|Brand new JetBlue Park at Fenway South opened this month in Fort Myers.|
You'll never get closer to the crack of the bat than during Spring Training in Florida's Grapefruit League. Here's a guide to where the teams train and play and where you might stay this season, Feb. 29-April 4. For the complete schedule, go to www.springtrainingonline.com/features/master-schedule.htm
Where the teams train in Florida
Atlanta Braves - Champion Stadium, Lake Buena Vista
Baltimore Orioles - Ed Smith Stadium, Sarasota
Boston Red Sox - JetBlue Park at Fenway South, Fort Myers
Detroit Tigers - Joker Marchant Stadium, Lakeland
Miami Marlins, St. Louis Cardinals - Roger Dean Stadium, Jupiter
Houston Astros - Osceola County Stadium, Kissimmee
Minnesota Twins - Hammond Stadium, Ft. Myers
New York Mets - Digital Domain Park, Port St. Lucie
New York Yankees - Steinbrenner Field, Tampa
Philadelphia Phillies - Bright House Networks Field, Clearwater
Pittsburgh Pirates - McKechnie Filed, Bradenton
Tampa Bay Rays - Charlotte County Sports Park, Port Charlotte
Toronto Blue Jays - Florida Auto Exchange Stadium, Dunedin
Washington Nationals - Space Coast Stadium, Melbourne
A short sample of specials.
InterContinental Tampa Spring Training Package
When: Feb.29-Apr.4, 2012
What: Package includes:
• 20 percent discount off the best available rate for deluxe accommodations – rates begin at $151 per night
• Fan Tool Kit, complete with a baseball for signing, Cracker Jacks, peanuts, popcorn, bubble gum, soda, and the lyrics and history of the song, “Take Me Out to the Ballgame.”
The InterContinental Tampa is located to the New York Yankees, Philadelphia Phillies and the Toronto Blue Jays.
To reserve the Spring Training package at InterContinental Tampa, call (866) 402-0758 and mention rate code ILQGA or visit www.intercontampa.com. Mention favorite baseball team at the time of reservation.
NY Yankees Spring Training Hotel: Mainsail Suites Hotel, Tampa, 10 minutes from the field, rates start at $129 a night through March. http://www.reservations.ihotelier.com/crs/p_prod.cfm?HotelID=13844&ProdID=267095&killcookie=1&LanguageID=1
Other Spring Training Specials
Check Expedia, www.expedia.com/daily/promos/deals/spring_training/default.asp for Florida Grapefruit League
• Orlando area pages 1-13
• Ft. Lauderdale area, pages 14-20
• St. Petersburg/Clearwater area pages 20-23
• Fort Myers area pages 23-25
• Lakeland/Winter Haven area pages 25-26
• Leesburg, page 26
• Port Charlotte page 26
• Port Richey page 26
• Sarasota pages 27-28
• Space Coast page 28-29
• Tampa page 29-34
and Arizona Cactus League
Naples, FL, Special packages for 2012
The upscale Inn on Fifth, located directly along Fifth Avenue South in downtown Naples, FL, has eight new vacation packages that can be enjoyed throughout 2012. The new packages make the most of the Inn’s distinctive downtown locale, the luxury of its Spa on Fifth, exclusive golf privileges and all the best that Naples has to offer.
Greet the Easter Bunny in Vienna and Budapest
What: One week in Vienna and Budapest Easter Package
When: Valid from March 23 to April 12.
Cost: The price is $621 from March 23 to 31, $793 from April 1 to 12, including airport transfers; six nights hotel accommodation, daily breakfast, a train ticket and a sightseeing tour, snack and dinner in each city.
Not included: Air fare, city tax and gratuities.
Details: In Vienna accommodations are at the 3-star Hotel Post, just a five-minute walk from St. Stephen’s Cathedral. A 72-hour Vienna Card provides free transportation and museum discounts. A Hop On Hop Off bus tour of the city, discovering the Freyung and Kalvarienberg Easter Markets with their crafts, Easter decorations and culinary delights. The most beautiful Easter Market is the one at the 17th-century baroque Schönbrunn Palace, where you’ll get a snack, drink and a Schönbrunn cup to take home. Also included in the Vienna stay is a sausage sandwich and drink at the Bitzinger Würstelstand in the Old City, coffee and cake at the historic Café Central and dinner at the cozy Restaurant Führich, known for its Wiener Schnitzel and fiery gypsy music.
In Budapest you’ll stay in the modern 4-star Hotel Carlton at the foot of Fisherman’s Bastion near the Chain Bridge. A Hop On Hop Off tour of the city, a sightseeing cruise on the Danube, coffee and cake at the famous Café Gerbeaud and a meal at the Restaurant Kaltenberg (which has its own brewery and gypsy music) are all included.
Alternatives: Those who would prefer three nights in Salzburg instead of Budapest can pay $845 from March 27 to 31 or $986 from April 1 to 12, to stay in the comfortable 3-star Hotel Hofwirt; get a 48-hour Salzburg card for free transportation and museum, shop and restaurant discounts; enjoy a Mozart City Tour; coffee and cake at the traditional Café Fürst; and dinner at the charming K&K Restaurant am Waagplatz, which dates back to 1181. Similar specials are available in Italy and France.
Details: Prices quoted are per person, double occupancy, and are subject to availability.
50th Annual Conch Blowing Contest in Key West
When: Noon, Saturday, March 3
Where: In the tropical garden of Key West’s Oldest House, 322 Duval St.
What: The Conch Honk salutes Key West’s seafaring heritage and is presented by the Old Island Restoration Foundation. The tradition of blowing a conch shell in the Florida Keys began centuries ago. In the 1800s, when the local economy was largely based on salvaging cargoes from ships wrecked on the nearby reef, sailors attracted attention by blowing piercing blasts on the shell.
“There wasn’t a ship that went out that didn’t have at least one conch shell on it for communications,” said veteran contest winner Clinton Curry.
Several dozen kids and adults are expected to compete in the March 3 “conch honk,” showcasing their pucker power and honoring the Keys tradition. Spectators can expect more laughs than musical inspiration and a surprise visit from some characters from Key West’s seafaring history.
Winners are chosen for the quality, duration, loudness and novelty of the sounds they make, with trophies awarded in multiple age categories. The festivities typically include performances by talented “pucker pros.”
Cost: The 2012 Conch Shell Blowing Contest is free to enter and watch. Contestants can register at the Oldest House from 10:30 a.m. to noon March 3, or at the event itself if space is still available. Those lacking “instruments” can purchase conch shells on site.
Event information: www.oirf.org or 305-294-9501
Key West visitor information: www.fla-keys.com/keywest or 1-800-LAST-KEY