Baseball is inextricable from Florida’s calendar. Way back in 1923, the Cincinnati Reds began spring training in Orlando at Tinker Field and in the 1930s, the Washington Senators arrived in town and they stayed for the better part of half a century.

A few teams in the so-called Grapefruit League (the Arizona trainers are the Cactus League) still call Orlando or its environs their temporary home, and in the preseason you can swing by to watch them practice or play exhibition games with visiting teams.

Unlike at season games, players often mingle with fans—in fact, some teams’ facilities were built to cozy proportions (you can leave the binoculars at home), with permanent interaction areas where you can collect autographs of the athletes before or after practice. Sometimes it feels like the spirit of old-time baseball, the one supplanted by high-priced players and colossal arenas.

Tickets (usually $15–$25) go on sale in January. Pitchers and catchers report first, in mid-February, and by the end of the month, the whole team is on hand. They play against other teams through March before heading to their home parks by April.

Atlanta Braves (Disney’s Wide World of Sports, 700 S. Victory Lane, Lake Buena Vista; 407/939-4263). Since they took up residence in 1997 at Walt Disney World, the Braves can brag about having one of the nicest and largest (9,500 seats) training stadiums under the sun. Tickets for the 18-odd games, which are cheapest for the bleachers and the lawn, are sold through Ticketmaster (407/839-3900;
Houston Astros (Osceola County Stadium, 1000 Bill Beck Rd., Kissimmee; 321/697-3200). The smallest training park in the Grapefruit League (5,200 seats—still hardly tiny) has hosted the Astros since 1985. Team members make themselves available for fan greetings in their Autograph Alley. Tickets are sold through Ticketmaster (407/839-3900;
Detroit Tigers (Joker Merchant Stadium, Al Kaline Dr., 2301 Lake Hills Rd., Lakeland; 866/668-4437). Lakeland, between Orlando and Tampa on I-4, has hosted the Tigers since 1934, the longest relations for any major league team, and the team is such a local institution that their so-called “Tiger Town” training complex, built on the site of a World War II flight academy, has grown up with them (863/686-8075;

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.