Best Seats for Being in the Shade

nationals park seats in the shade
For day games at Nationals Park, shaded seats are a welcome relief from the summer sun

With an average temperature nearing 90 degrees in the summer, Nationals Park goes under the radar as one of the hottest stadiums in the big leagues. Add in the infamous DC humidity and Nationals day games can get unbearable in a hurry. Fortunately, the ballpark offers three simple rules for finding seats in the shade:

  • Choose seats on the third base side
  • Pay the premium to sit in the club level
  • Avoid everything in outfield

Shaded Seats on the Third Base Side

For 1:35 p.m. games at Nationals Park, the third base side of the field will get shade before the first base side. There are four levels of seating on this side and the amount of shade varies by time of day.

side of nationals park with shade
The third base side of Nationals Park is shaded before the first base side

In the lower level (sections labeled in the 100s), shade will be tough to come by before 3:00 p.m.. The back two or three rows of sections 108-117 are often shaded at first pitch, but it usually takes the entire game for shade to reach the front rows. If sitting in the lower level is a must and shade is also a must, sit in the highest row possible.

All rows of club seats are shaded from 1:35 onward on the third base side of the field (more on the club level below).

While the view and the height of the Upper Gallery (400 level) may scare some people away, sections 401-409 are the best choice for getting shaded seats at a discount. These are some of the cheapest tickets for a Nats game, and all rows are shaded for day games.

Just in front of the Upper Gallery are 300-level sections simply called "Gallery". During the hottest months of the year, these seats are exposed to the sun at first pitch. As the game progresses, sections 302-310 will start to become shaded and their back rows will receive relief first.

Club Level Shaded Seats

club level shaded seats
On a sunny day, seats on the club level are the absolute best choice for shade

If you have club level tickets for a Nationals day game, there's better than a 90% chance your seats will be shaded.

Third base and home plate club sections (206-216) are always shaded for games starting at 1:35 p.m. The shade will last the duration of the game so you never have to worry about the sun moving around.

On the first base side, sections 217-221 are shaded at first pitch and will continue to be until about the 6th inning. At this point, the sun starts moving enough where the front rows of sections 220 and 221 might be in the sun. Inning-by-inning the sun will start shining more and more on sections 217-221. If you absolutely must stay out of the sun, avoid these seats or know that you might have to escape to the indoor club lounge for the latter part of the game.

Outfield Seats Were Meant to Be in the Sun

Across all Major League ballparks there are very few outfield seats that are in the shade. This pattern holds true at Nationals Park where the outfield is a better spot for soaking up the sun than hiding from it.

The worst seats for shade are right field sections 240-243. For the same price (or cheaper) you're better off getting a ticket in the upper reaches of the 400 level where the sun is not a factor.

sunny seats night game at nationals park
Even for night games, outfield seats should be avoided if you want to stay out of the sun

One exception in the outfield are are sections 139-142. A large overhang keeps rows M and above out of the sun for day games. As an added bonus, these rows are a short walk to concessions so you can quickly grab another beer or head to the restroom.

Best Places to Find Covered Seats

rain coming in at nationals park
Storm clouds are a common sight at Nationals Park - finding covered seats can keep you dry

If the heat wasn't bad enough, Washington D.C. sees rain about once every three days over the summer. For this reason, covered seating is almost as important as shaded seating. Unfortunately, the rules for finding covered seats at Nationals Park aren't as simple as the rules for finding shade. This is because there aren't any fully covered sections in the ballpark.

In the Same Section, Some Rows are Covered and Others Are Not

Because you can't pinpoint specific sections as being covered, you'll need to pay close attention to the row when purchasing tickets.

In the lower level, only the last couple rows are covered in a limited number of sections.

In the club level, the last five rows are covered (and you have access to an indoor area).

Within the upper level, nothing in the 300 level is covered. If you choose to sit here, you're getting rained on. Instead, save a few bucks and head to the 400 level where cover starts at Row C.

In the Right Field Terrace and Mezzanine, the back half of rows are covered. Just be careful in the late afternoon or early evening. If the rain turns into sunshine, the overhead coverage won't stop the sun from beating down on you.

Finally, for the best overhead coverage in the outfield, the upper half of sections 139-142 will keep you dry.