Whether you are a visitor planning a trip to the Washington, D.C., or a long-time resident who just wants to enjoy more of the city flavor, there isn’t a better place to see the community at play and absorb some hometown pride than at a Washington Nationals baseball game.
The stadium has enough prime seating, extra shopping and special events to make a whole day out of the trip–but many Washingtonians will also drop by after work just to see a couple of innings at one of the very affordable weekday evening games.
Below is a guide to the essentials you should know before donning your “W” cap and heading to the stands. Think of it as a brief primer on the home team, how to get tickets and get to Nats park, and what to keep an eye out for while you’re there.
Now… play ball!
Table of Contents
- 1 History of the Nationals
- 2 Nationals Wins
- 3 How to Buy Nationals Tickets
- 4 How to get to Nationals Park
- 5 Things to know about Nationals Park Seating
- 6 Navigating Nationals Park
- 7 Nationals Park Food not to miss
- 8 Understanding a Nationals Game
- 9 What to Wear to a Washington Nationals Game
- 10 Pin it! And start planning!
History of the Nationals
The Washington Nationals are a newer franchise than most MLB teams, having started their first season in spring of 2005. After the stadium was moved to its current home on South Capitol Street overlooking the Anacostia River, Mark Lener became the owner of the Nationals, following his father Ted Lerner.
East Division titles
In the span of 15 years, the Nationals won four East Division titles, making quite a few playoff runs in the major leagues. However, it was not until the 2019 season that they truly made their mark on the MLB scene.
Nationals 2019 World Series Champions
The Nationals started off rocky that season, ending May with a .1% chance of winning the World Series, but by the end of September they made it to the playoffs in a wildcard game… and won.
The following October, the Nationals went on to win the National League pennant, and won all three playoff series, leaving them finally World Series Champions.
The Nationals’ underdog story is one of the greatest in MLB history, led by manager Mike Rizzo and by Ryan Zimmerman, the last Nationals player still on the team since their very first season in 2005.
Nationals fans tend to be enthusiastic and die-hard; some call their wins “curly Ws” after their logo.
As the Nationals kept winning in the fall of 2019, the stadium was filled with red nearly every night, for loud and energetic home games, and the nearly just as loud free-admission “watch parties” at the park for away games.
But every home game brings a lot of energetic fun, regardless of whether the Nats rack up another curly W.
Nats Park Hosts the Homerun Derby and All-Star Game
Nats Park hasn’t just hosted MLB games during its 12 years of being open; in 2018, the Nationals hosted the league-wide homerun derby and the all-star game.
Nationals fans got to watch as Bryce Harper, a former hero of the Nationals, won the homerun derby in his home stadium in front of a roaring crowd.
Very rarely do home crowds get to witness their very own player win the derby, and although this was not a regular season game win, it was a historic curly W for the Nationals and their fans.
How to Buy Nationals Tickets
It’s pretty easy to find inexpensive tickets to a Nationals game online, at the box office right in front of the stadium, or sporadically from sellers outside the stadium.
Buying Nationals Tickets Online
Online sites such as Ticketmaster, vivid seats, stubhub, mlb.com, and seatgeek can all be used to review schedules and pricing, and to purchase tickets.
Box Office Ticket Purchases
At the box office, you can only purchase tickets for that day’s game, and while there are almost always some tickets available, if you are in a large group there is a greater chance you will not all be able to sit together.
Average price for Nats tickets
No matter where you buy your Nationals tickets, they will most likely be relatively cheap. During the regular season, there are multiple games each week, so a single good seat is usually available for $35-55.
Normally weekend night games are likely to cost more, along with Nationals swag give-away days, while weekday daytime games are your best option for cheap seats.
Cheapest Ticket Days
Each website offers tickets that are relatively close in price, but buying tickets day-of for weekday games, whether online or at the window, will be the cheapest option.
Group ticket sales
Before purchasing, consider whether you might bring a large group or go to more than one game during the season—the Nationals website may provide special deals for loyal customers.
How to get free Nationals tickets
And if you have friends who work in the area, see if they have an extra ticket or two lying around: it is very common to see them given out as corporate gifts, raffle prizes or work benefits.
How to get to Nationals Park
Nationals Park is located in Southeast DC, with the closest Metro stop on the same block.
Metro to Nationals Park
The Navy Yard/Ballpark Metro subway station is serviced only by Green line trains; if you come into town on a train that is not on the Green line, be sure to add in some time to make a transfer.
Most riders can transfer easily at L’Enfant Plaza onto the Green line toward Branch Ave., but Red line riders will have to transfer to another line first.
If you get lost, just follow the growing, enthusiastic crowd of Metro riders wearing red and white (and remember, you have to Metro back home with all of them, so factor in extra commuting time accordingly)!
Driving to Nationals Park
For motorists, the road leading up to the main entrance is blocked off from car traffic for pedestrian fans entering the park, but if you approach from surrounding streets you can get fairly close to the stadium before you need to find a parking lot.
Nationals Park Parking Tips
Parking at Nationals Stadium can be both limited and expensive. However, if you arrive early there are smaller lots that are slightly farther away from the stadium, but still walkable, and less expensive than the lots attached to the stadium.
The lots attached to the stadium are located on N & First Street, and N & South Capitol Street.
However, parts of N street can be blocked off close to game time, so arrive early and expect traffic. Parking at the stadium varies in price, but can cost between $20-50.
Metro-ing, using a rideshare service, or using an app like Spot Hero can help avoid the most exorbitant parking fees.
Things to know about Nationals Park Seating
Nationals Park seating is positioned in a large U shape, with many rows of seats rising up from the field and two smaller levels of balcony seats. The ticket prices vary by height.
