Thrill Ride amid the Gators on a Fort Holly Airboat
Dad and I catch a Spring Training game at Roger Dean Stadium
Sheraton Four Points hotel at Cocoa Beach
Tradition Field at Port St. Lucie
Shaggy performs at the Blue Martini in West Palm Beach
Alligator sunbathes on the banks of the St. John’s River
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Welcome to Florida’s Grapefruit League Coast! This year Dad and I finally made the pilgrimage to watch some spring training baseball. The plan was to catch three Washington Nationals games during a four-night scamper up the coast. The adventure began with a two-hour flight from BWI to West Palm beach. We scored a white convertible and made our way to the Courtyard by Marriott Palm Beach Jupiter. This brand new hotel is directly across the street from Roger Dean Stadium. We could see it from our balcony and a walk to the gates took less than a minute. Roger Dean is a beautiful stadium that is shared by the St. Louis Cardinal and the Miami Marlins. Both teams use the facility for spring training home games and regular season contests for their minor league affiliates. The vibe at a spring training game was much more laid back than the regular season and the players were quite interactive with the fans. We enjoyed a wonderful sunny afternoon that featured Max Scherzer on the mound for the Nats. That evening we took a scenic route to nearby West Palm. A funny thing happened – we ended up at the Blue Martini before sunset and the place was packed with a young excited predominantly female crowd and a live radio broadcast. We asked the DJ what was going on and discovered Shaggy was giving a VIP performance for 40 contest winners and they were going to raffle off the remaining 10 tickets. Not exactly sure how this happened, but Dad and I used the restrooms after we paid our dinner check and when we came out the doors had been barred to the public and Shaggy was introduced onstage. It was a brilliant surprise and we just went with the flow. He played all of his hits in a 45-minute set. Could not have drawn it up any better if we tried!
The next day we woke up a little later than we anticipated and made our way up the coast after a healthy brekkie at Fit Body Bistro. About an hour north of Jupiter we stopped off in Port Saint Lucie to see Tradition Field. Tradition Field is the spring training home of the New York Mets. The Mets were away that day so we took a quick tour and continued north. We stopped off at Historic Dodgertown for a taste of baseball nostalgia and then pressed on towards Melbourne.
Once in Melbourne we ducked into Camp Holly and hired an Airboat to take us on a tour of the Saint John’s River. At 310 miles long, the St. John’s is Florida’s longest river and home to a vibrant alligator population. We skimmed across the river for nearly an hour and had the pleasure of seeing many of these beautiful creatures up close in their natural habitat.
Once we finished up our sightseeing we checked in to the Sheraton Four Points in Cocoa Beach. The Four Points is a beautiful new hotel that shares a roof with the Cocoa Beach Surf Company and the Shark Pit Grill that is built around a stylish shark inhabited aquarium. That night the Nats played an evening home game against the Mets at Space Coast Stadium in Viera. The drive takes about 40 minutes and takes you right through scenic Merritt Island. The next morning we enjoyed some fresh squeezed orange juice before combing the beach and going for a nice Mid-March Atlantic Ocean swim. We took in a matinee game against the Cardinals at Space Coast Stadium and celebrated afterwards with a top notch feast at Slow & Low Bar-B-Que Grill (less than half a mile from the stadium).
That night we explored the Cocoa Beach pier and took a drive to nearby Port Canaveral - a popular cruise ship destination. Our last morning we said goodbye to the beach and drove an hour northwest to catch our return flight from Orlando. Our last meal was at McCoy’s Bar & Grill. McCoy’s features contemporary cuisine in a stylish setting that allows patrons to look out as the planes take off. It’s definitely the place to be if you have a few hours in that airport. We covered a lot of ground in four days and had a blast along the way - can’t imagine a better way to combine baseball and fun in the sun!
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