Play Ball! Get the most out of your spring training getaway

The cry of, 'Play Ball!' and fun in the sun await you at the spring training camp of your home town team


It’s spring training season.  Whether you head to Florida  to see the Grapefruit League or to Arizona to see the Cactus League, it’s easy to see your favorite baseball players up close.  You might even run into some in your hotel lobby.  

And while you’re there, there is guaranteed fun in the sun for everyone.

Spring training is great for the little leaguers in your house. The parks are smaller so the kids can see better, and the tickets are cheaper than at major league parks (especially if you opt for lawn seats as little as $10). You won’t feel so guilty if the kids want to leave before the game is over. 

Hotel packages, which often include baseball tickets, breakfast and more (like those offered in Mesa, Ariz.,), won't put a dent in your wallet.

Another plus:  there’s so much else to do whether you’re in Phoenix, Mesa, Tampa or Orlando. 

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Check out the Taking the Kids Super Spring Break section for ideas.

Are you a Yankees Fan?  After a game at George M. Steinbrenner Field in Tampa you can go to the beach, to Busch Gardens Tampa to ride the new Cheetah Hunt -- the fastest and longest roller coaster in the Southeast --and to Ybor City, known for its nightlife and handmade cigars.  

Cubs Fans  can go to the new 15,000-seat Cubs Park in Mesa, complete with practice fields  where they can watch their favorite players, a Kids Zone, two playgrounds and accessible food trucks during games so you can sample Arizona’s terrific cuisine.  As if that isn’t enough to help the kids burn off some energy, at Mesa Riverview Park  there’s a 300-foot climbing wall, a rope climbing  tower stretching 50 feet high and a kids’ zip line.

Scottsdale --which has some 200 resorts, spas and golf courses -- is home to the San Francisco Giants, Colorado Rockies, and Arizona Diamondbacks.  After watching a game, you can head off in the desert for an off-road  jeep tour.

Fort Myers, Fla. is of course home to the World Champion Boston Red Sox and the Minnesota Twins.  When you’ve had enough baseball, you can hit the beach—go fishing, hunt for shells on Sanibel Island, or learn to sail.   

Get your theme park fix when you see the Atlanta Braves play.  Their spring training home is at  the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in the middle of Walt Disney World Resort. 

(Headed to Orlando with kids? Pack my Kid’s Guide to Orlando with plenty of tips from local kids.)

Just make sure you’ve got a ball and Sharpie marker handy.  You never know where you’ll run into your favorite player.

Eileen Ogintz is the creator of the syndicated column and website Taking the Kids. She is also the author of the ten-book Kid’s Guide series to major American cities and the Great Smoky Mountains. The third-edition of the Kid’s Guide to NYC has just been released.