Since 1947 the Cactus League, www.cactusleague.com, has been key to of major league baseball’s spring training. This month, fifteen teams, including all of the clubs from California, play ball in the Phoenix/Scottsdale area. The league’s newest stadium is Salt River Fields at Talking Stick in Scottsdale. It is a hub of Cactus League activity with both the Diamondbacks and Rockies calling it home.
Where to stay? Easy. The AAA Four-Diamond rated Scottsdale Resort & Conference Center is located just a few minutes from the aforementioned Salt River Fields. They have three restaurants, two pools, a fitness center, a full service spa and salon, four lighted tennis courts and guaranteed tee times at McCormick Ranch’s two championship golf courses. With only 326 rooms, its size allows the friendly staff to interact easily with guests. The comfortable, large sleeping rooms feature flat screen TVs and southwestern style architecture and furnishings.
What to do? Here are several sightseeing suggestions for before or after a ballgame. A pilgrimage to Taliesin West, Frank Lloyd Wright’s desert masterpiece, is a must. It is a National Historic Landmark in the Sonoran desert and home to architectural students from around the world. For a treat, we spent a lazy afternoon at the Spa Avania at the Hyatt Regency followed by an eclectic “Wine Me Dine Me” feast at their Southwest Bistro. Diners watch the proceedings in the open kitchen as the chef and his staff prepare a four-course meal that includes tequila and wine pairings. The Musical Instrument Museum, www.themim.org, touts itself as “the most extraordinary museum you’ll ever see.” It is. Their collection includes over 10,000 musical instruments from almost 200 countries and territories, as well as ethnic, folk and tribal displays. Grab a wireless headset and roam the wide-open spaces, listening to music from around the world while watching videos of musicians. The Arizona Science Center can be found in downtown Phoenix’ Heritage & Science Park. It houses the Dorrance Planetarium, an IMAX Theater, along with four levels of permanent and rotating exhibits including over 300 that are hands-on. A calendar of events, hours, etc., can be found at www.azscience.org.
The South Rim of the Grand Canyon is approximately four hours by car from Phoenix. Instead of driving, take the Grand Canyon Railway, www.thetrain.com, for an extended stay (more about this in an upcoming travel story). This year Arizona is celebrating 100 years of statehood. There are events commemorating the centennial throughout 2012. Check it out at www.az100years.org.