Unsure about where to stay while in spring training? The answer depends on what you want to do during your visit, how long you will be in the Phoenix area and, of course, what you want to pay.
The following tips are for the budget conscious with safety, comfort and convenience given high priority.
RENT A HOUSE FOR A WEEK
Airbnb has become our #1 choice. Before you book, you are able to see photos of the house and apartment options and read reviews left by past travelers. We have stayed at three different places – two houses and one condo – and each of them was pretty 100% as advertised.
You have to be careful and look closely at the offerings on the website, and we’ll have more on that in a future post. There are other house rental companies, like Vacation Rentals By Owners (VRBO), and some Airbnb hosts also list there. If you have friends who make annual trips to Phoenix, ask for a recommendation.
We like to have the entire place to ourselves, and it’s more affordable because we split the cost three ways. We narrow our search to places with fully stocked kitchens, a place to grill outside, plenty of living space, a washer/dryer, at least two TVs and a bedroom for each of us.
But if you are traveling solo or as a couple, you could cut your costs by using Airbnb to rent a private room in someone’s home. The pros and cons of that should be obvious.
If you are mostly going to use the rental as a place to sleep for 8 hours and prefer to eat every meal at a restaurant, a hotel is a good option. If you have earned points from any chain’s frequent guest program, this can be a good time to use them, but you likely will need to book those very early. For extra elbow room and maybe a small kitchen with a refrigerator, try a hotel geared toward business travelers with mini-suites.
You’ll meet other spring training travelers at the hotel pool and breakfast bar.
Because spring training is so popular with snowbirds, hotels are in demand. Rooms can go quickly, and bargains can be hard to find. Look for bargain rates on Hotels.com.
Drive to Phoenix and sleep in your car. Unless your car is a luxury RV and you can plug it in at a friend’s house, we don’t recommend this. But if you do own an RV or often rent one, you know more about the ins and outs of this than we do.
LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION
If you have access to a car and don’t mind airplane noise, some decent hotels near Sky Harbor Airport might work great for you.
If you plan to attend only the home games of your favorite team, you should look for housing near that team’s stadium. Some ballparks do have hotels within walking distance. Per night costs might be higher, but you could save a little by not renting a car.
Before you book a house, apartment or room, look at the Cactus League stadium map to get an idea of what ballparks are nearby. Most likely, one or two of them will be within 15 minutes.
Of course, your favorite team won’t always play in its home ballpark, but there’s a good chance you could see two or more home games in any given week. To minimize your drive time, stay fairly close to your favorite team.
But if you’re going to spend most nights out on the town in Scottsdale or downtown Phoenix, take that into consideration, too.
We don’t mind driving. The ballparks are easy to find, and some have free parking.
We’ve stayed on the northern edge of Phoenix and in Mesa.
From the north end of the metro area, some ballparks were about 20 to 30 minutes away. The more distant parks were an hour away in heavy traffic.
Sloan Park in Mesa is home of the Chicago Cubs. Our Airbnb in Mesa wasn’t within walking distance, but the drive was under 15 minutes. However, it would have been a long trip to and from our place in Mesa to either the Peoria Sports Complex (SD Padres and Seattle Mariners) or Surprise Stadium (KC Royals and Texas Rangers).
If you don’t care too much about which team you see play, staying close to one of the ballparks that is shared by two teams is a good option. Those ballparks have a game nearly every day. During one week, you might see six to eight different teams, but you’ll miss the experience of seeing games in different ballparks.
If you don’t like the idea of spending hours looking at the Airbnb website or searching for a hotel bargain, a travel package offered by Major League Baseball could be a good option for you.
One of us did this a decade ago, and it worked out fine. Travel packages typically include a decent hotel room, a rental car, tickets to games, a spring training t-shirt or some other trinkets and a possible meet-and-greet with some MLB players and coaches.
Watch your favorite team’s website for announcements about spring training packages or sign up for a team’s mailing list.