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College Football Hall of Fame Debuts in Atlanta (August 2014)

Discover Alabama's Varied Culinary Side during Alabama Restaurant Week (August 2014)

Get Out and Enjoy Scallop Season (and Scallops) on St. Joseph Bay in Gulf County, Florida (August 2014)

Bringing the Past and Present Together in Rock Hill, S.C. with "75 Years, Still One Gear" (July 2014)

Four Reasons to Plan a Getaway to Sunny Isles Beach, Florida (July 2014)

So Many Ways in the South to Make This Summer One to Remember (June 2014)

Amp Up Your Doughnut Making (and Eating) Experience with Sublime Doughnuts' Kamal Grant's Cookbook (May 2014)

Streamsong Resort: A Golfing Resort Beyond the Ordinary in Florida (April 2014)

In the Kitchen with Chef Douglas Olsen (March 2014)

Celebrating Farmers and Farm Life with the Farm Star Living Website and App (March 2014)

In the Kitchen with Chef Sam Lodovico, The Resort at Glade Springs (February 2014)

Checking Out Charleston's Culinary Scene with Charleston Culinary Tours (February 2014)

Discovering Downtown Birmingham, Ala. with Alabama Road Trips (January 2014)

Season Two of "Emeril's Florida" Highlights Culinary Gems of South Walton (January 2014)

Chatting with Barbecue Champion and Restaurateur Melissa Cookston (November 2013)

"Cast Iron Chef" Competition to Heat Up the 3rd annual Brooks County Skillet Festival (October 2013)

Crowd Pleasing Recipes to Amp Up Tailgating (September 2013)

Discovering Georgia's Lake Oconee Area (July 2013)

Honoring the Man in Black: Johnny Cash Museum (June 2013)

Experience Sonesta Resort Hilton Head Island (June 2013)

Build Your Own Memorable Experience in Columbus, Georgia (May 2013)

South Walton’s Art Culture: People Behind the Creations (May 2013)

Louisville, Kentucky Beyond the Derby (May 2013)

City Insider: Mark Wyant, owner, The Saint Hotel in New Orleans (February 2013)

Dining Out at Osteria Tulia (January 2013)

Discover Florida's Charm with Emeril's Florida (January 2013)

Taste Nostalgia (and Fun) with Pure Sodaworks (December 2012)

Find Serenity (and More) at Red Horse Inn (December 2012)

In Tall Cotton: Chef Cory Bahr and Restaurant Cotton (November 2012)

Under the Grand Chapiteau with Cirque du Soleil’s Totem (November 2012)

Feelin’ Presidential: Presidential Sites Throughout the South (October 2012)

Eight Cool Southern College Towns (September 2012)

Mark Your Calendar... Fabulous Southern Fall Music Festivals (September 2012)

In the Kitchen with Chef Eric Fulkerson (August 2012)

Visiting The Inn at Magnolia Oaks (August 2012)

Journey to New Orleans Plantation Country (August 2012)

Turn Your Vacation into an Experience at the Plantation on Crystal River (July 2012)

Dazzle Your Summer with Fata Morgana (July 2012)

Coming Home to Hightower Creek Vineyards (July 2012)

Exploring I-95 in the South with Barbara Barnes, Author of What’s Great About I-95: Maine to Florida (July 2012)

Timeless Experiences Await You at High Hampton Inn (June 2012)

Discover Cummins Falls, Tennessee's Newest State Park (June 2012)

See Savannah on a Segway Tour (June 2012)

Newest Addition to Biloxi, Mississippi - Margaritaville Casino & Restaurant (May 2012)

Coming Home: Chef David Guas set for New Orleans Wine & Food Experience (May 2012)

Experience Southern Sweetness with South Carolina's Firefly Distillery (May 2012)

The Running of the 71st Iroquois Steeplechase (May 2012)

100 Years and Counting: Riding the African Queen (May 2012)

Get Into the Wild with Safari Wilderness Ranch (May 2012)

Discover Another Side of Spartanburg with the Underground Guide to Spartanburg (April 2012)

Get Out and Explore National Parks During National Park Week (April 2012)

