Spring training is the perfect time to catch a Major League Baseball pre-season ballgame. There are fewer fans in the stadium, players often interact with fans and sign autographs before and after games and the welcoming warm weather is hard to resist. Plus, the prices for premium seats can be much cheaper.
Since the 1890s, baseball teams have flocked to warmer climates for spring training sessions. Spring training begins with practices in mid-February and continues with exhibition games in March and early April. It’s a chance for new players to audition for a spot on the roster and for seasoned players to have time to practice.
Spring training by multiple teams began in Florida in the early 20th century. Since 2010, MLB teams have been equally divided between the Grapefruit League, 15 teams which practice at 13 stadiums in Florida, and the Cactus League, which hosts 15 teams in nine cities and 10 stadiums throughout the Valley of the Suns in Arizona. The teams within each league then travel to area stadiums to compete against other teams in the league.
This season, spring training games run Mar. 3 to Apr. 4 in cities throughout Florida (see the full schedule) and Arizona (see the full schedule). Once you have spent a day or two taking the family out to a ballgame, bought some peanuts and Cracker Jack and rooted for your favourite team, spend some time exploring the cities that host America’s greatest pastime each spring. There’s much to see on and off the diamond.
FLORIDA | Grapefruit League
ASTROS: Osceola County Stadium, Kissimmee
Games: Mar. 5, Mar. 7-8, Mar. 10, Mar. 12, Mar. 15-16, Mar. 20, Mar. 22-23, Mar. 27, Mar. 29-30, Apr. 1 | Tickets are $21 to $72 CAD
The Houston Astros have been playing at the 5,300-seat Osceola County Stadium since 1984. Once you’ve spent a day at the park, there are outdoor activities that don’t involve amusement parks in Kissimmee in central Florida.
The Paddling Center at Shingle Creek: This new Eco-attraction offers tandem kayaks, single kayaks, aluminum canoes, large paddleboards and more for a day of aquatic fun. Basic paddling instruction is provided prior to launching and no previous paddling experience is necessary.
Orlando Tree Trek: Swing in the trees and test your mental and physical skills at Kissimmee’s newest attraction. The aerial adventure course is built in a 15-acre tree canopy. There are six colour-coded courses with 97 games, obstacles or elements for kids, teens and adults. Obstacles include Tarzan-like swings, ladders, suspended bridges, scramble nets, swinging logs and surf boards.
Dinner at Celebration, Florida: Dine alfresco at Columbia Restaurant, a family-owned restaurant famous for its authentic blend of Spanish and Cuban cuisine. This is an outpost of the original in Ybor City, a historic neighbourhood in Tampa. Opened in 1905, the restaurant claims to be the oldest restaurant in Florida. It’s also one of the best. Try the Original 1905 Salad, a generous portion of crisp iceberg lettuce with julienne baked ham and Swiss cheese, tomatoes, olives, tossed grated Romano cheese and the restaurant’s own dressing prepared right at your table.
BLUE JAYS: Florida Auto Exchange Stadium, Dunedin
Games: Mar. 3, Mar. 6, Mar. 8-10, Mar. 13-15, Mar. 18-19, Mar. 22, Mar. 26-29, Mar. 31 | Tickets: $21 to $40 CAD
For 39 years, The Toronto Blue Jays have spent their springs in Dunedin, Fla., on Florida’s west coast playing at Florida Auto Exchange Stadium. From beaches to beer to bargains, there’s much to see and do after a baseball game in this town with Scottish roots named after Dùn Èideann, the Scottish Gaelic name for Edinburgh.
Honeymoon Island and Caladesi Island: Natural white beaches, kayaking and a day of fun in the sun await at both islands, which are state parks, easily accessible from Florida’s mainland. Folks can drive directly to Honeymoon Island or take a 20-minute ferry ride from Honeymoon Island to Caladesi Island.
