Photo: Courtesy of the Ballpark of the Palm Beaches

Have a baseball-and-beach family vacation of a lifetime, with this Grapefruit League guide to ballparks, best beaches and hotels, family outing ideas, and even the latest pre-season inside baseball on the Washington Nationals and Houston Astros from Sports Illustrated. 

Your Teams: Washington Nationals, Houston Astros

The Schedules: The Nationals play 34 games, with 16 home games (see schedule and buy tickets here). The Astros play 31 games, with 15 home games (see schedule and buy tickets here).

The Fields: The grandly named Ballpark of the Palm Beaches, opening for the 2017 spring training season, will be the home of both the Nationals and the Astros. The stadium features 6,500 seats and space for another 1,000 fans on an outfield berm. The teams left their former homes (Viera and Kissimmee, respectively) to take up residence in the new West Palm Beach ballpark, which features 30-foot statues of their new residents’ logos.

Inside Baseball/Nationals: The Adam Eaton trade is easily defensible, but what’s not is bolstering a strength while letting a weakness get worse. The Nats lineup is better this spring than last, but the bullpen is much worse. Losing a rental like closer Mark Melancon is understandable and striking out on top free agents happens, but for a team that fashions itself as a contender, going into the season with a bullpen without experience or high-end talent is unwise. For more on the Nationals, go here at si.com.

Inside Baseball/Astros: After years of paltry payrolls, the Astros are finally making a charge, and [Carlos] Beltran, [Brian] McCann and [Josh] Reddick should all be improvements over their 2016 counterparts. World Series hopes now rest on the young stars doing their part—though another arm for the starting rotation wouldn’t hurt Houston’s chances. For more on the Astros, go here at si.com. 

 Photo: Luisa Vogel/EyeEm/Getty

To browse all 12 Grapefruit League destinations, go here.

Best Beach: Want to snorkel with sea turtles and sharks? Head to Coral Cove Park in Tequesta. You won’t be melting at John D. McArthur Park: it’s connected to shore by a 1,600-foot boardwalk, but a covered shuttle will take you right to the edge of the sand. In addition to two miles of beach and a pristine subtropical coastal habitat with hammocks, dunes, and an ancient limestone reef, the park has a nature center with rotating exhibits and offers kayak rentals for paddling the nutrient-rich estuary, a magnet for fish, birds, and other maritime life.

Family Outings: The 10,000-gallon Aquariums of the Atlantic is an eye-catching and endlessly changing highlight of the South Florida Science Center and Aquarium; other exhibits include a walk through a virtual Everglades and a display of moon rocks. Planetarium shows are held daily, and the Center hosts traveling exhibitions. Outside, an 18-hole miniature gold course designed by Jim Fazio and Gary Nicklaus winds around a nature trail.

High-end Stay: The Breakers once hired staff based in part on their skill on the baseball diamond: today, Nationals and Astros fans will find this legendary oceanfront hotel just 10 miles from the Ballpark of the Palm Beaches. Rates from $442 per night.

Value Stay: Join the staff and fellow guests at the Residence Inn West Palm Beach for an evening social at The Mix after a day at the ballpark (just five minutes away), or relax by the fire pit or in the outdoor hot tub.

More Teams and Locations: To find more fun baseball and vacation information on each of Florida’s Grapefruit League teams, click on the links below: 

Atlanta Braves: Lake Buena Vista
Baltimore Orioles: Sarasota
Boston Red Sox: Fort Myers
Detroit Tigers: Lakeland
Houston Astros: West Palm Beach
Miami Marlins: Jupiter
Minnesota Twins: Fort Myers
New York Mets: Port St. Lucie
New York Yankees: Tampa
Philadelphia Phillies: Clearwater
Pittsburgh Pirates: Bradenton
St. Louis Cardinals: Jupiter
Tampa Bay Rays: Port Charlotte
Toronto Blue Jays: Dunedin
Washington Nationals: West Palm Beach

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