With baseball season in full swing, fans are passing through stadium turnstiles, chowing down on hot dogs and rooting for their home teams. Some are combining their passion for "America's favorite pastime" with a mini-vacation and taking driving tours that combine opportunities to see games with a visit to the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum and other attractions that bring to life various aspects of the sport.
They're following the "Round Tripper" route, which leads to three baseball-centric destinations. This is one of countless journeys around the country that people can take as they pursue their love of sports.
Opportunities abound to create an itinerary for a driving trip that focuses upon your favorite athletic pursuit. That's true whether you love baseball, football, or other spectator games or would rather take part in activities that range from biking and backpacking to skiing and snowshoeing.
The Road Tripper through New York, Pennsylvania, and Maryland introduces baseball buffs to a variety of sites, some famous and others less well-known. Located in Cooperstown, New York, the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum honors inductees with names such as Ruth, Mantle, and Mays, and more than 300 other outstanding players. Exhibits feature items from some of the game's most memorable moments and include uniforms dating back more than a century.
Among other stops along the drive are Corning, New York, where the glass factory of the same name creates see-through bats; Binghamton, New York, and Factoryville, Pennsylvania, home of minor league affiliates of the New York Mets and Yankees; and Williamsport, Pennsylvania, location of the Little League Hall of Fame. The southern terminus is Harford County, Maryland, where Hall of Famer Carl Ripkin Jr. and his brother, Bill—both former Baltimore Orioles—created a complex of mini-stadiums that replicate iconic major league ballparks.
Baseball is only one driving trip that can focus upon a preferred pastime. NASCAR followers might wish to indulge their passion at some of the 39 tracks where races take place. These include three in Florida and Tennessee, and two in North Carolina and Texas.
Horses don't travel as quickly as racing cars, but with tracks around the country those who follow the "sport of kings" are likely to find they can enjoy it without driving far from home. Thoroughbred racing is available in many states throughout the year. For example, California has 10 tracks, and people can place bets at five tracks in New Mexico and Ohio.
Those who would rather do than watch can create routes that lead to places where they can participate in virtually every sport, athletic activity, and outdoor recreation. For hikers, driving excursions can include walks through woods and good birding locations and along paths that are dog-friendly, child-compatible, and wheelchair-accessible. Oregon alone has more than 2,800 paths that fit into all of those categories. Most of them lead to scenic views, waterfalls, or a combination of both.
It's not surprising that West Virginia, nicknamed the Mountain State, offers a wide choice of hikes. Almost 300 trails are rated family-friendly, and 49 are equally welcoming to people in wheelchairs.
Golfers seeking to play a variety of courses can plan a trip that allows them to drive a ball after they drive their car. Courses have joined together to create trails that lead to a region that's a golf destination, and some include recommendations for lodging and dining.
In Louisiana, 18 courses comprise the Audubon Golf Trail, named for the artist and naturalist who painted many of his famous bird studies there. They include layouts designed by the likes of Arnold Palmer and Robert Trent Jones Sr.
Eight courses comprise Minnesota's Golf Trail, which runs through the northwestern part of the state. The greens at Blueberry Pines present a daunting challenge, and Thumper Pond was named by Golf Magazine as a "Must play in Minnesota" course for players who visit the state.
In addition to watching or participating in their favorite leisure time activities, fans can include stops at places where the most accomplished standouts in that sport are honored. Baseball isn't the only game with a hall of fame.
The World Golf Hall of Fame in St. Augustine, Florida, comprises an entire village of golf courses, hotels, and the PGA Academy, where visitors can improve their game. The museum features artifacts, art, photography, and videos that portray the history of golf and recall famous players.
Tennis aficionados can advance their skills with advice from a holographic Roger Federer. That's part of the appeal at the International Tennis Hall of Fame in Newport, Rhode Island. Among exhibits are rackets, outfits, and other memorabilia from the sport's 900-plus years.
Virtual images of legendary coach Vince Lombardi and player-coach George Halas give presentations at the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio. Their likenesses are surrounded by Super Bowl relics, and the site also houses the Black College Football Hall of Fame.