Catch a live sports experience in the USA
With a hot dog in one hand, a beer in the other and peanut shells spilling out of your pockets, it's time to embrace crowd culture and relish live sport as only the USA can do it. Going to a game is as American as apple pie, and it's super-easy when you can buy tickets online before you leave home.
The MLB (Major League Baseball) season runs from March to September; NHL ice hockey is on from October until June; NWSL (National Women's Soccer League) games are on from April until October; NBA basketball happens from late October until mid-April; and NFL football runs from early September until early February.
If golf's your thing, they tee off in Augusta in early April; for some world-class tennis action, Flushing Meadows in August is your target; and if you have a marathon on your mind, you can apply to run in Boston (April) or New York (November). And don't forget the Indy 500 in May to see Scott Dixon!
Best sports experiences in the south
To catch these southern teams and events, fly Air New Zealand non-stop to Houston, then pick up a rental car or connect to a local airport with our alliance partner United Airlines. All your USA flights - both international and domestic - can be booked through our website.
Oklahoma and Texas
- Oklahoma City Thunder have New Zealanders spellbound, because Steven Adams is the 'center' of attraction. If you follow Thunder basketball and want to see the 'Killer Kiwi', as he's nicknamed, the recently-renovated Chesapeake Energy Arena will welcome you with open arms. Turn up the volume on AC/DC's Thunderstruck to get in the mood for an Oklahoma Thunder game
- Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium is a legendary NFL experience. The Cowboys are one of the most successful franchises in gridiron history and they're worth around USD $5 billion. They can also claim the second-most Super Bowl victories of all time. Best food to eat at a Dallas Cowboys game? Hand pies (we'd call them pasties) stuffed with burger or cheesesteak
Georgia and Florida
- Augusta National is home to the Augusta Masters golf tournament - a brilliant excuse for a week in the beautiful state of Georgia. Pack your clubs, so that you can explore the local golf scene after the match. This one-week golf masters tournament happens in early April, when temperatures are pleasant and spring is in the air
- Orlando Magic will wow you with their moves at the Amway Center in downtown Orlando. If you're travelling with kids, seeing some Magic basketball fits in perfectly with other Orlando attractions, like Epcot® and Disney's Hollywood Studios®
- Orlando Pride, Florida's NWSL soccer team - includes Alex Morgan, one of the top women's professional soccer players in the world. Based at Exploria Stadium, Orlando Pride is a must-see if you have aspiring soccer players in your family
Best sports experiences around the Midwest and East Coast
For these live sports adventures, fly Air New Zealand non-stop to either Houston or Chicago, then connect as necessary to a local airport with our alliance partner United Airlines. All your USA flights, both international and domestic, can be booked through our website. From October 2020, we'll be flying non-stop to New York*.
* Subject to final regulatory approvals and crewing agreements
Chicago, Indiana and Wisconsin
- Chicago Cubs are the baseball team that belongs to historic Wrigley Field, famous for its ivy-covered brick outfield wall, red marquee and hand-turned scoreboard. Worth around $3.1 billion, the Chicago Cubs are in the Top 5 USA teams by value. Wrigley Field's most addictive food is the Marquee Melter, a grilled cheese and brisket sandwich
- Chicago White Sox are tied to Guaranteed Rate Field in the South Side of Chicago, which is why they're also called the 'South Siders'. They're one of major league baseball's most improved teams. The tacos are great at a Chicago White Sox game or fill up with the loaded French fries
- Chicago Red Stars, the local NWSL team, have world-class defender Julie Ertz in their line-up. You'll find the Red Stars at SeatGeek Stadium in Bridgeview. They play a gritty game that's exciting to watch
- Chicago Blackhawks are considered one of the best ice hockey teams in the US. The Blackhawks have won numerous Stanley Cups and are known for their physicality in the arena. The Blackhawks game stadium is the United Center on the Near West Side of Chicago
- Chicago Bears are based at Soldier Field, an iconic football pitch that's nearly 100 years old. Bears football dates back to 1921, when the team were known as the Chicago Staleys. The Bears have won eight NFL Championships and one Super Bowl title. Best thing to eat at a Chicago Bears game is a gyro, a Greek-style pork sandwich
- Green Bay Packers belong to Lambeau Field in the heart of downtown Green Bay, Wisconsin. The Packers joined the NFL in 1921 and they're owned by the local community, so their fans are like stakeholders - makes for an exciting game!
- Indianapolis 500, aka the Indy 500, is one of the world's legendary motor races. Held at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in late May on Memorial Day weekend, this epic 500-mile event attracts drivers from all over, including Scott Dixon from New Zealand
- Boston Marathon is a long-running (excuse the pun!) race that's held every year on Patriots' Day, the third Monday of April. It's the world's oldest and most interesting marathon; definitely a bucket-list event. The Boston Marathon route passes through eight Massachusetts cities and towns, so there's lots of history and sightseeing on the way. You need to be quick to enter, literally. Qualifying times are tough!
