People travel for all sorts of reasons. Some do it for the thrill of adventure. Others love sightseeing and history. For some, it’s the food and local culture. For sports lovers, our guest writer shares some ideas for hockey travel today!
If you’re a massive hockey fan, though, where you can watch the next big game is always the thought running through your mind. You love the excitement of matchday and watching fully-grown adults crashing into each other, sticks flailing. I have friends and family who love the game- playing or watching- and some have traveled far to watch some games!
It turns out that there are numerous places that all hockey diehards should visit before they kick the bucket. There are obvious venues, like Boston Garden and the Olympia in Detroit. And then there are the not-so-famous venues, some of which are in the US, and others scattered across the world.
Where To Travel If You’re A Die-Hard Hockey Fan
Do you love traveling and hockey? Check out these incredible destinations where you can fulfill your passion for both.
The Toronto Hockey Hall Of Fame
Toronto is Canada’s commercial hub and the largest city by population size, beating out the likes of Montreal and Vancouver. For that reason, it is already a popular tourist hub, offering all sorts of delights for the budding visitor.
The city, though, is famous for more than the CN tower and its views over Lake Ontario. It’s also home to the Hockey Hall of Fame; an institution opened all the way back in 1943 to celebrate the sport.
The venue contains everything a hockey diehard could ever want, with more than 400 inductees, including builders, officials, and players. You can view all the greats here, like Wayne Gretzky and Eddie Shore. You can also see an assortment of NHL trophies from over the years, and how they’ve evolved. The center puts on regular films and research exhibits, providing happy punters detailed insights into the goings-on behind the scenes and the game’s history.
The Toronto Maple Leaf Gardens
There’s a second reason to visit Toronto: the city’s Maple Leaf Gardens. This building is one of only two Original Six structures still standing in Canada, making it something of a Mecca for the budding hockey fan. The Leafs no longer play here, but that doesn’t make it any less worthy of your time.
The facility has an impressive history. Locals constructed it in 1931 during the Great Depression. The Maple Leafs played at it from when it opened until 1999 when they moved to a different home. It played host to some of the most critical events in hockey history, including the USSR showdown in 1971, where the Canadian team won 4-1.
New York’s Madison Square Garden
New York is one of the most-visited cities in the world, and it’s not hard to see why. The combination of soaring skyscrapers and rich history make it one of the most attractive destinations in North America. You can’t go through your life without visiting the place at least once.
Right at the heart of the city is the Madison Square Garden venue – a gigantic arena that plays host to a wide variety of events.
Referred to simply as “the Garden” by New Yorkers, this historic place is a must-visit for anyone over the age of 21 and interested in hockey. The venue might not be the newest in the world – or even the most prestigious in the hockey community- but it has a certain charm you can’t find anywhere else. Attending a match here is an electrifying experience – one that you’ll never forget. The venue has recently received substantial investment from the city and wealthy backers, helping to improve the overall experience for both players and the watching audience.
The home team here is the Rangers. Their soundtrack is one of the most enjoyable of any out there. It’s almost worth visiting just for that!
Detroit’s Joe Louis Arena
Detroit was once known as “Motor City” until the car trade left in the late 20th century. Now it’s rebranding itself as “the hockey town,” thanks to the impressive Joe Louis arena.
Builders first started constructing the venue in the late 1970s, well after what many consider to be the heyday of the local team. The site has seen some of the most spectacular events in the sport’s history, including when Steve Yzerman joined the Red Wings.
Even if you’re not a big Wings fan, it’s still worth taking a trip to this little slice of history. The crowd here is always a lot of fun and often enjoys the odd sing-alone. Don’t be surprised if you wind up in a rendition of Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin’.” Organizers also entertain the crowd during the breaks. Expect the odd Mexican wave or two to come your way.
Princeton’s Hobey Baker Rink
Princeton is a medium-sized city in New Jersey and home to the ever-popular Hobey Baker rink. Stepping into this arena feels less like entering a sports venue and more like a Gothic church. The beautiful art deco styling makes it a truly unique place to watch the sport of hockey.
Builders completed construction on the project in 1923 at the height of the art deco movement. The venue is quite intimate, seating only around 2,000 people. But because of how the site arranges spectators, it feels just as exciting as any of the larger places hockey fans like to go.
If you visit the arena, try to get seating as close to the action as possible. It’s quite hard to see what’s happening from the rear.
Hobey Baker Rink also caters to people interested in the history of the sport. In the lobby, you’ll find beautifully-arranged memorabilia from the club, including photographs and trophies from some of the greats, including Hobey Baker.
Davos’ Vaillant Arena
If you want to head a little further afield, then why not visit Davos in Switzerland, home to the Vaillant Arena.
For tourists, this venue is a massive attraction. Unlike many of its North American counterparts, it offers both an indoor and outdoor arena. It features a host of sports in addition to hockey, including speed skating.
The indoor section of the venue is used for the Spengler Cup and HC Davos. The Spengler Cup is one of the oldest hockey tournaments in the world.
The setting is also beautiful – perfect for anyone wanting to combine their hockey trip with skiing, hiking, or cycling. The venue is among the highest of any in the world, sitting pretty in the Alps. Once you’ve finished watching the game, you can spend the rest of the evening at a local ice bar or on the pistes.
Montreal sits right at the heart of the hockey world, thanks to the extensive history of the sport in the city.
The Bell Center, for instance, is relatively new, and yet still has a tremendous amount of hockey history to offer the diehard. It’s home to the Canadiens Hall of Fame that displays a plethora of greats from the sport. There’s an exhibit that allows you to interact with the sporting heroes of the past. And you can find a life-size locker room, designed to emulate the conditions in which the famous 1976-77 team spent much of their time before the match.
McGill University stands on the same site where the world’s first hockey game was held in 1875. The famous Victoria Rink no longer exists, but its legacy continues to reverberate through the city. Interestingly, the Victoria Rink was the same size as a modern regulation pitch but was eventually closed with a parking garage built in its place. It is only now that people truly recognize the significance of the venue.
Many of hockey’s greatest players still live in the city and call it their home. Henri Richard and Guy Lafleur are two examples. Who knows – if you go to the right places, you might wind up accidentally bumping into them.
New York’s Herb Brooks Arena
If you’re a US hockey fan, you’ll want to pay a visit to the Herb Brooks Arena. While it might not be as famous as Madison Square Garden, it has seen its fair share of incredible moments in sporting history.
Initially, the venue was called the Olympic Center. But then in the 1980s, hockey legend Herb Brooks led a US hockey team to victory over the seemingly unbeatable Soviets, and everything changed forever.
In 2005, the venue owners changed the name to honor the memory of coach Brooks, following the 25th anniversary of the USA’s victory over the Soviet team.
So, as you can see, you have quite a lot of choices of where to go if you love to travel and hockey equally. While your options are quite North America-centric, that’s to be expected. After all, cities like Montreal, Toronto, and New York were where the sport really got its start.
That doesn’t mean, of course, that you can’t travel further afield. It’s just that these locations are genuine Meccas for hockey diehards – places you need to visit before you get too old. Switzerland, for instance, is an excellent choice for those planning a trip to Europe if you want some hockey travel miles around the globe.
Which of the destinations on this list would you like to visit the most?