Spring is right around the corner, and with the warmer weather comes the return of the America’s Pastime: Major League Baseball! From Arizona to Florida spring training leagues are getting ready to open their doors to the public, bringing baseball to regions that are starved for the sport.
One of the oldest spring training destinations is the Cactus League, in existence since 1947, when the Cleveland Indians and New York Giants (now San Francisco Giants) came to the beautiful city of Phoenix. Now half of the teams in the big leagues call Arizona home. Let’s take a look at the many things to experience while traveling the cactus League in Arizona, spring training home to a whopping 15 MLB teams!
1. Enjoy A Dodger Dog at Camelback Ranch!
Camelback Ranch is the Cactus League home to the Los Angeles Dodgers and Chicago White Sox, and is located in the Phoenix suburb of Glendale. Opened in 2009, the stadium is a beauty, with a man-made lake, but one of the highlights of the stadium is the famous Dodger Dogs, hot dogs typically only sold in California at Dodger Stadium. Offered in multiple flavors, the hot dog was made legendary in LA, and has developed a cult following amongst baseball fans. Be sure to load yours up with relish, mustard, and ketchup to get that authentic experience!
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2. Sloan Park is Food Truck Heaven!
Sloan Park in the Phoenix suburb of Mesa is home to the Chicago Cubs, and the stadium reflects Wrigley Field in multiple ways, including a version of the iconic Wrigley Field sign! Though the Riverview shopping and dining center is just a short walk from the stadium, the food trucks located outside of right field are the real draw for visitors. From gourmet barbeque to special sweet snacks, the food truck vendors are an excellent way to enjoy local foods while visiting the park. Riverview is another excellent option for shopping, food, and nightlife just steps from the stadium.
3. Goodyear Ballpark: Home of The Ziz
The Cleveland Indians and Cincinnati Reds call Goodyear Ballpark home for spring training, but it’s the giant sculpture known as The Ziz that makes this stadium really unique. Created by famed artist Donald Lipski and named after the mythological Hebrew water bird, The Ziz stands over 60 feet tall and has greeted visitors since 2008.
4. Maryvale Baseball Park: Tailgating Fun!
Tailgating is as American a tradition as sports itself. Though typically seen at football games, Maryvale is unique for allowing fans to tailgate before baseball games. Fans of the Milwaukee Brewers absolutely love this, and the stadium parking lots are littered with barbeques and brats before every game! Utilize portable gas or electric grills, as disposing of hot charcoal is not an easy feat.
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5. Phoenix Municipal Stadium: A living legend and HoHoKam Stadium: a new home
Having first opened in 1964, this stadium is an old school gem. With history ingrained into its core (seriously, notable events are etched into the floor), celebrations of MLB stars throughout the facility, and all of the best things about baseball gathered into one spot, Phoenix Municipal is the best of the Cactus League all in one place. Unfortunately, the Arizona State Sun Devils will be the only team playing at Phoenix Municipal starting in 2015, as the Athletics are moving to the beautiful HoHoKam Park in Mesa, a recently refurbished gem. Make sure to make a stop at the Commemorative Air Force Museum in Mesa, one of the top military museums in the entire country. Housing multiple airplanes, historical documents, and more.
6. Peoria Sports Complex: an elite facility for all
The Peoria Sports Complex is home to a dozen beautiful baseball fields, as well as the Padres and Mariners spring training! On any day the facilities will be full of pro ballplayers, little leaguers, and families looking for a day of fun. Arrowhead Fountain Center is just across the road from the massive complex and is home to multiple restaurants, bars, and stores that will let you shop ‘til you drop!
7. Salt River Fields at Talking Stick: a unique venue
When the Colorado Rockies and Arizona Diamondbacks decided they wanted to find a new home for spring training, they settled on Scottsdale and Salt River Fields at Talking Stick was born. The stadium is routinely named as one of the best stadiums in all of the country, with luxury suites, high end training facilities, player lounges and much more. At Salt River Fields, the stadium itself is truly the draw of the trip.
8. Scottsdale Stadium: craft brews and Old Town!
Scottsdale Stadium, home of the Giants, is another of the many gems of the Cactus League. Providing a fun atmosphere for singles, families, and couples, the stadium is extremely popular with Arizona locals, fans of baseball or not. Craft beers are served throughout the stadium, a nice local touch. To keep the party going after the game, take a short trip down to Old Town Scottsdale, a unique downtown region filled with bars, curio shops, restaurants, and live music!
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9. Surprise Stadium: a surprise indeed
Home to the Texas Rangers and Kansas City Royals, Surprise Stadium is a beautiful and quaint little stadium nestled in the retirement community areas of Phoenix. The southwestern motif is a nice touch, and the stadium is clearly geared towards families more than any other demographic. Surprise touches at Surprise Stadium include free parking, being allowed to bring in sealed water bottles, multiple family events such as movie nights, and more!
10. Tempe Diablo Stadium: come for the game, stay for the players
The oldest active stadium in the Cactus League is home to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, and was made to be fan friendly. With options for player interaction at the parking lots, as well as from multiple field level seats, anyone going to the game could walk away meeting their favorite ball player! It’s recommended that seats behind home plate and high along the first base line provide the very best shade, a must-have in the Tempe heat!