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How to Enjoy Arizona for Preseason or Spring Training

Sporting KC and the Kansas City Royals both prepare for their seasons in Arizona.

Arizona & Navajo Lands Photo by Aurora Samperio/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Update: We’ll add all the parts here as they come out.

Hello and welcome to my first series for The Blue Testament. This is the introduction of a guide to going to Phoenix, Arizona for Sporting Kansas City preseason or the Kansas City Royals Spring Training.

I’m Sheena, the co-host of the For the Glory KC podcast, wife of one of the Editors, Chad (Editor: #Nepotism), mom of one kiddo, dog mom to three, and sometimes foster dog-mom to sweet pups through KC Pet Project. To know me is to know I have a love/hate relationship with Arizona. I love Northern Arizona, my friends, the delicious pizza options, hiking trails, and Phoenix winters. However, I hate the traffic and the late Spring/all Summer/early fall heat.

If you’re headed to Phoenix, first off, I’m jealous! If there’s a time to visit the valley of the sun, winter is it. We lived in Phoenix for 13.5 years, and winter was my happy place. After all, I deserved it after suffering through 6-8 months of 100+ temps. In all seriousness, Arizona in the winter is what fall in Kansas City is for me now. Peak happiness and getting outside and being outdoors as much as possible.

I’ve created this series to help you enjoy your time in Arizona, whether that’s in Phoenix or taking road trips to other destinations in the state. You can do a day trip from Phoenix to anywhere in the state, although some destinations will require you to leave in the early hours.

I’ve broken this down into what I think are the most important parts of checking out a new city.

  • Things to do
  • Hiking
  • Places to Eat
  • Where to grab a drink
  • Day Trips

This series can go beyond the topics I’ve given. So please let me know if you have suggestions or are looking for specific recommendations! I’m happy to add more topics. Also, if y’all enjoy this and want more, I can cover the road games we’ve been to. I don’t have many hobbies, but traveling is one of them.

Here are some other things to know about this series.

If you’re not outdoorsy, I recommend giving it a try while visiting Phoenix, excluding Summer. If you’re visiting in the summer, reconsider your trip. If you’re still headed out West, stay inside or find a pool. I might be slightly dramatic about my disdain for the heat, but it’s valid. Sure, maybe it’s somewhat better than the humidity because it’s a dry heat, but your skin is burning instead of being a sweaty mess. At least KC gives you relief from the heat at night. In Phoenix, the summer lows are regularly in the low 90’s, and that’s at three am, no thanks. Give me humidity and cold any day. I’m passionate about my hate for the heat if it’s not apparent.

You might think I’m crazy to dedicate an entire post to hiking. However, narrowing down my favorite few hikes is like asking who your top three favorite Sporting players are. Sure, I have a number one, here’s looking at you, Remi Walter, but Zusi is a close second. Third, so many options. I don’t think I can choose. That’s how I feel about hiking. So instead of forcing myself to pick a few, I’m going the opposite route and exploring them all!

I’ve broken down each article by topic and then by location. One thing I struggle with when planning vacations is the distance between all the different locations I want to check out. I spend half my planning on Google, figuring out logistically what makes the most sense and what’s close to each other. Therefore, I’ve broken this down into two parts of the valley, Central and the East Valley.

Central will cover cities such as Phoenix, Tempe, Scottsdale, Paradise Valley, and Fountain Hills.

East Valley will cover the following cities: Mesa, Chandler, Queen Creek, Gilbert, Apache Junction, & San Tan Valley. The East Valley is mostly the Phoenix suburbs, but worth checking out due to the hiking and restaurant options. Sorry to the West Valley. I only went to the west side for football or hockey, so I don’t have any quality recommendations.

If you’ve never been to Phoenix, let me prepare you with a few noteworthy things:

  • There’s a reason so many songs mention Arizona sunsets. They are among the best.
  • Bring sunscreen. The sun is no joke in Phoenix. Sunny and 75 can equate to a sunburn, so can cloudy and 65. Ask Chad to confirm this since it’s happened to him several times while covering Sporting KC preseason.
  • Give yourself plenty of time to get from point A to point B. Traffic can be awful, especially during rush hour.
  • This is a fun tip. You can do U-turns on red lights. Obviously, make sure the coast is clear to avoid an accident. I was very judgmental of the Phoenix drivers until I learned it was completely legal. It’s a weird law, but when done properly, it makes sense.
  • Whatever you do, call an uber or Lyft if you’ve been drinking. Arizona has some of the strictest laws regarding drunk driving. You want this to be a fun vacation and not behind bars.
  • Be careful of wrong-way drivers. I’m not sure why so many people drive the wrong way, but it happens more frequently than you would think. The wrong-way signs are huge, but it’s for a reason. Pay extra attention when entering freeways.
  • If you go in the winter, you shouldn’t see many creepy crawlies like Scorpions or snakes. However, be careful in the Spring when everything is coming out of hibernation.
  • If you love Charlie Hustle, check out State Forty Eight. It’s the Phoenix equivalency. Phoenicians have a lot of pride in being the 48th state.
  • Drink lots of water, especially if you’re hiking.
  • Take lots of pictures and post them online to make your family and friends jealous that you’re working on your tan while they are freezing!

Tomorrow will kick off this journey with Phoenix’s best things to do!

Thanks for joining me on this trip down memory lane, and hopefully, this will inspire someone to take a trip to Phoenix and allow me to live vicariously through them!

Unfortunately for the 2023 season, Sporting KC kept all the games behind closed doors. That doesn’t mean you can’t use this guide for baseball or future seasons though.