Is there anything more synonymous with spring and summer than baseball? Why not enjoy the season with a family road trip! You don’t have to be a die-hard baseball fan to enjoy a pilgrimage to any of the many U.S. museums that showcase this All-American sport and its legendary players. Here are six destinations to get you started.
1. National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum at Cooperstown, New York
Photo courtesy of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum
Legend has it that Abner Doubleday invented the game of baseball in a local farmer’s pasture, so it’s only fitting that the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum is in Cooperstown. You’ll find everything you ever wanted to know about baseball here.
Exhibits chronicling baseball’s history pack the museum’s three floors. Notable items on display include the jersey Hank Aaron wore the day he hit his record-breaking 715th career home run.
The centerpiece is the Hall of Fame Gallery, which celebrates inductees, although the museum is also the world’s largest repository of baseball research materials. Doubleday Field stadium, built in 1917 to major league standards on the site where the first game was played, hosts daily games in summer.
NEA member travel benefits: The nearest major airport Albany International Airport (ALB), about 1.5 hours’ drive away, and you’ll find deals on flights through NEA Travel: Airfare. Click on the hotels page to see great prices like an average of $273/per night for large, comfortable rooms at the Best Western Plus Cooperstown Inn & Suites, which has a fitness center, indoor pool, plus a free hot breakfast. For more basic accommodations, Red Carpet Inn & Suites Cooperstown averages $141/night and includes free breakfast.
2. Babe Ruth Birthplace & Museum in Baltimore, Maryland
Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons/CC0 1.0/Smallbones
This humble row house, not far from Oriole Park at Camden Yards, is where baseball’s Home Run King—George Herman Ruth, better known as Babe Ruth—was born in 1895. Take a walk through the narrow house to view the upstairs bedroom where he was born.
An adjacent townhouse contains several exhibits, photos and video clips related both to his legendary career—his record of 714 career home runs stood for 39 years—and to his boyhood, including his years at St. Mary’s Industrial School for Boys in Baltimore, where he learned how to play the game. You’ll also learn about Ruth’s life as a husband and a father.
NEA members travel benefits: Book your flight to Baltimore Washington International Airport (BWI) via NEA Travel: Airfare. And then check for hotel deals to stay at accommodations such as an average of $101 a night at Home2 Suites by Hilton Baltimore Downtown, MD, which has free WiFi and free breakfast, plus pets are allowed in their spacious suites. If you prefer the Marriott brand, you can book a room at Courtyard by Marriott Baltimore/Downtown Inner Harbor for an average of $149 a night, where amenities include an indoor pool and fitness center and an on-site Starbucks café. For a more boutique feel and design, try the Kimpton Hotel Monaco Baltimore Inner Harbor, an IHG Hotel, for an average of $163 a night.
Plan your itinerary: Babe Ruth Birthplace & Museum | Visit Baltimore | Visit Maryland
3. Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in Kansas City, Missouri
Photo courtesy of the Missouri Division of Tourism
Interactive exhibits, posters, photographs and videos—including rare film footage of player interviews and games—provide insight into the Negro Leagues’ storied past. Learn about the days before Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier, when leagues were segregated. Listen as players describe the hardships of life on the road and what it was like to play baseball during this era.
The Field of Legends at the end of the tour features a mock baseball diamond and an all-star team of bronze statues with Satchel Paige, Buck O’Neil and other talented players, many of whom were later inducted into the major league Baseball Hall of Fame, getting the recognition they deserved.
NEA member travel benefits: Fly into Kansas City International Airport (MCI) by searching for airline tickets through NEA Travel: Airfare. And then look for hotel deals like rooms at Seville Plaza Hotel, Trademark Collection by Wyndham (formerly a Best Western) for an average of $95/night. It’s centrally located and pet friendly, plus breakfast and WiFi are included in the price. For a boutique hotel, check out Crossroads Hotel, which for an average of $197/night features a unique design highlighting work by local artists and makers, three restaurants and bars including a rooftop beer garden, and complimentary WiFi and a fitness center.