Dunedin Brewery: Visit Florida’s oldest craft brewery, a nod to Dunedin’s Scottish roots. Try the apricot peach ale, RazzBerry Wheat and the Beire de Café brews. Tours, which are $6 CAD and include a glass and beer samples, are offered Thursday to Saturday.
Dunedin Marina and Main Street: Dunedin has many walk-able scenic spots, from the 60 kilometre paved Pinellas Trail that runs through downtown to the charming shops and cute cafes on Main Street, which leads to the waterfront and Dunedin Marina.
BRAVES: Champion Stadium, Lake Buena Vista
Games: Mar. 4, Mar. 6-7, Mar. 10-11, Mar. 13-15, Mar. 18-19, Mar. 21-22, Mar. 24, Mar. 27, Mar. 29, Mar. 31, Apr. 2, Apr. 4 | Tickets are $17 to $72 CAD (free parking)
Located minutes from Orlando’s theme parks, the 9,000-seat Champion Stadium in tucked inside the massive ESPN’s Wide World of Sports has been the Braves’ spring training home for 18 years. It wouldn’t be a trip to central Florida without visiting a few theme parks before or after a game.
Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom: “The House the Mouse Built” recently completed a multi-year project that doubled the size of Fantasyland with the debut of the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, a family-friendly coaster which takes guests on a wild journey through the mine “where a million diamonds shine.” The park also recently debuted the Disney Festival of Fantasy Parade, an all-new daytime parade featuring characters and music from memorable Disney films.
Universal Orlando Resort: Building on the popularity of Harry Potter, the park’s popular The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley features shops, the Leaky Cauldron eatery and a new, multi-dimensional thrill ride, Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts. Diagon Alley and “London” are located within Universal Studios Florida, which is adjacent to Universal’s Islands of Adventure, the current location for Hogwarts and Hogsmeade. Harry Potter fans are able to travel between London’s King’s Cross Station and Hogsmeade Station aboard the Hogwarts Express and experience both Universal Orlando theme parks with a park-to-park pass for $170 CAD per person.
CARDINALS AND MARLINS: Roger Dean Stadium, Jupiter
Cardinals Games: Mar. 6, Mar. 8-9, Mar. 12, Mar. 14, Mar. 16, Mar. 19, Mar. 21, Mar. 25-27, Mar. 29-31, Apr. 2 Tickets are $12 to $50 CAD
Marlins Games: Mar. 3, Mar. 5, Mar. 7, Mar. 10-11, Mar. 13, Mar. 15, Mar. 17-18, Mar. 20, Mar. 22-24, Mar. 28, Apr. 1 | Tickets are $12 to $50 CAD
Built in 1998, the 6,871-seat Roger Dean Stadium is the only stadium in Florida to host two Major League Baseball teams annually (the St. Louis Cardinals and the Miami Marlins) for spring training and the only stadium in the country to host four minor league teams. The small town of Jupiter on Florida’s east coast is brimming with post-game options on land and water.
Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse and Museum: Climb the lighthouse, built in 1860, and see exhibits housed in a World War II naval housing quarters building and the lighthouse keeper’s workshop at this waterfront museum.
Harbourside Place: Dock and dine at the new downtown entertainment complex Harbourside Place. Visitors can drive, dock or paddleboard to the outdoor riverwalk, which has an amphitheatre, new Wyndham Grand hotel, 15 boutique shops and nine restaurants.
METS: Tradition Field, Port St. Lucie
Games: Mar. 6-9, Mar. 12-14, Mar. 17, Mar. 19-20, Mar. 22, Mar. 24, Mar. 28, Mar. 30, Apr. 1 | Tickets are $15 to $38 CAD
The New York Mets have headed to Florida’s Treasure Coast each spring for 27 years for spring training at the 7,000-seat Tradition Field.
PGA Village: Five kilometres from Tradition Field is PGA Village. This golf resort has four championship courses and a six-hole short course for beginners. Golf enthusiasts will appreciate the PGA Center for Learning and Performance, a training centre with simulators and other golf tech equipment to assist golfers with their game.
