BOSTON (TheStreet) -- The Major League Baseball season is reaching its merciful end, which means football for a majority of fans, but playoff road trips for a select few.

It's a lot more expensive than catching the action on

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Fox or

Time Warner's

(TWX)

TBS, but seeing your team steal a win in another team's stadium and celebrating in their hometown is one of the most underrated aspects of sports culture.

With notable exceptions, baseball's races for postseason spots have been reduced to tussles over playoff positioning. In the American league, the Texas Rangers ran away with the Western Division, while the Minnesota Twins stomped on the Chicago White Sox's playoff hopes en route to becoming the first team to clinch a playoff spot. There's still the small matter of the New York Yankees and the Tampa Bay Rays settling their pitched battle for the AL East title, but the loser of that battle is all but assured a Wild Card berth.

It's more complicated in the National League, where the only fans who can make playoff plans with any certainty are those of the NL East-leading Philadelphia Phillies and the NL Central's Cincinnati Reds. The Atlanta Braves' Wild Card lead has eroded as The San Francisco Giants and San Diego Padres intensify their pursuit of the NL West title. The two teams have made each other's lives miserable for the past month, and their three-game season-ending October series in San Francisco could be a pre-postseason playoff.

Either way, it's going to cost fans a bundle. According to Team Marketing Research, average baseball ticket prices rose 1.5% this year, with three of the potential playoff teams (the Yankees at $51.83, Phillies at $32.99 and Giants at $28.79) among the Top 10 ticket prices in the league. If the Padres make the playoffs, the team will have given its fans the most bang for their buck with a second-lowest-in-the-league average ticket price of $15.15, a 15.4% discount from last year.

If fans are going to spend, however, they may as well do it in style and support their team on the road. For their benefit, we've compiled a guide to the playoff cities including where to stay, what to eat and what you should see when you're not at the stadium:

NEW YORK

Home field:

Yankee Stadium

Where to stay:

You'll want access to the 4, B and D trains, so we recommend the Larchmont (27 W. 11th St., 212-989-9333. It's three blocks from the 4 train at Union Square and right in the middle of the action in Greenwich Village.

What to eat:

Pizza? Hot dogs? Jewish deli? None of the above. Get yourself to the Corner Bistro (331 W. 4th St. at Jane Street, 212-242-9502) for not-arguably the best burger in the city, reasonable $2.50 pints of McSorley's Ale and a view of other games from an Old New York barstool.

What to see:

The Empire State Building and the Statue of Liberty are for chumps and people who really dig waiting in line. High Line Park, built on an old elevated rail grade running through Chelsea, is a relative newcomer and offers great views of moneyed exhibitionists in the condos above. Also, head down to the southern tip of Manhattan and take a ride over to the newly refurbished and accessible Governor's Island for its views of the city and relative peace and quiet.

TAMPA/ST. PETERSBURG, FLA.

Home field:

Tropicana Field

Where to stay:

There are bigger hotels around it, but the Ponce de Leon boutique hotel (95 Central Ave., St. Petersburg; 727-550-9300) is just hotter. A gorgeous art-deco marinafront location blocks from the stadium, a swank hotel restaurant and a $95-per-night starting price make it a clear winner.

What to eat:

Pizza places that serve kangaroo (Down Under Pizza, 12821 N. Dale Mabry, Tampa, 813-961-2500) and chicken and waffle dinners (The Hangar, 540 First St. SE, St. Petersburg, 727-823-7767) are some of the funkier offerings; a tomato-sauce drowned Goody Goody burger at the Pine Grove (9399 N. Florida Ave., Tampa, 813-933-2795) is the best way to taste an area classic.

What to see:

You're in Florida in October ... go to the water! The Pier -- which encompasses shops, restaurants, an aquarium and the Hands-On Museum -- is right on the Gulf. Meanwhile, the Salvador Dali Museum houses the largest collection of the late artist's work and has a waterfront view.

MINNEAPOLIS/ST. PAUL, MINN.

Home field:

Target

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Field

Where to stay:

Wyndham's

(WYN)

Graves 601 Hotel (601 First Ave. North, Minneapolis; 866-523-1100) is a swanky little spot right across the street from Target Field that, with minimum prices ranging from $115 a night for weekdays and $151 for weekends, is quite reasonable for its location.

What to eat:

You need Cosetta's (211 Seventh St. West, St. Paul) in your life. A hybrid of old Italian grocery store, pizza shop and kitchen rolled into one, a big plate of their mostaccioli pasta with ricotta and mozzarella cheeses is what good Italian boys from the Midwest get when they pass into the afterlife.

What to see:

It's Target Field's first year in existence and first playoff, so that's a good place to start. However, despite all of Minnesota's great natural resources and cultural institutions, Americans really need to see the Mall of America in nearby Bloomington, Minn. The home plate of the Twins' old Metropolitan Stadium, which occupied the site until 1985, is still there. The Nickelodeon Universe theme park and more than 520 stores (including an anchor

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that is 280,000 square feet alone) that surround it, however, are a crash course in all-encompassing power of capitalism.

