- By Lynn O’Rourke Hayes FamilyTravel.com
If you love baseball, these iconic spots belong on your roster:
1. Cactus League, Peoria, AZ
For the chance to run the bases, take the field with a player, announce a batter and other memorable experiences, head to this Valley of the Sun hot spot for kid-friendly (ages 8 to 12) baseball fun. The Peoria Sports Complex, home to the Seattle Mariners and the San Diego Padres, is celebrating the season by adding a number of fan appreciation days.
Ask about Peoria Packs, available for purchase on Family Fun Days. Bring a gently used children’s book and you’ll be eligible for the promotional Pack that includes four lawn tickets, hot dogs, sodas and snacks for $48. Special prices are also available for larger families. Stay at the nearby historic and family-friendly Wigwam Resort for pre and post game golf, pool time, spa and lawn games. Stay three or more nights to receive a 20 percent discount off the lowest rates. Contact: www.CactusLeague.com; www.PeoriaSportsComplex.com; www.WigwamResort.com.
2. National Baseball Hall of Fame, Cooperstown, NY.
This iconic sports shrine traces the history and cultural significance of the game through memorabilia and interactive exhibits. Learn about the men and women who have made their mark on the field, test your trivia skills and get inspired by the feats of the greatest who played the game. Youngsters under 12 and their families can visit the museum’s Sandlot Kids’ Clubhouse for interactive, youth-focused experiences. Extra innings overnights in the museum are also possible. Each year, during the last weekend in July, nearly 20,000 fans flock to Cooperstown for the Hall of Fame Induction ceremony. Contact: http://baseballhall.org.
3. Cactus League, Scottsdale, AZ.
Every spring, since 1947, this Southwestern town is abuzz as baseball fans flock to catch their favorite teams warm up for the regular season. The Arizona Diamondbacks and the Colorado Rockies get 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 where you can catch the action from patio-style seating under the Arizona sun. Ask about free trolley rides and a wide range of packages designed to lure sports fans. Now through March. Contact: www.CactusLeague.com; https://www.experiencescottsdale.com/event/spring-training
4. Grapefruit League, Florida.
Beaches and baseball make for a winning combination. That’s what family travelers will find when they head south to watch their favorite players and prospects showcase their pre-season skills during Spring Training in Florida. Catch the Philadelphia Phillies in family-friendly Clearwater or be there as the Minnesota Twins make it happen in Fort Myers. The Atlanta Braves are part of the magic underway at the ESPN Wide World of Sports complex at Walt Disney World where a roving emcee asks fans to guess the attendance for the chance to win prizes. New in 2017, The Ballpark of the Palm Beaches offers an immersive, up-scale experience, enabling fans to move through training fields and workout facilities before heading in to the 6,400 seat ballpark.
Fifteen teams tune up for fans in 13 locations throughout the Sunshine State. Check the web sites for game schedules and to learn more about apps that can help plan your visit. Contact: www.floridagrapefruitleague.com
5. Big League Tours. Are you a fan of Fenway? Have you been to Coors Field or Miller Park? If the mere thought makes you smile, a Big League Tour might be a perfect fit for your family. Word is you’ll hang out with MLB players, get on to the field, inside the dugouts and catch a batting practice in the venues that continue to infuse allegiance to the game. Tours and vacation packages make it possible to hear the crack of the bat in your favorite cities or an entire region. Contact: www.BigLeagueTours.com