If you’re looking for a great baseball road trip destination, spring training in the Phoenix area is an ideal excursion. Several major league teams train in the vicinity, all within an hour or so. Here is what you need to know…
Baseball Spring Training Mecca
Much like Florida, the Phoenix area is headquarters for spring baseball. However, Phoenix and the surrounding suburbs offer an easier navigational experience for baseball fans. Within a one hour drive, you can take in major league baseball at over a dozen ballparks.
Teams have trained in Arizona for decades, but in recent years there has been an influx of teams from Florida. Travel distances from stadium to stadium are much shorter, allowing teams more time to prepare and less time traveling. Recent teams flocking to the Phoenix area include the Los Angeles Dodgers, Cincinnati Reds, and Cleveland Indians.
The city itself is very cosmopolitan, with ample entertainment options, particularly in splashy areas like Scottsdale and Glendale. During March, the desert is in bloom and outdoor activities abound. Expect the weather to be consistently sunny, with high temperatures in the low 80′s.
Up Close and Personal
One of the best reasons to take a baseball road trip to spring training is the closeness of the action. Stadiums are smaller, usually with a capacity of around 12,000. If autographs are your thing, they are usually much easier to get, particularly in the morning of a day game.
Seats are closer to the action as well. You can literally hear the players talking on the field, and hear interactions in the dugouts. The relaxed, sunny atmosphere tends to make players more agreeable to casual interactions with fans.
Spring Training Tips
For the most part, you won’t need to buy tickets in advance. The exceptions are weekend games featuring popular teams. As the month of March wears on, games are better attended because regular major league players get more consistent playing time. Fans usually come out to watch the star players, but for the hardcore baseball fan the early March games are equally rewarding. These games will give you a glimpse of up and coming prospects and young players looking to make a name for themselves.
Another bit of advice: reserve your hotel and rental car in advance, at least a month or two. Sunny Arizona is a popular spring vacation destination, not just for baseball. Hotels tend to fill up and rental cars are less plentiful.
Finally, research the area a bit before you go. There are many local restaurant gems, beyond the usual chains you’d find anywhere. Be a little adventurous and ask the locals about their favorite spots. You may just find a new favorite!