DALLAS/FT. WORTH/ARLINGTON, TEXAS

Home field:

Rangers Ballpark

Where to stay:

Considering this area is one-stop shopping for sports fans, stop messing around and book early at the Marriott Courtyard Dallas Arlington by the Ballpark, which is next to the ballpark and has rooms starting at $99 a night.

What to eat:

This is Texas. Have some barbecue. Locals will send you clear out of town for the best barbecue in the area, but Mike Anderson's (5410 Harry Hines Road, Dallas; 214-630-0735) has been making ribs and hot links worth crowing about since 1982.

What to see:

If you're in town for a game, why not be in town for two? Take in a Cowboys game, the 175-foot-diagonal HDTV screen and the dancing girls at Jerry Jones' $1.3 billion Cowboys Stadium right next door. If you're stuck for something to see between games, the Six Flags over Texas theme park is nearby as well.

PHILADELPHIA

Home field:

Citizens Bank Park

Where to stay:

Easily the best deal in the city is the Penn's View Hotel (Front and Market streets, 215-922-7660), amid the bars, restaurants and historic sites of Old City and steps from Penn's Landing.

What to eat:

The town loves to shove a cheesesteak down a tourist's throat, so you may as well have a good one at Tony Luke's, which just happens to have an outlet in the ballpark. For a real Philly sandwich, however, go to Reading Terminal Market (1136 Arch St.) and get a roast pork sandwich with provolone and broccoli rabe (known as rapini elsewhere) at Tommy Dinic's. The pork is so spicy and the cheese so sharp that it massages your tongue with flavor -- a little creepy, but so good.

What to see:

While everyone else dodges cameras and children at Independence Hall, the Constitution Center or the "Rocky steps" at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, why don't you take a walk down South Street for some real Philly flavor. The locals will tempt you with giant slices at Lorenzo's (305 South St.) but you're better off ducking into a Wawa and getting some Tastykakes for the trip home.

ATLANTA

Home field:

Turner Field

Where to stay:

There are hotels closer to Turner Field, but the

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Autograph Collection's Glenn Hotel (110 Marietta St. NW, 866-40GLENN) is right near Centennial Olympic Park in the middle of downtown and, with rates starting at $99 to $160 a night and amenities including a rooftop bar, a much sexier option.

What to eat:

If you're going to have "Midnight Train to Georgia" in your head when you make this trip, you may as well get a good meal out of the woman who sang it. Gladys Knight and Ron Winans Chicken and Waffles (529 Peachtree St. NW, 404-874-9893) has a saliva-inducing catfish basket, grits served with fish or shrimp and the aptly named Midnight Train featuring four southern-fried chicken wings and a waffle. You'd rather live in its world than live without it in yours.

What to see:

Atlanta is still one of the few places in America where it's perfectly OK to be a tourist. Go on, try to taunt Wolf Blitzer at CNN Center. Wonder at the marvels of carbonation and early uses of cocaine at

Coca-Cola's

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World of Coke. Atlanta won't judge you.

CINCINNATI

Home field:

The Great American Ball Park

Where to stay:

The Cincinnati Hilton Netherland Plaza (35 W. Fifth St., 513-421-9100) is not only steps from the ballpark and $100 to $160 a night to start, but is in the gorgeous 1931-vintage art deco Carew Tower with a lobby and ballroom straight out of a noir film.

What to eat:

If you're eating in Cincinnati you're eating chili. Whether it be three-way (spaghetti, chili and shredded cheese) five-way (spaghetti, chili, shredded cheese, diced onions and beans) or on a coney-style hot dog or plate of fries, the best places to find it are Price Hill Chili (4920 Glenway Ave.), Camp Washington Chili (3005 Colerain Ave.) and Dixie Chili (3716 Dixie Highway).

What to see:

Check out the restaurants and entertainment in Fountain Square, take a ride on a BB River Boat or just take a stroll through Over-The-Rhine and take in the architecture. If that's not sporty enough, the NFL's Bengals play right next door to the Reds.

SAN FRANCISCO/SAN DIEGO

Home field:

AT&T

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Park/PETCO Field

Where to stay:

The Hotel Palomar (12 Fourth St., 415-348-1111) if it's San Francisco or The Omni San Diego, connected via walkway to Petco Field, if it's San Diego (675 L St., 619-231-6664)

What to eat:

San Francisco's best and best-named sandwiches (The Vegan Womanizer,

Name of Girl I'm Dating, the Ugly Owl) belong to Ike's Place (2247 Market St.), which caters to carnivores, vegetarians and vegans alike with its combinations of veggie meatballs, mozzarella sticks, jalapeno poppers and other strange sandwich bedfellows. In San Diego, bring a wingman to help with ribs, brisket and burnt ends at Kansas City BBQ (600 W. Harbor Drive, 619-231-9680), best known as the place where Tom Cruise's Maverick sang "Great Balls of Fire" in Top Gun.

What to see:

Golden Gate Bridge and Park and Haight-Ashbury in San Francisco, the beach and Balboa Park in San Diego. A great home stretch for both of their teams as the season ends.

-- Written by Jason Notte in Boston.

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Jason Notte is a reporter for TheStreet.com. His writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Huffington Post, Esquire.com, Time Out New York, the Boston Herald, The Boston Phoenix, Metro newspaper and the Colorado Springs Independent.