People in winter climates look to the start of Major League Baseball’s Spring Training as a glimmer of hope that spring will eventually arrive bringing warm weather and of course, baseball season. If you plan to spend winter in Arizona, Spring Training marks the beginning of a lot of fun, and not just as it relates to taking in the pre-season game schedule.
From a baseball perspective, the fun begins with the first Cactus League game scheduled for Thursday, February 21 (a full schedule of games can be found at mlb.com). The baseball parks are within close proximity to each other, so catching a game of each of the 30 teams in the Cactus league is a very real possibility!
Take in the beautiful landscape of the area with a visit to Papago Park in Phoenix, which offers hiking and fishing all set in the desert landscape surrounded by massive buttes. Don’t miss the park’s main attraction, Hole in the Rock.
Another great way to take in the beauty of the area, and the history as well, is to take a drive on the Apache Trail. Head east on the trail and set Tortilla Flat as your destination. This classic Old West town has a museum, a mercantile and gift shop and the Country Store, where you can try a scoop of Prickly Pear Gelato! You might want to stop along the way at Lost Dutchman State Park for a classic Sonoran desert experience. This is a good spot for birding, hiking, and exploring the desert.
While Arizona is remarkable for its natural beauty, it is also home to the man-made beauty of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin West, Wright’s home and studio located in the desert outside of Scottsdale. Tired of Midwestern winters, Wright sought out the sun in Arizona and purchased six hundred acres of land in the foothills of the McDowell Mountains. Several different tours are available to view Wright’s winter home which he also used as a studio for 50 or more apprentices. Don’t miss Wright’s private bathroom, in which the ever-innovative Wright used a new material known as aluminum to design the space. Visit franklloydwright.org/taliesin-west for more information
If you’re an avid sports fan (meaning if it’s a game, you want to see it), don’t forget that Arizona is home to two professional sports teams other than the MLB’s Diamondbacks. The NBA’s Phoenix Suns play their home games at Talking Stick Resort Arena, which is a major sports and entertainment complex in the downtown Phoenix area and the NHL’s Arizona Coyotes call the Gila River Arena their home ice.
The town of Tempe springs to life during Spring Training with all kinds of markets, live music and festivals to celebrate the season. The Tempe Marketplace has live music on Friday and Saturday evenings while the 6th Street Market gets hopping on Sunday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. (through April 14) with food trucks, live music, arts and artisans and a farmer’s market. As March ends, the town celebrates the arts with the Tempe Festival of the Arts, a top-ranked craft show that attracts over 200,000 visitors during the three-day event. This year’s event is set for March 29-31.