As we approached Marlins Park from the east, we were both excited to see that the side panels were open. Baseball is best experienced outside, especially on a beautiful day such as March 29. We arrived around 11 a.m. and parked easily in the Third Base garage, having paid for it ahead of time online.
Since we were not meeting the representatives from Our Kids of Miami-Dade/Monroe until noon, we decided to walk around and soak in the opening-day vibe. Walking along the North side, the excitement grew as the music got louder, and when we passed the inflatable Marlins’ “M” and the Home Plate Entrance we found the source. A local radio station was spinning tunes while kids, and some adults, had a blast dancing.
When we got back to the Third Base entrance, Dudly of Our Kids was handing out the tickets donated by the Marlins to the children and families. (Don’t miss Ron’s interview with Michael Williams, the COO of Our Kids, who talks about the role they play and how you can get involved.)
As we waited to enter, we saw the roof retracting. Where there had been white, there was now a gorgeous blue sky. We were ready for some regular-season baseball.
Here’s what we each thought about the experience.
Patti says: (2.5 RVs)
We cannot speak to the public transportation options. (According to marlins.com, there is a dedicated express shuttle to the ballpark.) The pre-purchase option is very nice in that you are assured a spot and know exactly where to go. There are also over 8,000 “off-site” spaces within 5/8 of a mile, because local property owners charge around $20 for people to park in their home spaces/lots. However, traffic to get into the area is very congested. We hit the sweet spot and arrived at 11 a.m. for a 12:40 p.m. start.
As Patti said, Marlins Park is not exactly easy to get to. It’s in a residential neighborhood with narrow streets. There is ample parking near the stadium, but traffic in and out can be a nightmare.
While the opening day activities outside the stadium were not as prolific as I have experienced in Saint Louis, the music and dancing was fun. Inside, the views of the field and downtown Miami are great and the Marlins give the fans plenty of opportunities to get engaged. Those who were there clapped along and chanted “Let’s Go Marlins” like in the best of atmospheres. However, even though I loved the Bobblehead Museum and the excitement the Marlins tried to generate, what keeps me from giving a 4 is the lack of numbers of fans.
This place has the potential to be great, but it lacks the people. Miami is often criticized for not being a good sports town and, even for opening day, the locals were outnumbered by the many Cubs fans who made the trip to South Florida.
The Marlins do try to create a fun atmosphere for fans and things like the Pachanga band playing between the seventh and eighth innings definitely helps.
— Ron Clements (@Ron_Clements) March 29, 2018
Even with such a fun group trying to entertain fans, you can see many simply ignored them. Again, the fans help create a great baseball atmosphere and it’s the crowd Marlins Park lacks to make it great.
There was a great variety of options, one of which was a section of vendors called “Taste of Miami.” Given our penchant for going local, this was perfect for us. Patti had a media noche sandwich while Ron tried Mama’s lechon nachos. Both were delicious.
The ticket prices are very reasonable, as low as $15 for some games. Also, one can get a bottomless soda in a souvenir cup for $8 and a bottomless popcorn for $10. A family could easily get one of each and share. There are plenty of self service stations for beverage refills. The other concession prices were also very reasonable and lower than many other MLB parks.
Charging stations were available at multiple locations in the stadium. One could also record a video, giving feedback to the Marlins in the Dímelo (Tell Me) kiosk. Your video would be sent to you and if chosen, you could win tickets to a future game.
After the game, we wanted to find the best Cuban Sandwich in town and to explore South Beach. So on recommendation from Flora of Our Kids, we went to David’s Café. The sandwich was good, but we both agreed that the homemade empanada was the best one either of us had ever tasted. We hope to return and spend more time in Miami and will definitely go back to David’s for an empanada and to try another dish.
Next we walked to the beach and strolled along the Art Deco district. The architecture lives up to the name and the place is hopping. As seen in movies and TV, there are guys working out at the park next to the beach and people running and biking. The beach itself is very wide, but the weather was a bit chilly so it wasn’t in its full glory, we suspect. We could tell it wasn’t the best beach we’ve ever seen, though. Yes, there is white sand, but it’s a bit rough.
We enjoyed tasty, though rather pricey, drinks at Down N Dirty Taco. We were paying for drinks and a show, as it was prime people watching territory. And well, it’s Miami. Patti’s mojito was delish and the experience was worth it in her opinion.
As we walked back to the car, we passed the Carlyle, where the Birdcage was filmed. Of course, we got many photos of that and other parts of the Art Deco district. Check out our gallery. We also walked thru a residential area and Flamingo park. We were wowed by the park’s amenities and size. First we passed people playing soccer and softball, then we saw basketball courts, racquetball courts, and a pool. It is clear why people love this area and there is indeed much to see and do. People were out taking advantage of it on this lovely Thursday night.
We can’t wait to go back and spend more time there. We’d love to experience this area like a local… and maybe treat ourselves a bit as well.