Baseball fans can tell you all about early spring fever. Family travel columnist Lynn O’Rourke Hayes scouted out some of the top locations in the U.S. to catch spring training.
Here’s how it works: In the world of Major League Baseball, spring training is comprised of practices and exhibition games which runs for nearly two months, starting in mid-February.
Spring training takes place in two states: Florida and Arizona, with teams broken up into the Grapefruit League and Cactus League, respectively.
So take a break this spring and head to one of these warm-weather states to check out America’s favorite pastime.
Watch the Texas Rangers and the Kansas City Royals take to the field in this baseball-friendly town near Phoenix. Kids will love the post-game fireworks on March 20. All season long, enjoy the game in the festive atmosphere of the Homerun Party Deck in right center field. Ticket prices start at $7 for lawn seats up to $23 for lower dugout seats. 623-222-2222, www.surprisespringtraining.com
Cozy stadiums with seating close to the action make it easy for young fans to collect autographs, catch a souvenir fly ball or talk with the players. Both the Arizona Diamondbacks and the Colorado Rockies call this city home during spring training, with tickets starting at just $4. Kids will love the Sandlot Package at Loews Ventana Canyon Resort (www.loewshotels.com), which includes a copy of the family film The Sandlot. 800-638-8350, www.visittucson.org/springtraining
Play gets under way February 25 at the Scottsdale Stadium in downtown Scottsdale. In 2008, nearly 150,000 people attended the 15 home games at this sun-drenched ballpark. This year, make it a family affair as the San Francisco Giants play the Chicago Cubs, Seattle Mariners, Los Angeles Dodgers and Milwaukee Brewers. After the last pitch is thrown, visit the Phoenix Zoo. Scottsdale Convention & Visitors Bureau: 800-805-0471, www.scottsdalecvb.com/baseball
Watch the New York Yankees tune up for the season in their new digs at Steinbrenner Field. In addition to the largest seating capacity in the Grapefruit League, Steinbrenner Field also has a large Yankees memorabilia store. After the game, win or lose, you’ll hear Sinatra’s “New York, New York.” Tickets range from $17 to $31 per person. 813-287-8844, www.steinbrennerfield.com
Catch the Houston Astros in action at Osceola County Stadium, where they’ve played since 1985. The ballpark, the smallest in the league, puts fans close to their favorite players. Visitors can watch workouts and batting practice at no charge, even on game day. The park has a fenced playground in right field where parents and kids can take a break. Tickets range from $10 for standing room (only when seats are sold out) to $25 for premium game dugout box seats. 321-697-3200, www.floridagrapefruitleague.com/astros.html
By Lynn O’Rourke Hayes. Lynn O’Rourke Hayes is the editor of FamilyTravel.com, and a columnist for the Dallas Morning News, GoodHousekeeping.com and Travelmuse.com.
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