Hit a Home Run with These Fun, Sports-themed Vacations

Plan a trip this year for the dedicated sports fan in your life at one of the destinations below. While it’s simple (and fun) to add in a local sports event to a vacation itinerary wherever you travel, these places below offer a fuller experience for those who want to cater an entire trip around an especially-beloved activity. Whether it’s baseball or beach soccer, there’s something for everyone.

The 2024 Cactus League Spring Training season marks the 70th anniversary of the league’s operation, and there is no better way to celebrate than in the Scottsdale sunshine. Starting February 22 and running through March 26, catch the San Francisco Giants at Scottsdale Stadium, and the Colorado Rockies and Arizona Diamondbacks at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick. Arizona is also home to 12 other Major League Baseball teams’ spring training fields, all within a 15-45-minute drive of Scottsdale. After the ninth inning, unwind with more than 70 hotels, and 50 resort and day spas in the greater Scottsdale area. Read on for an expert guide to Spring Training in Scottsdale.

Hit it out of the park with Mountain Shadow Resort Scottsdale’s Ballpark Package. Enjoy 25% off an entire stay as well as a Home Run Welcome Amenity and a daily $50 food and drink credit (valid for stays between Feb. 22-March 28). Andaz Scottsdale Resort & Bungalows’ Seventh Inning Stay package comes with a bucket of local beer and koozies; perfect for pre-game libations or post-game celebrations. Complete the trip by sunbathing by one of three pools or dine at Weft & Warp Art Bar + Kitchen (valid for stays between Feb. 18-March 28). Finally, there’s also the Royal Palms Resort & Spa, less than a 10-minute drive from Scottsdale Stadium; this resort is offering spring savings for a stay in the sprawling splendor of this Mediterranean-style resort with its Royal Retreat package. Relax at Alvadora Spa and savor the seasonal delights of T. Cook’s (valid through April 13).

A day of Giants baseball puts you right in the heart of the post-game fun, as Scottsdale Stadium is within walking distance of Old Town’s and Scottsdale Waterfront’s best bars, restaurants, and nightlife. Hall of fame-worthy and family-friendly favorites for burgers, brats, finger-licking-good fried chicken, and pizza include Daily Dose Old Town Bar & Grill, Brat Haus, Belle’s Nashville Kitchen, and Craft 64. Visitors who present a Spring Training game ticket the same day of the ballgame at The Herb Box Old Town receive a 10% discount. Kick it up a notch – with no need to change out of jerseys and caps – at Wasted Grain, Social Tap, and Rusty Spur Saloon

There’s also plenty other things to see and do while in town. Make the artsy play and browse the working studios of 100 renowned and emerging artists from across the country during the Celebration of Fine Art (through March 24). Throw on a cowboy hat and mosey over to Rodeo Scottsdale in “The West’s Most Western Town.” Also known as the Parada Del Sol Rodeo, the event features bull riding, steer wrestling, barrel racing, and more (March 7-10). With over 330 days of sunshine, Scottsdale is an ideal spot for outdoor activities including kayaking on the Lower Salt River, golfing at one of the 200 golf courses in the area, soaring to new heights in a hot air balloon or lounging poolside. Finally, travelers can hit a double play on savings with a list of 12 Fabulously Free things to do and round out a trip itinerary at ExperienceScottsdale.com.

Las Vegas, the Official Host City of Super Bowl LVIII, has launched a petition on Change.org urging football fans to encourage excessive celebration during the city’s first foray into hosting the Super Bowl on Sunday, February 11, 2024. The petition was accompanied by a music video featuring former NFL All-Pro wide receiver Chad “Ochocinco” Johnson and Grammy-nominated artist Tobe Nwigwe. The petition is a nod to the fact that while professional sports often restrict excessive celebrations, they are always encouraged in Las Vegas. “Whether you are on the Strip, in the stadiums, or just here for a good time, Las Vegas will forever be the home of excessive celebration,” reads the petition in part.

“Las Vegas is built for celebration,” said Steve Hill, president and CEO of the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA). “People come to Vegas because they know that the excitement surrounding the game is just as important as the game itself. Whether they travel to watch the game in person or at a viewing party, fans know they will be surrounded by energy that is simply unmatched anywhere else in the world. As we prepare to welcome the Super Bowl for the first time, we are determined to show the world that when it comes to celebration, Las Vegas is in a category of one.”

