Do baseball fans have spring fever? Of course!

And who doesn’t love the intimacy of spring training – as well as the chance to escape snow-covered sidewalks for short sleeves and bags of peanuts or Cracker Jacks? It’s true, you won’t care if you ever get back.

Cactus League Spring Training starts on March 2, 2012. If you’re lucky, you’ll be in the stands at one of the Arizona stadiums that host 15 Major League Baseball teams each spring.

Located just 20 minutes from two Phoenix-area airports, Chandler, Arizona, is an ideal home base for baseball fans.

Here, you’ll be just minutes away from the best spring training venues. Plus you’ll also have access to world-class golf and plenty of family fun.

Of course, the Valley of the Sun is known for its 330-plus days of sunshine each year. No doubt you’ll want to soak up some of that as well.

Afternoons are a perfect time to spend at the ballpark. Mornings and evenings? We’ve got you covered. Here’s a guide to things to do when you choose Chandler as your spring training home base.

Golf

SAN MARCOS 2.jpgThe first grass links in Arizona opened in 1913 in Chandler, so it’s fitting that you should come here to play an 18-hole round or two.

With a choice of eight courses, you’re bound to find a great tee time in the morning before heading out to a Cactus League game in the afternoon.

Find Chandler’s golf options on the golf page of the Chandler Office of Tourism Web site.

Family fun

Kids have energy to burn, and with Chandler’s 60 regional, community and neighborhood parks, they’ll have plenty of space to play in the Arizona sunshine.

Chandler parks have unique features. In addition to “standard” playground amenities, there’s Chandler’s unique Playtopia at Tumbleweed Park. This free, 2.5-acre playground and picnic area features several play zones with themes based on Chandler’s heritage.

Take a day to check out one of Chandler’s family fun centers too.

Kids can literally bounce off the walls at Jumpstreet, an indoor trampoline park. The trampolines angle up the wall (similar to the walls at a skate park, but springy!).

You’ll find four distinct play areas at Makutu’s Island family center. At the heart of the center is a 25-foot tree filled with tunnels and slides at every turn as well as the 35-foot Banana Slide.

Shopping: Vibrant and Historic Downtown Chandler

shoppingcredit.jpgIf you want more than baseball (reluctantly, we’ll admit there is life after baseball), you can plan an afternoon shopping at Chandler Fashion Center or in downtown Chandler.

Chandler Fashion Center has internationally known shops like Nordstrom, Macy’s and more. There’s also a variety of entertainment and restaurant choices nearby.

In downtown Chandler, visit shops and galleries like Sibley’s West, a gift shop with items made only in Arizona, and Xico, Inc., or Tryst @ Inspirador, two galleries featuring world-class artists.

Downtown Chandler’s restaurants give you a variety of options: American, Italian, Mexican, Thai and Japanese, to name a few. And there’s always room for dessert from Paletas Betty, where the whimsical ice cream creations are made on-site. The Urban Tea Loft is a cozy respite with specialty teas and great food.

For a little intellectual stimulation, visit the Chandler Museum. You’ll find fascinating information about the roles that ostriches and agriculture played in Chandler’s history. Cap it off with a monthly walking tour to view downtown’s public art.

Adult Beverages

If you’re in Chandler without the family, you might want to enjoy an adult beverage during happy hour or with a meal.

Restaurants and bars are plentiful throughout Chandler. You’ll find a complete list at the city’s Web site.

You can also make beer tasting an event. Tours on Tap, a local business, gives the curious or the aficionado the chance to learn more about beer and brewing.

The company offers tours that provide an up-close look at brewery facilities, share explanations by brewery personnel, and tell more about the processes and equipment used in brewing beer. You’ll also sample the end result as well as learn how to pair beers with different foods.

If wine is more your style, don’t miss downtown Chandler’s Kokopelli Winery, a bistro that is Arizona’s largest winery. Operated by fifth- and sixth-generation winemakers, the bistro offers food and wine pairings that are a delicious take on Arizona-grown grapes.

Or, try the popular Chandler-based restaurant Cork, where you’ll enjoy delicious local menu items and your choice of wine from their 400 selections. Among their many accolades, Cork was presented with AAA’s Four Diamond award for 2011 and 2012.

Whether you’re planning a family outing or a week with friends, you’ll find Chandler is a great place to take in all the action. Chandler, Arizona…where trips feel more like vacations.

(Brought to you by Chandler Office of Tourism, (888) 663-2489, www.visitchandler.com.)