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 Tampa Bay Rays from Sports Illustrated. 

By Bob Curley
February 09, 2017

Learn where to play, stay and watch your team, here.

Like their cold-weather rivals, the Rays travel south each spring to get ready for the Major League Baseball season: the West Coast city of Port Charlotte is on Gasparilla Sound between Tampa and Naples.

Photo: Leon Halip/Getty

Your Team: Tampa Bay Rays

The Schedule: 34 games, with 18 home games (see schedule and buy tickets here).

The Field: Charlotte Sports Park is a fan favorite with its outfield baseball boardwalk for souvenir seekers, a kids’ play area, a Tiki bar, and berm seating down both foul lines. After spring training wraps, the Class-A Florida State League Charlotte Stone Crabs and Rookie-class Gulf Coast Rays teams play here.

Inside Baseball: [Wilson] Ramos is as good a pickup as any team has made this off-season, but the disappointing return for [Drew] Smyly is unlikely to help Tampa get out of the AL East basement in 2017. For more on the Rays, go here at si.com. 

Best Beach: Port Charlotte Beach Park has sandy beaches shaded by palm trees on Alligator Bay, and also gives you easy access to Peace and Myakka Rivers, popular with kayakers. If you’re not thrilled about swimming in a bay named for gators, the park has a swimming pool plus basketball, tennis, volleyball, and bocce courts, and horseshoe pits. Englewood Beach, located on Manasota Key, is the closest Gulf beach.

Family Outings: Getting out on the water is the best way to get to know Port Charlotte: You can cruise Charlotte Harbor in a pontoon boat or party barge, or charter a powerboat from Goodtimes Boat Rental for a day and cruise out to Cabbage Key.

High-End Stay: The boutique Wyvern Luxury Hotel in downtown Punta Gorda (just eight minutes from Port Charlotte) has a rooftop pool where you can soak up the sun and drink in the views of Charlotte Harbor. Rates from $219 per night.

Value Stay: Like the name says, the Four Point Sheraton Punta Gorda Harborside is on the waterfront just across the bridge from Port Charlotte. Rates from $180 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: