A Guide to Florida Sports
Florida sports offer the fanatic or the casual fan a wide range of opportunities to take advantage of at any time of the year. From watching spectator sports, such as spring training baseball games and national league hockey games, to participating in a fishing tournament to visiting a famous racetrack, any sports fanatic is sure to be able to create a dream vacation year after year. Read on for some great ideas for incorporating Florida sports into your next trip.
Professional and Collegiate Florida Sports
During the regular seasons for the major spectator sports, the state of Florida offers the opportunity to watch its professional teams battle it out. For football fans, Florida offers three teams - the Miami Dolphins, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and the Jacksonville Jaguars. There are also has two Florida sports teams in the National Hockey League - the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Florida Panthers; two teams in the National Basketball Association - the Miami Heat and the Orlando Magic; and two Florida sports teams in Major League Baseball - the Florida Marlins and the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. Any time of the year, no matter when your vacation is scheduled, you can buy tickets to watch one of these great Florida sports teams play. And don't forget the collegiate teams that play in the state, including the Gators and the Seminoles. Take in one of these games because you love spectator sports -- or just to watch the extreme fans cheer for the home team.
More Spectator Sports: Spring Training for Major League Baseball
Baseball fans have an extra Florida sports attraction to watch out for. Before the official season begins, many teams have spring training around the state, and their practice games are open to the public. With the relaxed atmosphere and intimate ball parks, this is a great way for the kids to collect their favorite stars' autographs. Go watch the New York Yankees, the Atlanta Braves, the Toronto Blue Jays, and other great teams participate in the Grapefruit League. Sit in the sunshine with your family while you get a sneak peak at the teams that will be playing throughout the year. Note that not all of these spectator sports are played in Florida - other MLB teams participate in the Cactus League, which takes place in Arizona, so be sure check your favorite team's website to make sure that you'll be able to catch them.
Golf - Playing and Watching
For the true fan of spectator sports, a visitor to Florida will find an overwhelming number of opportunities to watch a golf tournament. Those who prefer to participate can play a few rounds all over the state. For a bit of history, Florida sports buffs can start off with a visit to the World Golf Village in St. Augustine, where the Golf Hall of Fame resides. Visit the museum and check out who has recently been inducted into the Hall. Then, see if any PGA or LPGA tournaments will be taking place in the state while you are visiting. Prefer to play? There are hundreds of golf courses around the state where you can play 18 holes and enjoy the beautiful weather for which Florida is known.
For Florida sports fans who enjoy auto racing, there are plenty of ways to watch or even participate in a race (or at least to feel like you are participating). If you prefer spectator sports, watch a thrilling race at the famous Daytona International Speedway while you are in Florida, or take a tour of the racetrack to learn about behind-the-scenes stories and secrets. If you want a hands-on experience, you can sign up to take part in the Richard Petty Driving Experience and drive a car around the track yourself - or with a guide, if you prefer. If you want more Florida sports excitement after seeing all that the Daytona track has to offer, travel to the Gainesville Raceway, known as one of the fastest tracks on the National Hot Rod Association circuit.
Deep Sea Diving
Prefer to get your feet wet? How about your whole body? Not interested in spectator sports? The state offers Florida sports enthusiasts amazing opportunities to go deep sea diving. Start in the southeastern part of the state, where you can dive along the coast and see a vast array of fish and other wildlife. You can also dive in and around the wrecks of Spanish galleons, exploring the ships and the treasure that may still lie within. Make sure you take an experienced guide with you when you dive and you're sure to have a memorable time.
Fishing fanatics and Florida sports fans won't want to miss the annual Destin Fishing Rodeo, which takes place every October. Destin is known as the "World's Luckiest Fishing Village" and more than 30,000 anglers come together each year to take part in this exciting tournament, one of the great spectator sports. At other times of the year, the entire coast of Florida offers opportunities for fishing, whether you are looking to catch marlins and other big game fish or just want to enjoy an afternoon relaxing on a boat.
If you like horse racing and spectator sports, you can see where it all begins in Ocala, known as the "Horse Capital of the World," where there are over 450 thoroughbred farms. Florida sports fans can follow that up with a visit to one of the racetracks in the state, including the Calder Race Course, which is conveniently located in Miami, next to Dolphin Stadium (where the Florida Marlins and Miami Dolphins play). Other tracks you may want to check out include Pompano Park and Tampa Bay Downs.
About the Author
Fraser Hannah spent eight years working as a freelance television production manager and researcher before leaving to join his family's business working with the elderly. He founded Traveling2Florida.com in 2003 after purchasing his own vacation home in Florida and being frustrated by the lack of vision shown by many of the existing vacation rental sites. Traveling2Florida.com, an online Florida vacation guide, now connects thousands of travelers directly with the owners of high-quality vacation rentals in Florida, from Orlando to the Florida Keys.
Florida tourism & sightseeing