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Petco Park is the place for great baseball — and so much more

Check out our comprehensive guide to America’s best ballpark, home of the San Diego Padres

"It's really difficult to imagine any stadium topping Petco Park — it's simply the best."

Those could well be the words of any fan who's had the pleasure of taking in a Padres game — or a pop concert, or a fireworks show, or college football's Holiday Bowl — at San Diego's beautiful downtown ballpark. But the quote happens to be from a sportswriter with USA Today, which in 2023 named Petco the best MLB ballpark in the nation — for the fourth time in eight years, more than any other MLB venue.

It's easy to see why: With stunning skyline views, proximity to the city's sparkling waterfront, awesome food and beverage options, inviting event spaces and much more, Petco is (as USA Today describes it) "the perfect ballpark."

Whether you've made the pilgrimage to the home of the Padres many times or are looking forward to your first visit, here's your complete guide to the Petco Park experience.

The Main Events

San Diego Padres

Opened in 2004, the 42,000-capacity Petco Park is first and foremost the home of the San Diego Padres — the city's MLB team since 1969, and the 2022 National League Division Series champs. The Padres organization operates the East Village ballpark, situated across Harbor Drive from the San Diego Convention Center and just blocks from the bayfront.

Concerts

Before or after a Padres game, or when baseball's not on the schedule, Petco is an inviting place to take in a concert — and the park hosts a whole lot of them, both at Gallagher Square and venue-wide for the biggest headliners. Top names playing Petco recently include Morgan Wallen, Jimmy Eat World and Darius Rucker. Small or big, the shows are a great way to cap a perfect San Diego day at the beautiful ballpark.

Gallagher Square

The grassy expanses of Gallagher Square, which sits behind center field, serve as a perfect place for families to gather. The area is also open as a public park during the daytime in the offseason or when the Padres aren't in town. And the square doubles as a primary spot for concerts. Presiding over the square is a statue of the late Padres legend Tony Gwynn, a Hall of Famer. The whole area is set to undergo a $20 million glow-up that will include a new Tony Gwynn Terrace viewing deck, temporary pickleball courts, new artificial turf, a dog park and more.

Kidsfest

Any time there's a Sunday home game, Gallagher Square hosts KidsFest, which starts two hours before game time and includes bounce houses, interactive games, face painters, balloon artists and more.

Holiday Bowl

In 2022, Petco Park hosted its first-ever college football game, and the Holiday Bowl — one of the pre-eminent bowl games in the country — is set to return to the park.

Tours

Treat yourself to an insider's view of Petco Park by embarking on of the venue's daily or pregame tours — a great way to learn about the history of the park and the Padres. Daily tours stop at such points of interest as the Field Warning Track, the Press Box, the Cutwater Coronado Club and the Breitbard Hall of Fame. Pregame tours also offer the option of viewing Padres batting practice from an outfield vantage point. Private and educational tours as well as Spanish- and Japanese-language tours are also available.

Golf, Holiday Market and More

The ballpark hosts a full lineup of other great events throughout the year, from the wintertime Links at Petco Park — which turns the place into a nine-hole golf course — to the Holiday Market, an ideal yuletide shopping opportunity. Look for more must-sees at Petco here.

Getting There

Take the Trolley or the Train

Petco Park is perched directly next to Downtown San Diego's bustling Gaslamp Quarter, and just a short stroll from the Gaslamp station on the San Diego Trolley's Green Line — a great way to avoid the hassles and expense of driving and parking. Trolley service runs every 15 minutes or faster before and after most events, with added service for larger events. The trolley also connects at the nearby Santa Fe Depot with both the Coaster commuter rail and Amtrak trains, serving North San Diego County and beyond.

Parking

Limited parking is available around the ballpark's East Village location, including the Padres Parkade at Tenth Avenue and J Street and the parking garage next to the Hilton San Diego Bayfront, which is just across the pedestrian bridge from Petco. There's also a Tailgate Lot east of the park along 12th Avenue. Many of the lots are available to reserve with prepayment on the Padres' ticket site.

Other Alternatives

Rideshare or friends/family dropoff and pickup zones are located on the west side of the ballpark, at Sixth Avenue and K Street; and on the east side, at 10th Avenue and Park Boulevard. Bike racks are located at the corner of Trevor Hoffman Way and Tony Gwynn Drive, on J street at Eighth and Ninth Avenues, and across from the Gaslamp Entry Gate on Seventh Avenue. Lastly, consider taking the free FRED electric shuttle, which serves Downtown San Diego. Download the Ride Circuit app to book a ride.

Getting Tickets

The best source for both single-game and single tickets is the Padres' official MLB website. There are also ticket windows on both the west and east sides of the park.

Picking Seats

There's hardly anywhere in Petco Park that doesn't boast good sightlines, particularly given the park's relatively compact dimensions. For the best shade, reserve seats on along the third-base side, in sections such as Toyota Terrace. The sunniest areas are in the upper decks and behind right field. Petco also offers plenty of premium seating options in spots such as the Pacifico Porch.

Enjoying Food and Drink

With its local flavor and profusion of offerings, Petco Park's food and beverage lineup is rightfully considered among the best in baseball. Consult our handy Petco Park Grub Guide for details on what you'll find and where to find it.

Pre- and Post-Game Spots

Petco is situated right next to Downtown's vibrant Gaslamp Quarter, which bursts with great restaurants, rooftop bars, craft-beer favorites and more. Check out our full guide to the best pre- and post-game spots.

Meetings and Events

Petco Park is just the place to find your ideal event space, with options for groups from 10 to 10,000 people. Click here for more details on meeting and event facilities at the park.

Great Hotel Options

One of the best things about a visit to Petco is that you can stay just a line-drive's distance from the park. Among the excellent options in the area are the Hilton San Diego Bayfront, the just-renovated Hilton San Diego Gaslamp Quarter, the likewise re-envisioned Marriott Marquis San Diego Marina, the new Margaritaville Resort, the Manchester Grand Hyatt, the Pendry and the Omni, which boasts its own walkway to the ballpark. Start here to pick your perfect place to stay.

Fun Facts

  • The very first baseball game at Petco didn't involve the Padres. It was a matchup between the San Diego State Aztecs and the University of Houston on March 11, 2004. SDSU's Aztecs won 4-0, and the attendance of 40,106 set a record for a college baseball game.
  • The first Padres regular-season game took place on April 8, 2004 — a 4-3 Padres victory over the San Francisco Giants.
  • The ballpark also hosted a basketball game between SDSU and the University of San Diego in 2015.
  • The light sandstone exterior of the ballpark is meant to evoke the dramatic seaside bluffs of such San Diego landmarks as Torrey Pines and Sunset Cliffs., while the white marine finish of the park's exposed steel structures is an homage to San Diego's nautical history.
  • The park's left-field boundary incorporates the historic Western Metal Supply building, which now houses seating areas, a bar and event spaces.
  • The Rolling Stones performed the first concert at Petco Park in November 2005.
  • The hit TV show "American Idol" held singing auditions at the ballpark in 2011.
  • The Padres' deep kinship with Mexico is celebrated with its colorful City Connect uniforms, inspired by cross-border culture. The team wears the uniforms during every Friday game at Petco Park.

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