Fans’ guide to following the SF 49ers on the road in 2023

Beat writer Cam Inman’s tips on what to eat, drink, see and do for fans who follow the team out of town this season

Every year, more Niners fans travel to enemy territory, turning a Niners away game into a weekend getaway.

The 49ers faithful spans the country (and beyond). Those who travel will almost certainly not be alone. The sea of red jerseys causes some stadiums to become bipartisan. Some are lorded over by rowdy hosts, such as Philadelphia’s bullring, which hosted the 49ers’ 2022 season.

The itinerary for the 2023 season is first-rate, with a diverse mix of stadiums, cities, and locations to visit. The preseason began on August 13 in Las Vegas, and the 49ers hope to end their postseason there as well, in Super Bowl LVIII on February 11 at Allegiant Stadium.

Here’s my travel guide for this season’s tour stops, based on my extensive research (22 years crisscrossing NFL cities) and fan suggestions:

Sunday, September 10, 10:00 a.m.

The Steelers of Pittsburgh

Acrisure Stadium: Rebranded from Heinz Field last season, this 22-year-old gem abuts three rivers (Ohio, Allegheny, and Monongahela) and is a short walk from downtown across the Roberto Clemente Bridge. The six-time Super Bowl champion Steelers’ memorabilia adorns the 68,400-seat stadium.

Transportation: The airport is about a 20-minute drive away by car, or twice as far by bus. The train is out of the question.

The Strip District and Market Square are popular eating areas. Both serve Primanti Bros. hefty sandwiches with fries. Peppi’s and Roland’s Seafood are also worth a visit. For your tailgate, stop by Mancini’s Bakery.

Order an IC (Iron City) if you’re thirsty. For beer (and football) reviews, listen to Ben Roethlisberger’s Footbahlin podcast. I’m excited to try the Dancing Gnome brewery.

Sights: Botanical garden, natural history museum, or head to Mount Washington and the Duquesne Incline on the other side of the Monongahela for skyline views.

Detour: If you don’t want to fly out on Monday (Sept. 11), the Pirates host the Nationals at PNC Park, where you can compare it to the Giants’ Oracle Park.

Sunday, September 17th, 1:05 p.m.

The Rams of Los Angeles

SoFi Stadium: Known as Levi’s South, or the 49ers’ in-season vacation home, fans have packed the 70,000-seat stadium since its opening in 2020. The lighting and airflow give it the feel of a convertible Porsche with the top up and windows down. With all due respect to Costco hot dogs, the Inglewood location lacks nearby food options.

Accommodations: Because this is Los Angeles, your hotel preferences and budget will clash. For those flying into Southern California, the most direct route is to anchor near LAX, either north in Santa Monica and Marina del Ray or south in the beach towns.

El Segundo Brewery, Highland Park, Monkish, Three Weavers, and Golden Road are all well-known options, but craft beer fans can also attend the L.A. Beer Fest on September 16.

Tito’s Tacos and Johnnie’s Pastrami in Culver City, 7 miles from SoFi, are recommended by a Niners fan.

The Strand, particularly the stretch from Manhattan Beach to Redondo Beach, is arguably the best running (or bike-cruiser) path on the NFL beat.

UCLA plays North Carolina Central in the Rose Bowl on Saturday.

Sunday, October 15, 10:00 a.m.

At the Cleveland Browns,

Cleveland Browns Stadium: Since the Browns moved into this lakeside, downtown home in 1999, the 49ers have lost twice, in 2007 and 2015, with quarterbacks Chris Weinke and Blaine Gabbert.

Must-see: The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is located across from the football stadium, next to the Great Lakes Science Center, and is well worth the $35 adult admission.

Mabel’s BBQ is one fan’s recommendation for grub/grog. Meanwhile, sports bars and breweries can be found six blocks from the stadium, closer to the Guardians’ ballpark: Whistle & Keg, City Tap, The Clevelander, Butcher and the Brewer, and the Corner Alley.

Detour: The Pro Football Hall of Fame is an hour south in Canton and is well worth a visit: you’ll learn everything there is to know about football’s history. If you will, it is a boom-and-bust tour.

Monday, October 23, at 5:15 p.m.

Minneapolis Vikings

U.S. Bank Stadium: With its downtown location, noise (“Skol!” chants), and skyline view beyond one end zone’s glass doors, this prime-time affair may offer the NFL’s best stadium experience.

Daytime activities include running, biking, and walking along the Mississippi River. Visit the University of Minnesota. The Mall of America is a great place to shop. Visit the homes on Summit Avenue in St. Paul. Pay a visit to Prince’s Paisley Park. You can also drive to Lake Minnetonka (eat at Maynards and visit Skipper Barber Shop).

Bar La Grassa (Italian), J.D. Hoyt’s (steak/seafood), The Butcher’s Tale (steak), Black Sheep (pizza), Rise (bagel), Mill City Farmer’s (breakfast), and The Loon Cafe (chili, sports bar) are among the dining options.

Hops: Summit’s Extra Pale Ale is popular, but look for Lupulin Brewing’s IPA, possibly at The Gnome in St. Paul.

Light rail can whisk you from the airport to downtown. The stadium is easily accessible from downtown hotels.

Sunday, November 12th, 10 a.m.

Jaguars of Jacksonville

TIAA Bank Field: This is the 49ers’ fifth visit to the stadium since the Jaguars joined the league as an expansion team in 1995. It is the location of the former Gator Bowl Stadium, and there are plans for additional renovations to the facility as well as an entertainment district that could cost $2 billion, aided in part by public funding.

