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Family Travel: Take them out to a ballgame


    An usher at Peoria Sports Complex wears a hat full of pins prior to a spring training baseball game between the San Diego Padres and Cleveland Indians in Peoria, Ariz.

Take the family out to a ballgame. If you love baseball, these crackerjack spots belong on your roster:

1. Cactus League, Scottsdale, Ariz.

Every spring, since 1947, this Southwestern town is abuzz as baseball fans flock to catch their favorite teams warm up for the regular season. The Arizona Diamondbacks and the Colorado Rockies get in the groove at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick where kids are sometimes allowed to run the bases after the game.

Nearby, watch the San Francisco Giants in style inside Scottsdale Stadium where you can catch the action from patio-style seating under the Arizona sun. Ask about free trolley rides and a wide range of packages designed to lure sports fans. Now through March.


2. Grapefruit League, Fla.

Beaches and baseball make for a winning combination. That’s what family travelers will find when they head south to watch their favorite players showcase their skills during spring training in Florida. Catch the Philadelphia Phillies in family-friendly Clearwater or be there as the Minnesota Twins make it happen in Fort Myers. The Atlanta Braves are part of the magic underway at the ESPN Wide World of Sports complex at Walt Disney World, where a roving emcee asks fans to guess the attendance for the chance to win prizes. Fifteen teams tune up for fans in 13 locations throughout the Sunshine State. Check the websites for game schedules and to learn more about apps that can help plan your visit.


3. Field of Dreams, Dyersville, Iowa

“If you build it, he will come.” The oft-repeated line is one of the most famous in movie history and you and your family can be a part of it. Make your way to traditional Iowa farm country where reality mixes with fantasy to make dreams and movies that star Kevin Costner come true. Bring your own gear and play catch on the century-old farm that boasts the world-famous baseball diamond. Learn more about the book behind the movie and the curve balls thrown by Mother Nature during filming.


4. National Baseball Hall of Fame, Cooperstown, N.Y.

This iconic sports shrine traces the history and cultural significance of the game through 50,000 square feet of memorabilia and interactive exhibits. Learn about the men and women who have made their mark on the field. Youngsters under 12 and their families can visit the museum’s Sandlot Kids’ Clubhouse for interactive experiences. Extra innings overnights in the museum are also possible. Each year, during the last weekend in July, nearly 20,000 fans flock to Cooperstown for the Hall of Fame Induction ceremony.


5. Cactus League, Peoria, Ariz.

For the chance to run the bases, take the field with a player, announce a batter and other memorable experiences, head to this Valley of the Sun hot spot for kid-friendly (ages 8 to 12) baseball fun. The Peoria Sports Complex, home to the Seattle Mariners and the San Diego Padres, is celebrating the season by adding a number of fan appreciation days.

Ask about Peoria Packs, available for purchase on Family Fun Days. Bring a gently used children’s book and you’ll be eligible for the promotional pack, which includes four lawn tickets, hot dogs, sodas and snacks for $48. Special prices are also available for larger families. Stay at the nearby historic and family-friendly Wigwam Resort for pre- and postgame golf, pool time, spa and lawn games. Stay three or more nights to receive a 20 percent discount off the lowest rates.


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