With Miami’s big-league baseball team calling Marlins Park home, Miami natives might think they know the Little Havana ballpark like the back of their hands by now. Even if you haven’t made it out to Marlins Park, you’ve surely heard about some of its flashier features — a retractable roof, fish tanks behind home plate, the super-Miami home run sculpture … and that sea creature race the shark wins every time.
But the truth is, in the vast Marlins Park, it’s easy for even Marlins Park’s most seasoned veterans to miss out on some of its more intimate details. Plus, new surprises and activities are added all the time to keep fans wanting to return.
We promise — win or lose — there are plenty of things to do at the ballpark that will make for an enjoyable outing.
Editor’s note: This article has been updated.
Sunday brunch at the Clevelander
Between the frozen drinks, the scantily clad dancers, and a swimming pool modeled after the one in the iconic Clevelander Hotel, the Marlins’ version of the South Beach bar is the most happenin’ part of the park. But every Sunday home game, the usually 21-and-up venue becomes much more family-friendly, as locals spend their Sunday Funday brunching at the ballpark. The Clevelander opens its doors at 11:30 a.m. and hosts a bountiful brunch buffet before the game. The brunch package even includes a game ticket. Pro tip: Opting for seats as opposed to standing-room tickets guarantees a field-level view of the game that makes for one helluva unique perspective.
Admire Marlins Park’s art and history
Considering it’s only a 4-year-old stadium, Marlins Park has a lot of depth to it, both artistically and historically. Team owner Jeffrey Loria has no problem being a big money baller when it comes to art — he’s an art dealer by profession — so, naturally, Marlins Park is full of it. While you’re at the game, look for a Roy Lichtenstein pop-art piece called “Baseball Manager” and Christian Moeller’s subtle yet striking “Spectators” on the parking garage. The latter uses 55,000 circular white plastic chips to depict children from Little Havana peering through a chain-link fence as they watch a baseball game.
One of Marlins Park’s more surprising public art pieces may also be the one with the most historical significance: Daniel Arsham’s “Orange Bowl Tribute.” You know those large orange letters sticking out of the ground on the East Plaza? Still wondering why there’s an O in Marlins? It’s because the letters don’t spell Marlins at all. They’re supposed to represent 10-foot-tall letters fallen from the sign over the former Miami Orange Bowl, the site on which Marlins Park now stands.
Sample Miami’s best comida — or go the opposite route entirely
The food stands hiding inside of the Taste of Miami corridor highlight four local restaurants, including Don Camaron, but if you’re already from Miami, you know and love this city, so maybe it’s OK to pass up on Latin cuisine this one time. At Marlins Park, there’s a wide variety of everything, from helmet nachos, gluten-free food, sushi rolls from SuViche, fish tacos, and craft beer. It’s hard to get bored of ballpark food when there are so many options, but the new indoor food truck outside of Sections 14 and 15 literally makes monotony impossible. The stationary truck serves up a rotating menu that changes every series, and the food offerings are based on popular cuisine from the visiting team’s city. If you can’t wait for the surprise once you get to the stadium, you can follow @MarlinsPark on Twitter to find out what’s on deck for the series.
Take a moment to appreciate the Bobblehead Museum
That’s El Museo de Bobblehead to you. (Yes, the mini-museum is labeled in Spanish, too.) Nearly 700 bobbleheads of Marlins players new and old, other current and former MLB athletes, and even mascots and broadcasters, sit inside a glass case across from the food truck. The structure holding the bobbleheads moves constantly at a barely noticeable rate, in order to keep the baseball figurines bobbing away. This is not something you’ll find at any other ballpark. In fact, ESPN calls it “the largest public and permanent display of bobbleheads in the big leagues.”
Track down the players for autographs after the game
Once the last out is called (and the guys have finished doing their post-game thang in the clubhouse), the Marlins usually exit the ballpark from the north side and head to the Third Base Garage. Get in line early, and you can try to interact with the players by taking photos or asking for autographs. Sure, there are a few more foolproof ways to meet a Marlins player at the park — like the 6 p.m. autographs sessions in the New Era Team Store before Friday and Saturday night games, or a #SelfieSunday photograph session (no selfie sticks allowed) — but nothing’s as fun when it’s totally guaranteed. Sometimes it can take up to an hour for the players to come outside.