Plan your itinerary: Negro Leagues Baseball Museum | Visit KC | Visit MO
4. Shoeless Joe Jackson Museum in Greenville, South Carolina
Photo courtesy of Visit Greenville SC
The infamous Black Sox Scandal may have tarnished Joseph Jefferson “Shoeless Joe” Jackson’s name, but there’s no disputing his place in history as a baseball great. This modest five-room brick house, where he spent the last decade before his death in 1951, is now a museum chronicling his baseball career, from the textile mill leagues to the majors. Knowledgeable docents share stories of their hometown hero as you browse the photos and exhibits, which include his White Sox jersey and mitt, and a chair and bricks from Comiskey Park.
The research library has more than 2,000 books on baseball. The house is appropriately located across from Fluor Field, home to the Greenville Drive, a single-A minor league team. Ask for directions from the museum to Woodland Memorial Park, where Shoeless Joe and his wife, Kate, are buried.
NEA member travel benefits: Through the NEA Travel Program, you can search for deals on flights to Greenville-Spartanburg International Airport (GSP). Look for affordable lodging options such as Comfort Inn & Suites Greenville, where for an average of $104 per night you can enjoy large rooms with kitchenettes, an outdoor pool, gym, and free breakfast. For a more local experience, try the charming six-room Swamp Rabbit Inn, at an average of $150 per night, and you’ll be just a 10-minute walk from the museum.
5. National Ballpark Museum in Denver, Colorado
Photo courtesy of Steve Crecelius of WonderWorks Studios
Bruce Hellerstein’s love of the game is evident when you push through the stadium turnstile to enter this private museum, located not far from Coors Field, where the Colorado Rockies play. Over the years the Denver native has accumulated a staggering collection of memorabilia, much of it from ballparks of yesteryear, including signage, pennants, souvenir programs, photos, team jerseys and unique items such as the drainage cover that tripped Mickey Mantle in the 1951 World Series.
Hellerstein has also amassed a large collection of seats and bricks from classic ballparks, although it’s his encyclopedic knowledge of the golden age of baseball that’s the real attraction here.
NEA member travel benefits: Book a flight via NEA Travel: Airfare into Denver International Airport (DEN) to earn NEA Travel Dollars. Next, check for hotel deals to stay at accommodations such as DoubleTree by Hilton Denver Central Park for an average of $149/night, which has an outdoor pool and fitness center. For an average of $143/night, you can book a room at the 200-room Radisson Hotel Denver Central, which also has an outdoor pool and gym.
Plan your itinerary: National Ballpark Museum | Visit Denver | Colorado.com
6. Jackie Robinson Museum in New York City, New York
Baseball’s newest museum opened in 2022 in downtown Manhattan. Dedicated to the legacy of the great Jackie Robinson, who was the first African American to play in the Major Leagues, the museum details Robinson’s life against the backdrop of 20th century-U.S. history via more than 4,000 artifacts, videos and interactive exhibits.
The Yawkey Sports Gallery shares the highlights of Robinson’s impressive athletic career, from his time in the Negro Sports League to playing for the Brooklyn Dodgers, and includes items from his family’s collection, such as his original National Baseball Hall of Fame plaque. The main exhibit hall chronicles Robinson’s life and his civil rights activism for racial, social and economic equality during a tumultuous time in American history.
NEA members travel benefits: Book your flight to New York City into either John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) LaGuardia International Airport (LGA) or Newark International Airport (EWR) via NEA Travel: Airfare. Then check for hotel deals to stay at accommodations such as Union Hotel, an Ascend Collection Member in brownstone Brooklyn, for an average of $141 a night for a cozy room with free WiFi. If you want to stay in Midtown, the Pod 51 hotel averages $151 a night and has a cute roof deck. Cachet Boutique New York is a great deal with an average of $165 a night for a four-star hotel with a chic Art Deco design, free breakfast and a fitness center.