The Sports Bucket List: Five Must-See (and Maybe Do) Sports Events

Sports travel is a huge and growing segment of the travel marketplace. Most of us have traveled (or plan to travel) to attend a sporting event. We cite the match or game or event as the reason for the adventure, but it is the experience we will remember more than the event itself. Yes, the memories forged on the trip will last a lifetime regardless of the results.

So, which events make a bucket list of sports experience trips? Which trips should you take? Well, here are five sport-related travel experiences to consider, including one for those of us who love to participate, too.

The Masters Tournament

view of golfers playing the masters - a can't miss sports event

Often cited as the toughest ticket in sports, the Masters Tournament is much more than watching the world’s best compete through 18 holes. For many, it marks the beginning of spring, a time when the weather starts to cooperate, and we hear birds chirp and get a view (and smell) of azaleas in bloom. For fans, it is also the tradition and history of the holes themselves at the Augusta National golf course.

Elite players come to Georgia every April to compete on the very same course that all of golf’s legends have played on, a course designed by golfing great Bobby Jones. Whether you’re a fan of the game or not, standing next to golfing legends and such die-hard knowledgeable fans makes it worth attending… if you can get a ticket.

The Kentucky Derby

view of a statue outside churchill downs - a can't miss sports event

Plenty of sport enthusiasts set their sights on the triple crown of horse racing; the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness, and the Belmont Stakes. Perhaps a true fan plans to attend all three in a lifetime, but if you must choose one, circle the first weekend in May and head to Louisville, Kentucky for the “Run for the Roses.”

Prepare yourself for multiple mint juleps (a Kentucky bourbon cocktail) to help with singing “My Kentucky Home” alongside 100,000 new friends. But don’t worry, the event remains quite civilized as most dress up to showcase their Derby Hats and the latest fashion trends with the hope to either mix and mingle with celebrities or act like one. It will be an experience to remember that will last much longer than the “most exciting two minutes in sports.”

The World Cup Finals

2018 World Cup Stadium Mordovia Arena - can't miss sports experiences

The World Cup Finals are held every four years as 32 countries (expanding to 48 in 2026) come together to play for the World Cup trophy. This soccer (or football, if you’re not from the United States) tournament starts with qualifying matches years before culminating in an eventual championship match at the host country (or countries).

Traveling to the host county allows fans of the beautiful game to watch World Cup matches together to celebrate, and rejoice in the results while meeting others from all over the world. Many fans expect the final game to be the goal, but for the best experience consider attending the earlier weeks of the month-long tournament, usually scheduled for June and July. This is when games are constant (multiple matches a day), and that translates to more reasons to celebrate and root for countries that are perhaps part of your family heritage. The next World Cup is in 2022.

Formula 1 Singapore Grand Prix

view of the singapore skyline from the formula 1 grand prix - a can't miss sports experience

In the US, car racing fans flock to Indy Car racing, with the pinnacle being the Indianapolis 500, or in NASCAR, the Daytona 500. But globally, racing is all about Formula One. Taking place on a circuit across all the major continents, set your sights on Asia. The Singapore Grand Prix races through the streets of Singapore, zipping by its iconic architecture, historic buildings, and futuristic electric skyline.

Designed to entice, spectators will enjoy the sensations of Singapore, a modern city with incredible cuisine, a unique history, and a festive, top-notch racing party experience.  The event occurs annually in September. The 2019 dates are set for September 20th-22nd.

NYC Marathon

view of runners participating in the new york city marathon - can't miss sports experience

Heading to New York as a sports fan, many people plan a visit to Yankee Stadium, the US Open, or even Madison Square Garden, “the world’s most famous arena”, but the can’t-miss-event is one you can also partake in—the New York City Marathon.

Every November, 40,000 runners traverse all five boroughs on the 26.2-mile marathon course as spectators line the streets. Even if you are not running or don’t know someone aiming to cross the finish line in Central Park, this event is a city-wide party and a chance to experience the joy of cheering on and encouraging all marathon runners.  Plus, it gives you a chance to visit New York City—that alone is worth the trip.

For the true sports fan/traveler, it is never about who wins, but rather, “did we have a great road trip?” At these events, after we attend, we often find ourselves creating memories that last a lifetime. Smiles we can bring back year after year when the event takes place again.

To learn more about Craig and his travels, visit

About the Author

Craig Zabransky is an ex-global management consultant for top-tier banks gone rogue. After a year-long travel sabbatical, he decided to leave Wall Street to pursue his passion for travel. With the belief travel is a gateway to positive life change he podcasts, writes, blogs, and photographs his adventures to inspire others to take and make adventure in their life. To date, he has traveled through more than 55 countries, 40 U.S. States, 5 continents, and is still traveling from his home in the Florida Keys. For more of his story visit his site
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