Destination: Rites of Swing
For baseball fans, spring sparks thoughts of trips to Florida or Arizona for the all-too-popular spring training. Those who want to do more than just watch others swing the bat might consider another destination: San Diego, home of the Padres. The Padres, who are typically so-so, are showing signs of a reversal of fortune this year. More to the point, this is a town where you can not only stay at a great hotel, eat fantastically well and watch hope-filled baseball—you can also rent out a major league stadium and take to the field yourself.
BEFORE YOU GO
A hardcore baseball getaway requires the best equipment you can find, so have a bespoke bat made by Tucci Lumber. The Norwalk, Conn., company was founded by former Triple-A minor leaguer Pete Tucci, who was on the Padres’ 40-man roster when his career was cut short by a hand injury. Tucci’s handcut maple and ash bats are currently used by more than 130 MLB players.
Now 11 years old, Petco Park was built around the Western Metal Supply building, a 1909 structure that has been repurposed with suites, a restaurant and a rooftop deck, connecting this stadium to the history of San Diego’s Gaslamp Quarter. When the Padres aren’t home, fans can actually rent Petco for their own games. In addition to on-field play, rental packages can include everything from meals and behind-the-scenes tours to pitching instruction, anthem singers and personal trading cards. (Packages start at $18,500 for two hours of play for up to 50 guests.
OFF THE FIELD
A short drive across the bay is the Hotel del Coronado, a Victorian landmark. Its Beach Village cottage suites provide prime access to the ocean and you can book private chef dinners. If the ocean isn’t for you, the Grand del Mar just north of the city offers villa accommodations, a Tom Fazio–designed golf course and an equestrian center. Relais & Châteaux grand chef William Bradley runs its on-site restaurant, Addison, which has a spectacular wine program.