Glide Through Downtown Memphis on the Segway Experience of Memphis Tour (April 2012)

Congratulations to Our "Adventure Time Getaway" Winner (April 2012)

The Tennessee Aquarium, 20 Years Later and Still Going Strong (March 2012)

Fashion Weeks Show Off Stylish South (March 2012)

What to do When You’re Not Breathing Baseball During Spring Training in Florida (March 2012)

Tables are Set for Restaurant Weeks in the South (January 2012)

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Congratulations to our Back To Nature Getaway Winner (November 2011)

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Festivals, Football, Foliage and Fun: The Many Reasons Fall is Great in the South (October 2011)

The New Must-Do’s in Raleigh, North Carolina (September 2011)

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Ending the Summer with a Bang: Labor Day Weekend Fun in the South (September 2011)

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Extend Your Summer with an Outdoor Concert (August 2011)

Discover Southern Charm and Hospitality at Fairview Inn in Jackson, Mississippi (August 2011)

Living History (and More) Awaits You at Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill (August 2011)

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Celebrate Hampton Bear and Teddy Bears at High Hampton Inn (July 2011)

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Simply Southern...James Madison Inn in Madison, Ga. (June 2011)

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Congratulations to Our Simply Delightful Getaway Winner (June 2011)

Discovering One of Florida’s Surprises: Paddling the Suwannee River Wilderness Trail (April 2011)

Rediscovering old Florida at the Florida House Inn (March 2011)

Sip and Taste at the 26th annual Hilton Head Island Wine & Food Festival (March 2011)

Congratulations to our "Savannah's Best" Getaway Winner (March 2011)

Let’s Play Ball! Spring Training in Florida (February 2011)

Getting Back to Nature: Touring Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge (February 2011)

Spotting Winter Wildlife (and Possibly Whales) in Virginia Beach, Virginia (January 2011)

Congratulations to our “Let’s Just Go” Getaway Winner (January 2011)

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Yo, Ho Ho: Exploring the Life of Pirates at the Pirate and Treasure Museum (January 2011)

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Thanksgiving Day Chef Competition at Ritz-Carlton Lodge, Reynolds Plantation (November 2010)

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Discover the Birdhouse Trail in Monroeville Alabama (November 2010)

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Get Out This Saturday for VISIT FLORIDA’s Great Beach Walk (November 2010)

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Get Out and Go to Alabama’s Gulf Coast (June 2010)

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Published: March 2012
What to do When You’re Not Breathing Baseball During Spring Training in Florida  

by Gabby McMillen

When baseball fans think of their favorite pastime, they think of sitting in their home team’s stadium enjoying a ballpark hotdog as the summer sun beating down on them. For many baseball enthusiasts, the season arrives early with training and pre-season games taking over the state of Florida. The Grapefruit League, made up of teams from all over the country flock to the Sunshine State during March to play ball and size other teams up before the baseball season begins in April. However, not every breathing moment for fanatics can be filled with baseball. Each team destination in Florida holds its own secret treasures for everyone to enjoy.

The tomahawk chop draws Braves fanatics from all over the country to Atlanta during the season. During training, Braves followers can see their heroes practice in Kissimmee. Lovers of the wilderness can check out Florida Eco Safaris, where visitors can take a coach ride through the eco-ranch to observe the many fauna and animals. Visitors can also ride horseback through the ranch with a guide to observe Florida’s seven ecosystems. The daring can see the ranch from above as they zip line through the trees at up to 20 mph. People who aren’t as interested in the world of wildlife can visit the Kennedy Space Center Complex, where they can see how the first man landed on the moon, see the components of a space shuttle, and even meet a real astronaut.

Baltimore Orioles fans can travel to Sarasota to see their team warm up for the season. During hiatuses from baseball, Orioles travelers can have a taste of the circus aboard Big Top Tour Buses. On this bus, a professional circus performer will lead the tour of the sites and special places that dubbed Sarasota the “Home of the Big Top”. On Sundays brunch is also available. Another fun attraction is the Golden Apple Dinner Theater, where families can watch classic performances such as Oklahoma! and Annie. The audience also receives a buffet-style dinner.

