Thursday, September 18, 2014

Levi's Stadium & Museum Tour: Very Worth Doing

Despite all the current controversy surrounding NFL players behaving "badly" the Bay Area's excitement, curiosity and some frustration about the 49ers new football stadium, Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, continues.

Last month, before Levi's Stadium opened for the football season, Dave, Jim and I journeyed to Santa Clara to take a Public Tour of the stadium.

The tours are given year-round, every day of the week, except when there is a home 49ers game or some other Levi's Stadium event, and on some holidays.

The Guided Stadium Tour (90 minutes) costs $25 for adults; add a tour of the excellent Museum, and the cost is $35.  If you just want to visit the Museum, admission is $15 for adults and $10 for those with discounts. There are discounts for seniors, children, locals and several other. Private groups can reserve their own tours. Between the tour, the museum, and lunch, we spent the entire day here.

Tour parking is free in the lot right by the entrance to the Stadium where the tours start.

The best way to reserve is in advance, though the Stadium's web site (link above), but you can take your chances and show up at the box office at the Stadium and hope to get tour tickets sometime that day. The tours start every half hour from 10 a.m. until 4:30 p.m.

Even Season Ticket Holders do not get to go behind the scenes to many of the places that the tour took us.

Our well-informed guide took us into several Club Levels.

We left the inside of the BNY Mellon Club to sit in the club's stadium seats. Looking down on the field, we saw a lot of discussion going on in the middle of the field.  While our tour guide was extolling the merits of the Bandera Bermuda turf on the field, a new drought-tolerant variety, little did we know that this would be that turf's last day. As we watched, the turf was being closely examined by many, including Coach Harbaugh. 

The next day, the turf was torn out because it was not holding up during a few exhibition events that had been held in the Stadium and the it was felt to unsafe for play.

If you care about turf, here is a closeup of the Bandera Bermuda, maybe an historic photo…

On the Press Level, we went into the Press Boxes and wandered this level's hallways which are decorated with magazine and program covers from past 49er's seasons.

Up on  the Roof Level, where the luxury suites are located, we went out the amazing "Green Roof." Throughout the tour, our guide pointed out energy-saving and environmental features of the Stadium, including the solar panels up on the Roof Level.

Levi's Stadium is the first United States football stadium with a LEED Gold certification. 

We visited the Away-Team Locker Room.

And, also, the Cheerleader's Locker Room. I couldn't resist taking a selfie at one of the Cheerleader's makeup tables.

Our guide would have escorted us into the museum, but we decided to have lunch first and do the museum later on our own.

The 49ers Museum itself is interesting and extensive enough to spend a good part of a day just in it. It chronicles the entire history of the 49ers with displays, exhibits, films, and much more. The Museum fills 20,000 square feet. Sony created/designed the Museum. 

We had fun with the live sizes statues of players and coaches, past and present. 

Five Super Bowl Championships: Lombardi Trophies.

So you want to be a cheerleader? Take an interactive lesson with a real 49ers cheerleader (on screen) and then be tested by dancing with the entire squad and then graded on how well you've done! This woman got high marks.

Finally, Save time to shop in the 49ers Team Store.

It is the biggest team store possibly at any NFL stadium, and I mean, HUGE!  Because there are two football teams in the Bay Area and there was a possibility that the Oakland Raiders might want to share this stadium, NFL required that the Team Store be large enough to accommodate merchandise for both teams.  For now and probably forever, the 49ers have a Team Store twice the size of usual stores at football stadiums.  It's a wonderful store and, of course, I updated my 49ers wardrobe a bit and bought a shirt, earrings, pins, and other decorative items for my annual Super Bowl party.


While the stadium's food concessions are closed on tour days, celebrity chef Michael Mina's Bourbon Steak and Pub, right at the Stadium, is open every day of the week. The Pub is open daily for lunch and dinner (Brunch on Sundays) and the Steak part of the restaurant is only open for dinner. 

We reserved in advance for lunch, a good idea as it is already extremely popular with the local business people who work nearby.

Bourbon Steak and Pub is Chef Mina's first sports-oriented restaurant. And, he had fun designing the menu.

I knew ahead of time that I was going to order the Nachos because I had read about the fun Chef Mina had in creating it. Instead of a pile of tortilla chips covered with cheese, peppers and whatever other toppings, Chef Mina makes his nachos with whole tortillas that are layered with Borracho beans, corn salsa, and cheese and topped with a sunny side egg (charred peppers and chile are optional extra toppings).  

Then, my server came to my plate with a mezzaluna knife in hands and proceeded to slice through the entire creation, cutting it into quarters.  

The end result was something more akin in appearance to traditional nachos, but with runny egg mixing into it.  It was so so good and the "theatre" of the presentation enhanced the experience.

The boys were a bit more conventional in their lunch selections:  The Smokin' Double Wagyu Dog for Jim. It was garnished with Honey Mustard, Cole Slaw, and Chicharrones. It came with a side of very tasty Fries. 

and, the Pulled Pork Sammy for Dave. Dave's sandwich was on a Black Pepper Potato Bun and came with his choice of a side dish. He chose the Salt-Roasted Potato Salad

I've never had Frickles before but have always wondered what could be so good about deep-fried dill pickles.  At Bourbon Pub I couldn't resist ordering them for our table to share, figuring if someone was going to prepared them well, it would be Michael Mina.  They came with "Secret Sauce" for dipping and were yummy. I'll have them again the next time I dine here.


I highly recommend a tour of Levi's Stadium. It's a fun, interesting, and modestly-priced day-long outing. While I may never get to see a live 49ers game, I know I will be back for another tour and visit to the Museum whenever friends or out of town visitors want to do something fun and new in the Bay Area.

1 comment:

mary ann said...

Great report - thanks!