Neighborhood Expert: Tips for attending a Nationals baseball game

Laura Schwartz is a licensed Realtor in VA, D.C. and MD with McEnearney Associates in Vienna. You can follow Laura on Instagram at @LauraSchwartzRealtor or her Facebook page. Laura can be reached at 703-283-6120 or Laura@GuidingYourMove.com.

Thursday, March 30 is opening day for the Washington Nationals for the 2023 season. Welcome back Nats fans!

With opening day around the corner, I wanted to share some insider tips to a successful trip to the stadium.

Drive. The metro trip from Vienna is long and waiting for the train at the end of the game when it’s packed — the kids are tired and coming off their ballgame sugar high — is no fun. Buy parking ahead of time. Check pricing between Spothero and ParkWhiz.

Get there early to get food. The lines get long once the game starts. Check the full list of concessions here to scout food. You can buy bottled water outside for $1 and bring it in with you as long as it’s unopened (1 per person). They also allow outside food in single serving bags or factory-sealed containers can be brought in. I highly recommend you download the MLS Ballpark App as the entire stadium is now cashless and some of them require you to pre-purchase food and then go pick it up (you can’t even buy it at the stand for some of them — like Dippin’ Dots).


The Nats offer up to 30% off tickets for military, government employees, first responders, public school teachers with an account on GovX along with a credit to the concessions with each ticket.

There’s also a Harris Teeter Family Fun Pack where you get a free meal with each ticket (hot dog, chips and soda/water).

They also have “Value Day” tickets where tickets are up to 30% off and start at just $9, and they give you a code to use at the concessions to get a discount plus a merchandise discount at the team store. Certain dates only.

There is a Student Ticket option as well. You must sign up for access to student ticket discounts.

For those of you wanting to attend opening day, CertifiKid has a great deal on tickets. Tickets are 13-16% off depending on where you want to sit plus credits for food.

If you have a kid who plays baseball or softball, they have youth baseball and softball days (May 21 and June 18) where kids get in free for wearing their jersey. You’ll be receiving information on that directly from VLL or VGSL if your child is signed up. Super fun for them to go with teammates, especially since they’re both Sunday games and they can stay and run the bases together.

The Presidents race in the middle of the 4th inning. It’s one of the highlights for kids, so make sure you don’t miss it! As soon as the race is over, head over to section 131 where the President’s line up for a photo opportunity with fans during the 5th inning.

If you have kids who need to get some energy out, there’s a PenFed Kids Zone for kids under 10 on the 100 level of right field. Slides, climbing structure, a place to run, etc. One tip though: it’s all plastic, so on hot days when the slides are too hot, they close it to the public.

On Sundays, the kids can run the bases after the game, ages 4-12. From the Nats site:

Kids will start their run at first base and they will be directed around the bases to home plate. Sliding into bases is prohibited. An adult must accompany each participating child to the field — adults will drop children off at first base and meet them near home plate. Please note that adults may not accompany children as they run the bases. One adult will be permitted onto the field per child participating in Kids Run the Bases. The line for Kids Run the Bases forms outside the ballpark on the First Street sidewalk — participants should exit the ballpark through the right field gate and proceed to the line. The run will begin approximately 20 minutes after the conclusion of the game and the event usually lasts about an hour. Jr. Nationals Kids Club members age 12 and under receive access to an exclusive line that goes onto the field first.

Parents start lining up early because the Kids Club (see below) get in first and way worth it!

For $20, you can join the Nationals JR Kids Club. We did this for my son and it was totally worth it. They get coupons for free food at the ballpark, a Harris Teeter coupon, free birthday message on the screen during the game and other freebies.

Keep your eye out for special kid-friendly days at the park, like Bobble Head giveaways, kids watch giveaways, etc.

Photo via Mike Haupt/Unsplash

If you are bringing a diaper bag, make sure you read the bag policy:

  • Bags, except: (1) clutch bags measuring 5″ x 7″ x ¾” or smaller; (2) clear plastic, vinyl or PVC bags measuring 16″ x 16″ x 8″ or smaller; provided, however, that buckles, grommets, hardware or other décor may not conceal any part of the bag; and (3) diaper bags or bags used for ADA/medical reasons measuring 16″ x 16″ x 8″ or smaller; provided, however, that on the day of purchase, bags purchased inside the Nationals Baseball Stadium Complex* during the game or event at the Nationals Baseball Stadium Complex* will be tagged and permitted for that day only.
  • There’s a nursing lounge for mother’s to feed babies, pump, change diapers or cool off with the air conditioning. You’ll find that space adjacent to section 223.

Beginning in April, you can also do Nationals Park tours on non-game days.

Kids under 2 are FREE.

Go Nats!