Baseball has always been a part of my life. Playing it, watching my dad play, watching my brother play and of course, watching the Reds play. It was always a special weekend when we were kids to have a few days down in Cincinnati, the highlight being a Reds game. I loved watching Barry Larkin play and hearing my dad talk so passionately about his love of the Reds, more specifically, “The Big Red Machine.”
So why not take our love for baseball to the west?
In March 0f 2015, my dad, mom, nephew and I took our first family spring training vacation to Phoenix, Arizona. We quickly learned that the Reds spring training facilities are essentially in the middle of no where. If you want to see the Reds play in Goodyear, you will definitely need to rent a car. It is a very easy highway drive, about 40 minutes west of Phoenix.
Once you get to Goodyear, they have truly created a wonderful experience. From the people who greet you at the gates, to the vendors serving the food and drinks, to the ushers making sure you don’t melt, everyone is friendly and more than happy to help. The size of the stadium makes the game much more intimate and personal.
If you’re into getting autographs and pictures, this is a great chance to add to your collection. The players typically come to the edge of the seats and sign autographs before the games. But if you’re looking for a real pro move, go to the practice fields before the games. There you can walk right up to where the players are and get autographs and maybe even some photos. My nephew has added quite a few autographs to his collection via spring training.
For the die-hard baseball fans, there are quite a few stadiums you can travel to see different teams. Some of the teams have better locations than others, but all have the Arizona heat and sunshine, exactly what you’re looking for when leaving Ohio in March. I’ve seen quite a few people who do just that — come out to Arizona and spend their days traveling to different stadiums, watching different teams.
If baseball 24/7 isn’t your thing, there are certainly tons of other fun activities you can do while there. From Phoenix Suns games, to golfing, to hot air balloon trips (never again), to day trips to the Grand Canyon and hiking locations galore. Or if you’re anything like me, pool side with drink in hand by day and dinner, with more drinks in hand by night!
Pending the vibe you’re going for, there are countless hotels to choose from. Of the three I’ve stayed at, here are my quick thoughts:
- Sheraton Desert Oasis: great place for families. Lots of activities around the hotel. Location isn’t great if you’re looking to walk places, but it is close to the highway.
- The Westin Kierland Villas: my personal favorite of all the places I’ve stayed. Off the road a bit, so would be a bit more of a walk to Old Town Scottsdale, but doable. BEAUTIFUL location, the scenery is stunning. Great for everyone. Lots of pools (adult and kid options), lazy river, basketball courts and more.
- The Scott Resort: Very close runner up for my favorite. The location of this hotel is amazing! Walkable to Old Town Scottsdale food, shopping and entertainment. The pool is beautiful and the outdoor big screen TV is a great perk, especially during March Madness.
Overall, I think a spring training vacation is a big hit! Or a home run, whatever pun you’d like. For huge baseball fans, the casual fan and the ones who don’t know a thing about baseball, there is plenty to see and do for everyone. I would highly recommend a trip to Arizona (or Florida) for spring training at least once.