Hutchinson Island: Further afield is Hutchinson Island, a barrier island off the east coast of Fort Pierce, Fla. (a 40-minute car ride from Tradition Field). It’s one of the only places in Florida that allows horseback riding on the beach. The pristine beaches are also a great place to work on your tan.
National Navy SEAL Museum: Learn the history behind the elusive Navy SEALs who first began their training on Hutchinson Island during World War II. The Navy SEAL Museum is dedicated to preserving the missions to protect national security. Exhibits include specialized equipment used by Navy SEAL teams and artifacts from some of the most renowned and dangerous missions.
NATIONALS: Space Coast Stadium, Viera
Games: Mar. 5, Mar. 7, Mar. 9, Mar. 11, Mar. 13-14, Mar. 16, Mar. 19, Mar. 21, Mar. 23, Mar. 26-27, Mar. 29, Mar. 31 | Tickets are $15 to $32 CAD
The Washington Nationals have been practicing at the 8,100-seat Space Coast Stadium on Florida’s east coast for 13 pre-seasons.
Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex: Kennedy Space Center is a space enthusiast’s playground. There are two IMAX theatres, a Shuttle Launch Experience, the Rocket Garden showcasing historic NASA rockets, the Astronaut Hall of Fame and the Apollo/Saturn V Center that features rockets and equipment from the Apollo missions to the moon. Recently added is the Space Shuttle Atlantis Exhibit, showcasing the spacecraft and allowing visitors to stand nose-to-nose with the shuttle.
Cocoa Beach: Centrally located on Florida’s Space Coast, Cocoa Beach is considered the surfing capital on the East Coast. Home of Kelly Slater, 11-time Association of Surfing Professionals World Tour Champion, Cocoa Beach is an ideal place to learn to surf or for seasoned surfers to hone their skills.
ORIOLES: Ed Smith Stadium, Sarasota
Games: Mar. 4-5, Mar. 7, Mar. 9-11, Mar. 14, Mar. 17, Mar. 19, Mar. 22, Mar. 25, Mar. 27, Mar. 29, Mar. 31-Apr. 1, Apr. 3 | Tickets are $10 to $44 CAD
For the past six pre-seasons, the Baltimore Orioles have played in the 7,500-seat Ed Smith Stadium in Sarasota, Fla.
The Ringling: The 66-acre estate on Sarasota Bay is a complex housing the Ringling Circus Museum, which features exhibits on circus history and the world’s largest miniature circus; the Museum of Art, which houses many works of Peter Paul Rubens; Ca’d’Zan, a Venetian Gothic mansion; and the rose gardens.
Siesta Beach: One of Florida’s best beaches, Siesta Beach’s powdery white sand is 99 per cent crushed quartz, which not only makes it a sparkle in the sunlight, but also keeps the ground cool even in the steamy Florida summer.
JDub’s Brewing Company & Tap Room: After a day of fun in the sun, cool off with a local craft beer at JDub’s Brewing Company and Tap Room. The veteran-owned brewery handcrafts small batches of beers with all natural ingredients and no extracts.
PHILLIES: Bright House Field, Clearwater
Games: Mar. 3, Mar. 6-7, Mar. 10-11, Mar. 13, Mar. 15,-17, Mar. 21, Mar. 23, Mar. 25, Mar. 27, Mar. 29, Apr. 1-2 | Tickets are $17 to $49 CAD
The Philadelphia Phillies have been coming to Clearwater, Fla. for spring training for 69 years, 12 years at the 7,700-seat Bright House Field.
Clearwater Beach: 15 minutes from Bright House Field are the white sands of Clearwater Beach. Baseball fans can stay on Clearwater Beach and hop on the Jolley Trolley over to games without having to worry about driving or parking. The free daily Sunsets at Pier 60 is a must. It’s a celebration with live music, movies and more from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. daily.
