This winter in the Northeast has been one of the worst on record. Record cold temps and snowfall have inundated the region for most of the season. Through all of the weather despair, there is one thing that gets the sports fan through the gray days: the thought of baseball right around the corner.
With February upon, it is time for pitchers and catchers to report and the Philadelphia Phillies will make their trek down to the beautiful Gulf of Mexico coast city of Clearwater, their spring training home since 1948. Now, more than ever, this gorgeous seaside town is worthy of a visit to watch your Phils start the 2014 campaign.
Of course, you are going to Florida, so don’t plan to just stay for a day or two. Make it a full-fledged spring training vacation. Spring training takes place during the heart of spring break season, so the area is teeming with tourists soaking up some rays on the beautiful, white sandy beaches of the Gulf of Mexico.
Due to Clearwater’s location, there are many other Major League Baseball teams that call Florida home, many within just a couple hour drive from the Phillies’ spring training home. The Yankees call Tampa their spring training home and the Blue Jays migrate to Dunedin, both a short drive from Clearwater. You can also drive about an hour and a half east to Walt Disney World, where the rival Atlanta Braves train.
Although we’ve profiled the Tampa-St. Petersburg metropolitan area in a previous article, there are other places worth mentioning here while you are visiting for spring training. One such place is SimCenter, a one of a kind simulator center in Clearwater that contains three flight simulators and a Formula 1 race car simulator. It has become a popular destination in its year of existence. In addition, for sea life enthusiasts, the Clearwater Marine Aquarium is must-visit, the home of Winter from the movie DolphinTale.
If you have a sports bucket list, make sure visiting spring training is on it. It is something you should experience at least once in your life. Being able to see all your favorite players in the confines of a minor league stadium as they prepare for the year is something that cannot be matched. Oh, and it doesn’t hurt that it takes place in Florida! Let's go Phillies!