We recently traveled to Arizona to catch some pre-season Major League Baseball with our families. While neither of us had been to Spring Training before this trip, we’ve got tips if you’re planning on seeing a few baseball games and a list of things you should definitely see and eat in and around Phoenix. Affiliate links ahead.
Book Your Accommodations EARLY!
Spring training begins in late February and ends in early April. Don’t wait until the week before you go to find a hotel because there won’t be one available. We booked our hotel in late January and still had trouble finding a resort close to Tempe Diablo Stadium where the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim play. We stayed at the Sheraton Grand at Wild Horse Pass which was a bit of a drive past the stadium but the gorgeous sunset seen from the lobby made up for it extra time on the road.
Travel Tip: Sign up for Ebates and get cash back when booking your hotel accommodations!
It’s really HOT!
I wasn’t mentally prepared for how hot it would be at the ball park during game time. Most games begin at 1pm and there is little to no shade. I’m not sure what inspired me to buy an Angels beach towel from the merchandise booth outside the stadium but I’m sure glad I did because I threw it on the scorching hot seats when we sat down. I bet the girl in the short shorts three rows ahead of us wished she had a towel. She couldn’t even sit down! They had to stand on the concourse and watch the game along with everyone else looking for shade.
Spring Training Tip: Don’t mind missing the big name players? Arrive to the game after the 4th inning and you’ll easily find a cooler seat because the shade will have crept down and covered a few more rows and a lot of people will have bounced already from heat exhaustion.
Also, check out the FAQ on the stadium website to see what seats are shaded before you buy your tickets. We paid a little extra for covered shade at Goodyear Ballpark to watch the Cleveland Indians. Best money spent all weekend long.
Autograph Seeking is Overrated
I really thought players would be more accessible during spring training and we came prepared with baseballs and ballpoint pens for autographs. We were able to get some signatures from a few not-yet-known players but never saw any of the starting players. Maybe we were in the wrong place at the wrong time but now we know we can skip this next year.
An alternative to autographs is hanging out in the kids zone. Body Armor was at Tempe Diablo Stadium sampling their drinks and hosting a pitching contest. Goodyear Ballpark had bounce houses and shuffleboard and tons of local beers to try. Both parks had great team stores and memorabilia to bid on.
First Timer Tip: When visiting Goodyear Ballpark, stop by the information window and they’ll treat your right with a little gift to commemorate the occasion.
Watch our vlog from Arizona | Click Play
I love to eat at the ballpark and was expecting so much more from our first game at Tempe Diablo Stadium. Basic fare of hot dogs, nachos and brats are offered. We did really enjoy the Italian Ice but maybe because it was a million degrees out. Goodyear Ballpark offered Ohio’s favorites like Chili Cheese Dog Pizza, Cleveland Polish Boy and Skyline Cheese Coney. Plus, the team store sold Cleveland’s Bertman Original Ballpark Mustard. I love finds like that!
Outside of Baseball
Nothing beats a great hotel pool and we spent several hours each day at ours. But, we also took in some sightseeing. Here’s the thing about the Phoenix area: it’s vast. We spent a lot of time in the car driving from our hotel to the surrounding cities. If that’s not your thing, stay at the pool.
Hoping to hit the team store (this girl wanted a Carson Palmer jersey), we stopped at University of Phoenix Stadium where the Arizona Cardinals play. Unfortunately, it was closed on Sundays.
Idiot tip: Google store hours before driving out to Glendale. We did see the Pat Tillman memorial and that was definitely moving. And there was that cat (ignore my weird cat lady accent in our vlog).
We headed to downtown Phoenix for breakfast. It was early Sunday so not a lot of retail was open yet, but we brunched and hung out in the CityScape area. Pretty nice and easy to navigate. More on breakfast below!
When we were out in Goodyear for the Indians game, adjacent to the ballpark is an airplane boneyard. They don’t offer tours but I made the family pull over to take a few photos. It was weirdly haunting and mostly fulfilled my “Can’t Buy Me Love” teenage dreams.
Watch our Spring Training in Arizona vlog to see the airplane graveyard.
Our last hours in town were spent on Mill Avenue in Tempe browsing the shops. This area is heavy with college students from ASU but it was pretty quiet on a Monday. Normally we would have visited the university – because that’s one thing we love to do when traveling – but my husband and I have both been there and wanted to linger over breakfast longer.
Where to Eat during Spring Training in Arizona
Megan and I both got recommendations from friends on where to eat during our trip. There were a couple of lowlights not worth sharing but these are the places not to miss:
The Breakfast Club at CityScape, Downtown Phoenix (also Old Town Scottsdale). Expect to wait and order one of the benedicts. Breakfast tip: The Breakfast Club doesn’t take reservations but you can add you name to the list before you arrive.
Big Matt’s Breakfast in Tempe (plus three other locations). The Tempe location is hard to find as it is located in the center of a business complex. No wait on a Monday morning but I expect this place gets busy on the weekend, especially adjacent to Sun Devil Stadium and for the killer Bloody Mary’s.
Culinary Dropout in Tempe. Megan and I have now been to Culinary Dropout in Las Vegas and Tempe. I ordered the same thing both times – Roasted Salmon. It’s so good. Great big bar, lots of televisions. My husband saddled up to the bar and watched the NCAA basketball games while the rest of us ate dinner. The back of the restaurant has shuffleboard and ping pong, tons of couches to chill and drink cocktails. Not super family friendly – especially with super little ones but if you’ve got tweens or teens, this is a good spot.
Sammies Ice Cream Sandwiches in Chandler. We found this place randomly and it’s so adorable and delicious. Expect to pay upwards of $6 for an ice cream sandwich but they are big enough to share. Plus, they have a really cute outdoor space with games for kids.
That was a lot for three days in Arizona for Spring Training! I think my family might make this an annual trip, mostly because it’s an easy get away for us. Have you been to any of the baseball parks in Arizona? Which is your favorite? What else should be on our list of things to see, do and eat?