Beaches: A few bridges and 25 minutes from downtown are over 20 miles of white-sand beaches.

Cowford Chophouse, Spliff’s Gastropub, and Bold City Downtown are all about 10 blocks away from the stadium.

Golf: Some of the country’s best courses are within 90 minutes, with TPC Sawgrass (see: 17th-hole island green) in Ponte Vedra Beach being the closest. To get to Sea Island, head north. Travel south to see the World Golf Hall of Fame and either play the course there or continue south for another 25 minutes to the charmingly historic St. Augustine (Prohibition Kitchen; Roosevelt Room).

Disney World: Because you (or your kids) will want to know, Disney World in southern Orlando is about a two-and-a-half-hour drive south.

Travel time: There are no direct flights from the Bay Area, so plan ahead of time and book your connections carefully, then rent a car to get around.

Thursday, November 23rd, 5:20 p.m.

Seahawks Stadium in Seattle

Lumen Field: The 49ers clinched the NFC West (on Dec. 15) in their last visit, and now they can avenge the Seahawks’ 2014 Thanksgiving Night debacle at Levi’s Stadium. This downtown venue provides arguably the NFL’s most electrifying and loud environment, particularly during prime time (barring a lightning delay, as in 2013).

Transportation: The light-rail line connects the airport to downtown in approximately 35 minutes. If you can handle hills, such as a scenic run up to the Queen Ann neighborhood, Seattle is definitely walkable.

The Space Needle, Pike Place Market, the original Starbucks, Lake Union, and the University of Washington are all easily accessible by foot or light rail. Look out the window of your plane (or hotel) for a snow-capped Mount Rainier.

Other neighborhoods: Spend an extra day or two exploring Bainbridge Island, Alki Beach, Ballard, Bellevue, and other Seattle neighborhoods.

Wild Ginger was a favorite among sportswriters, but tastes have shifted to Sushi Kashiba, The Pie Bar, Barolo, Le Panier, Walrus and Carpenter, and Purple.

Drinking establishments include the Diller Hotel, Shorty’s, The Alibi Room, and the Blarney Stone.

Georgetown (south Seattle), Fremont (Lake Union), Reuben’s (Ballard), Stoup (Ballard), Elysian, Old Stove, and Pike are among the breweries.

Sunday, December 3rd, 1:25 p.m.

Eagles of Philadelphia

Lincoln Financial Field (Lincoln, NE): According to wild tales from 49ers fans who attended last season’s NFC Championship Game, there may be no more hostile environment. Perhaps there is no shame in remaining anonymous.

Transportation: Go to/from the South Philly stadium with an Uber ride or the Broad Street subway line. City Hall in downtown is over seven miles away.

Happy trails: Philadelphia is a fantastic city to explore, full of history and culture. Go get lost.

Yes, you can run up the famous Rocky steps to the Philadelphia Museum of Art and place your feet on a plaque where Rocky Balboa stood.

Other points of interest include Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell for American history, Rittenhouse Square for peace/art/music, the Palestra for basketball, and Walnut Street for shopping.

Reading Terminal Market (see: Dinic’s), Dalessandro’s cheesesteaks, Dante & Luigi’s, The Dandelion, Parc, Di Bruno Bros, Oh Brother, and Franklin Fountain cater to all appetites.

Monk’s Café is small, but it serves some of the best beer in the country, including some from California if you’re missing home.

Sunday, December 17, at 1:05 p.m.

Cardinals of Arizona

State Farm Stadium: Head west from the airport or Phoenix, Scottsdale, or Tempe, then north, and look for the spaceship in the desert. Glendale will be remembered as the 49ers’ COVID hostel in December 2020, when the team was unable to play in Santa Clara County.

If golfing in northeast Scottsdale is out of the question due to cost or weather, keep an eye on the college and pro basketball schedules.

Rent a car or use a ride-sharing service for transportation. The Valley of the Sun does have a light-rail line that connects Phoenix, Tempe, and Mesa, but not Glendale.

Chelsea’s Kitchen, The Mission, Oregano’s, The Macintosh, and Snooze serve food.

Digs: Because this is not a centralized NFL city, you must choose an area to bunk in that works best for you. Tempe should be avoided during the winter break of Arizona State University students. Old Town Scottsdale is a tourist hotspot, while Northeast Scottsdale is upscale but a long distance from State Farm Stadium.

Sunday, December 31, 10:00 a.m.

Commanders in Washington

FedEx Field: This aging, dilapidated stadium is in a remote location (Landover, Maryland) and is likely in its final seasons before the club’s new ownership can find a more suitable home. With nothing else nearby, there is plenty of room for tailgating. It’s 12 miles and about 30 minutes by car from your White House guest room.

National monuments: Who needs a New Year’s Eve date when you can ride up to the Lincoln Memorial, the Washington Monument, and sacred war memorials on the National Mall? Schedule a Capitol tour through the visitor center or your Congressional representative right now.

Museums: Because the National Archives will be closed on January 1, visit our Constitution and Declaration of Independence the day before or the morning of the game. Except for Christmas, Smithsonian Museums are open daily, and the most popular are those for Natural History, American History, African American History and Culture, and Air and Space.

Churchkey, Off the Record, Bier Baron, Other Half, Shaw’s, and Right Proper are all good places to drink.

Food: Across the street from the White House, Old Ebbitt Grill bills itself as “Washington’s oldest saloon.” St. Anselm, RPM Italian, 2 Amy’s, Pearl Dive Oysters, Del Mar, Baked & Wired, Call Your Mother Deli, and Bullfrog Bagels are among the others.

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