By Carrie McLaren

With fantastic weather as a lure and even warmer hospitality, it’s no wonder that as many as 15 major league baseball teams head to Florida for spring training each year.

Beginning in late February and running up to their season openers in early April these teams, affectionately known as the Grapefruit League, keep alive a tradition that began back in the early 1900s.

What’s more, major league teams aren’t the only ones flocking for Florida spring training – the fans also come. Why? Because there’s nothing like it.

Spring training provides a fantastic opportunity to meet the greatest players in the game, as well as watch the new players audition for coveted positions.

And it’s no secret that all this excitement costs peanuts compared to buying tickets to regular season games. So, get out your favorite baseball cap, bring sunscreen, and get ready to score autographs, photographs, and a whole lot more. And be sure to plan ahead; games tend to sell out frequently. 

Kits at Grapefruit League Florida spring training

Autograph-Seeking Tips

The ultimate souvenirs of a Florida spring training are the coveted autographs. Here are some ways to get the ones you want:

  • Do your homework; buy a program and know the players’ names.
  • You’ll have a better chance on practice (rather than game) days.
  • Bring a permanent ink pen
  • Have what you want the player to sign ready.
  • Bring a back-up pen – just in case.
  • Be polite, be respectful, and say thank you.

Before and After the Game: Kids’ Activities

In addition to all the meeting, greeting, cheerin, and eating, don’t forget that it’s spring in Florida. There’s plenty of fun to be had before and after the games.

Central Florida

Hit your favorite theme parks like Walt Disney World Universal Orlando Resort or SeaWorld Orlando; see local wildlife at Gatorland, also in Orlando; get starstruck at the planetarium and catch an IMAX movie at the Museum of Science and Industry in Tampa; and make time for the Kennedy Space Center Visitors Complex at Cape Canaveral.

Dive for sunken treasure, or see it on display at the Sebastian Inlet State Recreation Area at Melbourne Beach; tour the National Navy - UDT Seal Museum in Fort Pierce; catch a sailfish off the coast of Stuart, or glide on the backwaters of the Loxahatchee River in Jupiter aboard the Loxahatchee Queen II.

Florida Spring Training

Southwest Florida

Get wet at Sunsplash Family Waterpark in Cape Coral; see why Sanibel Island is so famous for its shelling; hand-feed a flamingo at Sarasota Jungle Gardens in Sarasota and explore more than ten acres of nature at its best.

Southeast Florida

See sharks, pet alligator,s and take a simulated ride to Mars at the Museum of Discovery and Science in Fort Lauderdale, then ride bikes down the Beach Promenade; glide across the river of grass on an airboat ride through the Everglades; and do a drive-thru safari where more than 900 animals are outside your car at Lion Country Safari (windows up!) in Loxahatchee, just outside of West Palm Beach.

Florida's Grapefruit League

Atlanta Braves Lake Buena Vista
Baltimore Orioles Sarasota
Boston Red Sox Fort Myers
Detroit Tigers Lakeland
Miami Marlins Jupiter
St. Louis Cardinals Jupiter
Houston Astros Kissimmee
Minnesota Twins Fort Myers
New York Mets Port St. Lucie
New York Yankees Tampa 
Philadelphia Phillies Clearwater
Pittsburgh Pirates Bradenton
Tampa Bay Rays Port Charlotte
Toronto Blue Jays Dunedin
Washington Nationals Viera