Wrigley in Chicago or AT&T in San Francisco), "The Ted" doesn't have many food or drink offerings within walking distance. Most fans drink in their own neighborhood bars and then either take MARTA, ride bikes or drive over, or they show up really early and tailgate in the adjacent parking lots.

On game days, the atmosphere is convivial, family-friendly and festive, with both home-team fans and visitors getting into the spirit. The Ted itself is one of the most interactive MLB parks, with more than 500 monitors, high-tech surround sound and the Braves Vision video board that gives fans an up-close view of the on-field action.

Atlanta baseball has been the subject of some controversy lately, as the city announced in late 2013 that, when the Braves' lease of the stadium is up in 2016, the team will make the move to a yet-to-be-constructed field northwest of the city, in Cobb County. But until then, here's a guide to cheering the Bravos on at Turner Field. WHAT TO DO BEFORE A BRAVES GAME
shutterstock

When making the trek to Turner Field, you have two options: arrive a couple of hours early and set up your own tailgate, or pregame with a meal and drinks someplace else and come on down closer to game time.

WHERE TO GET A BEER
BYOB at Your Own Tailgate | Over the years, Turner Field has developed a pretty strong tailgating culture. The grassy center of the blue lot and the long sidewalk through the green lot host hundreds of tailgaters every game. If having someone serve you a brew is more your speed, swing into Bullpen Rib House. After you've gained a bit of a buzz (they also offer homemade moonshine), you're less than 500 feet away from The Ted.

WHERE TO GO WITH A GROUP
Republic Social House | This double-decker Grant Park restaurant is a favorite spot for fan clans to grab a bite and a pitcher of beer. The laid-back joint serves updated pub grub (the pretzel-crusted fried dill pickles are tasty and reasonable at $4.95) and has a spacious second-floor patio to kick back with a larger group of people. Hop in the car afterward for the mile-and-a-half drive to the stadium.

BEST NEIGHBORHOOD SPOT
Dakota Blue | Locals love this eclectic little Grant Park neighborhood eatery, owned by an equally eclectic husband-and-wife team (he's a former rocker and filmmaker, and she's a paralegal-turned-realtor). Their kitchen presents solid, Southwestern-influenced fare, including two tacos with a side of beans for the bargain price of $4.50. If you're attending a midday game on the weekend, you're in luck: This blue-walled restaurant is really known for its brunch (try the Grand Marnier French toast, $6.25). It's less than a five-minute drive to the field, without Atlanta's famous traffic.

WHERE TO GET ROWDY
Tin Lizzy's | Across the street from the Oakland Cemetery on Memorial drive, about a mile and a half from the field, sits Tin Lizzy's Cantina, Atlanta's favorite taqueria. Here, lively music plays all night for an even livelier crowd dancing and drinking on the spacious rooftop patio. The tex-mex fare is cheap and tasty, but let's be honest -– you're here for the drinks. The house margarita is one of the best in the city, but if you really want to get down to business (or if you're trying to drink off a Braves loss) try the "fall off the house" margarita, made with 100 proof high octane tequila.

WHERE TO HAVE A SIT-DOWN MEAL
Augustine's | Located just a few minutes (allow more time in game-day traffic, which can be brutal) west of Turner Field, this Memorial Drive outpost turns out smart cocktails, extensive beer offerings and delicious gastropub fare from the kitchen. Be sure to try the lamburger ($13, including a side of fries) with goat cheese, caramelized onions, pesto mayo and port reduction—it's hearty enough to tide you over through nine innings.

WHERE TO EAT OR DRINK WITH A VIEW
Six Feet Under | Atlanta has a majestic skyline, and this Grant Park restaurant's rooftop bar is one of the best places to take it all in before a Braves game. Just a five-minute drive (in normal traffic) from the stadium, come here to have some great Cajun-inspired seafood and an even better view. Insider tip: while the restaurant doesn't take reservations, they do call-ahead seating on the day you want to dine. Give them a ring when you're on your way to score a table faster and avoid missing out on the game.

CAN YOU TAILGATE AT TURNER FIELD?
Yes, tailgating is allowed in official Turner Field lots. You're allowed to grill in grassy areas, as long as you extinguish the coals. It's easy to find pockets of fans hosting family-friendly picnics and areas that attract more raucous get-togethers, so choose the spot that suits you and party on.