Breakfast at Lenny’s: Pre-game breakfast at Lenny’s is a must. The unofficial Phillies home for breakfast, Lenny’s is within walking distance of Bright House Field.
Eat a Grouper Sandwich: Post-game there’s no better place to eat fresh seafood than Frenchy’s. Since 1981, Michael Preston has been serving the freshest seafood around (he even bought his own fleet of fishing boats), including the restaurant’s signature Super Grouper sandwich.
PIRATES: McKechnie Field, Bradenton
Games: Mar. 4-5, Mar. 7, Mar. 9, Mar. 12-13, Mar. 15, Mar. 17, -18, Mar. 20-21, Mar. 24, Mar. 26, Mar. 28, Mar. 30 | Tickets are $20 to $34 CAD (additional $4 for game day purchase)
The Pittsburgh Pirates have been spending their last 47 pre-seasons at the 8,500-seat McKechnie Field in Bradenton, Fla.
South Florida Museum: The largest natural and cultural history museum on Florida’s Gulf Coast, the South Florida Museum includes a cultural museum, a planetarium and an aquarium that is home to Snooty, the world’s oldest living manatee.
Sip Craft Beer: Visit Florida’s largest beer garden, Motorworks Brewing Company. There are 30 craft beers on tap and 80 types of beer by the bottle and can. There’s a three-hole putting green and cornhole games to play in between rounds. Half-hour tours are $13 CAD and include a choice of one beer.
Hit the Beach: Bradenton, Fla. has 11 kilometres of sugar white sand beaches, including Coquina Beach, Whitney Beach, Manatee County Public Beach, Holmes Beach and Anna Maria Beach. Stop by historic Pine Avenue to munch on custom made-to-order doughnuts, artisan cheese and olive oil for the perfect beach picnic basket.
RAYS: Charlotte Sports Park, Port Charlotte
Games: Mar. 5-6, Mar. 8, Mar. 10, Mar. 12, Mar. 15, Mar. 19-21, Mar. 23, Mar. 26, Mar. 28, Mar. 30-31, Apr. 4 | Tickets start at $13 CAD
The Tampa Bay Rays have been training at the Charlottes Sports Park for the past seven years. Located halfway between Tampa, Fla. and Naples, Fla. on the southwest Florida Gulf Coast, Port Charlotte, Fla. is an eco-tourism destination.
Fishermen’s Village: The waterfront mall, marina and resort features boutique shops, restaurants, kayak rentals and the Military Heritage Museum, which offers free admission to view more than 30,000 artifacts dating back to the Spanish American War up to the conflict in Iraq.
Stump Pass Beach State Park: Seashells and fossilized shark teeth sprinkle the one-kilometre beach of this state park while anglers fish for prized catches along this undeveloped Florida coastline. Local lore says wishes will be granted when a seashell is placed on one of the trees. During the winter, ranger-led nature hikes are offered.
Night-Time Paddle Tours: Light up the Night Paddle Tours has retro-fitted paddleboards and kayaks with lights underneath to take night-time adventurers over the water in 90-minute tours across grass flats and sandbars to see starfish, sponges and fish.
RED SOX: JetBlue Park, Fort Myers
Red Sox Games: Mar. 3, Mar. 6-7, Mar. 10, Mar. 13-14, Mar. 16-18, Mar. 20, Mar. 22-23, Mar. 26, Mar. 29-30, Apr. 1, Apr. 3 | Tickets are $6 to $60 CAD
TWINS: Hammond Stadium, Fort Myers
Twins Games: Mar. 4-5, Mar. 8, Mar. 11-12, Mar. 15, Mar. 18, Mar. 20-21, Mar. 24-25, Mar. 27-28, Mar. 31-Apr. 2, Apr. 4 | Tickets are $16 to $55 CAD
The Boston Red Sox and the Minnesota Twins play mere kilometres away from each other in Fort Myers, Fla.
