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  1. Very useful advice, thanks.

    But, avoid excessive taxes by renting cars offsite? I had to double-check the byline to see if Phil Mickelson wrote this.

    Comment by Brazen Reader — January 22, 2013 @ 12:48 pm

  2. Fun article Dave and very useful. I have made it out to Phoenix for Fall League because it is a bit cheaper to stay during that time and I could focus my stay in Scottsdale area. It is a bit overwhelming with the Indians playing in Goodyear so the tips definitely come in handy for when I decide to make the trip.

    Comment by Aaron — January 22, 2013 @ 1:03 pm

  3. Nice article.. heading out there during the last week in February. What I’d love to see is someone write a truly insiders guide to autograph hunting on a park by park and practice by practice basis. My brother and I basically autograph hunt all day while at Spring Training and know several parks really well, but not others. It’s suprising how vanilla most ST autograph advice is on the web. Agree totally on the hotel in a central location concept and making sure to visit several facilities. Fond of Glendale and Peoria myself.

    Comment by Mustard n Brown — January 22, 2013 @ 1:07 pm

  4. Good stuff Dave. I’ll add that Frasher’s Steakhouse and Lounge in Scottsdale is a great place to eat, drink and possibly run into a couple players with recent World Series rings.

    Comment by JP — January 22, 2013 @ 1:13 pm

  5. Thanks, Dave. Heading there for the first time this year, and this is really helpful!

    Comment by Eminor3rd — January 22, 2013 @ 1:15 pm

  6. Hey Dave, could you put something together similar to this for Spring Training in Florida. I was hoping to go down and see the nats in spring training in Veira, Florida but am having a hard time finding good info on the area.

    Comment by Garrett — January 22, 2013 @ 1:25 pm

  7. Chompies in Tempe and Scottsdale… Go there. Get the original Jewish Sliders. You can thank me later.

    Comment by Prich — January 22, 2013 @ 1:30 pm

  8. Four Peaks Brewery, w/ locations in Tempe and Scottsdale has the best beer and in my opinion food in town. I make a trip each year and eat there at least 2 if not 3 times over the course of a weekend Spring training trip.

    Comment by Nick Doyle — January 22, 2013 @ 1:30 pm

  9. Don’t forget to drink lots of beer to stay cool and bring shades to stare at the honeys! :)

    Tailgaiting at Tempe Diablo is also pretty awesome.

    I’m an Angels fan and stay in Scottsdale because there is a way better night life there. If you like great wine, check out Kazimierz World Wine Bar in DT Scottsdale.

    Comment by Roman — January 22, 2013 @ 1:31 pm

  10. Grapefruit league advice:
    Disneyworld

    Comment by Jaack — January 22, 2013 @ 1:41 pm

  11. I have camped before, and really enjoyed, White Tank Mountain Regional Park. It was a pretty good base from which to visit the western parks and stay cheaply. Also brought mountain bikes which we used on off days.

    Comment by Patrick — January 22, 2013 @ 1:45 pm

  12. Nice article Dave, thank you.

    I have relations and friends in the area so rental cars, hotels and the like are not important to me and I don’t drink and my meals are usually with family or friends so night life isn’t that important,either. But overall a nice article.

    Comment by AverageMeansAverageOverTime — January 22, 2013 @ 1:53 pm

  13. Nice article Dave! One of these years the wife will let me go! She wouldn;t mind going down for the Red Sox but i refuse……. all the parks in Florida are to spread out.

    Comment by Ben — January 22, 2013 @ 2:04 pm

  14. I live in Tempe which affords me opportunity to mountain bike to Phoenix Muni. No trip to Phoenix is complete without getting out into the desert.

    Comment by JuanBobo — January 22, 2013 @ 2:08 pm

  15. Local here:

    Depending on your team affiliations, there are some things to note.

    If I were from out of town, I’d post up in downtown Tempe, downtown Phoenix, or Old Town Scottsdale. From the Mill Ave./ASU area you can bike easily to Phoenix Muni (A’s), Scottsdale Stadium (Giants), and Tempe Diablo (Angels). Your favorite team will likely be through those parks a few times throughout your stay and you will not be subjected to the suburban hell that is Surprise and other far-flung west valley sites. Grab a few beers on mill and then bike, taxi, walk, to a park.

    There are a few hotels that offer you a non-chain experience that I think are totally worth checking out. If you want to stay in old town Scottsdale, stay at the Saguaro. If you’re in Downtown check out the Clarendon and Hotel San Marco. All of these spots will give you some insight into some actual local (non-chain) culture and are fairly reasonably priced.

