Five MLB spring training stadiums you need to visit

Every February, Major League Baseball teams pack up and head to Arizona and Florida to get ready for the new season.

"Spring training means flowers, people coming outdoors, sunshine, optimism and baseball," Hall of Famer Ernie Banks once said. "Spring training is a time to think about being young again."

For fans, it's an opportunity to escape the cold and watch their favorite teams in a more intimate setting, on practice fields and ballparks that are a fraction of the size big league stadiums.

Whether you're obsessed with baseball, a casual fan or even completely agnostic about the game, attending spring training is an unforgettable experience:

Here's a look at some of our favorite spring venues:

Salt River Fields at Talking Stick: Scottsdale, Arizona – Colorado Rockies, Arizona Diamondbacks

A view during a 2023 game at Salt River Fields.
A view during a 2023 game at Salt River Fields.

One of the newest spring training ballparks, the facility opened in 2011 and has been hosting the two NL West rivals ever since.

Salt River Fields at Talking Stick is the first MLB venue to be built on Native American land, a sprawling campus developed with the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community, with the architecture "inspired by traditional native dwellings."

One of baseball's largest spring training stadiums, the ballpark features mountain views and a bounty of concession options, located near Talking Stick Resort and Casino.

Just outside the main stadium is the USS Arizona Memorial Guardians, honoring the lives lost on the ship at Pearl Harbor.

JetBlue Park at Fenway South: Fort Myers, Florida – Boston Red Sox

A view of JetBlue Park during a Phillies-Red Sox game.
A view of JetBlue Park during a Phillies-Red Sox game.

The Red Sox's spring training home opened in 2012, featuring the same dimensions as Fenway Park including Pesky's Pole down the right field line and a 37-foot tall replica of the Green Monster in left. Unlike the landmark in Boston, this Green Monster in Fort Myers has seating within the wall.

The result is a ballpark featuring "the intimacy of Fenway with a Florida kind of feel.”

TD Ballpark: Dunedin, Florida — Toronto Blue Jays

A view of TD Ballpark in Dunedin.
A view of TD Ballpark in Dunedin.

Just a few blocks from the water on Florida's Gulf Coast, TD Ballpark received major renovations ahead of 2020 spring training – which proved valuable as the Blue Jays ended up calling the ballpark their regular season for part of 2021 due to COVID.

The stadium has multiple social spaces for fans to gather, including plenty of kid-friendly activities, a tiki bar in right field and a "boardwalk" concourse that runs around the stadium.

Know before you go: The town is pronounced "duh-NEE-den."

Scottsdale Stadium: Scottsdale, Arizona – San Francisco Giants

Fans take in a 2023 game at Scottsdale Stadium.
Fans take in a 2023 game at Scottsdale Stadium.

The Giants have been calling Scottsdale their spring training home since 1984 and the team's current ballpark is located in the heart of downtown, giving fans plenty of pre/postgame options.

The stadium offers mountain views from around the concourse and still has an old-timey charm along with the recent modernization efforts.

The Giants are always among the Cactus League leaders in attendance.

BayCare Ballpark: Clearwater, Florida – Philadelphia Phillies

Fans watch at Phillies-Yankees game at BayCare Ballpark.
Fans watch at Phillies-Yankees game at BayCare Ballpark.

For nearly 80 years, some of baseball's most passionate fans have made their way to Florida for spring training, rooting on the Philadelphia Phillies in Clearwater.

The Phils' current home, BayCare Ballpark features a tiki bar and plenty of Philly/New Jersey-style fare – including Delco's Cheesesteaks and Manco and Manco pizza, the latter a beloved boardwalk destination in Ocean City, N.J.

A view of BayCare Ballpark during a February game.
A view of BayCare Ballpark during a February game.

"The ballpark is becoming more than just baseball. It’s becoming an experience,” the stadium's food and beverage manager told ABC Action News. "I think that’s resonating with people that maybe really aren’t super in-tune with baseball. That maybe just want to come see it, to partake in it."

The Phillies are one of the best teams in baseball entering 2024 after making deep playoff runs in each of the past two seasons.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: MLB spring training stadiums: Five to visit in Florida, Arizona