The Edison & Ford Winter Estates: The duo of historical attractions features a tour of Thomas Edison’s 1886, 14-acre riverfront winter estate, laboratory and experimental gardens and the three-acre winter home of automobile industrialist Henry Ford that features a display of Ford vehicles dating back to 1914.
The J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge: Tour one of the United States’ most visited wildlife refuges. Its 6,400-acres are ideal for bird watching and viewing other wildlife like alligators and otters. There are footpaths, winding canoe trails and a six-kilometre scenic drive, all of which are lush with native plants and free to access.
TIGERS: Joker Marchant Stadium, Lakeland
Games: Mar. 3, Mar. 5, Mar. 8-9, Mar. 12, Mar. 14, Mar. 17, Mar. 20-22, Mar. 25-26, Mar. 28, Mar. 30-31, Apr. 2-3 | Tickets are $12 to $37 CAD
2015 marks the 79th spring training season for the Tigers in Lakeland, Fla. and the 50th season at Joker Marchant Stadium, the longest standing relationship between a major league team and a current spring training city.
Golf: Pair a round of golf in the morning with a baseball game in the afternoon. Polk County is home to 40 golf courses, most within a 45-minute drive from the stadium. The most popular courses are The Club at Eaglebrooke, a 15-minute drive from the stadium, which offers 18 holes of golf for $37 to $94 CAD and Cleveland Heights, built in 1925 and offering 27 holes of golf five minutes from the stadium for $25 to $56 CAD.
Circle B Bar Reserve: Once a cattle ranch, The Circle B Bar Reserve is a nature reserve with well maintained marked trails through 1,267 acres of oak hammock, freshwater wetlands, hardwood swamp and lakeshore. Visitors can see birds, insects, bald eagles, alligators, bobcats, cranes, wading birds, osprey, ducks and shorebirds along the way.
YANKEES: George M. Steinbrenner Field, Tampa
Games: Mar. 4, Mar. 6, Mar. 8-9, Mar. 11-12, Mar. 14, Mar. 17, Mar. 19, Mar. 21, Mar. 24-25, Mar. 28, Apr. 1-3 | Tickets are $21 to $42 CAD
For 20 years, the New York Yankees have conducted spring training at the 11,076-seat George M. Steinbrenner Field.
Ybor City: Ybar City is known as Tampa’s Latin Quarter. From the scent of roasting Cuban coffee early in the morning to the rhythms of Latin music late into the night, this historic neighbourhood is a feast for the senses. Don’t miss a stop at Columbia Restaurant, which opened in 1905, for unforgettable Latin cuisine.
Tampa Riverwalk: Stroll along the historical Hillsborough River and Garrison Channel and browse the numerous shops and restaurants that line the riverfront. There are bike tours, Segway tours and water taxi tours all on offer.
International Plaza and Bay Street: Don’t leave the Sunshine State without shopping for bargains at the International Plaza and Bay Street. This enclosed, two-story shopping centre is located on the southeast edge of the Tampa International Airport. It features 200 specialty stores and 15 restaurants.
ARIZONA | Cactus League
ANGELS: Tempe Diablo Stadium, Tempe
Games: Mar. 5-6, Mar. 8, Mar. 10, Mar. 12-14, Mar. 16, Mar. 21, Mar. 23, Mar. 25, Mar. 27-29, Mar. 31 | Tickets are $18 to $73 CAD
Downtown Tempe: This downtown district features historic landmarks, iconic Mill Avenue and more than 100 shops and restaurants like Culinary Dropout at the Yard Tempe, a gastro pub with an expansive outdoor patio; The Handlebar Tempe, a beer garden serving craft beer; and House of Tricks, a quaint restaurant serving creative American cuisine in a garden setting.