100 Level Seats
The 100 level, closet to the field, is very expensive and largely reserved for season ticket holders’ seats.
This level can leave you out in the sun or higher up with some shade, as the U shape makes for a range of very different seat orientations.
200 Level Seats
The 200 level seats are further from the field on the first level: less expensive than the 100s, but sometimes still pricey.
These have the best access for wheelchairs and strollers, with a little more spacing than the 100s, and they are just below the balconies, so most of them are covered.
300 and 400 Level Seats
The 300s and the 400s, the balcony seating, may look like the “nosebleeds” from a 2-D map, but the seats located in the rows of the beginning of the alphabet in these sections are just as good as the 200s below.
The rule of thumb is the higher up, the less expensive tickets are. And fans who have no desire for a foul ball to come their way might prefer to be safely high up!
While you might not be able to see the numbers on the players’ backs from the top of the 400s section, you are most likely covered, have a pleasant view of the river beyond the stadium, and can see the entire field—not to mention the satisfaction of getting significantly cheaper seats.
Food in each level
Each section offers a wide variety of food, but you are not just limited to what is in your section; other than the private suite food, the snacks and drinks for sale on each level are available to everyone.
Ticket Prices Vary by Field Position
As a final consideration, ticket prices for seats can also vary based on what part of the field you choose to sit in: above the dugout and behind home plate are the most expensive, while sitting in the outfield can be very cheap.
The party suites, reservable for groups who want a little extra out of their experience, are located just under the 300s balconies. Just up from home plate are the fairly luxurious Jefferson Suites, Washington Suites and Lincoln Suites.
Each suite comes with a menu of choices of Mediterranean food, barbecue, traditional ballpark fare and more.
Suites have both indoor and outdoor seating, an excellent view and room for co-workers, families or friend groups to spread out.
When you first walk into Nationals Park you are met with an open area with displays about the team’s latest victories, souvenir shops, and—if it is close to game time—crowds, vendors and mascots rushing around.
Left Field/ First Base Line
The seats directly in front of the main entrance are those at the left field/ first base line. If your tickets are from 107-135, 201-221,301-321, or 401-420 go right.
If your tickets are outside of those ranges, go left.
Both ways have ramps, elevators and stairways that lead up to the 400s. If your ticket ends in the 20-40 range, expect to walk around the stadium for a longer time, no matter which level.
Nationals Park Food not to miss
As you wander through the multiple levels of the park, you’ll find all kinds of restaurants and food and drink stands within easy reach of the stadium seating.
Fan Favorite Foods
- Nacho Supreme near section 217
- Goose Island Bar & Drafts in the 111-112 area
- Shake Shack Burgers at 240
- Ben’s Chili Bowl, at 141
There are always, of course, hotdog stands, and cotton candy, peanuts, crackerjacks, beer and pretzel carts that sit around the park and come out to the seats between innings.
Nats Baseball Helmet Ice Cream
A Nationals park favorite is the soft-serve ice cream, which comes in a reusable cup shaped like a Nats baseball helmet.
Pre and Post-Game Food Options
The Yards Park
If you arrive a little early, there are many good places to grab dinner or a few pre-game drinks; the whole Navy Park/Anacostia Waterfront area is newly renovated and houses local casual dining go-tos like Dacha, Bardo Brewing, Osterina Morini and The Big Stick.
Or get the real Nationals experience at The Bullpen, a unique outdoor dining experience right next door to the stadium.
It’s a beer garden made from reclaimed shipping containers, which draws young crowds, food trucks and live bands.
Understanding a Nationals Game
Nationals games, like any baseball game, are nine innings. Each team will get up to bat on nine different occasions and play until there are three outs, meaning that the game does not have a set end time, though it’s a good idea to plan for around three hours if you want to see all the action.
Between Inning Entertainment
The Nationals put on fun activities between innings to pass the time between play, the most iconic being the presidents’ race around the bases–four US president mascots with big heads run the bases, and sometimes push each other over in order to win.
Keep an eye out for audience chants and “the wave,” and when the Nationals score, everyone takes off their cap, waves it in the air and chants: “N-A-T-S Nats Nats Nats Woo!”
Player Walk-Up Songs
Each player gets a walk-up song when they go up to bat, and other songs are played for the crowd: Nats fans will always sing and dance along to the iconic “Baby Shark” song.
“Take Me Out to the Ball Game”
As a nod to enduring baseball tradition, during the 7th inning stretch, there will be a game pause for the crowd to stretch, salute the soldiers being honored, and sing “Take me out to the Ballgame”.
Special Extras between Innings
Before the game and between innings, not only will cameras capture fans dancing on the Jumbotron, but there are also short raffles and Nationals trivia games where you can win extra prizes.
Listen to the announcer during these breaks for tips on some great deals and activities, including merch giveaways, special events where kids can run the bases, and free food from local restaurants if the Nats win or hit a home run.
What to Wear to a Washington Nationals Game
The Nationals color is predominantly red with a little bit of blue and white. Since most of baseball season is pretty warm, normally any red shirt, shorts and a baseball cap will be sufficient for a day at Nationals Park.
In the stadium, official (and expensive) jerseys, shirts and caps are sold to fully indulge in Nationals pride. However, just outside of the park, you can find plenty of street vendors with cheaper options that still show off your “Natitude”.
While proudly displaying the red helps boost team spirit, the most important thing is comfort and warmth: remember that it can get pretty chilly for spring and fall evening games, and there are frequently brief rain showers in the summer.
Layers and a plastic poncho are often a good call.