Last week I wrote an article about road trip options if you wanted to follow the Royals around in 2022. I included a couple of options in that article that included minor league stops along the way, but I figured I’d write an article for each team with the best places to see each Royals affiliate in 2022. So last Friday I wrote about your options for following the Columbia Fireflies (A-) around this summer and then on Monday I wrote about the Quad Cities River Bandits (A+). This also will not be an exact science, but I’ll quickly break down where the NWA Naturals will be at different times this summer and what there is to do in that area during the day.
The Naturals are coming off of a 2021 Double-A Central Championship and will likely feature a bunch of players from the 2021 High-A Championship team from Quad Cities. Alec Marsh, Jonathan Bowlan, Seuly Matias, Will Klein, Nick Loftin, Maikel Garcia, Michael Massey, Tucker Bradley, all figure to be in NWA at some point during the season so there should be plenty of reasons to make a trip or two to Iowa if you’re able. Alright. Let’s give this a whirl. I’ll post the Omaha (AAA) article eventually.
Option #1: Frisco, Texas
I know I started off the last two of these with the hometown of the team, but Frisco is less than 30 minutes from Dallas and the Turnpike Troubadours are in town on the same weekend as the Naturals in April (19-24). The Naturals are only in Frisco the one time all year, but it’s Dallas and frankly there probably (…?) isn’t a bigger city that any Royals affiliate will be in all year. The Naturals should be absolutely LOADED to begin the season. Combine the location, time, and roster, and this is the best time to catch this team all year in my opinion. I’m not entirely sure I’ll be able to make the trip, but this would be the one to make.
I’ve spent some time in Dallas and love the area. I’ve been around downtown, Fort Worth, Grand Prairie…awesome part of the country. Here’s a list of some of the best things to do during while you’re there waiting for the games at night.
- Billy Bob’s Fort Worth
- One of the best bars in the country. This is where the Turnpike Troubadours will be Friday and Saturday nights. Go ahead and miss one of the games in Frisco for this. Tickets are back down closer to $100/piece. Will be a great time if you’re in the area.
- Six Flags Over Texas
- If you’ve got kids, here’s a great day killer.
- The Dallas World Aquarium
- One of my favorite aquariums ever. More of a zoo, but still pretty fantastic.
- Perot Museum of Nature and Science
- First time I’d ever seen dinosaur bones, I think.
- The George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum
- I don’t really care what your political beliefs are, presidential libraries are always pretty cool to stop by and see.
- Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Gardens
- Never been but it looks beautiful and it gets raving reviews.
- The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza
- Strap on your tinfoil hats.
- JFK Assassination Tour
- I’ve never actually been on one but if you’re into that kinda thing…
- National Video Game Museum (Frisco)
- Never been but…
- The Museum of the American Railroad
This isn’t even to speak of the food. Dallas is rich with BBQ, Tex-Mex, and all kinds of other wonderful cuisine. The street food isn’t quite as good as Houston, but there’s still plenty of places to eat. I know Frisco isn’t *exactly* Dallas, but you could legitimately stay on the northern outskirts of Dallas and be less than 15 minutes from downtown Dallas AND Dr. Pepper Ballpark in Frisco. This might actually be the number one road trip option for the entire MiLB season if we’re considering the team and location.
Option #2: Corpus Christi, Texas
I promise Springdale will be on this list eventually, but come on. Just look at that picture of Corpus Christi. The Naturals are only here once this summer, and it’s in the middle of July (12-17), but it’s definitely one of the best places to catch the Royals AA affiliate this year if you can make the trip. I almost put it #1, but Dallas is an easy day drive and Corpus Christi is…not. Anyway, here’s a list of the top things to do in Corpus Christi if you decide to make the trip.
- Visit the beach
- Malaquite Beach, Whitecap Beach, Corpus Christi Downtown Seawall, Bob Hall Pier, Padre Island…
- USS Lexington Museum on the Bay
- The USS Lexington is a giant aircraft carrier turned museum in CC and has some of the coolest artifacts I’ve seen on a military museum type of…thing. Anyway. Must see if you’re in town.
