Widely regarded as one of the best stadiums in Major League Baseball, AT&T Park is the home of the San Francisco Giants and also hosts concerts and other large gatherings. Even when the game isn't going so well it's got fantastic bay and city views plus top-notch food for those who want more than a hot dog and a beer. It's not as notoriously cold and windy as its predecessor, Candlestick Park, but the breeze is still a factor. Because it's built in a neighborhood parking is the biggest issue, but fortunately public transportation to the park is extensive and highly recommended. Besides, how many times can you take a ferry to a baseball game?
AT&T Park parking
For a ballpark that seats close to 42,000 people, there are only 4,000 official cash-only parking spots south of the stadium and day of game parking in the lots is first come, first serve. This makes things tricky when arriving by car. There are several private lots around the stadium and north towards the Bay Bridge, but pricing for all lots varies wildly. During the 2014 playoffs some lots were charging $100 a car and getting it. Street parking is highly restricted around the park- there's a two hour maximum until 11 p.m. during the season. Using public transportation is your best bet to minimize frustration.
Hotels near AT&T Park
While new construction in San Francisco may someday include hotels closer to AT&T Park, the most convenient place is probably the Hyatt Regency on the Embarcadero. It's right across from the Ferry Building, about a mile away from the park. Any of the hotels near Fisherman's Wharf and Pier 39 are also just a streetcar ride away — little more than two miles from the park.
Seating at AT&T Park
In a stadium that seats 42,000, there aren't any bad seats. The upper level seats are known as "View Reserve," and from there you can see the game and all the happenings in the bay. The seats on the first base and right field side look westwards towards the Bay Bridge, third base and left field lets you look at the East Bay. Bleacher seats are reasonably priced most of the time and are close to large play areas- key to a successful family outing. Thanks to "Dynamic Pricing," cost varies wildly throughout the park depending on who's in town and what time the game starts.
Food at AT&T Park
Garlic fries are the park's signature food, available at Gilroy Garlic Fry in several locations. If that's not enough garlic there's also a 40-clove garlic chicken sandwich available as well at A Taste of North Beach. Since it's San Francisco, you can also get a crab sandwich at the Crazy Crab Wharf near center field or an Irish Coffee just as if you were at the famous Buena Vista Café at the Cable Car Bar (multiple locations as well). There are gluten-free and vegetarian options as well. If you can find it in San Francisco, you can likely find it at the ballpark.
Beer at AT&T Park
Ballpark beers are about $10 depending on the size and what your taste is. Canned domestics are less, while draft microbrews are more. Avoid competing with the kids at the food lines and find a beer or cocktail-only place. Do a little wandering around before you purchase, as selection varies from stand to stand. There's also a selection of wine, and the Cable Car Bars have other cocktails and beer in addition to the Irish Coffees.
Parking alternatives at AT&T Park
Avoid driving to a game if at all possible. SF traffic around gametime is tough any day of the week and parking is always limited. Take a boat for the complete experience. Ferry boats run directly to the park from Larkspur, Oakland, Alameda, and Vallejo, and get there in time for first pitch and leave about a half-hour to 45 minutes after the last out. Round-trip tickets must be purchased in advance with the ferry company, as there is no way to buy a ticket at the stadium for a one-way trip back. Regular ferries land at the Ferry Building about a mile north of the park for a scenic walk to and from the park, but don't run late enough for night games. City busses and streetcars have stations very close to the park and run frequently even when there isn't a game.
What to bring to AT&T Park
Since the stadium is on the water, even a sunny day game can bring a chill when the breeze kicks up, and it always does. Sunscreen is also recommended for day games, as the glare from the water and the direct sun can burn. Go without a long-sleeve shirt at your own risk. Only small (16"x16") bags can be brought into the park and there are no bag checks, so make sure your tote is compatible before you leave for the game.
Insider tip for AT&T Park
If you're going to a day game and you're not already in SF, take a regular ferry from across the bay and walk to the park. There's not a lot of time to linger before or after the game if you're taking the special game ferry. A regular ferry allows you to take your time, stop in at the Public House before the game and use the hidden entrance to the park.
Author's bio: Alex Drude is a Bay Area native. He takes the regular ferry to all day games and only gets garlic fries when with first-timers. Follow his sports and travel musings on Twitter @Alex_Drude and on Facebook.