    One thing to note about Keith Law, he’s new to the valley and while he’s a total foodie (::barf::) he appears not to have discovered the absolute best Mexican food in the valley. That distinction belongs to Los Dos Molinos and they have locations near all of the non-West Valley parks. He claims Barrio Cafe is the best, but that is Mexican Cuisine as imagined by a chef, and not the real deal.

    Comment by JuanBobo — January 22, 2013 @ 2:15 pm

  16. We did Four Peaks last year. Memorable, but I arrived late after being stuck in traffic.

    Comment by Mike Newman — January 22, 2013 @ 2:26 pm

  17. Car rentals from non-airport locations: the new market inefficiency?

    Comment by Oscar — January 22, 2013 @ 2:29 pm

  18. The centrally located but markedly unglamorous Metrocenter section of Phoenix offers great hotel rates, the conveniences of the Metrocenter Mall, jogging, hiking and bicycling on the surfaced paths of Cave Creek and the trails of North Mountain, free nearby tennis courts and inexpensive golf at the Cave Creek, Encanto and Glen Lakes courses.

    My Spring Training trips to Arizona have included live theater, a Phoenix Suns game, an Eric Clapton concert and a half marathon.

    I regret that I’m not going to Spring Training this year, but look forward to returning to Arizona in 2014.

    Comment by harmony55 — January 22, 2013 @ 2:34 pm

  19. San Tan is a better brewery than Four Peaks, in my opinion. The best brewery in AZ is probably Mother Road, but they’re in Flagstaff. Still, have one of theirs if you can. Their blackened IPA is excellent, and if you’re more of a malt oriented sort, check out their English style brown ale, which has a great fruity fermentation character to complement a nice caramel malt. Not sure if you can get it in Pheonix though…

    The best place to get beer in the Pheonix area is probably Papago Brewing Co., (link: http://papagobrewing.com/) which has a convenience store style wall of coolers full of single bottles that runs the gamut of the worlds beer (Belgian, American, German, English, etc.) I’m guessing they have 200 varieties, plus 30 tap handles of good stuff.

    This advice is coming from a veteran homebrewer who has lived in Arizona for over a decade, and who has drank beer in all three of its major cities frequently.

    Comment by philosofool — January 22, 2013 @ 2:41 pm

  20. I love Keith Law. Love the man. But he knows very little about food and is a shockingly inexperienced eater. Where to eat? F n’ B for great food in Scottsdale, Pink Pony and Don and Charlie’s for a great baseball scene in Scottsdale. Matt’s Big Breakfast and Dick’s Hideaway for great breakfast in Phoenix, Pizzeria Bianco or Italian Restaurant for nice dinners in Phoenix, and Four Peaks brewery in Tempe for beer and upscale pub grub.
    You’re welcome.

    Comment by Bo Diaz — January 22, 2013 @ 2:50 pm

  21. As a frequent flier to AZ for the last dozen years or so, I’ve never had a 3 hour wait like Dave described. Most likely the reason is that I always fly on Tuesdays, Wednesdays & Saturdays. Those are the least busy days of the week to fly. They’re also usually the cheapest days for airfare. I rarely have more than a handful of customers ahead of me in line. Also taking early morning or late night flights avoids most of the prime time backups too.

    Comment by Lies, Damn Lies & Statistics — January 22, 2013 @ 3:14 pm

  22. Went to Lakeland, Florida for Tigers ST 3 years. Rented a house and had family join us all three times. Good proximity to Disney, also to Tampa area beaches. Have seen games in Bradenton, Clearwater, Kissimmee, etc. Was nicer when Indians were still there in Winter Haven, 20 minutes from Lakeland. Old park, but you could walk right up to the players. Met Bob Feller there. Him and my dad talked for 20 minutes about the Feller/Newhouser matchups in the 40s. Thought my dad would pee his pants. Tony LaRussa brought the Cards into Lakeland and they had a rain delay. I sat next to the dugout and he talked to me for a half hour. The year Jeremy Bonderman made the Tigers from A ball I met his folks behind home plate, then got to meet Dombrowski when he came over to talk to them. That kind of stuff never happens but in ST. Would like to go to AZ. Thanks for the article, very helpful. Agree you should try to see several ballparks, check out several teams. And do go see the kids on the back fields at least once. Free and more fun than you can believe.

    Comment by Tim D — January 22, 2013 @ 3:28 pm

  23. The tip on off-site rentals is spot on–but be careful.
    On my last trip I stayed the first night with a friend, and then he dropped me off at the remote location for Avis. Fortunately, he didn’t leave right away, since the ‘remote’ location was shut down.
    People on site redirected me to yet another location, but the delay made me late for an appointment I shouldn’t have missed.

