HOUSTON – It's time for the sounds of baseball to return across Florida and Arizona as pitchers and catchers report for spring training to begin preparations for the 2018 season.
For the world champion Houston Astros, it all begins in West Palm Beach for their second year sharing the new facility with the Washington Nationals. The Astros journey to a repeat title begins Feb. 14 with the first workout for pitchers and catchers and Feb. 19 for the first full-squad workout.
West Palm Beach is an outstanding new spring home for the Astros after their long stay in Kissimmee for nearly 30 years. The Ballpark of the Palm Beaches is an hour from the Fort Lauderdale airport and just a short 20-minute drive from the West Palm Beach airport.
Spring Training is always fun to attend as a fan and even more so now that the Astros are the reigning champions. We thought we would help you plan your trip and answer some questions you may have. Once you have the trip booked you will not be disappointed.
Where to stay in West Palm Beach
Finding and booking your stay is key as February and March are busy tourist months for this area. It also depends on what you want to spend. Nearby the Ballpark of the Palm Beaches is many hotel options ranging from low budget to very nice 3+ star properties and franchises you will recognize.
Interstate 95 runs north-south right through West Palm Beach area and the ballpark sits about two miles to the West of I-95 off of Haverhill Road. Other hotel options can be found just a couple of exits north on I-95 in nearby Jupiter near the PGA Blvd. area where you will also find good restaurant and shopping choices. That area is about 15 to 20 minutes from the ballpark.
Where to eat
Plenty of options available depending on what you want to spend for meals. Fast food options are at every corner in the area. In the mood for a good steak? Check out Okeechobee Steakhouse in West Palm Beach or Flagler Steakhouse in Palm Beach, about 20 minutes away and closer to the Atlantic Ocean. Bellagio for Italian is always a big hit as is Agora Mediterranean Kitchen in West Palm Beach.
Go south on I-95 a few miles and cross the causeway into Palm Beach and make a stop at City Place. There you will find plenty of eating options and great shopping choices.
What to do at the ballpark
The Craft Corner features a full-service bar with a vast selection of craft beers. Break out a blanket to sit on the Banana Boat Lawn and watch the game. Picnic in style at the Shocktop Picnic Patio with an all-you-can-eat menu and open seating. Lincoln Park is on the southwest portion of the land at the ballpark and has a playground, a splash pad, exercise equipment and basketball courts. Need a break from baseball? The multi-purpose fields on site host high school and amateur tournaments, soccer training camps, football combines and more.
What to do away from the ballpark
You want to take in as much baseball as you can to support the Astros but when you are breaking away from the diamond there are endless things to do in the West Palm Beach area. Of course, visiting the beach is a top attraction that's about 20 minutes away from the ballpark area. McCarthy’s Wildlife Sanctuary is rated as a top destination along with City Place and the Palm Beach Zoo. If you enjoy hiking then pay a visit to Apoxee Wilderness Trail.
How to get autographs
If you are attending Astros spring training on the days it is opened to fans especially on game days, pay attention to the signs the team will have out giving you instructions on where you are allowed to walk on the backfields at the facility. Coming off of their World Series run they are expecting the crowds to be large at times. Remember, the players are there to work and give them their space during workouts as they go from field to field. There will be chances to get autographs in the area between the small agility (turfed) field and the practice fields. It is the main alley where fans roam before they enter the stadium on game days.
Tips? Do not scream at the players. Ask nicely, but be aggressive as many will be seeking autographs and they will not be able to sign for everyone. If you miss out one day, give it another shot on the next day you are at the ballpark.
Enjoy your trip to Astros spring training and remember they share the facility with the Washington Nationals as well. It's a big complex but worth taking in all of it while you are there.
We'll have you covered on the Astros on KPRC 2 News and Click2Houston.com/astros.