Whereas the Florida Grapefruit League has a more family-friendly vibe with its nearby theme parks, the Arizona Cactus League, offers more fun in the sun for an All-American boy’s trip. Since the games are scattered around the greater Phoenix area, we advise shacking up in Scottsdale or nearby Tempe, which not only puts you in the vicinity of over half of the Cactus League ballparks, but also in the center of a killer party and college town. Just ask one-time residents Mike Tyson and Charles Barkley, who left a trail of bottle blondes and empty tequila bottles in their post-playing days wake. Live like the pros do at the four-star Phoenician resort, which offers a Spring Training package that includes shuttle service to the local ballparks and a round of golf on the resident course. Boutique chains like the W Hotel and the Saguaro always offer a great combination of killer digs and excellent nightlife. If you’re rolling with your old college buds, booking a dope crib AirBnB offers an excellent house party vibe. Wherever you stay, make sure it has a pool. Arizona gets its best weather in March, but it’s still damn hot. Stay hydrated, slap on that sunscreen and sport your team ball cap all day, every day.
Playing The Field
Fifteen MLB teams play in the Cactus League with games everyday, giving you the opportunity to do your best Will Ferrell imitation in that hilarious HBO doc where he played 10 positions on 10 teams in a single day. Since these exhibition games are a warm up for the upcoming season, it’s less about watching each ball and strike and more about living the dream. Bouncing around from ballpark to ballpark is a great way to meet people from all around the country who cross state lines to follow their favorite teams. Each of the stadiums have their own backstory and personalities, offering different things: Hohokam has the best food, Peoria, the best craft beer, Tempe Diablo has great sightlines, and Scottsdale is the VIP king. Ticket prices are way cheaper than regular season games and even for the best seats in the house, you won’t pay more than $25. You can often get lawn or bleacher seats for less than $10. Tickets are often available on the day of the game.
The Best Seat In The House
Families and old folks snag up the bleacher and stadium seats, but the best, cheapest and most available seats in the house are in the lawn beyond the outfield fences where you can drink beers, stretch out your legs, catch some rays or maybe even a home-run and take a nap (or pass out) underneath the shady trees — presumably in that order.
Major League Talent
Sure, the “talent” you will be checking out behind your Ray Ban’s is different from those Cancun trips back in the day, but even the casual baseball fan will be curious to see if Arizona’s new $206 million dollar man, Zack Greinke, is a wise investment for the hometown Diamondbacks. You will undoubtedly run into a large and loud Dodger Blue contingent cheering on Clayton Kershaw, sharing a meal with legendary Tommy Lasorda and taunting their San Francisco Giant rivals. The lovable (and finally good) Cubs often draw the biggest crowds as their long-suffering fans hope once again that this is the beginning of the end of their century-old World Series curse, while the 2015 champion Kansas City Royals (that still sounds weird) embark on their title defense at the appropriately-titled Surprise Stadium.
Where To Eat And Drink
RnR is exactly why you are in town, so slide into this namesake pre-and-post game happy hour haunt with a double-decker patio and endless drink specials. If you want to turn up your daytime game, head to Maya Day + Nightclub, a Vegas style pool party with big-time DJs and sun devilish ASU coeds in bikinis (Mike Trout who?) or Dakota for their now legendary Sunday Funday brunch (their nighttime scene is great too). When the sun sets, head out for a cool, casual meat-centric meal at Pig & Pickle or cocktails and bites at Culinary Dropout. You can always relive your college daze at The Yard in downtown Phoenix where they combine comfort food, top-shelf cocktails and party games like corn hole and ping pong. If you’re staying at The W in Scottsdale, it’s poolside club Wet is your go-to move. If you favor some cocktails, class it up at the glass-encased, AZ88 cocktail lounge or work on your golf swing and buzz at Topgolf, a sprawling entertainment complex with a high-tech driving range and swanky lounge.