If you’re a family with spring fever in full force, or a group who can’t wait to fly the W again, I highly recommend a trip to Wrigleyville West, a.k.a. Mesa, Arizona, where Cubs spring training games are scheduled until March 31. Not only will you enjoy the sunshine and 74-degree average March temps, but you’ll also see some of the hottest Cubs players and coolest up-and-comers in a very family-friendly ballpark.
Many baseball teams spring train in Arizona, but our World Champions are the most in-demand ticket. More than 225,000 Cubs fans attended spring training games in 2016, yet the ballpark is intimate, with lawn seating and areas for the kids to play ball. Portillo’s and Giordano’s are also present to make you feel fully at home.
We arrived early and hit the exceptional Riverview Park so the kids could scale the caterpillar rope structure and world’s tallest climbing tower before heading to the game. There are plenty photo-opp worthy spots to show off your Cubs gear, especially by street signs blazoning “Cubs Way.” At the ballpark, peruse the food trucks before positioning the kids by the dugout to request autographs. Did you know that baseball games, even spring training ones, can end in a tie?
After the game, head to Organ Stop Pizza, a no frills pizza place with crispy-good pies and a huge Wurlitzer organ. The atmosphere is super down-to-earth, but the organ is astounding. Don’t worry, you’ll recognize the tunes–many were Disney songs or others we knew.
If you are looking for a truly tranquil desert escape, we could not more highly endorse the Sheraton Grand at Wild Horse Pass. This gorgeous resort is located, owned and inspired by the Gila River Indian Community, only a few minutes from Phoenix, yet it feels like a world away. The beautiful mountain backdrop, peaceful, sparkling pools, and Native American cultural influences make it feel like a desert sanctuary, with wild horses roaming freely in the open expanse.
This AAA Four Diamond resort boasts two stunning golf courses, the only AAA Five Diamond and Forbes Five Star award-winning restaurant in Arizona and a Native Indian-owned spa.
Ko’Sin Restaurant, the more kid-friendly option, serves some insanely good Buffalo Meatloaf and Estrella Omelets. Blissing out to a Pima Medicine Massage and enjoying the cultural programming led by super friendly, knowledgeable staff heightened our family’s experience.
The Westin Kierland Resort& Spa is another very popular “new Scottsdale” resort. It’s modern, cosmopolitan and in the center of it all, with world-class golf, upscale dining and posh shopping. The pools are outstanding, with an island in the middle you can rent for our own little oasis. The desert ambiance is spectacular with flickering fires and live entertainment in the evenings.
The “PlayDateNight” was perfect for every member of our family. The kids got to play games, create crafts and snuggle up to a movie in their pjs after ordering their own entrees in the Kids Club, while my husband and I took in a Scotch Tasting at the impressive Scotch Library and savored Arizona Prime Steak, Arizona Stir Fry and Chocolate Kahlua Cake at the onsite restaurant, Nellie Cashman’s Monday Club Cafe. The “OK Corral” outside offers basketball, ping-pong, bags and other fun activities. I’ll never forget our family’s endless giggles that danced into the desert air out there.
If you have time for a hike, we suggest hitting Papago Park before heading to the airport. It’s on the way and absolutely breathtaking. Stunning views of Phoenix and the surrounding mountains are all yours. If you’re extra brave, you can even pop through the Hole in the Rock for a top-notch perspective.
The Phoenix area is also home to many other great hiking spots, family-friendly museums and foodie trails. It’s easy to see why the Cubbies love Arizona, and your family will, too.
In Chicago, Cubs Opening Day is April 10. Check the schedule for giveaways, like replica World Series trophies and magnet schedules, Kids Run the Bases and Wrigley Field Tours. The Cubs also offer travel packages to certain home and away games that include a pregame VIP Meet and Greet reception with a current Cubs player. Go, Cubs, Go!