Sarasota travel tips and deals

February 16, 2011|By Michelle Deal-Zimmerman | Baltimore Sun reporter

There's still time to plan your trip to Sarasota. Games don't begin until March 1, so you've got a few weeks to sort it out. To help, here are some travel tips and deals for the area:

Where to stay

Hampton Inn, Hilton Garden Inn, Hyatt Place and Homewood Suites are kinda the "official" hotels for spring training travelers. All are located within 5-8 miles of Ed Smith Stadium. (Hilton has a free shuttle.) Two-night packages start at $392 for each of the hotels. Even though they're supposed to be sold out, I'm told that if you call the hotel directly, most will honor it.

The Hilton Garden Inn and Hampton Inn (I-75 Bee Ridge) offer Orioles packages that include "two or more tickets" for each home game plus accommodations starting at $159 per night. Both hotels also offer discounted overnight rates, starting at $119 per room per night (normally $149-$199). To get the fan rates, call the Hilton Garden Inn directly at 941-552-1100 and the Hampton Inn I-75 Bee Ridge at 941-371-1900 and simply mention the Baltimore Orioles.

Also, several Sarasota hotels are offering a 15 percent discount as part of a "Phil's 15" groundhog promotion. You have to book by March 19, the first day of spring, and also mention Phil.

The spring training special at AmericInn includes rooms starting at $119 per night and a hot breakfast buffet. It's just a few miles away from Ed Smith Stadium. Use promo code PKG14 when booking for additional deals.

Hyatt Regency - located about 10 miles from the stadium - boasts a great view, poolside bars, a marina, daily breakfasts and Sunday champagne brunches and more. Two night stays start at $452.

The Ritz Carlton offers a package that includes two game tickets and transportation (limo?) to the stadium for $349 per night.

Sarasota's Convention & Visitors Bureau also has a list of other promos.

Getting there

AirTran flies nonstop to Sarasota/Bradention - that's certainly the easiest path. Flights start at $84-$104 one way. Delta and USAirways also offer connecting flights to Sarasota, starting at around $208 round-trip. If you're fine with renting a car, you could also take Southwest to Tampa or Fort Myers (starting at $84-$104 one way) and drive about an hour or 90 minutes to Sarasota.

What to do

There's plenty to do outside the stadium. The Ringling Museum of Art, shopping at St. Armands on Longboat Key and the beach at Siesta Key are just a few. Check out our own Peter Schmuck's travel tips (you'll find him at Lynches Pub & Grub) and also our guide to spring training travel.

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