- Texas State Aquarium
- Corpus Christi Museum of Science and History
- The geographic nature of Texas leads to some pretty fascinating nature museums in the state. This one’s a little more geared towards kids.
- South Texas Botanical Gardens and Nature Center
- Texas Sealife Center
- Hurricane Alley Waterpark
- Corpus Christi Municipal Marina
We mentioned Myrtle Beach in our article about the Columbia Fireflies road trip opportunities this summer, and Corpus Christi is really the only other good beach option left unless you’re hitting up the Great Lakes while in Wisconsin. Between Corpus Christi and Dallas, the Naturals legitimately have two of the best road trip options among the entire farm system.
Option #3: Springdale, Arkansas
Here we go. Springdale, Arkansas, home of the Northwest Arkansas Naturals. I don’t think most people realize how pretty Northwest Arkansas is. It ain’t called the “Natural State” for nothin’. I spent some time around the Buffalo National River in Ponca, Arkansas, back in 2020, and my gosh. Ponca is only an hour East of Springdale and the hiking/camping you can do in the area is second to none. Seriously, Arkansas is a wildly underrated state for being outdoors.
Here’s a list of things to do around Springdale while you’re waiting for the games to start.
- Visit Hot Springs National Park
- This is cheating a bit, as you’re a little over three hours from the national park when you’re in Springdale, but it’s 1000% worth the drive if you’re going to be in Arkansas anyway. Hot Springs National Park is gorgeous and there’s a ton of camping/hiking you can do in the area. If you’re going to Springdale anyway, make the drive south.
- Sassafras Springs Vineyard
- Gorgeous local vineyard where you can swing by for lunch and wine one day.
- Tontitown Winery
- Shiloh Museum of Ozark History
- This is one downhome, backwoods looking museum, but…when in Rome…
- Visit the Buffalo National River
- Again, you’re about an hour away, but it’s also worth the drive to do some hiking, white water rafting, camping…whatever you’re trying to get into that day.
- Visit Fayetteville, Arkansas
- Springdale and Fayetteville are less than 30 minutes apart, and Fayetteville has a bunch more stuff that you can do while you’re waiting for the games at night.
This is much more of a trip like the Wisconsin trips we talked about with the Quad Cities River Bandits than it is a beach trip to Texas, but I promise it’s worth the drive. If you like to camp or hike or fish or bike etc., in any capacity, this is a much closer drive than Wisconsin and the team should be stout early on as well. Remember, this team will be mostly made up of the 2021 High-A Championship team from Quad Cities last year, so they should be really good.
Option #4: Springfield, Missouri
Let’s be honest, I’m running out of ideas here and Springfield is a short drive south if you just want to watch a loaded Naturals lineup play for a few days. The Naturals only have nine games in Springfield this year, as they open their season in Springfield with a 3-game set against the Cardinals AA affiliate from April 8th through the 10th. They return to Springfield from May 3rd through 8th, and then don’t return until 2023. The band “Needtobreathe” will be in town on Saturday the 7th…Missouri State’s baseball team is in town that weekend…and then it’s just Springfield. Close, familiar, cheap…yeah. I’m not going to list out anything here. You’ll figure it out. Or not.
Option #5: Tulsa, Oklahoma; Wichita, Kansas; Amarillo, Texas
Surprise! It’s a plan your own adventure edition of the series! None of these cities is a better drive than Springfield, none are particularly better or worse than the other, and I don’t really feel like splitting hairs between them for you. Here are the dates the Naturals will be in each city and how far that city is from Kansas City:
- June 7-12
- August 30 – September 4
- 4 hours
- July 26-31
- September 6-11
- 3 hours
- June 28 – July 3
- 8 hours 30 minutes
The article for Omaha will be up eventually. Thanks for getting this far with us.