- Boston Red Sox, or Sox for short, have won the World Series nine times. Their stadium is Fenway Park, which is famed for its hand-operated scoreboard and the Green Monster, the 11-metre green-painted left field wall. Chow down on a lobster roll or a meatball cone during a Boston Red Sox game
New York City
- US Open Tennis at Flushing Meadows-Corona Park in Queens is a chance to see some of the world's best players thrashing it out at in New York's summer heat. The US Tennis Open occupies about three weeks, beginning late August
- New York City Marathon doesn't demand a fast qualifying time (some people just walk it), but securing an entry depends on a ballot. If you're raising money for charity, there's a better chance of getting into the New York City Marathon
- New York Rangers, the NHL's #2 team, play home games at Madison Square Garden, so catching a match is a chance to see two NYC icons at once. The NY Rangers' fan song is 'Slapshot'; you'll hear it plenty when a goal is scored, along with fire truck horns
- New York Yankees once had a big hitter called Babe Ruth, the most famous baseball player of all time. The Yankees are still at the top of the league standings and you can see them at Yankee stadium from spring to fall. Be sure to try a Big Mozz at a Yankees game - a hand-breaded giant mozzarella stick that's deep fried
- New York Mets play at Citi Field in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, one of baseball's finest ball parks. Their fan song says, "Meet the Mets, meet the Mets, step right up and greet the Mets!", so we reckon you should. Watching a Mets game could be the crown jewel of your NYC itinerary
Philadelphia, Baltimore and Pittsburgh
- Philadelphia Phillies can be found at Citizens Bank Park in Pennsylvania. Like all baseball teams, the Phillies have their ups and downs, but the atmosphere at the stadium is guaranteed to be electric - it always sells out. Be sure to try a Philly cheesesteak while you're watching a Philadelphia Phillies game
- Baltimore Orioles play home games at Oriole Park, Camden Yards. The stadium is a great example of the baseball-only retro-park craze; while it looks old, it's actually quite new. Before, during or after an Orioles game, grab a bite at Boog's BBQ, operated by legendary Orioles first baseman Boog Powell
- Pittsburgh Steelers are working their way up the NFL power rankings, so if you find yourself in their neck of the woods, get tickets for Heinz Field. Steelers fans, decked out in black and gold, are raucous-yet-friendly. Favourite foods at the game are buffalo chicken tenders, mac and cheese, and cheesy breadsticks
- Pittsburgh Pirates have been scoring home runs since 1887 and won their first baseball world series in 1909. They have more than 40 players in the Baseball Hall of Fame. PNC Park is where you can catch a Pittsburgh Pirates game, where a mile-high Primanti Bros sandwich goes down a treat
- Washington Spirit are a NWSL team based in Germantown, Maryland. Rose Lavelle, recently of World Cup fame, is their star midfielder; a truly inspirational player. The Maryland SoccerPlex is Washington Spirit's home pitch
Best West Coast USA sporting experiences
To see the best California teams, fly Air New Zealand non-stop to either San Francisco or Los Angeles. If you're venturing on to Colorado or Portland, you can add a domestic flight with our alliance partner United Airlines. All your USA flights, both international and domestic, can be booked through our website.
Portland and San Francisco and Portland
- Portland Thorns, Oregon's NWSL team, have two world cup players - Lindsey Horan and Tobin Heath. They play at Providence Park, a stadium that's right in the heart of Portland. Aside from soccer, Portland's known for its food and craft beer scene
- San Francisco Giants can be counted on for big hits and stunning plays. Oracle Park is their home, near the San Francisco Oakland Bay Bridge. You shouldn't have any trouble getting tickets for a SF Giants game, especially mid-week. Garlic fries are the number one food at a Giants baseball game
- San Francisco Nighthawks are a women's soccer team based at Kezar Stadium, right next to Haight-Ashbury, the 1960s hippie precinct. They're one of the top Women's Premier Soccer League teams in the area
- San Jose Shark's ice hockey games happen at the SAP Center in San Jose, about an hour south of San Francisco. Watching a SJ Sharks game is massive fun; when the Jaws theme music plays, everyone moves their arms up and down like a shark chomping
- Los Angeles Sparks, a women's pro basketball team, play at the Staples Center. If you've never see a women's pro team before, a live game will blow your socks off. This team's been on a winning streak for some time
- LA Lakers also call the Staples Center home. Jack Nicholson and Leonardo Dicaprio are counted amongst their fans, so you can do some star spotting when you're watching a Lakers game. Decked out in their bright yellow kit, the Los Angeles Lakers are always awesome
Colorado and Utah
- Denver Broncos are a great team to watch because you'll also get to admire Mile High Stadium, complete with the Ring of Fame Plaza, Sports Legends Mall and Tailgating (the practice of hosting a picnic party in the carpark). The Broncos are acclimatised to the thin air of mile-high Denver, but visiting teams are often seen huffing oxygen on the side-lines!
- Colorado Rockies play at Coors Field in Denver. Keep your eyes on the ball, because it travels faster in Denver's high-altitude air. Hits out of the park happen more often here! Favourite foods for a Rookies game include Jack-A-Lope gourmet hotdogs, chicken tenders and totchos (tater tots topped with chili and corn)
- Utah Royals are based in soccer-crazy Salt Lake City at Rio Tinto Stadium. World Cup players Becky Sauerbrunn, Kelley O'Hara and Christen Press are all regular starters for the Royals, so expect some classy action