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 Philadelphia Phillies from Sports Illustrated.
The Schedule: 37 games, with 19 home games (see schedule and buy tickets here)
The Field: Built in 2004, hosts the Phillies for Grapefruit League games each spring. It’s the third Clearwater stadium for the Phillies since the team began playing ball here in 1947. The ballpark holds 8,500 fans, but feels smaller and has excellent sight lines. Don’t miss the Tiki Bar just beyond left field fence; the concession stands imports Philly cheesesteaks to keep homesick fans happy.
Inside Baseball: General manager Matt Klentak kept his promise, staying away from big commitments in favor of small additions.... The Phillies are likely to field a 2017 Opening Day team that will make less than $100 million. Don’t get used to that. For more on the Phillies, go here at si.com.
Best Beach: Clearwater Beach is one of the very best in the country for families. is a 95-acre barrier island between the Gulf of Mexico and the Florida mainland. Natural communities include a beach where sea turtles annually deposit eggs and a salt marsh with viewing benches where birds nest and feed.
Family Outings: The is home to bottlenose dolphins, loggerhead sea turtles, Kemp’s Ridley sea turtles, river otters, stingrays, fish, coral reefs, mangroves, and more. Visit Winter, the bottlenose dolphin who was rescued in December 2005 after being caught in a crab trap and losing her tail. (The aquarium fitted her with a prosthetic, which brought worldwide attention to the facility.) Little Toot is the only dolphin tour boat that can go into the shallows as well as the Gulf to ensure more sightings and closer dolphin contact.
Value Stay: Tommy’s Tiki bar serves ‘em up cold on the 10 acres of beach fronting the , which has balcony rooms, a freeform pool, spa, and water-sports rentals, all close to Clearwater’s popular Pier 60. From $202/night.
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