Las Vegas is also partnering with late-night host Jimmy Kimmel to spread the word. The former Las Vegas local is supporting the destination’s initiative, including a special appearance by Johnson on Jimmy Kimmel Live! last night on ABC.

While attending the Super Bowl is a big ticket item, Vegas fortunately has many affordable hotels, dining options, and flights that can make a trip like this a little more feasible. Plus, even if you’re not at the live game, there’s sure to be some great parties and after-parties wherever you choose to watch the big event.

The Hills Course in Daytona Beach – courtesy of Daytona Beach Area Convention & Visitors Bureau

Florida is an ideal destination year-round, and golf fans will appreciate the opportunities to both participate in and watch events in the Sunshine State. St. Augustine, Ponte Vedra and The Beaches are home to one-of-a-kind events that can’t be found anywhere else. Tickets are on sale now for the internationally-lauded The Players® Championship at TPC Sawgrass taking place this year from March 12 to March 17.

Then, head south to Daytona Beach to find some of the best courses around. One of Daytona Beach’s premier layouts, the Hills Course at LPGA International has reopened to rave reviews following a comprehensive greens renovation project. The acclaimed Arthur Hills design closed in April for a five-month project that restored the course’s greens to their original size and USGA specifications, an effort that netted an additional 26,600 square feet of putting surface. Prior to the installation of the new TifEagle bermudagrass greens, the Hills Course had 65,340 square feet of putting surface, a number that jumped to 92,000 square feet.

LPGA International, a 36-hole property, previously installed TifEagle on the Jones Course, making the decision to install the ultradwarf bermuda that is ideally suited for Daytona Beach’s climate on Hills Course an easy one. The new putting surfaces, which are in pristine condition as the area looks forward to its peak winter and spring seasons, will attract much of the attention, but the Hills Course enjoyed other significant upgrades during the project. A ballstriker’s design, the Hills Course challenges players with fairways lined by beautiful magnolia trees and native pines. The 4.5-star layout stretches to 6,954 yards and features five sets of tees, providing a fair challenge for players of all skill levels.

LPGA International is also home to the highly touted Jones Course and helps anchor the Daytona Beach golf scene. Daytona Beach is home to nearly 20 courses and is an easy drive from multiple PGA Tour stops, making it an ideal destination for golfers in search of good times on and off the course. With multiple package options, which allow groups the opportunity to bundle golf and accommodations, and the lure of the World’s Most Famous Beach, Daytona Beach is a fast-emerging golf destination.

Surfing in Oceanside – courtesy of Visit Oceanside

As if you needed another excuse to plan a beach vacation… Head to Oceanside, California for a slew of surf championships scheduled this year. In January, it’s the WSL World Junior Championships. Beginning 2024, the best 20 and under surfers on the planet will compete in Oceanside from January 9-14.

Later in the year, the world’s largest women’s surf, lifestyle and music festival returns to Oceanside each September—and it’s free to attend. Attendees can watch world-class surfing competitions with more than 100 top female pros as they compete to qualify for the Women’s Championship Tour. At the Super Girl Pro Festival Village, there are experiences for all ages, including autograph signings, giveaways, contests, celebrity speakers, skateboarding, live music, dance, competitions and more. There are also female-led vendors selling food, drink and souvenirs. Budding surfers can get top tips and advice for free through the mentorship program when they register in advance.

Additionally, each September, the US Open Adaptive Surfing Champs showcases the remarkable talent of para surfers. With nearly 100 athletes representing 17 countries participating, the event has firmly established itself as a leader in promoting inclusivity, athleticism, and excellence within the adaptive surfing community.

Finally, don’t miss out on one of the more unique sports events in town: the Beach Soccer Championships in May. Beach soccer is one of the fastest growing pro sports in the world and every summer, O’side is its homebase. This very popular sand soccer festival features nearly 300 youth, adult amateur and adult pro women’s and men’s beach soccer as well as vendors, the BeSoCha Cantina and lots more! The sun-soaked bleachers are open to the public—so bring the kids!

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