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 Boston Red Sox and Minnesota Twins from Sports Illustrated.
The Fields: The Red Sox play at at Fenway South, and that’s no mere marketing slogan: the 10,823-seat stadium has its own Green Monster wall in left field as well as a manually operated scoreboard, just like the big ballyard on Yawkey Way. The Twins have called Ft. Myers their spring training home longer (27 seasons) than the Red Sox and play their games in the recently renovated and expanded , at the CenturyLink Sports Complex south of downtown.
Inside Baseball/Red Sox: The Chris Sale trade, while costly, gives Boston arguably the best rotation in the AL . . . but the Red Sox could have and should have done more to replace David Ortiz's production at DH. . . . Going with Mitch Moreland instead of Edwin Encarnacion may come back to haunt Boston. For more on the Red Sox, go here at si.com.
Inside Baseball/Twins: The Twins haven’t done much to the on-the-field product this winter, and the moves they have made have been low-impact. For more on the Twins, go here at si.com.
Best Beach: The barrier beaches just off the coast from Ft. Myers are home to two of the area’s best stretches of sand: sits at the northern tip of Estero Island and has a wide beach and walking trails with views of Estero Bay. has two miles of pristine shoreline plus hiking and biking trails; a kayak outing offers opportunities to see manatees and dolphins.
Family Outings: The is the best of all worlds: the 105-acre park has multiple nature trails for outdoor fun, a museum and aviary where you can meet local wildlife, and a planetarium for exploring the night sky. Events include dog-friendly hikes and bluegrass music on the museum’s back porch.
High-end Stay: Lounge in an oceanfront resort pool, work on your tennis game, take a nature walk in a private preserve and climb aboard a luxury yacht for a sunset cruise at the , close to Sanibel and Captiva Island beaches. Rates from $255 per night.
Value Stay: Good times at the cheery centers on the resort’s wildly popular poolside Tiki bar, and the party continues at the affiliated , both just a short walk from Ft. Myers Beach. Rates start at $127 per 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