It might not look or feel like springtime, but if you stop scraping the ice off of your car windows long enough to look at a calendar, you’ll see that it really is less than a month away.
And if it’s spring, the call of “Play ball!” can’t be far behind.
With that in mind, why not throw your family a curveball and book a trip to a sunny spring training destination. Here are five places in Arizona and Florida where you can take them out to the ballgame:
1. Jupiter, Fla. Book the Diamond package at the Jupiter Beach Resort & Spa, just 4 miles from Roger Dean Stadium, home of the St. Louis Cardinals and the Miami Marlins. You’ll be home run-style happy with box seats, a stadium escort, behind-the-scenes tours, an up-close look at batting practice and the chance to join the players on the field for pregame festivities and the national anthem. Then you, yes you, have the option to throw out the first pitch. Two children, 13 and under, can slip into the dugout before the game to score autographs from favorite players. Subject to availability.
Contact: (561) 745-7157; jupiterbeach resort.com
2. Mesa, Ariz. The Chicago Cubs will be warming up for the season at their new spring training facility. The action gets underway at the $99-million Cubs Park on Thursday and will continue with 16 home games.
Adjacent to the ball field, a reinvigorated Riverview Park is big hit for families, providing a splash zone, a climbing-rope structure and plenty of room for kids to celebrate spring. Away from the ballpark, lounge by the pool, tee it up on world-class golf courses, visit family-friendly museums or hike in the nearby Superstition Mountains.
Contact: (800) 843-2827; visitmesa.com
3. Kissimmee, Fla. Catch the Grapefruit League’s Houston Astros in action at Osceola County Stadium, where they’ve played ball since 1985. Fans can flock to the stadium – the smallest in the league – where they can linger in Autograph Alley before or after the game to catch a scribble and a photo op with their favorite players.
They can also watch workouts and batting practice at no charge – even on game day.
The family-friendly park also boasts a fenced-off playground in right field near the end of the grandstand, where parents and kids can take a break from the action.
Contact: (407) 742-8200; experiencekissimmee.com
4. Scottsdale, Ariz. Every spring, this Southwestern town is abuzz as baseball fans flock to catch their favorite teams warming up for the regular season.
The Arizona Diamondbacks and the Colorado Rockies will be getting in the groove at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick, where kids are sometimes allowed to run the bases after the game.
Nearby, watch the San Francisco Giants in style inside Scottsdale Stadium’s Charro Lodge. Fans there can catch the action from patio-style seating under the Arizona sun. Ask about packages.
Contact: (800) 805-0471; scottsdalecvb.com/baseball
5. Surprise and Peoria, Ariz. The Texas Rangers and Kansas City Royals will soon take to the field in baseball-friendly Surprise, near Phoenix.
Sports-loving families look forward to the crack of the bat during sunny days as well as post-game fireworks.
Nearby at the 145-acre Peoria Sports Complex, home to the Seattle Mariners and the San Diego Padres, young fans have a chance to stand with a player during the national anthem, run the bases after the game and try out their skills in an interactive kids’ zone.