Few things stir the heart of a baseball fan like the Florida sun shining on baseballs rolling through fresh-cut grass, and major league baseball players emerging at last from their long winter retreats to prepare for the one day each year when every team is tied for first place. Baseball fans who are lucky enough to also be pilots have a unique opportunity to soak in an above-average dose of sunshine and hope, because Florida sports spring training stadiums from coast to coast.
The Atlanta Braves have moved their spring training to North Port, in Sarasota County between Tampa and Fort Myers, from the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex near Walt Disney World in Orlando, giving Florida’s Grapefruit League nine stadiums/10 teams on the Gulf Coast and three stadiums/five teams on the Atlantic Coast.
Most games are played around 1 p.m. to take advantage of the sunshine and daytime temperatures in the 70s, though there are several night games played each week. General admission tickets start around $10, the venues are smaller and usually bring more player-fan interaction, and each stadium offers concessions and other features that bring a little of the team’s regular-season home to Florida.
Check out the websites below for details on where to fly in (within 20-some miles of the stadiums), Grapefruit League schedules and stadium details for the 2020 spring training season that runs Februrary 21 through March 24 (in one of the earliest opening days on record, the 2020 MLB regular season starts March 26 for all 30 teams), and what there is to do in each community.
Fly in: Charlotte Sports Park in Port Charlotte is 14 miles northwest of Punta Gorda Airport and 20 miles southeast of Venice Municipal Airport.
Near: Between Sarasota and Fort Myers, the ballpark is next to 380 acres of trails and wildlife viewing at Tippecanoe Environmental Park. The area boasts more than 165 miles of waterways for fishing, boating, and sailing; 12 miles of beaches; and golf. It is a short drive to Englewood beaches or the historic small town of Punta Gorda.
More information: Rays spring training, Charlotte Harbor Gulf Island Coast
Fly in: CoolToday Park in North Port is 10 miles east of Venice Municipal Airport and 23 miles northwest of Punta Gorda Airport.
Near: The new ballpark is part of West Villages, a master-planned community in North Port, which is in Sarasota County between Tampa and Fort Myers. Hiking, biking, birding, and kayaking; 80 miles of freshwater canals; Myakka State Forest; and Warm Mineral Springs are key attractions.
More information: Braves spring training, Sarasota County
Fly in: Ed Smith Stadium in Sarasota is 5 miles southeast of Sarasota/Bradenton International Airport and 21 miles north of Venice Municipal Airport.
Near: Take in beaches and six islands along the coastline; fine dining; attractions ranging from The Ringling, the historic home of the Ringling (circus) family that now houses the state’s art museum, a circus museum, a theater, and gardens.
More information: Orioles spring training, Sarasota County
Fly in: George M. Steinbrenner Field in Tampa is 5 miles east of Tampa International Airport, 8 miles northwest of Peter O. Knight Airport, 14 miles west of Tampa Executive Airport, 15 miles northeast of St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport, and 18 miles east of Clearwater Air Park Airport.
Near: The 132-acre Al Lopez Park, named for the Baseball Hall of Famer, is adjacent along with Raymond James Stadium, home of the National Football League’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers. You’ll need to drive for the rest of the city’s many attractions, including downtown’s Riverwalk, the Museum of Science and Industry, many art museums, the Big Cat Rescue animal sanctuary, and Busch Gardens, whose Food and Wine Festival overlaps with spring training.
More information: Yankees spring training, Tampa
Fly in: Hammond Stadium at CenturyLink Sports Complex in Fort Myers is 6 miles south of Page Field and 9 miles west of Southwest Florida International Airport.
Near: Fort Myers Beach and Sanibel Island are less than 20 miles from the ballfield. You can also go deep-sea fishing, golfing, and shopping.
More information: Twins spring training, Fort Myers
Fly in: JetBlue Park at Fenway South in Fort Myers is 2 miles north of Southwest Florida International Airport and 9 miles southeast of Page Field.