The Boston Red Sox and Minnesota Twins share the city of Fort Meyers during spring training. Twins and Red Sox enthusiasts can enjoy some beach fun at Bonita Beach Park. It features a boardwalk and swimming holes with picnic areas and gazebos. The Calusa Nature Center and Planetarium boasts of 105 acres on the Lee Island coast. Many exotic birds reside in the Audubon Aviary, and the nature center hosts a variety of snakes, different insects, and the regions only planetarium.

The Detroit Tigers travels far south to Lakeland to enjoy some sunshine as well as warm up for the season. Kids and adults alike can explore Legoland, a theme park geared towards families as well as LEGO fanatics. Enjoy 150 acres of rides, shows, and everything LEGO. For a more laid-back day in Lakeland, baseball visitors can tour Fantasy of Flight and view over 40 rare and vintage aircrafts restored to flying condition.

Miami Marlins and St. Louis Cardinals followers are able to venture to Jupiter to watch their teams gear up for the season. Of course, Cardinals fans will be praying for another stellar season and another World Series Championship. Jupiter has bragging rights to the Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens, where visitors can tour, enjoy the tranquility of scenic waterfalls and eat dinner at the museum restaurant. An active day can be spent by taking a fishing trip through Blue Heron Fleet, which is family friendly and offers guided tours.

Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter worshippers can follow their beloved New York Yankees to Tampa. While visiting, art lovers can enjoy the Gasparilla Festival of the Arts, where artists can feature all forms of their artwork. It also includes an arts and craft workshop for children. For visitors with a love of everything Italian, the Italian Club of Tampa hosts Festa Italiana, where over 35 different Italian restaurants showcase their food and where live music is provided.

Lovers of the Phillies can venture to Clearwater to watch their beloved team prepare for the 2012 season. The adventurous can dive to see the Pinellas #2 Reef, where the Blackthorn and Sheridan boat wrecks can be seen. Adults with a love for wine can join a taste tour and enjoy tasting stations, discount bottles of wine, and an array of cheeses, focaccia and flatbread pizzas.

The small town of Bradenton on the Atlantic Coast plays host to the Pittsburgh Pirates. Early risers can take a tour to watch baby loggerhead turtles as they leave their nest and make their way to the ocean for the first time. The Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium holds a variety of sea life, including rays, sharks, seahorses, and eels. It also houses a giant squid and has an area where visitors can pet starfish, rays and other sea animals.

The Tampa Bay Rays only have to travel a few hours to Port Charlotte. This South Florida city houses the Gilchrist Park Waterfront Music Jam Session, where tourists can listen to bluegrass, jazz, country and folk music. The park is waterfront and is free on Fridays. For those who like to explore, take one of three (or all three) self-guided walking tours available in Punta Gorda.

The Toronto Blue Jays have journeyed thousands of miles to visit the small town of Dunedin on the west coast of Florida for training. Blue Jay lovers are able to frequent Honeymoon Island, where there is a state park that hosts picnic areas, areas for fishing, quiet swimming spots, and safe harbors. Active visitors can trek the renowned Pinellas Trail, a 15-foot-wide, 40-mile haven for walkers, skaters and bikers. It runs straight through downtown Dunedin. Along the way, travelers can get a quick bite to eat from a local eatery or a cool drink.

Players for the Washington Nationals have traveled cross-country to the small coastal town of Viera. Nationals fans can take an afternoon to look back on the history of our men in blue at the American Police Hall of Fame. Tourists can see the set up of a crime scene, forensics lab and several interactive displays. The general public can also take a helicopter ride and use an indoor gun range. Visitors with a sweet tooth can visit Grimaldi’s Candy Factory Tour, where guests can see how their chocolate is made and sample their famous chocolate chip cookies. Located in neighboring Rockledge, reservations are required for this tour.

Whether baseball devotees are in Florida for a couple of days or for all of spring training, each host town offers many things to keep everyone busy and entertained when not cheering on their favorite team.

photo credit: baseball glove, flickr, creative commons by theseanster93

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