Tempe Town Lake: For more outdoor fun pre- or post-game, visit Tempe Town Lake, a three-kilometre recreational haven for kayaking, sailing, rowing, jogging, skating or picnicking. The heart of Tempe Town Lake is historic Tempe Beach Park that has eight kilometres of picturesque pathways.
ATHLETICS: Hohokam Stadium, Mesa
Games: Mar. 3, Mar. 7-8, Mar. 10-12, Mar. 14, Mar. 17, Mar. 20-21, Mar. 24, Mar. 27, Mar. 20, Apr. 1 | Tickets are $11 to $38 CAD
The Oakland A’s call Hohokam Stadium home each spring. There’s much to see and do a few kilometres from Hohokam Stadium.
Mesa Arts Center: The Mesa Arts Center is a 19,765 square-metre performing arts, visual arts and arts education facility, the largest in Arizona. The seven-acre campus included four theatres, the Mesa Contemporary Arts galleries and exhibition space, two Art Studios buildings with visual and performing arts studios and classrooms, and a 213-metre Shadow Walk, so there’s bound to be something of interest to see.
Arizona Museum of Natural History: The Arizona Museum of Natural History is the valley’s only natural history museum. Three changing exhibition galleries offer a variety of interesting subjects. Visitors can pan for gold, see huge dinosaurs and admire an indoor waterfall.
BREWERS: Maryvale Park, Phoenix
Games: Mar. 4, Mar. 6-7, Mar. 9-10, Mar. 12, Mar. 14-15, Mar. 19-20, Mar. 22, Mar. 25-26, Mar. 28, Mar. 31, Apr. 4 | Tickets are $10 to $29 CAD
The Milwaukee Brewers spend their springs at Maryvale Park in Phoenix. A short drive from Maryvale Stadium, downtown Phoenix has activities for foodies, fans and families. Downtown Phoenix is walking-friendly and easily accessible with the Valley Metro Light Rail service.
Beer and Hot Dogs: Why wait until the ballpark to eat? Have hot dogs at the brick-and-mortar home of Phoenix’s most famous food truck: Short Leash Hot Dogs. Short Leash Sit … Stay serves locally made links from Schreiner’s Fine Sausage, nestled on naan bread and served with more than 30 kinds of accoutrements. The bar features 80 kinds of craft beers to pair with the hot dogs. Be sure to save room for their house-made doughnuts.
Phoenix Art Museum: Since it opened in 1959, Phoenix Art Museum has become the largest art museum in the southwestern United States. The museum’s collection has grown to more than 17,000 objects of American, Asian, European, Latin American, Western American, modern and contemporary art, photography and fashion design. The museum hosts photography exhibitions through its partnership with The University of Arizona’s Center for Creative Photography in Tucson, Ariz. Visitors can also enjoy the interactive PhxArtKids gallery and the lush Dorrance Sculpture Garden.
Heard Museum: Experience the myriad cultures and art of Native Americans of the Southwest at the Heard Museum. The museum’s 10 spacious exhibit galleries and outdoor courtyards feature traditional and contemporary Native American artwork and artifacts.
CUBS: Sloan Park, Mesa
Games: Mar. 5-6, Mar. 8-9, Mar. 11, Mar. 13, Mar. 15, Mar. 17, Mar. 21-22, Mar. 26-28, Mar. 30, Apr. 1 | Tickets are $11 to $50 CAD
The Chicago Cubs depart the Windy City each spring for Sloan Park in picturesque Mesa, Ariz., a suburb 20 minutes from the state capital.
Mesa Riverview Park: Across the parking lot from Sloan Park is the new $8 million outdoor park and event venue that includes two playgrounds, a 91-metre natural linear climbing wall complete with a covered fort, and the world’s tallest rope climbing tower that stretches 15 metres. A 23-metre zip line and over-sized splash pad complete the park’s playground amenities.
