Spring training is a special experience, and it's not just about baseball. Sure, it helps if you like the sport, but between food, atmosphere and nearby attractions, there is something for everyone when 15 Major League Baseball teams call Florida home.
The annual rite gives the biggest fans one month to see their favorite club up close and personal while providing the casual fan with unique travel destinations.
Take Florida Space Coast Stadium in Brevard County, for example, where you catch a rocket launch from Cape Canaveral on one day and nine innings of the Washington Nationals the next. Or get a dose of history watching the Pittsburgh Pirates play at 92-year-old McKechnie Field in Bradenton.
No matter the destination, fans will find teams gearing up for the season on the diamond, but a laid-back atmosphere off the field, where the final score doesn't so much matter as the crowd, concessions and camaraderie.
With many games played during early weekday afternoons, making more than one or two spring training games each season can be tough for some. To help make your decision a bit easier, here's 10 storylines in which you can eat, drink, cheer and watch America's pastime.
Learn from the big boys
When: Tuesday, March 3 at 1:05 p.m. or Wednesday, March 4 at 7:05 p.m.
Where: Roger Dean Stadium (4751 Main St., Jupiter) or Hammond Stadium (14100 6 Mile Cypress Parkway, Fort Myers)
Why: Two Division I college teams take on the MLB teams from their home state in the early days of the spring training schedule. The mid-week games take place on each coast, with the University of Miami taking on the Marlins in the afternoon in Jupiter and the Twins hosting the University of Minnesota for a rare night affair in Fort Myers.
Bronx Bombers in quaint atmosphere
When: Saturday, March 7 at 1:05 p.m.
Where: Osceola County Stadium (631 Heritage Park Way, Kissimmee)
Why: The Astros play home spring training games in a glorified high school stadium, and that's not a bad thing. Osceola County Stadium may be a far cry in terms of luxury from nearby Champion Stadium at Walt Disney World, but the quaint 5,300-seat venue provides an atmosphere that you just can't get at the larger stadiums. The Yankees always draw a big crowd no matter where they play, so this is a great chance to see them in an intimate environment. Also, your days for seeing spring training games at Osceola County Stadium are numbered. The Astros are set to leave Kissimmee in 2017 for a facility they will share with the Washington Nationals in Palm Beach County.
Rising stars in storied rivalry
When: Friday, March 13 at 7:05 p.m.
Who: Yankees at Red Sox
Where: JetBlue Park (11500 Fenway South Drive, Fort Myers)
Why: One of the fiercest rivalries in sports comes to Fort Myers on a Friday night. While Derek Jeter's no longer in the lineup, you'll likely be able to catch rising stars like Boston's Rusney Castillo and Mookie Betts and New York's Rob Refsnyder.
Relish in history
When: Sunday, March 15 at 1:05 p.m.
Who: Orioles at Pirates
Where: McKechnie Field (1611 9th St. West, Bradenton)
Why: Opened in 1923, McKechnie Field is one of the oldest continuously used fields in all of baseball and could be considered the Fenway Park of the Grapefruit League. The modern feel and luxuries of newer ballparks have their draws, but you just can't beat a historic venue.
Popular teams play in primetime
When: Wednesday, March 18 at 6:05 p.m.
Who: Yankees at Braves
Where: Champion Stadium (ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex; 700 South Victory Way, Kissimmee)
Why: This is always a popular spring training matchup because of the large fan bases in the area. With it being a rare night game, this will be a hot ticket, so get them early. If you don't live in the area, make a trip out of it by spending Wednesday or Thursday at one of Central Florida's many theme parks.
Legos and Tigers
When: Saturday, March 21 or Sunday, March 22; Both at 1:05 p.m.
Who: Mets at Tigers or Nationals at Tigers
Where: Joker Marchant Stadium (2301 Lakeland Hills Blvd., Lakeland)
Why: Catch the Tigers taking on either of these NL East teams during a two-day family trip to Polk County. What to do with the other day, you ask? Use it as a family trip to Legoland in Winter Haven. Unfortunately, you'll have to wait until 2016 spring training to stay in the new Legoland Hotel, which opens May 15.
When: Wednesday, March 25 at 1:05 p.m.
Who: Nationals at Cardinals
Where: Roger Dean Stadium (4751 Main St., Jupiter)
Why: Not only is this a meeting of two division winners, but it will act as a preview of sorts for residents of Palm Beach County. The Nationals will be leaving their current spring training home on the Space Coast for a new home in West Palm Beach beginning in 2017. The Nationals will be sharing the proposed $135-million stadium with the Astros, who currently play in Kissimmee.
When: Thursday, March 26 at 5:05 p.m.
Who: Mets at Nationals
Where: Space Coast Stadium (5800 Stadium Parkway, Viera)
Why: What's better than baseball and a rocket launch? Make a family trip out of this one by watching the Delta IV rocket launch from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station at Kennedy Space Center on March 25 (scheduled for 2:39 p.m.) and follow it with a baseball game the next day at Space Coast Stadium in Viera (about 35 minutes away). You could even stay in Merritt Island or Cocoa Beach for some beach fun while you're there. There's also a rocket launch of an Atlas V on Thursday, March 12 at 10:44 p.m. that's sandwiched between Wednesday and Friday home games for the Nats.
When: Sunday, March 29 at 1:07 p.m.
Who: Orioles (split-squad) at Blue Jays
Where: Florida Auto Exchange Stadium (373 Douglas Ave., Dunedin)
Why: The Blue Jays have called Florida Auto Exchange Stadium in Dunedin their home for spring training since 1977. The smallish 5,509 seat stadium is a nice change of pace from larger spring training venues, but it also provides something no other Grapefruit League Stadium can -- a Canadian experience. Sit among a large Canadian crowd, listen to "O Canada" (the Canadian national anthem) and enjoy a cold Canadian beer while watching the Blue Jays take on their American League East rivals.
Catching some Rays
When: Thursday, April 2 at 1:05 p.m.
Who: Rays at Phillies
Where: Bright House Field (601 Coachman Road, Clearwater)
Why: There are Tampa Bay Rays fans throughout the state, but if you can't make it to Port Charlotte for a spring training game, you can watch your favorite team this day near their regular season home in St. Petersburg. Plus, it's just a 15 minute drive to Clearwater Beach. That way, you can catch two sets of rays.