Arts & Culture

Where to Watch Spring Training at Southern Ballparks

Baseball is (almost) back

The exterior of CoolToday Park, the spring training home of the Atlanta Braves.

Photo: Elise Amendola/Associated Press

Fans line up for a spring training baseball game at CoolToday Park in North Port, Florida.

Although Major League Baseball’s opening day is March 28, the pre-season fun begins on February 22. These games—low-stakes, less crowded, and far more relaxed than the regular season—typically let baseball fans get a little closer to the action than at major stadiums. Many major league teams hold spring training in Florida, where the warm weather simulates summer conditions; last year the state drew 1.4 million fans looking to catch a game. Here are just a few prime Sunshine State destinations for pre-season ball.

Stay in Touch with G&G
Get our weekly Talk of the South newsletter.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Lecom Park

Bradenton, Florida

photo: Gene J. Puskar/Associated Press
LECOM Park, the Pittsburgh Pirates spring training stadium.

Built in 1923, the former McKechnie Field is by far the oldest park used for spring training, and the Pittsburgh Pirates have trained there since 1969. The stadium has added modern conveniences over the years (including lights in 2008, allowing for night games), but its location in the middle of a city neighborhood gives it major throwback vibes. If you like the Fenways and Wrigleys of the world, you’ll love this little gem.

CoolToday Park

North Port, Florida

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Atlanta Braves Spring Training (@cooltodaypark)

Thirty-five miles south of Sarasota, this gleaming park opened in 2019. Atlanta Braves fans will want to take advantage of the park’s VIP experience for early entry to batting practice, and get in line for the Kitchen Sink Nachos, margaritas, and the onsite tiki bar’s rum punch.

Cacti Park of the Palm Beaches

Palm Beach, Florida

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Cacti Park of the Palm Beaches (@cactiparkpb)

Hang out on the lawn or schmooze with other fans on the party deck of this southern Florida park, home of the Houston Astros and Washington Nationals. Havana Nights feature a Cuban food truck dishing up classic sandwiches and milkshakes. 

Charlotte Sports Park

Port Charlotte, Florida

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Tampa Bay Rays (@raysbaseball)

It’s easy to make a full day out of a visit to the Charlotte Sports Park—The Tampa Bay Rays’ spring training stadium connects to the Tippecanoe Environmental Park and its walking trails, kayak launch, and boardwalk. In the stadium, two outfield berms flank right and left field, and a baseball boardwalk rings the remainder of the outfield, which is also where you can find cold drinks at the bar.

Roger Dean Chevrolet Stadium

Jupiter, Florida

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Roger Dean Chevrolet Stadium (@rdcstadium)

Hands down, the best place to soak up some sun and watch the pros (the St. Louis Cardinals or the Miami Marlins) swing their bats and catch fly balls is from Chido Beach Club, behind the bullpen in right field. Grab a program and practice scoring the game.

Ed Smith Stadium

Sarasota, Florida

photo: Mike Janes/Four Seam Images via Associated Press
Baltimore Orioles during a spring training game.

Seats in “Birdland South” are refurbished from Camden Yards, so if you can’t make it up to a Baltimore Orioles game in Maryland, you can at least fake it down South. Add a piece of merch from the 2,000-square-foot gift shop, or just enjoy that free Florida sunshine.