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Top 10 Sports Road Trip Destinations in the Northeast

Ryan FallerAnalyst IFebruary 10, 2011

Top 10 Sports Road Trip Destinations in the Northeast

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    Elsa/Getty Images

    "Road trippin', road trippin', we're not happy unless we're road trippin'."

    The above should be the official anthem for any adventurous sports fanatic.

    Sure, spectating at local games is a delight, but there's a whole nation out there filled with wildly entertaining and historically significant venues that dot the landscape from coast-to-coast and everywhere in-between.

    So get out there and find them. But before departure, use the following as your guide.

    There are any number of great sports road trip destinations that await you, but we had to draw the line somewhere.

    For us, 100 seemed like a nice, round number, including 10 apiece from 10 distinct regions around the U.S.

    [Getting a little sick of this intro? Yeah, me too. Don't worry, we're almost through.]

    The second-to-last installment in our trip across the nation to find the ultimate sports road trip destinations brings us to the Northeast, where baseball cathedrals—both new and old—dominate.

10. USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center

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    Nick Laham/Getty Images

    If you favor tennis, the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center is your playground.

    Located in Flushing Meadows, N.Y., it’s the largest public tennis facility in the world and features more than three dozen hard and clay courts available for public use seven days a week, for 11 months out of the year.

    But don’t think you can just strap on some kind of John McEnroe-inspired garb, grab a buddy and waltz right into Arthur Ashe Stadium, the largest tennis-only venue in existence. Not gonna happen.

    But hey, if you’ve fooled yourself into thinking you could someday qualify for the U.S. Open, the facility’s premiere event, the friendly instructional staff would be glad to help you there.

9. Carrier Dome

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    Chris Chambers/Getty Images

    On February 27, 2010, Syracuse Orange basketball set a personal attendance record with 34,616 fans. If the figure sounds high for a hoops battle, that's because it is.

    No arena outside those used for NCAA Regional Finals and Final Fours—most of which are football-only facilities—are capable of holding so many bodies, but this is the norm for the largest on-campus basketball facility in the nation.

    Since opening in 1980, the Carrier Dome has welcomed a crowd in excess of 30,000 a reported 68 times. In those games, Syracuse has posted a record of 46-22.

8. Yankee Stadium

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    Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

    Not exactly the "House That Ruth Built" anymore, New Yankee Stadium doesn’t have much on its holy predecessor, at least in terms of nostalgia. But it’s not even three seasons old yet, so give it time—this is the Yankees we’re talking about.

    Luckily for baseball purists, the organization decided to replicate many of the details that played a partial role in the old stadium's greatness: The iconic white frieze ringing the top of the stadium, the familiar layout of the seats and even the outfield dimensions were retained, down to the very last inch.

    All of which are just waiting to be made part of another few generations of World Series titles in New York.

7. Yale Bowl

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    Chris Trotman/Getty Images

    According to Yale University’s official athletics website, the Yale Bowl was the first stadium to feature seating that “completely surrounded the field” when it opened just in time for the Harvard game some 97 years ago.

    So, I guess you could say the Bulldogs paved the way, specifically designer Charles A. Ferry, an alumnus who referred to the then-61,000-seat “amphitheater” as the “largest structure of the kind in the world,” while composing a synopsis published by the American Society of Civil Engineers in 1917.

6. PNC Park

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    ESPN.com baseball writer Jim Caple once compared PNC Park to famed architect Frank Lloyd Wright’s Falling Water, a historical landmark widely regarded as one of the most wondrous feats of modern architecture. But Caple is not alone.

    Since its opening in 2001, PNC Park has drawn rave reviews from far and wide, praised for not only its intimacy, but also for the manner in which it effortlessly weaves the fabric of Pirates history into the character of the city of Pittsburgh.

    So highly regarded is PNC Park that many parks that have succeeded it have borrowed some of its elements—most notably Citi Field in New York.

5. Belmont Park

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    Al Bello/Getty Images

    Site of the third leg of the Triple Crown, Belmont Park is home to Big Sandy, a moniker given to the complex’s dirt racetrack, which stretches a mile-and-a-half and is the longest in North America.

    Through the years—since 1905, to be exact—many a hoof have pounded the surface at Belmont, often times to the roar of crowds that have exceeded 100,000.

    Undoubtedly, the most revered of those runs belongs to Secretariat, who set a world record that still stands today in the 1973 Belmont Stakes, winning the race by 31 lengths with a time of two minutes and 24 seconds.

4. Bethpage Black

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    Lucas Glover tees off during the 2009 U.S. Open Championship at Bethpage Black. Glover would win the tournament.Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images

    Bethpage State Park in Farmingdale, N.Y. covers 1,476 acres and is littered with multiple recreational offerings for nearby Long Islanders.

    Parkgoers enjoy activities that include tennis, picnicking and golf, which is laid out over five different courses. But among the Bethpage links lies the Black Course, a hell-spawn so diverse in its difficulty that in 2002 it became the first-ever public course to host a U.S. Open.

    A menacing combination of narrow fairways, thick rough and small, slick greens, Bethpage Black brought all but one of the world’s top golfers to their knees that year, as Tiger Woods won the tourney as the only player to finish under par.

    But the main story were the crowds, which resembled the patrons at a fraternity toga party with their overly boisterous behavior and they served as one of the reasons the Open returned to Bethpage just seven years later.

3. Cooperstown

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    Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

    The diminutive village of Cooperstown, New York, has become a popular metonymy in the lexicon of American sports.

    Home to no more than 2,100 people, it’s 1.6 square miles overflowing with enough history, particularly literary, to rival some cities.

    First and foremost though, Cooperstown is the Baseball Hall of Fame, the epicenter through which legions of fans, young and old, pass to get a full-frontal view of the allure that is our national pastime.

    Plaques commemorating the Hall’s members line the wooden walls and more than 38,000 three-dimensional artifacts are spread out over the museum’s three floors, giving fans a tangible look at where the game has been, where it is now and where it will be.

2. Beaver Stadium

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    Hunter Martin/Getty Images

    Not that 107,282 fans are less intimidating any other time of day, but night games at Penn State’s Beaver Stadium are truly a spectacle to behold.

    When the sunlight fades, this shrine of Nittany Lion football takes on an eerie glow, emitted by the renowned “White Out,” a tradition ignited by students in 2004 that has since matured into a fan base trademark and a staple of select fall Saturdays in Happy Valley.

    The sea of illumination at Beaver Stadium has become so effective that Penn State was challenged in court in 2007 by the NHL’s Phoenix Coyotes, who claimed to have coined the phrase dating back to the franchise’s days as the Winnipeg Jets.

1. Fenway Park

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    The Green Monster. Pesky’s Pole. The Triangle. Williamsburg. Outfield walls composed of obtuse angles. The Fenway-Kenmore neighborhood providing a rustic background, matched only by Wrigleyville in Chicago.

    Fenway Park is like a time warp, a portal through which you are transported from an era of corporate-branded BS, signage and advertisements to a simpler time, when the intimacy of the ballpark experience wasn’t strained or feigned.

    Fenway is one of Major League Baseball’s few remaining relics and it should be treated as such. It is, in summation, pure bliss and the ultimate slice of Americana.

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