INSIDE TURNER FIELD
Getty

Atlanta loves her down-home fare, and Turner Field's food offerings do the Southern capital proud. With more than 110 places to grab a bite or a drink inside the stadium, many serving favorites from local chefs and brands, there really is something for everyone.

WHERE TO SIT
Fortunately for Braves fans, Turner Field doesn't really have any bad seats. If you're on a tight budget, the best thing to do is buy a nosebleed ticket –- usually $12 to $15 depending on the game. Then, post up with your buddies at one of the many standing bars sprinkled throughout the main level. You'll get a great view of the game, be close to food and drink vendors, and you won't blow your rent check for a good seat. For a rowdier experience, try the Outfield Pavilion, but beware of the hot summer sun.
Turner Field Seating Chart

BEST FOOD
Holeman & Finch Burger | This double-patty cheeseburger by James Beard Award–winning chef Linton Hopkins has a cult-like following in Atlanta. In the original Buckhead restaurant where it's served, only a handful of burgers go on offer each night at 10 p.m. However, if you're willing to wait in line (and pay the totally worth it price of $12) at either of the Outfield H&F Burger outposts, there's an excellent chance to score a juicy burger, topped with made-from-scratch ketchup and mustard. In fact, you'll have much better chance of noshing on this sought-after patty in the stadium than at the Buckhead restaurant.


BEST LOCAL VENDOR
Rathbun's | This namesake of local celebrity chef Kevin Rathbun offers one entree item: a mouthwateringly delicious steak sandwich ($16). Available on the Terrace Level near section 203, the pricy, melt-in-your mouth sammie is cut to order from mammoth slabs of sirloin and then topped with au jus and horseradish cream.


BEST BEER IN TURNER FIELD
SweetWater 420 at Fan Plaza Beer Island | Georgia's biggest craft brewery, staffers will pour local favorites, including 420 Extra Pale Ale (their tasty West coast–style pale ale), Blue, LowRYEder IPA, Georgia Brown and one seasonal offering from the on-brand tie dye–painted stand, which matches their psychedelic beer labels.


WHERE TO EAT HEALTHY
The Braves Chop House | Healthy fare isn't the first thing that comes to mind when thinking about food offerings at Turner Field. If you are looking for something that will be kind to your figure—or a vegetarian option—pick up the tasty black bean burger at the stadium's main restaurant. Get there early for a prime spot outside with a view of the pristine green of the outfield.

BEST STADIUM BAR
The Braves' Chop House | Again, the Braves Chop House for the win! This pub-fare restaurant has an indoor bar on the first floor, patio overlooking right field on the second, and a fully-stocked bar. So whether you prefer to drink beer, wine or something harder, you'll be in good company. Anyone—regardless of ticket—can come here, so get here early for a prime view.

OTHER THINGS TO SEE WHILE YOU'RE HERE
Monument Grove | For some Braves history, visit Monument Grove, adjacent to the ticket windows. The area feels like a park—with plenty of picnic tables and benches—and has statues of great players, including Hank Aaron, Ty Cobb and Phil Niekro. This area is also the site of the Braves' Walk of Fame, where you'll find base plate–shaped plaques with names like Ted Turner, former GM Bill Lucas and broadcaster Skip Caray (as well as noteworthy players) in the red brick walkway.

Superfan Tip: "After every Friday night game at Turner Field, fans are treated to the Southeast's #1 fireworks show. Sitting in a dim Turner Field, watching an impressive fireworks display over the city skyline is one of the best - and most "Atlanta" - things you could do during your trip to the city." –Aaron Chewning, @aaronchewning, die-hard Braves fan (and star of Braves' official 2014 "Chop Arm Strong" video) .

Turner Field Tours

BRAVES GAMES ON A BUDGET
AP

Like most MLB stadiums, food and drink (beyond peanuts and Cracker Jacks) can be a bit pricey at The Ted, especially compared to bargains to be found not far from the game. However, "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" doesn't have to be a budget-buster. Here are some ways to enjoy the game without spending a pretty penny.

WHERE TO GET A CHEAP BEER BEFORE THE GAME
Your Own Tailgate | Turner Field isn't known for its cheap drinks, but if you really want to do the experience bargain-style, plan to set up your own tailgate before the game. Otherwise, you'll be spending $7 or more per beer inside the home of the Braves.