    As for food, if you like Mexican, Los Dos Molinos is great. They used to have four or five locations, but I’m not sure how many now. If you like strong margaritas, order the regular.
    If you order what they list as strong…get ready to have someone else drive!

    Comment by diderot — January 22, 2013 @ 3:54 pm

  24. Thanks Dave, just found a rental car for half the cost of what the airport charges, great advice!

    Comment by Demingas — January 22, 2013 @ 4:23 pm

  25. Met my brothers a few years ago for a week of golf and games. Early tee-times and afternoon games. We actually rented a house for less than the cost of all 4 of us in a hotel, and with much more room to grill, play cards, watch March Madness, etc. We didn’t mind the driving. Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives recommended a great German restaurant, and of course the Mexican food places were great. Consider the house/condo option if you are staying for over 3 days. Although real-estate prices are starting to climb again, the housing glut means there are many places that are very nice, affordable and roomy if you don’t mind driving a bit. And, since we went to multiple stadiums we were going to have to drive anyway. And, Dave’s right. Much to see beyond baseball: Ancient ruins, National Parks and monuments, museums, etc. all within easy driving distance.

    Comment by Jerry Troshynski — January 22, 2013 @ 4:55 pm

  26. AFL guys now swear by Honey Bear BBQ on the way to Phoenix Muni

    Comment by Fresno Bob — January 22, 2013 @ 5:05 pm

  27. Despite the light rail, visiting PHX will require renting a car.

    East Valley (Scottsdale/Tempe/Mesa) offers: ARZ/COL, SFG, LAA, OAK, CHI.

    West Valley (Glendale/Goodyear/Peoria/Surprise) has: SDP/SEA, KC/TX, LAD/CWS, CIN/CLE, MIL.

    If you stay in the East Valley (Tempe/Scottsdale), don’t consider going to Surprise or Goodyear for KC/TX/CLE/CIN. It’s 30+ miles to GY and 43 miles to Surprise from Old Town Scottsdale, and will be a nightmare on the commute back during rush hour. West Valley is much better for convenient access to the most stadiums/teams, but definitely lacking in the nightlife.

    Comment by Tits Magee — January 22, 2013 @ 5:28 pm

  28. You would think a veteran homebrewer who has lived in Arizona for over a decade would know how to spell Phoenix.

    Comment by JuanBobo — January 22, 2013 @ 6:05 pm

  29. Tailgating at Diablo is the most important part of any Spring Training trip. Also don’t get caught up in the cocktail hour at the Embassy Suites. That time is best suited for napping.

    Question: I’m early 20s and we usually go to Mill Street for night time activities. What makes Scottsdale better? PS I don’t drink wine.

    Comment by ppabich — January 22, 2013 @ 8:08 pm

  30. Dave,
    Great article for any traveler, but if you’re going to Arizona in the spring for baseball, it’s like “Going to Arizona Baseball for Dummies”. All of this advice is good for saving quite a bit.

    Comment by TexasGusCC — January 22, 2013 @ 9:06 pm

  31. Dave great post! Looking forward to my first Cactus league adventure in late March to see my M’s.

    As far as the grapefruit league I know more than most – I live in Orlando and go to plenty of games each year.

    Nats Park in Viera, FL is good. World of Beer and plenty of good restaurants nearby, but not much lodging, would recommend staying in Cocoa Beach for the night (check out Ron John’s surf shop and the beaches too)! Disney, and the Braves park is by far the best. Free parking, plenty of lawn seating at $14, and close to absolutely everything.

    I teach at a high school and my daily view from my classroom is the Astros spring training facility in Kissimmee. Stadium is average, but they charge $7 for parking! I just keep my car at my school and walk there, but the experience is not that great – and is out of the way from major attractions and restaurants.

    The parks I loved though were the Phillies park in Clearwater, the Cardinals/Marlins in Jupiter (a nice village of places to eat and small bars nearby), and Braves facility. Nostaligia aside, nothing special of Steinbrenner field in Tampa, the Orioles stadium is AWESOME – but not in the best part of Sarasota…..the Pirates stadium is also in a pretty run down area in Bradenton. Just some thoughts. I went to 5 different stadiums last March and have been to all but the Mets, Blue Jays, Rays, & new Red Sox stadiums in FLA.

    Comment by JON — January 22, 2013 @ 9:59 pm

  32. Papago Brewing is close to a number of the stadiums, A’s and Giant’s being the closest and they have over 500 different bottled beers plus great pizza to boot. Their Orange Blossom beer is a home run. Four Peaks is good also and has great burgers but you might have to deal with a bunch of college kids since it is next to ASU and they only have their own beer unlike Papago Brewing. San Tan Brewing was a bit of a haul but good food and a good atmosphere. If going to the Diamondbacks/Rockies stadium park at the nearby casino and take the shuttle.