Cactus Moon Sports Grill: Located at Mesa Riverview Park, Cactus Moon Sports Grill is a mega sports bar with a family restaurant, billiards hall and nightclub all in one. The 1,200 square-metre venue is one big open space, split in half by the massive bar. There are 48 65-inch flat screen TVs and a giant projector screen. Happy hour is 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily. Be sure to try the signature Cactus Margarita. Bonus: the bar runs a shuttle bus to Sloan Park.
Orange Patch: The Orange Patch is one of Mesa’s original citrus growers. Located just north of the city, the Orange Patch features 110 acres of citrus and 30 acres of sweet corn. Passersby can enjoy the fragrant neroli from the orange blossoms each spring when temperatures begin to rise. Visitors can watch the picking and production process by taking tours of the packing facility. The store also has fresh squeezed orange juice, fresh honey, artisan chocolates and other goodies for sale.
DIAMONDBACKS and ROCKIES: Salt River Fields, Scottsdale
Games: Mar. 3-Apr. 2, Apr. 4 | Tickets: $11 to $35 CAD
Salt River Fields: Salt River Fields at Talking Stick is the spring training home of the Arizona Diamondbacks and the Colorado Rockies. It’s one of many attractions that are part of Talking Stick Cultural and Entertainment Destination on the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community, located just east of Scottsdale. There are shops, a hotel, a casino and 36-holes of golf among other attractions.
Butterfly Wonderland: Located at the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community, Butterfly Wonderland boasts the largest butterfly pavilion in the United States. There is a 3-D film that provides insight into the lives of butterflies; the Butterfly Emergence Gallery, where visitors can observe a butterfly metamorphosis; a lush rainforest atrium where thousands of butterflies from around the world fly freely, landing on fragrant flowering plants – from sweet almond verbena to plumeria; and interactive exhibits showcasing other natural wonders, like honey bees and ants.
TopGolf Scottsdale: Golf is hugely popular in the Valley of the Sun where it can be played nearly every day of the year. The new TopGolf Riverwalk, a 6,04 -square-metre facility hosts a variety of golf games using microchip golf balls from the “TopScramble” team challenge to the short game “TopChip.” Test your skills by aiming for various targets on a 196-metre field and celebrate victory at TopGolf’s bar. There is pool and shuffleboard, too.
DODGERS and WHITE SOX: Camelback Ranch, Glendale
Games: Mar. 4-Apr. 2 | Tickets are $12 to $55 CAD (free parking)
The stunning Camelback Ranch in Glendale, Arizona’s fourth largest city, hosts the Los Angles Dodgers and the Chicago White Sox each spring. The largest park in the Cactus League, Camelback has 10,000 caramel-coloured seats and a 3,000-person capacity on the lawn. Free live music concerts take place on a permanent waterfront bandstand and fans who arrive early may even score autographs.
Wet ‘n’ Wild Phoenix: Arizona’s largest waterpark boasts a lazy river, wave pool and thrilling waterslides like the Constrictor (multi-person rafts are hurtled down an enclosed flume slide with multiple twists and turns) and Maximum Velocity (a 253-metre race down tandem tubes, so you can race your friends).
Cerreta’s Chocolate Factory: The family-run chocolate shop offers 30-minute tours Monday to Friday for chocoholics where you can see how caramels and bonbons are made. Try the French mints, a local favourite.
GIANTS: Scottsdale Stadium, Scottsdale
Games: Mar. 3 to Apr. 4 | Tickets are $10 to $35 CAD
Scottsdale Stadium, spring training home of the San Francisco Giants, is in the heart of downtown Scottsdale, walking distance from a multitude of attractions and activities.
Native Trails: Spend lunchtime at Scottsdale Civic Center Park in downtown taking in a song and dance performance of Native Trails, presented by the Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation and produced by the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts.
