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Ultimate Sports Fan Vacations

Travel

Date
June 2015

Written by
Haley Shapley

Category
Travel

Fans will often follow their teams and sports to the ends of the earth—which is great news when the end of the earth also happens to be a fun place to vacation. While it’s not possible to attend every great event in the flesh, there are some that are especially worth the trek. Consider these four—all featured in the book 
The 100 Sporting Events You Must See Live, by sports-business expert Robert Tuchman. 

roadWhere: Monaco
When: May

Why: Synonymous with prestige and glamour, the Monaco Grand Prix is one of the toughest Formula One races. “Drivers race on a narrow course that goes through the streets of Monte Carlo, complete with tight turns and changes in elevation,” Tuchman writes. “Racers have compared it to riding a bike or helicopter in a living room.” There’s also a tunnel, just to add to the challenge.

Pro Tip: There are many different options for viewing locations—from within the grandstand to aboard a yacht to seated on a terrace—so explore the choices and take into consideration what vantage point most intrigues you. 

During Your Downtime: The tiny principality of Monaco will be consumed by the event while you’re there. For a break from the action (or when there’s a break in the action), head to Nice, a short train ride away. This beautiful French town on the Mediterranean Sea has something for everyone, including foodies, families, sun seekers and night owls.


Rodeo SceneWhere: Calgary, Alberta
When: July

Why: You may never have a better opportunity to don a cowboy hat and boots. “While a highly anticipated event for Canadians, rodeo fans from throughout the world, and of all ages, get to see their sport on a grand scale,” Tuchman writes. The 10-day event, which bills itself as the “Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth,” takes over Alberta’s largest city and attracts one million people to a Western-themed party of barrel racing, steer wrestling, bull riding, big-name musicians, fair food favorites and entertainment for all ages.

Pro Tip: You know those cowboy boots you’re planning to wear? Break them in first if it’s not your first rodeo.

During Your Downtime: When you’re ready for something to eat that hasn’t seen the inside of a fryer—the abundant deep-fried options at the Calgary Stampede include Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, sushi, and cookie dough—take a seat at NOtaBLE, a restaurant in the Montgomery neighborhood. The first Canadian to appear on Iron Chef, Chef Michael Noble delivers gourmet comfort food in an unpretentious environment. 


golf sceneWhere: Augusta, Georgia
When: April

Why: Tuchman calls this “pure nirvana for players and watchers.” He rated it his No. 1 sporting event you must see live—and he’s not even a big golf fan. There’s just something about the green jacket, the stunningly immaculate grounds at Augusta National Golf Club, the long-held traditions and the high stakes for the game’s best players. 

Pro Tip: Tickets and accommodations are difficult to get—and you’ll probably have to pay a premium—but you can save big at the concessions stands. The famed pimento cheese and egg salad sandwiches go for just $1.50 each. Top it off with a Georgia peach ice cream sandwich (a relative splurge at $2).

During Your Downtime: The Augusta Museum of History spans an impressive 12,000 years, chronicling the town’s history from prehistoric artifacts, to antebellum-era pottery, to an 1869 steam fire engine, to the flight suit of former astronaut and hometown hero Susan Still-Kilrain. Other exhibits cover Godfather of Soul James Brown, modes of transportation and, of course, the sport of golf. 


skyscraperWhere: Melbourne, Australia
When: January

Why: “As the first and hottest, temperature-wise, of the four Grand Slam tennis tournaments, the Australian Open features the best of the best sweating it out in singles, mixed doubles, juniors, and masters competitions,” Tuchman writes. Here, you’ll see the top talent in the world of tennis working to set the tone for the rest of the season, all against the backdrop of the Land Down Under—a pretty magical place to spend some time away. 

Pro Tip: It’s going to be hot, hot, hot, and the Australian sun is particularly strong (especially coming from the Northwest in the middle of our winter). Wear sunscreen and a hat, consider long sleeves and stay hydrated.

During Your Downtime: Get the lay of the land from the Eureka Skydeck 88. The elevators here are the fastest in the southern hemisphere, transporting you 935 feet in the air in just 38 seconds. From this spot, all of Melbourne stretches below you, with equally beautiful—although very different—views day and night. 

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