    Comment by Adam — January 22, 2013 @ 11:38 pm

  33. More variety, less collegiate atmosphere. Some of the places can attract a pretty large douchebag crowd and some places may charge $8+ for a mixed drink.

    Comment by johnicus g — January 23, 2013 @ 10:13 am

  34. Los Dos Molinos is fantastic but I think most people would refer to it as New Mexican style Mexican food. Adobado, I dream of it, and it’s one of the things I miss from the Valley.

    Comment by johnicus g — January 23, 2013 @ 10:15 am

  35. Pretty much spot on, having lived right at Central and Camelback, I would highly recommend staying as you have better options for food/activities. Downtown has a number of excellent hotel options.

    I saw someone mentioned the Clarendon, which has a great pool, but the rooms are a bit tired. The restaurant there though is something I still dream about.

    Comment by johnicus g — January 23, 2013 @ 10:18 am

  36. Living in Phoenix I’d say Four Peaks is the largest brewery but that doesn’t make them the best. Some of their beers are good but most are just entry level for craft beer but the patio in Tempe is great at springtime during Spring Training. Angel’s stadium isn’t too far from their Tempe place. Agree 100% on Papago Brewing. They were just selected as one of the top 100 Craft Beer Bars in America by Draft Magazine. They really seem to be the only place putting Arizona beer on the map. http://draftmag.com/features/america-100-best-beer-bars-2013/ It’s a short hike from the A’s and a free local bus ride from Scottsdale stadium. San Tan really isn’t close to any of the stadiums but you should buy their beer where you can find it. Bonus for tailgaters is that they have some great canned beer. Sun Up Brewing is about the only other brewery worth visiting IMHO. Not close to any of the stadiums but it is close to the light rail if you are taking public transportation. A new place just opened up in Scottsdale close to the Diamondbacks and Rockies facility called Fate Brewing, the food is good but they are still working on improving their beers. Desert Eagle Brewing opened in Mesa this year, I haven’t been there myself but I’ve heard the beers are not good. Cub’s fan should probably go to Four Peaks, Papago or San Tan.

    Comment by CubbieNation — January 23, 2013 @ 10:52 am

  37. Great advice on rental cars – I’ve had a couple near-coronaries waiting in that line for my car.

    Two food recommendations: Tarbell’s is very good (although it’s been a couple years since I’ve been there). Last year at the SABR conference, someone at the hotel recommended a place called “House of Tricks”, which was great. I did send my wife a link to the restaurant’s website, as I was worried about her reaction upon seeing a credit card charge with that name . .

    Comment by craigtyle — January 23, 2013 @ 12:43 pm

  38. Great Advice, but a couple other questions if anyone is still reading this:
    Do most games sell out? Also, Whats the deal with sitting on the lawns behind the OF fences? Is it fun? cramped? Lotsa kids running around?
    Thanks!

    Comment by Jabronies — January 23, 2013 @ 12:56 pm

  39. AZ resident here. It depends on the park/team. I know a lot of the Giants and D-Backs/Rockies (both in Scottsdale), Angels (Tempe), and Cubs (Mesa) games sell out frequently, especially on weekends. I’m a Brewers fan who has gone to most of their weekend home games (Maryvale, lovely park but not a great area) for the past several years and don’t recall any of them selling out or even being especially crowded.

    It’s dirt cheap to sit in the lawn, with most parks charging around $10. If you’re looking to relax in the sun with a big group and have a few beers and don’t mind the kids running around and other distractions, it’s not a bad way to go.

    Comment by gooooooldschmidt — January 23, 2013 @ 4:44 pm

  40. Depends on your team, but yes – Giants, Dbacks, Cubs, and others are almost always locks to sell out or get close.

    Comment by JuanBobo — January 23, 2013 @ 4:45 pm

  41. If you use expedia and get a hotel+car combo, the rate is significantly cheaper.

    But I’m confused. If I rent a car online, will I still have to wait 3+ hours at the airport? Or is the above anecdote dealing with renting a car at the airport?

    Comment by Jimmy — January 23, 2013 @ 5:34 pm

  42. Is there any baseball pre-spring training leagues! We will be in AZ the first two weeks of February.
    Any info would be greatly appreciated!

    Comment by Caeb — January 24, 2013 @ 1:30 pm

  43. A Chompies recommendation! Be still my Cactus League-loving heart!

    Comment by Jonah Keri — January 31, 2013 @ 12:37 am

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