When it comes to Northeast sports destinations, you probably think of Fenway Park and Madison Square Garden. But did you know the region is home to at least a half-dozen sports halls of fame? And maybe you forgot there’s a local city that hosted not one but two Olympic Games? Indeed, the Northeast is home to some of the most legendary venues in all of sports, as well as a long list of historical locations that should be on any sports fan’s bucket list.
From the Finger Lakes to downtown Boston, the Ivy League to Major Leagues, here are a few of the unbeatable sports road trips in the Northeast.
Upstate New York
For such a tucked-away region, the Finger Lakes has an abundance of must-visit sites for any sports fan. Those looking to catch the action live can watch world-class racing at Watkins Glen International Speedway or see future Major Leaguers take the field for the Syracuse Mets and Rochester Red Wings.
If it’s a look into the past you’re after, head to the tiny town of Canastota, where you’ll find the International Boxing Hall of Fame. Speaking of halls of fame, a short drive east will take you to Cooperstown, home of the iconic Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. Further east is the Saratoga Race Course, one of the country’s oldest sports venue. It still holds elite horse races from July through September. Just down the street is the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame.
No sports road trip through upstate New York is complete without a journey up north to Lake Placid. Home of the 1932 and 1980 Olympics, the city offers a perfect combination of past and present. The Olympic Museum takes a look back at those aforementioned Winter Games, including the legendary “Miracle on Ice” hockey game. Meanwhile, the Olympic Center offers guests the opportunity to show off their own athletic prowess in skiing, snowboarding, ice skating, and even bobsled and skeleton.
Connecticut-Rhode Island Shoreline
For a road trip that’s as scenic as it is sports heavy, cruise alongside the Long Island Sound and Narragansett Bay in the neighboring states of Connecticut and Rhode Island. Start in New Haven, home of the Yale Bowl, one of the most historically important sports venues in the country. The National Historic Landmark is the second oldest active college stadium in the United States. From there, drive west along I-95 as it traces the Sound. About 20 minutes inland from New London is the town of Uncasville, site of the Mohegan Sun Arena. Not only is this venue the home court of the WNBA’s Connecticut Sun, it also hosts many NCAA basketball games.
For your final stop, drive over state lines and cross the bay to the coastal city of Newport. Known best for its harbors and gilded mansions, Newport is also home to the International Tennis Hall of Fame. The museum celebrates the careers of more than 260 tennis players and exhibits almost 2,000 artifacts.
Fenway Park is the most storied ballpark in the country, and an absolute must-see spot for any sports fans (yes, even you Yankees fans!). The TD Garden, home of the Boston Celtics and Bruins, is well worth a visit, too, even if one of the local teams isn’t playing. The arena is home to the Sports Museum, a half-mile of exhibits celebrating all things Boston sports. The greater Boston area is also the site of several famous football venues, including Gillette Stadium, Harvard Stadium and Boston College’s Alumni Stadium.
Not to be forgotten, Massachusetts’ Western end has some formidable sports destinations of its own. First and foremost on that list is, of course, the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. This Springfield institution, located on the banks of the Connecticut River, comprises 40,000 square feet of space dedicated to basketball history, with shrines to more than 400 hall of famers.
Just up the road in Holyoke is the lesser-known International Volleyball Hall of Fame. While you may not find any household names here, you will be able to see how volleyball began as a gymnasium game at a Holyoke YMCA and turned into a global sport.
It’s not all about the past in Western Massachusetts. The area is home to a litany of current-day athletes, including those playing for the Springfield Thunderbirds hockey team, and the Valley Blue Sox and Westfield Starfires minor league baseball teams.
New York City’s Outer Boroughs
Madison Square Garden may be the world’s most famous arena – and is always well worth the price of admission – but there are plenty of other great sports sites to take in away from the hustle and bustle of Manhattan.
The outer borough of Queens, for example, comes alive as the weather warms. The New York Mets begin their season at Citi Field in March. Right next door, the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center plays host to the U.S. Open in August and September. In between, Belmont Park (technically in Nassau County, but right on the border) is the site of the final leg of horse racing’s Triple Crown.
In neighboring Brooklyn, the Barclays Center is the home of the NBA’s Nets and WNBA’s Liberty. Down by the shore, you can catch the Brooklyn Cyclones play next to the Coney Island boardwalk. You’ll find more baseball, this time of the major league variety, in New York’s most northern borough. No sports road trip to the Big Apple is complete without a visit to iconic Yankee Stadium in the Bronx.
These sports road trips will take you all over the Northeast – better make sure you have the proper set of wheels. AAA members can save up to 20% on Hertz rentals.