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Second annual spring training travel guide

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palm_trees.gif [2]Thinking about going to spring training to see the Yankees? Or already booked the trip? Here are some tips for you:

Where to stay: Tampa has dozens of hotel options at all price ranges. If you can, try and stay in the Westshore area. It’s close to the airport, close to Legends Field and close to assorted restaurants.

Tickets: If you didn’t get them by now, you might have trouble. But check MLB.com for strays before you go to a broker. There are always tickets on the street, too. Be willing to travel. The games against the Blue Jays, Phillies and Devil Rays are a short distance away. Check out their sites for information.

Seeing the players: The big leaguers work out at Legends Field and the two practice fields, one on either side. When there’s a home game, the Yankees usually take BP on field beyond the right field corner. You can get a goood vantage point there. Unlike other camps, there is really no spot where the players walk through the crowd. So getting autographs is no sure thing. Get there early and watch the pre-game workouts. That’ll be your best chance to see the guys.

The main bullpen is an interesting place to spend some time. Once you’re in Legends Field, go all the way over to the right. The stands overlook the bullpen.

Minor leaguers: Those guys work out across the street, at the complex of fields behind Raymond James Stadium. There’s not a lot of room for fans over there but there are a few areas to watch from.

Getting around: The traffic is bad around Tampa, so leave yourself plenty of time to get where you’re going. The Tampa airport is pretty efficient. You’ll need a rental car as there is little in the way of public transportation beyond hopping a bus.

Food: Lots of choices here. Every chain in the free world is within a few miles. Flemings [3], a top-notch steakhouse, is close by. There are plenty of seafood places. I like Roy’s [4], an Asian fusion place. For top-notch Italian, you can’t beat Donatello [5].

The International Plaza mall has several places including The Capital Grille [6]. The Westshore Plaza has a Maggiano’s [7] and Mitchell’s Fish Market [8].

Frivolity: There are numerous places to have a drink (or two) in Tampa. The Ybor City area is a good spot. Or you can hang out at the Blue Martini [9]. Tampa is notorious for its strip clubs and there are about a dozen of them near Legends Field. I’ve heard they stay open late. Tampa has a good zoo and Busch Gardens is close by. You could drive to Disney (about 70 minutes down the highway) or go to the beach if it’s warm enough.