Florida is a vacation dreamland for sports enthusiasts. For those who love watching great sporting events, the Sunshine State has NFL teams in Miami, Tampa and Jacksonville, NBA teams in Orlando and Miami and NHL teams in Tampa and Miami. If you want to participate, the options are plentiful ranging from deep-sea fishing charters at countless marinas to snorkeling and scuba diving at state and national parks brimming with nature, biking and hiking trails and canoe/kayak-friendly waterways.
FIELDS OF DREAMS
Baseball fans flock to Florida during the month of March when 15 teams train and play exhibition games prior to the season. It’s a great way to see your favorite players when they’re more accessible for autographs and you can be closer to the action. The engaging venues include George M. Steinbrenner Field in Tampa, where the Yankees train and which has a massive Yankees memorabilia store, and Jet Blue Park in Fort Myers, a Boston Red Sox training venue featuring a replica of Fenway Park’s Green Monster. From April to October, you can enjoy regular season Major League Baseball in Miami with the Miami Marlins, who play in the National League, and in St. Petersburg with the Tampa Bay Rays at the domed Tropicana Field, who compete in the American League.
You’ll have little difficulty teeing it up in Florida, which boasts more than 1,400 golf courses and over 50 resorts where golf is the main amenity. Many of Florida’s golf resorts are world-renowned and home to iconic courses like THE PLAYERS Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach, the Blue Monster at Trump National Doral in Miami and Copperhead at Innisbrook, a Salamander Golf & Spa Resort near Tampa. In addition, there is a plethora of superb daily fee courses to play with designer tags like Jack Nicklaus, Torn Fazio and Robert Trent Jones.
The PGA Tour utilizes Florida every year as sites for some of its most prestigious tournaments. You can stroll among the lush fairways and palm trees and watch some of golf’s greatest stars. The tournament lineup includes The Honda Classic at PGA National Resort & Spa in Palm Beach Gardens in February; Valspar Championship at Innisbrook, a Salamander Golf & Spa Resort in Palm Harbor in early March; Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill Club & Lodge in Orlando in mid-March; and THE PLAYERS Championship at TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach in mid-May.
You can follow the bouncing ball in Florida from October to May with the NBA’s Orlando Magic and Miami Heat. Both teams play in the hotly contested Southeast Division, which also includes the Atlanta Hawks, Charlotte Hornets and Washington Wizards. Check schedules because it’s a great chance to see the NBAs brightest stars like LeBron James, Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant play against the Florida teams. The Magic play their games at the Amway Center in downtown Orlando and the Heat play at the American Airlines Arena.
For major college basketball, the menu is impressive led by the University of Florida two-time NCAA champions. The University of Miami and Florida State University annually field strong teams.