Last year, I made my first trip to Mets spring training in Port St. Lucie, Florida. I’m not sure that quite makes me an expert on visiting, but I thought I’d share some tips here. If you’re a spring training whiz, share your tips in the comments, as this post is intended to expand with your input.
The Mets hold spring training at Tradition Field in Port St. Lucie. This year, pitchers and catchers report on February 15, and the rest of the position players report on February 20. The week between the full reporting date and the team’s first spring training week is a great time to visit. Seeing the major league workouts is unlike anything you’ll see during the regular season, and if you or your children are into autographs, players sign pretty frequently during that part of spring training.
There’s certainly nothing wrong with spring training games, either, which will offer an in-person glimpse at some of the Mets’ best prospects—Noah Syndergaard and Rafael Montero, for instance—who could start the year in Las Vegas, far, far away from the many minor league ballparks of the northeast.
Of course, the Mets play a pair of games in Vegas and another two in Montreal as part of the spring training schedule this year, so those cities are options for a non-Florida glimpse at the team. Both of those trips are scheduled a bit later in the spring, though, and would be less likely to feature prospects than the earlier games in St. Lucie.
Palm Beach International Airport is, by far, the closest to Port St. Lucie, and it’s about a 45-mile drive. You’ll certainly want to rent a car, especially if you’re going to join the Mets for a road spring training game, some of which are a long haul.
There are plenty of hotel chains within a mile or two of Tradition Field. For a very short drive or a walk to and from the park—Port St. Lucie isn’t set up nearly as well for pedestrians as New York City, but it’s workable—you’ll want to stay in one of the hotels near I-95. For a local intersection, check out Northwest Peacock Blvd. and St. Lucie West Blvd. The big travel sites will turn up most or all of those hotels. If you want to be surrounded by Mets fans, just be sure not to end up on the other end of town.
Food & Drink
The one located at 1608 NW Courtyard Circle is the busiest Mets bar in town, centrally located among the hotels near the Mets’ complex. SNY has events there, and the Mets bowl there on Sunday nights. If you plan on spending more than one night in there, pick up their points card, which might earn you a couple freebies before your trip is done. It’s a typical sports bar, a big place with tons of televisions, and as far as I experienced, the ability to get your favorite New York non-baseball team’s game turned on at least one of them, possibly in standard definition. They had two-for-one drink pricing last year and probably still do now. Basically, if you’re used to New York City prices, the beers will seem pretty cheap. The taps can be hit-or-miss, and after striking out on one or two drafts last year, I made the switch to bottles.
Vine & Barley
While Duffy’s isn’t bereft of craft beer, there’s a whole lot more of it at Vine & Barley, which isn’t far down St. Lucie West Boulevard. Like other craft beer bars, they rotate their beers a lot and keep their website updated. The atmosphere here is a whole lot more relaxed, and so long as the prices haven’t gone up too drastically from last year, it’s downright affordable compared to New York City. I know very little about wine, but they have plenty of that, too, obviously.
There’s no shortage of fast food options in Port St. Lucie, with all of the typical big chains there. Although I didn’t run into any Mets at Chipotle, there’s nothing minor league ballplayers love more than a good burrito.
About to grub on this chipotle yeahhhhhh buddy
— Zack Wheeler (@Wheelerpro45) January 28, 2013
Aside from one sit-down meal at Duffy's, which was pretty standard fare for a sports bar, I didn't do much in the way of dining out. If you have restaurant recommendations, let's hear about them in the comments!