Mostly non-baseball summary of visiting West Palm Beach for baseball
Where to stay:
There is a group of hotels on Metrocentre Blvd. a five minute drive from the Park. Pick your brand: Marriott, Springhill, Homewood Suites, Red Roof Inn Plus. We stay at the Homewood Suites, and from what we’ve been told it beats the Springhill and Red Roof by miles. We belong to the Hilton Honors, so when they put the hotel points on sale (June? July?) we calculate how many points we will need for our stay here, and buy them at a significant discount. That, plus the “buy a week, get the 8th day free” brings the nightly price to ~$148. Not bad for suites, breakfast every day, four dinners a week, full sized fridge, pool, community grill. Last year, some players stayed here, but didn’t see any this year. We were told that the Nats and Astros bought a 1970’s era closed hotel, with the idea of renovating it as a Hilton Garden Inn, but that the whole property would be blocked out for players and their families for two months. But Hilton wouldn’t do that, so the property is still sitting there unbranded—and unrenovated. Stay tuned.
Where to eat:
Pollo Tropical is good fast food near the hotel. Other brand names (i.e. Wendy’s) are close by. Cracker Barrel is right next to the Red Roof, so it’s walking distance from all those hotels. IHOP is less than a half mile away, is 24 hours, and has surprisingly good food for the demographic.
Past the ballpark a couple of miles on Military Trail is Pho 16 in Crosstown shopping center. Also good for Pho is Pho Saigon on Okeechobee, which again is a couple of miles from the ballpark. Also on Okeechobee is Mike Rizzo’s recommendation, Zuccarelli’s. We had a delicious dinner and desert (we’ve tried tiramisu literally all over the world, and this was the best). Also bought a pizza to eat the next day. In the same center is a French restaurant, French Corner Café: also recommended (endorsed by Candide, who said that the Floating Island desert was as good as his French mother made).
If you’re in to cooking in your hotel room, the Super Walmart is between the hotels and the park.
Miscellaneous items about the park:
Please note the alligator sign. I didn’t see any alligators, but I also noticed that there never were any waterfowl in the water.
As I mentioned earlier, the Astros manage the park. I noticed that they have hired a number of disabled employees. The center section of the field between Military Trail and Haverhill Road is planted in what I’d call infield grass, and is expected to be used as soccer fields. The plan is to park cars on the “tough” St. Augustine grass on either side, and shuttle the fans through the training complex to the entrance. That’s the real reason for all those carts, not just fans that show up early for the workouts. There are these weird “Area of Refuge” signs outside the park. Since they are at the top of a slope, outside the park, they don’t look like much of a refuge from anything—even if the Park were on fire, these would be too close. There were a lot of guesses from the staff, police/fire/EMT guys who were on the grounds, but the best guess I heard was “maybe they told the insurance company that they have an ‘area of refuge’ so they got a discount.”
They’ve replaced the photo of Dusty in the team store with Max. Seems fair.
What else to do there? [These are what we did. Other opportunities abound, depending on your interests].
Check out the Kravis Center schedule. Great entertainment options, reasonable prices, and free parking.
Mounts Botanical Garden: nice if you like greenery. It’s under the flight path for the WPB airport, so it’s not the best place for relaxing. But I did learn some things about cooking herbs, enjoyed the flowers, and saw the biggest lizard I’ve ever seen in Florida (about 14”).
Manatee viewing at the FPL complex where they come to warm up in the warm water discharge. We didn’t see any (the day was pretty warm) but did see a school of tarpon. There were manatees the next day, including a baby with its mom.
Along Flagler Drive is the Dr. Martin Luther King Memorial. There are plenty of places to sit along the waterway in that area, including a fishing pier (we didn’t try that, nor did we stop in the Maritime Museum, which looked to be about the size of our condo, so shouldn’t take long). Plenty of boat traffic to watch, occasional fish jumping, and the zillion dollar residences and The Breakers across the way.