The crack of the bat and cheers from the crowd are all sounds of springtime in Arizona. Whether you are a die-hard fan or you just enjoy a day in the sun, Tempe, Arizona, is the perfect home base for a spring getaway – filled with Cactus League baseball games, outdoor recreation, patio dining, family fun and lively festivals.
Cactus League Spring Training brings 15 Major League Baseball teams to 10 stadiums to play more than 200 games. Tempe Diablo Stadium is home to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, who play such rivals as the Giants, Cubs, Rockies and Brewers. Tempe is centrally located, providing easy access to all of the spring training fields. During the spring season, fans have the chance to see their favorite players up close and personal, and maybe even get an autograph or two.
Before and after watching the boys of summer on the field, be sure to make time to take in the sights around this exciting college town.
Take a Hike, Grab a Bike
There are many hiking trails located within minutes of hotels in Tempe, making it easy to experience the beautiful Sonoran Desert. Try the rolling hills of Papago Park, escape from the city at South Mountain Park and Preserve or take a quick hike for a bird’s-eye view of Tempe at “A” Mountain in downtown Tempe. Or rent a bike and take a leisurely cruise along the city’s endless bike paths that traverse desert trails, canals and parks.
Bring the Kids
Even the youngest baseball fans will find lots to do in Tempe. Arizona Mills and Tempe Marketplace are destinations for both shopping and entertainment. At Arizona Mills, families can explore a mile of outlet and specialty stores, meet more than 5,000 sea creatures at SEA LIFE Arizona Aquarium, play thrilling video games at GameWorks, dine at the Rainforest Cafe and see a movie at the IMAX theater.
Among the boutiques, national retailers and restaurants at Tempe Marketplace, kids can play in the splash pad, play games with their parents at Dave & Buster’s and dance to live music on Friday and Saturday nights on the outdoor stages.
Main Event Entertainment has fun for everyone, with bowling lanes, laser tag, an arcade, delicious food and beverage options, billiards and an exhilarating gravity ropes course.
Outdoor family fun includes a trip to the Phoenix Zoo and Tempe Town Lake. Phoenix Zoo visitors can see more than 1,000 animals, go to Harmony Farm, feed giraffes or stingrays and take a ride on the Safari Train.
The refreshing waters of Tempe Town Lake are best experienced when renting pedal boats, electric cruisers, stand-up paddleboards and other watercraft from Tempe Boat Rentals.
Grab a Bite and Brew
When it comes to great eats, Tempe definitely hits a home run every time. Chicago fans will be happy to find hometown favorite Portillo’s at Tempe Marketplace, just a quick drive from Cubs Park. Chicagoans know that Portillo’s serves up some of the best hot dogs, Italian beef sandwiches and burgers in town.
Tempe also scores big with some local favorites. Four Peaks Brewing Co. is famous for craft brews made on-site, such as Kilt Lifter and 8th Street Ale. Located in a historic red brick building, Four Peaks features a sunny outdoor patio and a variety of delicious food options, ranging from fish and chips to pizza to chicken enchiladas, as well as their famous beer-battered 7 Barrel Fries.
The Handlebar Tempe is an ideal place to catch up with friends and talk about the best plays on the field. The casual, German-inspired tavern serves up pretzels, hand-cut French fries, burgers, bratwurst and more. They have a full bar with some of the best craft beers, wine, beer cocktails and daily happy hour specials in Tempe.
Go to a Festival
Baseball games are just one of the ways to enjoy spring in Tempe. Plan your trip around some fun-filled annual festivals.
Take an island vacation without leaving Tempe at the Arizona Aloha Festival, March 7–8, 2015. Celebrate Hawaiian, Tahitian, Samoan and other South Pacific cultures through dance and musical performances, food, kids’ crafts and more fun at Tempe Beach Park.
Tempe’s charming Mill Avenue District will be filled with more than 350 artists selling their original works at the Tempe Festival of the Arts, March 27–29, 2015. Non-stop live entertainment, wine and beer gardens, food vendors and activities for kids add to the festive atmosphere.
Celebrate Asian culture in the Wild West at the 9th Annual Arizona Dragon Boat Festival at Tempe Town Lake, March 28–29, 2015. Enjoy dragon boat races, activities for kids, food booths and performances by martial artists, musicians and dancers.
For more information about planning your dream spring training vacation, visit www.tempebaseball.com or call (800) 283-6734.
(Brought to you by the Tempe Tourism Office, (800) 283-6734, www.tempetourism.com.)