Cal Ripken Experience Aberdeen
Every summer weekend, baseball families on the East Coast travel I-95 to the Cal Ripken Experience – Aberdeen, Maryland. We’ve had three wonderful experiences at Cal Ripken Aberdeen, with both of my sons playing tournaments at this beautiful facility.
Note: While I originally wrote this post in 2021, I’ve updated it with some new information and tips after our most recent tournament this past weekend (June 24 – 26, 2022).
Here are some travel tips if your child’s team will be traveling to the Ripken Experience Aberdeen for a Ripken tournament.
The Ripken Experience Facility
The Ripken Experience Aberdeen is the ideal tournament destination for East Coast baseball teams. For anyone from the Northeast, if you’ve ever traveled on I-95 between Baltimore and Philadelphia you will immediately recognize the location – you can actually see the stadium lights from I-95 and from across the Chesapeake Bay. The facility is clean and beautiful, with ample parking. It’s a great way to spend a beautiful summer or fall weekend. Our kids and their friends roamed freely throughout the facility during their free time, watching other teams play.
Hotels at the Cal Ripken Experience Aberdeen
There are two hotels located onsite at the Ripken Experience Aberdeen, the Courtyard Marriot Aberdeen at Ripken Stadium and the Residence Inn Aberdeen at Ripken Stadium. One cool feature of the hotels, which are attached in the middle, is that the exterior was designed to look just like the B&O Warehouse at Oriole Park at Camden Yards.
We have stayed three times at the Courtyard Marriot Aberdeen for a Ripken tournament. For tournament families, you cannot beat the convenience of staying onsite. Each time, we were lucky enough to have a room facing the main stadium (Cal, Sr.’s Yard, the replica field of Oriole Park at Camden Yards) at the Ripken Experience, so we could watch the early Saturday and Sunday morning games.
Tip: if you think your team will be playing at a Ripken tournament anytime in the near future, it’s best to book a room really early if it’s important to you to stay onsite. We booked our rooms for the October tournaments back in July, and for the June tournament in February.
The hotel offers a pool, onsite fitness center, and breakfast is included.
Games and Tournaments
Games run on a strict two hour time limit, so as not to throw off the start time of the next game.
If your team is lucky enough to play on Cal Sr.’s field or the Ripken Stadium (MInor Leage Stadium of the Aberdeen Iron Birds) there is no need to bring chairs. Pretty much all other fields you should bring your own chair unless you want to stand or sit on the grass.
The Ripken Experience provides an announcer for each game, who announces batters and play a pre-determined set list of ‘walk up music’.
13u tournament games are played on a limited set of fields due to the field size. Old Yankee Stadium, located within the Ripken Experience, and Leidos Field at Ripken Stadium, Minor League stadium for the Aberdeen Ironbirds, are the only two fields that can accomodate 13u. The Minor League stadium is located directly next to the Cal Ripken Experience, making this a convenient (and honestly really cool) field for your older player.
At the end of each game, each head coach awards a ‘Player of the Game’ pin to one ballplayer from their team.
Rain impacted schedules two of the times we were at the Ripken Experience. Weather is obviously outside the control of the facility, and they did their best to shuffle around schedules once the weather finally cleared up.
Live Streaming: For family and friends that want to watch the games, but can’t make the trip to Aberdeen, live streaming of games is available through HiCast Sports Network. You will need to select a subscription plan in order to start watching; plans start at $19.99 for a 7 day pass, or $19.99 for a monthly pass that will automatically charge you once a month. HiCast also streams at other large tournaments like Shipyard, Ripken Myrtle Beach and Ripken Pigeon Forge, so if you have other travel planned for the upcoming months, check out their list of venues before selecting your subscription.
Tips for your visit
Parking: There is plenty of onsite parking, either directly next to the facility, or across the street at Ripken Stadium. Families with a lot of gear will want to bring wagons. While the facility is well paved and walkable, there can be quite a long trek to some of the back fields.
Concessions: There is one main Concession stand at the facility, though it had to close early because of staffing. There are tents and picnic pavilions throughout the facility with picnic tables.
Coolers: You are permitted to bring in coolers and outside food and drink into the facility.
Photos: There will be photographer at each of the games, taking action photos of the game as well as team photos. A couple days after the tournament ends, you can go on the Major League Photos website and order photos directly from the website.
Merchandise: There is a merchandise store next to the Concession stand at Cal Sr.’s field where you can purchase tournament and Ripken Experience t-shirts, sweatshirts, sweatpants and more. The lines tend to be long, especially during Saturday’s games, so if you can get to the shop early in the morning or later on the first night of the tournament, that’s my recommendation to avoid a long wait. Fortunately there is usually a game going on Cal Ripken Sr.’s field, so you have something to watch while standing in line.
Families with young children: For kids who are tired of watching their big brother’s game, there is a playground right next to Cal Sr’s field. The area around the fields is paved and walk able, so there is plenty of rooms for strollers.
Seating: Seating (i.e. bleachers) was limited or non-existent at fields other than Cal. Sr’s field and the Ripken Stadium. Bring your own chair or waterproof blanker for seating unless you want to stand. You should also bring an umbrella for rain and sun protection.
Aberdeen Ironbirds at Cal Ripken Stadium: The Aberdeen Ironbirds are a High-A affiliate Minor League Baseball Team, associated with the Baltimore Orioles. Conveniently, the stadium is located directly next to the Cal Ripken Experience, and right out the door of both onsite hotels. Like all Minor League stadiums, they offer theme nights and inexpensive family fun. Check out their schedule here.
Where to Eat in Aberdeen
Aberdeen is a large town, and there is a large selection of chain restaurants within a 10 minute drive of the Cal Ripken Experience. Since we’ve only been there for weekend tournaments, we didn’t get the chance to head out to many restaurants (especially this past weekend, with two kids playing two games each on Saturday).
Our restaurant choices were based purely on convenience to the Ripken Experience as well as their ability and willingness to handle large groups. Because we have been there for weekend-only tournaments, there wasn’t a huge amount of downtime.
Applebees was able to accommodate a large group of team members and their families, and the menu appeals to picky kids (and parents who may need a beer after a long day of baseball).
The Greene Turtle has standard bar food (think hamburgers, quesadillas, appetizers, etc.) and was able to handle a group of 20+ kids and parents.
Chap’s Famous Pit Beef is famous in Baltimore for their pit beef BBQ sandwiches, and has a convenient Aberdeen location minutes from the facility. The menu is large and varied, and there is plenty of indoor and outdoor seating for families. Recommended because the BBQ lived up to the hype.
La Tolteca is a nearby Mexican restaurant that also is able to accommodate groups. The food was good, but the margaritas are amazing. Again, a large menu with something that will appeal to even the pickiest kids.
Overall, we’ve enjoyed each of our visits to the Cal Ripken Experience Aberdeen. A beautiful facility combined with the convenience of onsite hotels and easy access to I-95 makes this the ideal baseball destination for East Coast baseball families. The Cal Ripken Experience Aberdeen continues to be a great baseball experience for baseball players and families alike, and we’ll be back for our fourth experience this coming fall!
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