BEST CHEAP BITES AROUND TURNER FIELD
Bullpen Rib House | This little BBQ joint is one of the only places in the immediate vicinity of the stadium to find a bite of any kind, but if you're looking for a tasty bargain, you're in luck. The most expensive sandwich on the menu (juicy beef brisket) is just $6.99. and comes with your choice of a side (the baked beans rock). Wash it all down with a locally brewed Sweetwater 420.

BEST CHEAP BRAVES TICKETS
If you have time to spare, go to the stadium early and buy a $1 Skyline ticket for the uppermost level. You must enter the stadium immediately after purchase, but you can't beat the price. Once inside the stadium you can pass the time by watching batting practice or warm ups, or visiting the Braves Museum.

TURNER FIELD WITH KIDS
AP

Parents of young Braves fans are in luck. The ultra–high tech Turner Field built in plenty to entertain even the littlest attendees.

WHERE TO GO BEFORE THE GAME WITH KIDS
Grant Central Pizza & Pasta | Less than 10 minutes from the field (and across the street from the zoo) Grant Central offers a relaxed atmosphere with excellent pizza, pasta and calzones. The sit-down restaurant is perfect for families looking to fuel up and has plenty of options for both kids and parents. The Chicken Florentine specialty pizza ($18 for a large) is a local favorite, or, if you're feeling adventurous, you can build your own pie from Grant Central's extensive topping list.

BEST FOOD FOR KIDS
The Braves Chop House | It might seem strange to suggest a pub and bar for little ones, but as the largest food and beverage outpost at The Ted, The Braves Chop House has plenty of kid-centric food offerings, including mini–corn dogs and chicken fingers. For kids who need to cool off, the entire stadium is peppered with Dippin' Dots stands.

WHERE TO GET AUTOGRAPHS
Turner Field makes it pretty easy for fans to score a player's autograph, since you can actually purchase on-field pre-game batting practice tickets ($60, in addition to the game ticket), with gates opening two hours before. You'll watch the action up-close, from a special gated area right behind home plate. If you like the pitchers, you can hang out near the bullpen in right field before the game for autographs. Pitcher Craig Kimbrel is always willing to sign balls—especially for kids. If you're a fan of the most die-hard variety, make the trek down to Florida for spring training, where an autograph is almost guaranteed.

NEED A BREAK DURING THE GAME?
Coca-Cola Sky Field in the Main Plaza has cool water misters, slides and a mini–baseball diamond where they can practice batting and running the bases. There's even a big screen, so parents can keep an eye on the game while the kids are blowing off steam. To find this (free) area, make your way toward the 42-foot-tall Coke bottle made of baseball equipment—you can't miss it.

WHERE TO BUY GEAR FOR THE KIDS
If you need to deck out the little ones, there's an Adidas Kids Store next to the Red Porch in center field. There are hats, shirts, jerseys and other swag in sizes to fit young fans of all ages.
WHAT TO DO AFTER A BRAVES GAME
Shutterstock

After a Braves game—win or lose—the vast majority of people go home or to some other favorite part of town. The roads around Turner tend to get clogged to the point that, unless it's a game for the record books, many fans start leaving before the end of the ninth.

WHERE TO KEEP THE PARTY GOING
Brewhouse Cafe | Just a short drive from Turner Field, this Moreland Avenue bar ("cafe" is a misnomer; don't let it scare you off) attracts a crowd of Braves fans. In fact, most of the employees here are big sports aficionados, so expect some lively commentary about the game along with your beer.

WHERE TO GET A POSTGAME MEAL
The Varsity | You'll smile even after a loss when one of the cashiers here yells "What'll ya have?" This Atlanta institution is open until 12:30 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, and until 11:30 p.m. on all other nights. It's conveniently located off I-75 / I-85 in downtown, so you can grab a pimento cheese–covered burger, icy "frosted orange" (like a creamsicle) and a side of crisp onion rings on your way home.

WHAT ELSE IS THERE TO DO NEARBY?
Walking wise? Not much. While there are a few options, Grant Park is about a mile away. There you'll find plenty of bars, restaurants and cafes to keep the party going. Plus, there are almost no dining or drinking options. Along the main drag, Memorial Drive, you've got options galore: Six Feet Under, Republic Social House, Tin Lizzy's and Octane Coffee are all terrific.

--
Travel writer Jennifer Bradley Franklin has called Atlanta home nearly all her life and enjoys few things more than visitors falling in love with her hometown. Certainly, the Braves (along with terrific food, great shopping and nearly year-round balmy weather) are a huge draw. Find and follow her at @JennBFranklin.