Near: The park is just a couple miles inland from Hammond Stadium. Both are a short drive from downtown Fort Myers, along the Caloosahatchee River, where there are shops, restaurants, and attractions including the winter homes of Thomas Edison and Henry Ford (now open as museums).
More information: Red Sox spring training, Fort Myers
Fly in: Joker Marchant Stadium in Lakeland is 10 miles northeast of Lakeland Linder International Airport, 15 miles west of Winter Haven Regional Airport, 16 miles northeast of South Lakeland Airport, 17 miles northeast of Plant City Airport, 18 miles northwest of Bartow Executive Aiport, and 28 miles east of Tampa Executive Airport.
Near: Known to many aviators as the site of the Sun ’n Fun Aerospace Expo, Lakeland is also home to a large on-site collection of Frank Lloyd Wright architecture at Florida Southern College, Hollis Garden, Polk Museum of Art, and a downtown historic and antiques district.
More information: Tigers spring training, Lakeland
Fly in: LECOM Park in Bradenton is 8 miles north of Sarasota/Bradenton International Airport, 13 miles south of Airport Manatee, and 26 miles south of Albert Whitted Airport.
Near: One mile from downtown Bradenton, the Riverwalk is the hub of activity. Also enjoy historic attractions; golf; fishing and outdoor adventures; and access to beaches and the gulf islands.
More information: Pirates spring training, Bradenton
Fly in: Spectrum Field in Clearwater is 3 miles west of Clearwater Air Park Airport, 6 miles north of St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport, 15 miles west of Tampa International Airport, 21 miles west of Peter O. Knight Airport, and 29 miles west of Tampa Executive Airport.
Near: The stadium is 20 minutes west of Tampa and 20 minutes east of Pier 60, a great spot to see the sun set from Clearwater Beach, regularly ranked among the top U.S. beaches. Don’t miss the Clearwater Marine Aquarium.
More information: Phillies spring training, Clearwater
Fly in: TD Ballpark in Dunedin is 4 miles northwest of Clearwater Air Park Airport, 12 miles northwest of St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport, 20 miles west of Tampa International Airport, and 27 miles northwest of Peter O. Knight Airport.
Near: Dunedin is 25 miles west of Tampa, and the stadium will debut major renovations and renaming with the start of spring training. Downtown Dunedin is within a mile of the ballpark and has boutiques, restaurants, and access to the Pinellas Trail, a 34-mile rail trail.
More information: Blue Jays spring training, Dunedin
Fly in: Clover Park in Port St. Lucie is 16 miles south of Treasure Coast International Airport, 24 miles northwest of Witham Field, and 28 miles south of Vero Beach Regional Airport.
Near: Golf courses and the open-to-the-public PGA Village and 21 miles of beaches, including nearly half the coastline considered public preserves are must visits. Plus, take part in fishing, boating, and other water activities.
More information: Mets spring training, Port St. Lucie
Fly in: FITTEAM Ballpark in West Palm Beach is 7 miles north of Palm Beach International Airport, 12 miles southeast of North Palm Beach County General Aviation Airport, and 15 miles north of Palm Beach County Park Airport.
Near: Don’t miss the dining and entertainment districts Clematis Street and Rosemary Square; 47 miles of beaches; Lake Worth Lagoon; deep sea fishing and freshwater fishing; or the great museums, zoos, and wildlife parks.
More information: Astros spring training, Nationals spring training, Palm Beach
Fly in: Roger Dean Chevrolet Stadium in Jupiter is 14 miles east of North Palm Beach County General Aviation Airport, 17 miles north of Palm Beach International Airport, 24 miles north of Palm Beach County Park Airport, and 26 miles south of Witham Field.
Near: This is a golfer’s paradise with more than 50 golf courses in and around Jupiter, as many as 160 throughout the Palm Beaches of South Florida, stretching from Jupiter to Boca Raton. The region also claims 47 miles of beaches, including popular Juno Beach just minutes from the stadium. Busch Wildlife Sanctuary is also close, as well as Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse and Museum.
More information: Cardinals spring training, Marlins spring training, Palm Beach