Tampa is tirelessly tailoring itself for families, as our ShermansTravel.com travel guide astutely points out. And when it comes to where to bring the brood for Major League Baseball spring training fun, the Tampa Bay Area is difficult to refuse. You’ve got the one-two punch of a cluster of ballparks – the Yankees in Tampa, the Phillies in Clearwater, and the Jays in Dunedin, among others – as well as perhaps the most under-appreciated and best coaster-laden theme park anywhere, Busch Gardens Tampa Bay.
That said, while Tampa can be an easy home run for a family vacation, there is merit in doing the opposite, as George Costanza proved when he secured his job with the New York Yankees. This month – and March is the only month Cactus League (www.springtrainingonline.com) spring training games are scheduled – why not pull together a family getaway to Tempe?
Tempe, about 15 miles east of Phoenix, has a tight arc of stadiums that include, clockwise north of route 60, Tempe Diablo (Los Angeles Angels), Phoenix Municipal Stadium (Oakland A’s), Scottsdale Stadium (San Francisco Giants), and Hohokam Stadium (Chicago Cubs).
Also beckoning is Aloft Tempe (www.alofthotels.com/tempe), a hotel whose sleekness would, on the surface, make it seem too cool for families, but which shrewdly balances kindness to kids with amenities that make parents feel like grown-ups again. For the kiddies, for instance, there is a free camp Aloft bedding package presented upon check-in that includes a rolling suitcase, within which is an inflatable bed appropriate for those guests 12 and under or under 100 lbs (the bed and bag, sadly, are not yours to keep). For adults, there’s hotel-wide free Wi-Fi and a fun lobby bar, and if you avail yourself of the hotel’s spring training package, available throughout March, you’ll get a couple free drinks at the bar, complimentary breakfast sandwiches and coffee for two for each day of your stay, and loft-style rooms with nine-foot ceilings that begin at $159 a night; book the package online and save 10 percent.
Another good reason to take Tempe over Tampa? Arizona is breathtakingly beautiful, which your kids deserve to discover for themselves.