One of my friends has a 5-year old son who, as 5-year olds are prone to do, became fixated on the idea of going to a Boston Red Sox game. The problem is that Red Sox tickets are some of the most expensive in sports, with grandstand seats poised to set you back $50 this season. Toss in parking, overpriced hot dogs, and a souvenir, and taking the family out to the ballgame can easily set you back $300 or more.

My friend's solution was certainly creative but probably won't win her any awards in the integrity department: she took her son to Pawtucket Red Sox game, the team's triple-A affiliate, hoping that he wouldn't notice the difference. The cost? $6 for adults, $4 for kids, general admission. Nice!

I'm not saying that you need to, or should, lie to your kids but with baseball season soon to be upon us, consider some alternatives to 3-figure tickets, $40 parking, and overpriced and unhealthy snacks, all in the name of nosebleed seats.

And trust me: minor league games are actually more fun. You get a better view, it's a calmer, more family-friendly atmosphere, it's easier to get autographs, and the food is generally less expensive.

To find your nearest minor league baseball team, and order tickets, use this map.

Also consider: college games, which are often free.

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