Sports Getaways for Aug. 24-27
LITTLE LEAGUE WORLD SERIES (CHAMPIONSHIP GAME),
HOWARD J. LAMADE STADIUM, WILLIAMSPORT, PA.
We all played in Little League. But we didn't face 70 m.p.h. fastballs thrown from 45 feet, let alone sharp-breaking curveballs. The granddaddy of youth sports championships is played at one of the nation's loveliest ballparks.
Web site: http://www.littleleague.org/
Tickets: Free. Grandstand tickets are no longer available -- they were distributed by lottery in February. But fans are welcome to watch from the terraced hills beyond the outfield.
Do: Visit the Peter J. McGovern Little League Museum (525 Route 15 Highway, South Williamsport), and learn Little League's history, from its first season, in 1939, to the present -- including the big leaguers who played in the Little League World Series (Web site).
Stay: Better hurry -- area hotel rooms are going fast. Try the Econo Lodge Williamsport (2019 E. 3rd St.), which has rooms starting at $119. Otherwise, try Country Inn & Suites By Carlson (13 Walter Dr., Lewisburg, Pa.) in Lewisburg, 17 miles away. Rooms start at $109.
Eat: Dine at the Peter Herdic House (407 W. 4th St.), on Millionaire's Row in downtown Williamsport -- perhaps the area's finest restaurant. Try the filet mignon or the gnocchi, served in a sun-dried tomato cream sauce (Web site).
SHARPIE 500, BRISTOL MOTOR SPEEDWAY, BRISTOL, TENN.
One of the toughest tickets in all of sports at one of the greatest venues in all of NASCAR. A 500-mile race at night, in front of 160,000 fans on an extremely fast, half-mile oval track. The Sharpie 500 is different from almost every other NASCAR event.
Web site: http://www.bristolmotorspeedway.com/
Tickets: Sold out. You'll have to consult a ticket broker.
Do: Arrive a day early and catch the NASCAR Busch Series Food City 250 (Tickets). Or see the Rookie League Kingsport Mets take on the Greeneville Astros at Hunter Wright Stadium (433 E. Center St., Kingsport, Tenn., Web site).
Stay: Inexpensive area hotel rooms are long gone. Your best option is Americourt of Elizabethton (1515 Hwy. 19 E., Elizabethton, Tenn.), 11 miles south of Bristol, where rooms start at $297.
Eat: The Troutdale Dining Room (412 6th St., Bristol) is the region's only five-star restaurant. Try the filet mignon, or any of the trout dishes -- the fish come straight from the restaurant's 600-gallon tank (Web site).
THE TRAVERS STAKES, SARATOGA RACE COURSE, SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y.
The Travers, the oldest Thoroughbred race in the U.S., is run at the sport's loveliest track. This 137th running of the race features the nation's best 3-year-olds.
Do: The ampitheater on the well-manicured grounds of the Saratoga Performing Arts Center is a gorgeous venue for a summer concert. Take advantage on Fri., Aug. 25, as Sheryl Crow and John Mayer are teaming up for a show that starts at 6:30 p.m. (Tickets).
Stay: Rooms are already scarce. Try America's Best Inn Queensbury (24 Big Boom Rd., Queensbury), 17 miles north of Saratoga Springs. Rooms start at $139. Or the Holiday Inn Schenectady (100 Nott Terrace, Schenectady), 19 miles southwest. Rooms from $143.
Eat: The menu at Springwater Bistro (139 Union Ave., Saratoga Springs) changes daily, depending on what's available from local farms. The cooking is French-influenced, the specialties are seafood and steak (Web site).
EAST COAST SURFING CHAMPIONSHIP, VIRGINIA BEACH, VA.
This is the granddaddy of North American surfing competitions. More than 100 of the top male and female pro surfers will compete in this event. Think: surfing's Woodstock -- a long weekend of beach, boardwalk, live music and riding the curl.
Web site: http://www.surfecsc.com/
Do: Drive to Harbor Park (150 Park Ave.), in Norfolk, Va., after sunset Sat., Aug. 26, and watch the Norfolk Tides, the Mets' Class AAA team, take on the Richmond Braves (Tickets).
Stay: Bunk at the beach at the Knight's Inn & Suites (207 29th St.), from $134, or the Virginia Beach Travelodge (1909 Atlantic Ave.), from $190.
Eat: Virginia Beach's hottest seafood joint is Hot Tuna Bar & Grill (2817 Shore Dr.), located one block from Chesapeake Bay. Try the local-catch yellowfin tuna. (Web site).
Various airlines are offering deals for last-minute travel to San Diego. Tickets are limited, so hurry: Orbitz: San Diego Flight Deals. Fly in Sat., Aug. 26, and head to Qualcomm Stadium (9449 Friars Rd.) to see the San Diego Chargers take on the Seattle Seahawks in a preseason game (Tickets).
MIAMIMajor U.S. Airlines are offering similar last-minute flight deals to Miami. Again, tickets are limited, so hurry. Arrive at Dolphins Stadium (2267 Dan Marino Blvd., Miami) Fri., Aug. 25, for the first game of a four-game series between the host Florida Marlins and the Milwaukee Brewers (Tickets). Or, on second thought, just enjoy South Beach.
Or go to St. Louis for one of baseball's best rivalries as the Cardinals square off against the Chicago Cubs at Busch Stadium (Poplar and Eighth Sts., Fri.-Sun., Aug. 25-27, Tickets).
NFL fans have their pick of rivalries: Go to New York to see the New York Jets host the New York Giants in preseason action Fri., Aug. 25, at Giants Stadium (Road C, East Rutherford, N.J.). Tickets: Sold out. But there's always a ticket broker ready to help you... for a price.
Or travel to Kansas City to see the Kansas City Chiefs host the cross-state rival St. Louis Rams, Sat. Aug. 26, at Arrowhead Stadium (One Arrowhead Dr., Tickets).
CHARLES M. SCHULZ MUSEUM, SANTA ROSA, CALIF.
Charles Schulz was a hockey nut. Which is why Snoopy was one, too. (Charlie Brown's true love, of course, was baseball.) It's also why the Charles M. Schulz Museum (2301 Hardies Ln., Santa Rosa, Calif.) has mounted a special exhibition: Face Off: Charles M. Schulz and Hockey. See the storyboards for the epic Snoopy vs. Woodstock birdbath match. Then wander the museum and find the classic panel where Charlie Brown is literally undressed by a line drive back to the pitcher's mound. (Hours and admission: Web site; Click: Plan Your Visit).
Then drive 60 miles south to San Francisco's AT&T Park (24 Willie Mays Plaza) to see the Giants take on the Cincinnati Reds (Fri.-Sun., Aug. 25-27, Tickets).
REAL MADRID V. VILLAREAL, ESTADIO SANTIAGO BERNABEU, MADRID, SPAIN
As if you need an excuse to visit Madrid. Real Madrid (Web site), one of the world's great soccer clubs, opens its season in the Primera Division of Spain's La Liga, at home against Villarreal, Sun., Aug. 27, at the famed Bernabéu in Madrid (Avenida Concha Espina 1). Arrive Sat., Aug. 26, and spend the day on the city's Avenue of Art. The Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia (Santa Isabel 52) contains Picasso's famous painting, Guernica (Web site).