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Out of the Park

There's tasty fish chowder, baked fish and sushi at the local Benkovitz Seafoods stall, behind first base on the main concourse. You'll find pirogies at North Shore Refreshment in the park. There's also hand-dipped ice cream at the Sweet Spot behind home plate.

TICKETS: Prices range from $9 for bleacher seats to $35 for dugout box seats. Info: 800-289-2827, www.pittsburghpirates.com.


Spring training 2004 at Holman Stadium, Vero Beach, Fla. (Vero Beach Dodgers)

WHAT ELSE TO DO: Before the game, take the red funicular, the Duquesne Incline, up the bluffs of Mount Washington for a spectacular view of the city, day or night. The Andy Warhol Museum is worth visiting for its seven floors of pop art silkscreens. Stop at the historic Kennywood amusement park on your way back to D.C. and ride on one of its wooden roller coasters. Info: Greater Pittsburgh Convention and Visitors Bureau, 800-359-0758, www.visitpittsburgh.com.

GETTING THERE: Pittsburgh is about a four-drive from Washington. From downtown, you can take a bus or "T" to the ballpark or hop on the Gateway Clipper shuttle boat.

July 1-3: Chicago

Folks, it doesn't get better than this: Our Nats will be in Chicago playing the Cubs at Wrigley Field (1914) for the Fourth of July weekend.

On a sunny afternoon, Wrigley is the best place in all of America to enjoy baseball. The swarm of people standing in front of the "Welcome to Wrigley Field" sign at the North Clark Street entrance lets you know you are in a very special place, indeed. Bill Veeck, baseball's most creative executive, built the classic centerfield scoreboard and planted the ivy growing on the brick outfield walls. Legendary announcer Harry Caray made the seventh-inning stretch singing of "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" famous.

Food has never been a standout, but the park is trying to update, with vegetarian fare, frozen bananas and smoothies. The Wrigley Pig is a decent grilled pork sandwich with onions. On the main concourse, try the Italian Market, Bullpen Barbecue or Chili Peppers Mexican Fare.

TICKETS: The Cubs haven't set this year's prices, but last year they ranged from $12 for an upper deck reserved seat to $36 for an infield club box. Info: 773-404-2827, www.cubs.com.

WHAT ELSE TO DO: Visit Lake Michigan's Navy Pier for family fun and take a water taxi to Shedd Aquarium, the world's largest indoor aquarium with 8,000 aquatic animals. Sue, the world's largest reconstructed dinosaur, is waiting for you at Field Museum. A nine-day City Pass gets you into the aquarium, Field Museum, Hancock Observatory, Art Institute, Adler Planetarium and Museum of Science and Industry. Info: Chicago Convention and Tourism Bureau, 877-244-2246,www.877chicago.com.

GETTING THERE: Flights to Chicago start at about $165 round trip, on American and United, among others. The CTA red line stops directly at Wrigley Field at the Addison station.

July 26-28: Atlanta

What does a city do with an 85,000-seat Olympic track and field stadium after the Games are over? Atlanta's answer was brilliant: Lop off 35,000 seats and give the place a second life as a baseball park. The fun at Turner Field (1997) is at the entrance.

As you walk into the ballpark, statues of Hank Aaron and other baseball greats greet you. A huge souvenir shop, plenty of food and a Braves Museum are near the entrance plaza. There are tributes to Aaron, the Home Run King -- his retired No. 44, his 715th home-run ball and bat, and a 100-feet-in-diameter image of the ball he hit that April night in 1974.

The Braves always serve a food item that is native to the team they're playing. We're guessing one of Washington's few native foods, the half-smoke, will be on the menu when the Nats come to town. Otherwise, the fare is ordinary here: hot dogs, brats and nachos. Caramelized pecans and almonds are the sweetest attraction.


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