Western Spirit: Scottsdale’s Museum of the West: Get your cowboy fix at the Western Spirit: Scottsdale’s Museum of the West, which showcases the history, present day and future of all 19 states in the American West. Explore the two-story museum’s galleries featuring paintings, sculptures, cultural artifacts and interactive exhibits, which illustrate the ever-evolving American West, from cowboys on horseback to historic roads like Route 66. Highlights include pieces by Arizona cowboy artist John Coleman, who’s known for his bronzes and paintings by Montana artist Charles Fitz, whose work chronicles the 19th century.
INDIANS and REDS, Goodyear Ballpark, Goodyear
Games: Mar. 3 to Apr. 3 | Tickets are $10 to $36 CAD
The Cleveland Indians and the Cincinnati Reds spend their springs at Goodyear Ballpark perfecting their swings, pitches and running bases in Goodyear, a suburb of Phoenix.
Estrella Mountain Regional Park: Less than five kilometres from Goodyear Ballpark, take in the beauty of the desert with a hike or horseback riding at Estrella Mountain Regional Park. For $48 CAD a person, guests can dress up in chaps, boots and hats and ride horses in the desert.
Relax at the Wigwam Resort: Whether it’s fine dining at Litchfield’s, a poolside cocktail under the stars or melting the stress away with a massage at the Elizabeth Arden Red Door Spa, this award-winning resort 11 kilometres from Goodyear Park is a home run. There are 54-holes of golf, four pools with waterslides and seven restaurants and bars. As part of The Wigwam’s Spring Training Escape event series, guests can enjoy movie screenings of black and white classics and baseball movie favourites among other surprises until Apr. 4.
Drink and Dance at a Honky-Tonk: Fans of country and western music and dancing should head to Roman’s Oasis. The roadside honkey-tonk with gravel parking lot, live music by local bands Silver Stage and Redneck Revolution, and NASCAR icons on the walls is the quintessential Goodyear, Ariz. experience.
MARINERS and PADRES: Peoria Sports Complex, Peoria
Games: Mar. 4-Apr. 3 | Tickets are $6 to $36 CAD
The second phase of renovations at the Peoria Sports Complex have been completed. The upgrades include installation of 1,000 addition seats, new fixed seats with cup holders and a new building with an expanded team store, new concession stand, bar and restrooms. The newly renovated 12,339-seat Peoria Sports Complex attracts thousands of baseball fans each spring, but there is plenty to do off the diamond too.
Lake Pleasant: Located in northern Peoria, Lake Pleasant Regional Park is one of the most scenic recreation areas in the Valley of the Sun. From archery to fishing to swimming, there is something for everyone. At the Lake Pleasant Nature Center, guests can learn about the history of the area and desert wildlife. Step out onto the balcony surrounding the Nature Center to get a beautiful view of Lake Pleasant and an up-close look at Waddell Dam.
Arizona Challenger Space Center: Space enthusiasts can look to the stars at the Challenger Space Center. The space centre features flight simulators, multimedia presentations about space travel and exploration and many interactive, hands-on activities.
Freak’N Brewing Company: Sample Arizona craft beers at Peoria’s first tasting room at Freak N’ Brew. Enjoy a taster flight or buy a growler to take home.
RANGERS and ROYALS: Surprise Stadium, Surprise
Games: Mar. 4 to Apr. 1 | Tickets are $10 to $35 CAD
The Texas Rangers and Kansas City Royals both play at Surprise Stadium each spring in Surprise, a city 32 kilometres northwest of Phoenix.
Surprise Tennis and Racquet Complex: Located on the Surprise Recreation Campus next to Surprise Stadium, the Surprise Tennis and Racquet Complex is the largest tennis facility in the southwest. Many United States Tennis Association tournaments are played on the 25 courts that are open to the public.
White Tank Regional Park: On the western edge of Surprise, Ariz. is the majestic White Tank Regional Park, which has nearly 30,000 acres of Sonoran Desert hiking, biking, horseback riding and camping opportunities.
(Main Image: The Beaches of Fort Myers & Sanibel)