A Decade of Spring Training Trips

I've been going to Fort Myers for the Twins' spring training for 10 years or more. It started as just an extra couple days added on to a business trip to St. Petersburg or a conference in Orlando, but over time I started making specific 5-7 day vacation trips.

Now that I'm retired from my 'day job' I'll be in Ft. Myers for a full week again this March.

Obviously, I enjoy it. I also really like the Ft. Myers area and may even consider investing in a winter home there.

The key to enjoying ST, I think, is keeping expectations in check.

If you think you're going to see all the Twins top players playing all of every game, you're going to be very disappointed.

Top players get a lot of days off and even when they are in the lineup, they're pulled early. You'll see a lot of guys with names on their jerseys that you don't recognize. You'll also see some low-mid level minor leaguers as late inning replacements who don't even have a name on their jersey (with numbers like 96 or 97).

But you'll see baseball in a cozy, yet very modern, minor league ballpark in very nice weather in March.

I've also always found the people attending the games to be very friendly. Yes, it's an older crowd, but there are plenty of fans of all ages attending.

I like to spend at least one game out in the newer outfield sections where things are less crowded and more casual.

I definitely recommend the "beer shakes" at the ballpark on a warm afternoon. :)

As someone who covers the Kernels, I spend a lot of afternoons on the minor league side of the complex. Those workouts/games are free to attend and you get a real close up look at the future of the Twins.

I've never found traffic to be too bad around the ballpark. Daniels Pkwy and 6 Mile Cypress can get congested, especially on game days or at 'rush hour', but anyone who has driven in a city of any size (even such as Cedar Rapids) routinely drives in far worse traffic.

The only two places I've had significant traffic issues are:

(1) Sanibel Island - one bridge to access and all relatively narrow roads where you really can't pass anyone. It's congested. Sanibel is really pretty and I recommend a trip there, but do it when you have most of a day to kill, because if you end up in a rush, you'll get frustrated.

(2) Getting on/off Ft Myers Beach.. Again, very limited access and at rush hour, it's busy. To make matters worse, they began a major reconstruction project on the main road along Ft Myers Beach that will take several years to complete. If you're going primarily for baseball, don't stay in Ft Myers Beach.

This will be my family's second straight year staying out in Ft Myers Beach, so I'll be dealing with that traffic. It just requires planning. But we also love the public beach there, as well as many of the bars/restaurants in that area, so it's worth it for us.

This is coming from the perspective of a 60-year-old, so take that into consideration. Hope to see some of you down there this spring.

SD Buhr (aka 'JimCrikket')