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Top Sporting Events in the USA

The Best Spectator Sports Worth Traveling For

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The Superbowl. The World Series. The NCAA Final Four "March Madness" basketball tournament. These are some of the biggest sporting tournaments in the world, let alone in the United States. But the above take place in different locations each year depending on which teams are playing or which city is hosting. There are some sports events, however, that define a city or region, creating awesome annual opportunities fans to devise a sporty travel itinerary. If you're a fan of car racing, tennis, horse racing, golf, cycling, running, or surfing, read on...

Daytona 500

NASCAR fans flock to Daytona International Speedway on the last Sunday in February for the Daytona 500, considered the most prestigious stock car race in the world. The race is 500 miles, which requires 200 laps around the 2.5-mile Daytona International Speedway loop. An entire tourism industry has built up around the Daytona 500 by virtue of the fact that it takes place in Florida in February, thus you can find Daytona 500 travel packages and Daytona 500 hotel deals on the Speedway's website. The Daytona 500 takes place in February.

The Masters Golf Tournament

Played at the Augusta National Golf Club since 1933, the Masters golf tournament is one of the most important men's professional golfing championships. Played during the first week of April, the Masters signals the first gasp of summer for golfers and golfing enthusiasts. The winner of the Masters traditionally receives a green jacket to wear following his victory.

Not that the Masters tournament is as competitive off the course as it is on. Potential spectators must begin applying for Masters tickets as early as 11 months in advance. The Masters Tournament takes place in April.

Boston Marathon

Held every year on Patriots' Day - the third Monday of April - since 1897, the Boston Marathon is the world's oldest annual marathon race. The race attracts top male and female runners from across the world but is also open to amateurs. The 100th running of the Boston Marathon set a world record for the amount of participants, which included 38,708 entrants, 36,748 starters, and 35,868 finishers. In addition to the many runners, the race also sees as many as 500,000 spectators line the route, which meanders past many of Boston's top attractions. The Boston Marathon takes place in April.

Triple Crown Horse Racing

Flickr / banamine
The Kentucky Derby, the Preakness Stakes, and the Belmont Stakes make up the three horse races of the Triple Crown. In order to win the "Triple Crown," a horse must win all three races. This has only happened 11 times in history; the last time was in 1978.

The first and most illustrious of the races is the Kentucky Derby, which takes place on the first Saturday in May at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky. The Preakness Stakes is held in Baltimore, Maryland at the Pimlico Racetrack on the third Saturday in May. Belmont Park in Elmont, New York, hosts the Belmont Stakes, which takes place three weeks after the Preakness and five weeks after the Kentucky Derby.

Official Websites of Triple Crown Races

  • Kentucky Derby
  • Preakness Stakes
  • Belmont Stakes
  • Indianapolis 500

    Indianapolis 500 IndyCar
    © Flickr user cmakin
    With permanent seating capacity for 257,000 fans, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, in Indianapolis, Indiana, is the largest spectator sporting facility in the world and hosts one of car racing's most famous races - the Indianapolis 500. The Indy 500 takes place on Memorial Day Weekend each year and features 33 starting IndyCars racing around a 2.5 mile oval circuit for 200 laps. The winner typically drinks milk after his victory and collects one of the single biggest monetary prizes in sports, around $2.5 million or more.

    AmGen Tour of California

    While the route changes yearly, the one week, 750-mile AmGen Tour of California is your best chance to see world-class cyclists riding through the cities and along the coasts of California. The Tour of California doesn't have a long history, going on only since 2006, but it has begun to attract thousands of cycling spectators who may have otherwise traveled to Europe for the Tour de France or the Giro d'Italia.

    Check out the Tour of California route map and California cities where you can see the Tour of California. There are also a few Tour of California travel packages that you can book through the official tournament website.

    U.S. Open of Surfing

    Surfer at Huntington Beach, California
    Getty Images
    A chance to see some of the world's top surfers ride impossible waves is what the U.S. Open of Surfing in Huntington, Beach, California, is all about. Each year, hundreds of thousands of sun and surf lovers gather on 14 acres of beachfront south of the Huntington Beach pier to watch professional men and women surfers compete for bragging rights and a purse of up to $310,000. The surfing tournament has blossomed over the years to include competitions for skateboarders and BMX riders and spectators will also find music, vendors, and tons of California-style fun.

    The U.S. Open (Tennis)

    Men's professional tennis at the U.S. Open
    © Flickr user OlympianX
    The final Grand Slam tennis tournament of the season, the U.S. Open is played on the hard courts at Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, in Queens, New York. The finals of the U.S. Open take place on the central court, named Arthur Ashe Stadium, after the American tennis great. But your best chance to see some of the biggest stars in men's and women's professional tennis is early on in the tournament, when matches are played at the various, more intimate satellite courts of Flushing Meadows. The two-week tournament takes place at the end of August/beginning of September with the Labor Day weekend falling in the middle of the tournament, making it an ideal sporting event around which to plan a visit to New York City. The tournament's official website provides information on securing U.S. Open tickets or booking a U.S. Open travel package.

    New York City Marathon

    NYC Marathon Runners on the Verrazano Bridge
    Getty Images
    Although not as old as the Boston Marathon, the New York City Marathon is one of the most popular running races in the world, attracting annually approximately 35,000 runners. One of the biggest draws for participants in the NYC Marathon is the chance to run across or past icons of the Manhattan cityscape and through all five boroughs. Spectators get a thrill from watching the runners, too. For more information, check out the detailed New York City Marathon Guide which has details on routes and times. The New York City Marathon takes place in November.
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