We love to travel, especially when we get to include our other passions in that endeavour. We do this through sampling local culture like the food, history and another of our favorite passions – sports. Whenever we can, we make a point to see a local team play whatever sport we can. That’s why we decided to share this post on a few of the very best NBA cities to visit for a game.
Whether you travel to see your home team play on the road or just incorporate a basketball game into your existing itinerary, it’s a remarkable experience.
1. Philadelphia: 76ers
There’s a long history of passionate sports fandom in Philadelphia. Even without much to cheer for in recent years, the Philadelphia 76ers have been slowly rebuilding their team for the last several seasons under the mantra “Trust the process”.
When you visit the Wells Fargo Center, home of the Sixers, you’ll find yourself in South Philadelphia surrounded by each Philly sports complex. This area of the city was developed specifically for spectators to enjoy themselves before, during and after watching games. One place you can enjoy a drink and some local Philly foods before or after the game is XFinity Live. It’s a massive fan complex with entertainment, game broadcasts and eight pubs with indoor and outdoor seating.
The stadium itself is flush with more local food options including Chickie’s & Pete’s and P.J. Whelihan’s. There isn’t a bad seat in the stadium, so wherever you manage to get tickets, you’ll enjoy the game at the Wells Fargo Center.
Plan to have at least one day in Philadelphia to do additional touring. The city is the most historic destination in the United States and Philadelphia historical attractions should be on anyone’s travel bucket list. There are even day trips from Philadelphia that can show you more historical sites like Gettysburg or natural wonders like the Poconos.
2. Miami: Heat
Even if you don’t like championships, you’ll agree that Miami is one of the best NBA cities to visit. They Miami Heat is one of the most fun teams to watch play and it all takes place at American Airlines Arena. The venue is located on the waterfront of Biscayne Bay, one of the most gorgeous stretches of the city.
Inside the stadium there are four restaurants and lounges as well as food vendors that you’ll also find around the city of Miami. If you want Cuban food, head to Sergios or for something sweeter check out Mojo Donuts (and try the Maple Bacon Log – you’re welcome).
Outside of basketball, you’ll find no shortage of things to do in Miami. Try seeing the Biscayne Bay from a dinner cruise or go shopping at Bayside Marketplace. You’ll of course love visiting the famous beaches of Miami and exploring Ocean Drive and Little Havana.
There’s no shortage of Miami activities, but the best of them all may be visiting the arena and watching the Heat play basketball.
3. New Orleans: Pelicans
New Orleans is one of the most fun and entertaining cities to visit for any reason. When you throw in their fun-to-watch sports teams and excellent sports complexes – it’s even better! That’s why seeing the Pelicans play basketball is one of the best New Orleans travel tips we can offer up.
The Pelicans, formerly the Hornets, entertain fans at Smoothie King Stadium in the business district of New Orleans. It’s conveniently located next to the Mercedes-Benz Super Dome. It’s a great area of the city, set off from the famous French Quarter, but full of things to do before a game.
If you’re looking for an authentic Southern meal before tip off, head to Willa Jean. You can also find some of the city’s casinos and sports bars in the area like Manning’s Sports Bar & Grill. You can also enjoy a visit to the World War II Museum or take a walking tour of the French Quarter or New Orleans Cemeteries.
4. Denver: Nuggets
Denver is a fantastic sports town and if you’re spending a two or three days in Denver during basketball season, you should go see the Nuggets play. The team is named after the 19th century gold rush and is a throwback to the era when pioneers rushed to the region hoping to strike gold.
For Denver basketball you’ll head to the Pepsi Center, home of the Nuggets in downtown Denver. This area of the city was recently redeveloped to enhance the sports complexes and make it easier for fans to reach them. It’s serviced by light-rail and there are two exits off of I-25 making it a simple trip. There are several places to stop on Speer Boulevard en route to the arena, like Brooklyn’s and Breckinridge Brewery Mountain House. Both venues offer comfort food and drinks for pre-game entertainment.
If you’re spending a weekend in Denver or aren’t too far to travel for a game – head to the Pepsi Center and see the Nuggets. You’ll leave knowing that Denver is one of the best NBA cities to visit.
5. Los Angeles: Lakers
One of the most iconic basketball franchises in history is the Los Angeles Lakers. The franchise was known as “Showtime” because of the stars the city has been able to attract over the last 50 years. The home of the Los Angeles Lakers is the Staples Center, located in Downtown Los Angeles next to L.A. Live and the L.A. Convention Center. Be prepared to pay a lot for parking and to sit in traffic for a while.
Laker fans are some of the most loyal fans in sports history. Unfortunately, tailgating is prohibited at the Staples Center and it is strictly enforced by the LAPD. Since you are in the center hub of Los Angeles if you can imagine it, it’s probably there. There are bars, restaurants, and pubs in every direction. Just keep in mind you will be paying LA prices, so do not expect to get a cheap meal before the game. Since the LA Convention Center and LA Live are next to the Staples Center there are always concerts, comedy shows, or something going on in the area.
The possibilities are endless in Los Angeles, one of the best NBA cities to visit. If you are looking to get cook food and hang out on the beach Santa Monica Pier is the perfect place to spend your day on a non-game day. There are shops, drinks, games, and the California sun. If you aren’t interested in passing your time at the beach, you can attend one of the many concerts or festivals going on in the city. There is always something to do in Los Angeles.
If you want to avoid the chaos of Downtown and the outrageous parking prices, the best place to stay is outside of Downtown LA. If you are looking for an affordable option with “quick” access to the Staples Center Aventura Hotel is a solid option.
>>> READ NEXT: 13 Hidden Gems in Los Angeles: Unique Things to Do in LA
6. San Francisco: Golden State Warriors
Not too many people equate San Francisco as a sports capital but this city is sport crazy with the original location for the San Francisco 49ers and also in basketball the Golden State Warriors. Playing since 1962 in San Francisco, the Warriors now play at the Chase Center, a gorgeous new waterfront venue created in 2019 in Mission Bay and is the home of the Warriors.
Off season, the center is used as a multi-purpose center for large scale events and other gatherings and is a spectacular venue right on the water. Mission Bay is a newer development on the south end of the city with new shopping and dining venues and you can easily take surface public transportation to visit the Chase Center. There’s also a lot of fun, quirky and trendy places in San Francisco to explore and experience.
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