Time is ticking away to plan a spring training trip to Sarasota, Fla. Games began last week, but they continue through the end of the month, so you've still got a few weeks to sort it out. To help, here are some travel tips and deals for the area:
Where to stay
•The Hilton Garden Inn and Hampton Inn (I-75 Bee Ridge) offer packages that include "two or more tickets" for each home game plus accommodations. 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 "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.
The Hyatt Regency —about 10 miles from the stadium — boasts a great view, poolside bars, a marina, daily breakfasts and Sunday champagne brunches. Two-night stays start at $452.
The Ritz-Carlton offers a package that includes two game tickets and transportation to the stadium for $349 per night.
Sarasota's Convention & Visitors Bureau also has a list of other promos at sarasotafl.org.
AirTran flies nonstop to Sarasota/Bradenton — 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 Fort Myers (starting at $84-$104 one way) and drive about 90 minutes to Sarasota.
Hertz is offering a "Florida Drive for $5" deal, which could be perfect for those interested in a fly-drive trip. The promotion lets customers rent a vehicle at any Hertz Florida location and drop it off at participating corporate locations as far away as Maine and Arizona — including Maryland. The best part is that it costs only $5 a day (for up to 14 days).The offer is valid through June 12 and includes unlimited mileage and no drop-off fees. Book online at hertz.com or at a Hertz rental car location in Florida using the booking code: RQ DRV5.
What to do
There's plenty to do outside the stadium. Exploring the Ringling Museum of Art, shopping at St. Armand's Circle on Longboat Key and taking in the beach at Siesta Key are just a few ideas. Check out our guide to spring training travel at baltimoresun.com/travel/spring-training. Text NEWS to 70701 to get Baltimore Sun local news text alerts