The Sunshine State Invites Visitors to Combine Beach Days with Ballpark Fun
TORONTO, ON – (May 2021) – A perennial family favourite, thanks in large part to its great weather and wonderful beaches, the Sunshine State also offers plenty for Canadian sports fans – from being the long-time spring home to the Major League Baseball’s Toronto Blue Jays to being the more recent, temporary home to the NBA’s Toronto Raptors (Tampa) and MLS’ Toronto FC (Kissimmee) and FC Montreal (Fort Lauderdale).
When it comes to combining beaches and big league baseball, the spring training version, the State of Florida has a history that dates back to the late 19th century, when the Washington Nationals were the first team to make the trek south, to Jacksonville, in the spring of 1888. Since that time, nearly all of the sport’s legends – from Babe Ruth and Rogers Hornsby to Willie Mays and Roberto Clemente – have run the bases of St. Petersburg, Bradenton and points south and north of the State, and today Florida hosts 15 MLB teams for their annual spring training, attracting (in “normal” times) more than 1.5 million fans every year.
From the Philadelphia Phillies in Clearwater, the New York Yankees in Tampa, the Baltimore Orioles in Sarasota, and the Detroit Tigers in Lakeland, to the Boston Red Sox in Fort Myers, the St. Louis Cardinals in Jupiter, and the Washington Nationals in West Palm Beach and more, when it comes to getting out to a ball game, Florida makes it easy. For Toronto sports fans, look no further than St. Pete-Clearwater, and specifically sunny Dunedin, one of the oldest towns on Florida’s west coast.
For more than 40 years, the Toronto Blue Jays have spent spring training in Dunedin, and this year have extended their residency, now playing their third homestand (May 14 to 24) of the 2021 MLB season at TD Ballpark as they await a potential return to Canada.
Originally called Dunedin Stadium at Grant Field and ranked by Sports Illustrated as one of the top 5 places to watch a Spring Training game, the newly renovated TD Ballpark stadium features a capacity of 8,500 (up from 5,500), with new standing room and “party deck” viewing and a grandstand extension stretching down the third baseline. Among a variety of new features, there’s also a new 360-degree boardwalk that wraps around the entire outfield, a new Jays Shop, a Jr. Jays Zone, and more.
Just down the street from the stadium, sitting on a 65-acre site, the new 115,000 sq. ft. Player Development Complex is the training facility of the Toronto Blue Jays Major and Minor League operations.
Also nearby, the historic Fenway Hotel, part of Marriott’s Autograph Collection of hotels, is the perfect home base for any Dunedin getaway. A Jazz Age hotel dating back to the 1920s, and home to Pinellas County’s first radio station, this boutique hotel in downtown Dunedin was fully renovated in 2018 and now offers modern and charming guest rooms and suites, a show-stopping chophouse, and a panoramic rooftop bar that overlooks Dunedin’s waterfront and features local breweries on tap.
Visitors to the area can also set out on their own to discover each of these eight local breweries by foot. From 7venth Sun Brewery and Caledonia Brewing, to Woodwright Brewing Company and Dunedin Brewery, Florida’s oldest microbrewery, all locations are located within a 1.6-kilometre area.
The Fenway Hotel is also close to the 61-kilometre-long Pinellas Trail, which stretches from St. Petersburg in the south to Tarpon Springs in the north. Whether it’s to walk, jog, cycle or skate, this abandoned railroad corridor connects county parks, coastal regions and cities, far from car traffic.
If heading out on the trail, Dunedin is a great place to start. Rent a bike from one of the many local shops (including Pedego Dunedin) and explore at your own pace. Heading north, you’ll encounter the Dunedin Causeway, where you can leave the trail and head out to pristine Honeymoon Island State Park (cyclists enter for $2) for some swimming, snorkelling or fishing, and then take the ferry out to the white-sand beaches of Caladesi Island State Park, for a true deserted island experience. Back on the trail headed north, visit Tarpon Springs (about 16 kilometres from Dunedin), home of the Greek sponge docks, with streets full of antique stores, art galleries and restaurants.
When it comes to fueling up, Dunedin offers a variety of options, including Casa Tina Mexican Grill, located in the downtown area. Opened in 1992 by Tina and Javier Avila, Casa Tina is much more than a restaurant serving up authentic Mexican cuisine, it delivers an entire experience.
Of course, no visit to this region is complete without a trip to the beach… and there are plenty of choose from! From St. Pete Beach, recently named the #1 Beach in the U.S. for 2021 by TripAdvisor, and the legendary Clearwater Beach, which held the title in 2019, 2018 and 2016, to the family-friendly Madeira Beach (aka “Mad Beach”) and more, there are more than 56 kilometres of sandy shore to choose from in the area.
When travel opens up again and it’s time to start planning a Florida escape, St. Pete-Clearwater is a great place to start!
For more information and travel inspiration, check out VISITFLORIDA.com.
For images, click here.
About VISIT FLORIDA
As the Sunshine State’s No. 1 industry, tourism was responsible for welcoming 131.4 million visitors in 2019. Based on the latest economic impact study, Florida visitors contributed $96.5 billion to Florida's economy and supported 1.6 million Florida jobs in 2019. According to the Office of Economic and Demographic Research, for every $1 the state invests in VISIT FLORIDA, the official tourism marketing corporation for the State of Florida, $3.27 in tax revenue is generated. VISIT FLORIDA promotes tourism to Florida through sales, advertising, promotions, public relations and visitor services programs. As a public/private partnership, VISIT FLORIDA serves more than 13,000 tourism industry businesses, including major strategic alliance partnerships with Busch Gardens Tampa, Disney Destinations, Hilton, LEGOLAND Florida Resort, SeaWorld Parks & Resorts Orlando and Universal Orlando Resort. To learn more about VISIT FLORIDA follow @FloridaTourism on Facebook and Twitter or visit www.visitflorida.org. For inspiration from the Sunshine State, follow @VISITFLORIDA on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram or visit www.visitflorida.com. For media resources, visit www.visitfloridamedia.com.
About VoX International
VoX International is a Canadian-owned destination marketing firm based in Toronto, Canada with offices in Vancouver and Montreal, providing Canadian representation nationally. VoX is a full-service sales, marketing, event planning and public relations agency led by a team of high profile, knowledgeable travel industry executives. Recognized as a marketplace leader, VoX offers a wide range of support within the North American meeting, incentive, events, and hospitality and leisure tourism sectors. VoX’s passion for providing personal, innovative and results driven solutions are key factors for driving the company’s reputation for success.
Senior Public Relations Manager
VISIT FLORIDA - Canada
416-935-1896 ext. 248