February and March still conjure thoughts of snow, ice, and hibernation. For Major League Baseball players though, it’s time to think about getting back on deck. For fans, it’s time to consider warming up in the spring-training bleachers of Florida’s Grapefruit League or Arizona’s Cactus League—each with 15 teams. Here are some tips on how to cheer for your team (or scope out your rivals) and bask in the sun.
Time It Right
February kicks off with the birthday of baseball legend Babe Ruth, who was born on the 6th of the month in 1895. In mid-February, pitchers and catchers, who benefit from extra practice, report to the training centers. By early March, it’s “batter up” for everyone, with plenty of weekday and weekend games. A couple teams train through the first few days in April; for most though, spring training ends the last week in March.
Pick a Hub
Unless you’re a die-hard fan who needs to park it right near a beloved team, consider picking a centrally located RV park or hotel and making day trips to different stadiums and other area attractions.
- Florida: Although a handful of Grapefruit League teams practice in and around landlocked Orlando or near the Atlantic coast, most are along the Gulf, making Tampa/St. Petersburg or Sarasota great bases. In addition to lovely beaches, the three cities have extraordinary museums—featuring everything from fine art and Dale Chihuly’s blown-glass installations to antique cars and the Ringling Brothers circus. And, of course, central Florida is the theme-park capital of the world.
- Arizona: For the Cactus League, stays in and around Phoenix and Scottsdale put you just a pitch away from most teams. Other area attractions include the cliff dwellings in Tonto National Monument and a world-class Native American art collection in Phoenix’s Heard Museum. Chic spas, world-class golf courses, hot-air balloon rides, and desert wildflowers also await.
Stay Flexible to Save Money
Ticket prices vary greatly, with the best seats at premier games costing almost $50. If you aren’t picky though, you can score tickets for $10 or less—and that’s not the children’s rate, either! Of course, this might mean you’re out in the blazing sun (a hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen are musts) and have an obstructed view or standing-room only. But roughing it not only saves you money, it can put you in touch with the “old ball game” spirit.
In addition, some parks offer meal-deal packages, special deal days (how about tickets for a buck?), and discounts for senior citizens, military personnel, or spring break students. If you’re a full-time RVer, look into multi-game or season tickets, which can net per-game savings as well as perks like VIP parking, team shop discounts, and chances to meet the players.
For team news, game schedules, stadium maps, and tickets, check out the comprehensive Grapefruit League and Cactus League websites. For great area touring ideas, check out our Road Trips: Florida’s Cultural West Coast and Desert Adventures.