Can’t Get Enough of Spring Training and Portillos in #ScottsdaleAZ

I’m so thrilled to be working with the Scottsdale Convention & Visitors Bureau again this month, this time to share one of my absolute favorite things to do here in AZ!

Living in Arizona has it’s perks, the biggest of which is probably the weather. Warm year round, only *hot* about 2-3 months out of the year… It’s fantastic.  One of the perks the weather brings us is the huge draw for Major League Baseball teams to have their Spring Training here, and we have TONS of teams who have done so.  As a matter of fact, 15 of the Major League Baseball teams play in 10 of the most beautiful ballparks in the country right here, every spring, in Scottsdale and the Valley of the Sun metro region.  Beginning in mid-February and running through the end of March, baseball fans have their pick of teams and venues every single day at 1:00 in the afternoon and, on certain days, 7:00 in the evening as well; there are more than 200 games on the schedule, so for baseball fans (like our family), it’s like a dream come true. 

Of course our favorite field for a Spring Training game is at Salt River Fields in Scottsdale, which happens to be the home field for our home team- the Arizona Diamondbacks- shared with the Colorado Rockies. Being a baseball loving family means that Spring Training has always been enjoyable for us, but since 2011 it’s been even more exciting since our home team is now here in town rather than a 2 hour drive south to Tucson.  We’re really loving this field and getting to support our home team during Spring Training!

Earlier this month we made plans to go see the Cubs (my husband’s hometown team) play the Diamondbacks (our hometown team) one evening at Salt River Fields.  Though AZ gets very little rainfall each year, it happened to be that the day before and the day of the game we got a TON of rain. We kept checking the Salt River Fields website and Facebook page to see if the game was going to be cancelled, but 2 hours before the game it was still on.  Since it was close to dinnertime we decided to head over to Portillos for dinner before going to the game.

Portillos location

photo credit:

Portillos is a restaurant that was new to our family, though we’d been meaning to try it. Since my  husband is from Chicago (and his family still lives there) he has a love affair with Italian Beef sandwiches with sweet peppers. For as long as I’ve known him he’s tried restaurant after restaurant in Phoenix and the surrounding areas trying to find a place that tastes “like home”, but we had yet to have success. We had high hopes for Portillos…  Of course walking in the ambiance was fun, and then seeing the menu made my husband perk up a bit- they had Italian Beef sandwiches, tamales, and more! The kids were happy to see hamburgers and hot dogs on the menu.

Portillos Big BeefWe got our food and everyone took our first bite.  We all thought it was really, really good.  I don’t think there was much talking out of any of us (next to impossible with our 4 kids) but we really were enjoying our food SO much there was no way we were stopping for small talk!  My husband was beyond pleased, and for the first time in all of our ‘Chicago style restaurant’ attempts I heard the words I’d been waiting to hear from my husband- “Just like home”. Success!!

On to the game, where we were hoping for more success. It was cold and rainy but we tromped in there, found our seats and waited, hoping to be able to see the teams warm-up before the game and possibly catch a practice ball. No luck. The field was covered with tarps to keep it dry before the game.

covered fieldIt wasn’t long before the rain started and we had to seek shelter under the concourse with the rest of the fans at the stadium. After about 20 minutes of being there, the rain really began to come down and the large group of die-hard fans still waiting there were met with a depressing sight:




We weren’t giving up though.  A week later we headed to another Spring Training game, this time with cloudy skies and a gorgeous 74 degrees!

Me and the kidsWhile the game wasn’t against my husband’s Cubbies, we still got to watch our DBacks play!  We bought tickets in the lawn seat section, which happens to be a favorite spot for the kids (okay, us too) because there’s lots of grass and open space for them to run around in and hills to roll down, not to mention how close we are to the outfield and the outfield players, and, of course, being in home run territory!  This particular game we happened to miss a home run by a mere 8-10 ft (close enough we saw ourselves on TV when we watched the game highlights that night on the news)!

rolling down hillon the lawn watching the gamedreams dreamingAside from great seating at the stadium (you really get a great view no matter where you sit), this mama also loves that no matter where you go in the venue you’re close to bathrooms (amazingly clean bathrooms, thankyouverymuch) and concessions, and in multiple places near the lawn seats are spots with complimentary sunscreen- a must if you want to keep from getting burned!  Not only do we love the stadium and seating, but the folks at Salt River Field are friendly and helpful as ever. 

SunscreenThis particular game lasted 10 innings before ending in a tie. Not the win we were hoping for, but not a loss either.  We had a blast enjoying a great game, gorgeous weather, cheering on our home team, and relaxing on the grass.

We weren’t the only ones, of course.  While many AZ locals come to enjoy the games, we also see tons of visitors from out of town here to enjoy them as well.  According to, the average attendance for 2014 Spring Training games reached a record high of 8078 fans per game over 447 games played. This year we may have seen more than usual as the rest of the country was dreaming of the day the temperature would reach above zero degrees.  What better place to come visit than warm, sunny AZ, where you can enjoy not just the weather, but your pick of Spring Training games as well?! The average game lasts 3 hours, so there’s plenty of time before and after to explore the other amazing sites, eats and activities in Scottsdale. Check out Experience Scottsdale for suggestions and ideas!

Spring Training may be over for this year, but now we’re excited to cheer on our DBacks during regular season play!  Plus, we know once the regular season is over we only have to wait a few short months before it all starts back over again at the 2015 Spring Training.


I was compensated for the above mentioned activities in order to complete my review. All thoughts expressed are my own.


  1. Looks like such a fun family outing! Well, two outings. 🙂 My family is from Chicago {as am I} so I totally get the quest for good Chicago food. My dad & brother actually got to see the Cubs here a couple of weeks ago for a Spring Training game- I’m sorry you guys didn’t get to see them! Sounds like you still had a ton of fun at the game.

  2. I love seeing your baseball park. I have only gone to Red Sox games at Fenway and it looks NOTHING like your park. But then again, it’s smack dab in the middle of a busy city.

  3. Fun family fun! I am not much of a baseball fan but I do love to eat baseball food! The tamales looks delicious! Yum! Sun screen dispensers are fantastic!!!!! I wish they had them in Wisconsin at events!

  4. Looks like you had a lot of fun! We need to go to ball games more ourself!

  5. I’m so ready for baseball!!! So cool you have Spring Training right there. And those hot dogs….YUM!

  6. My mom and her husband go to FL for a week to watch our O’s play a couple Spring Training games. I love the sunscreen dispenser! What a great idea!

  7. wow they give free sunscreen! awesome. we’re red sox fans but im sure ANY spring training would be fun to watch

  8. Looks like you all had a fun time. I love they have free sunscreen. I’m fair complected and always need sunscreen if I’m going to be out like that but ALWAYS forget to bring it. haha

  9. I love to go to Arizona someday. I currently live in Atlanta Georgia and our baseball team (Braves) usually has their Spring training in Florida. Going to baseball games are fun!

  10. I’ve never been to Arizona. One of my favorite bands is from Phoenix, they recently did a video shot there that was interesting.

  11. Arizona is on my bucket list. It looks like a beautiful place.

  12. Looks like you had a great day for the spring training. Love the complimentary sunscreen!

  13. Looks like you have a nice tradition going! The kids will remember that with joy one day. I also love the fact that they offer sunscreen!

  14. Wow, this looks like so much fun! You’ve practically convinced me to MOVE to AZ, let alone visit…

    Love that complimentary spf, how cool is that?

  15. So much fun! I haven’t been to Scottsdale, AZ before but will definitely add it to my list of places to go.

  16. I’ve never been to Arizona, but have heard so many good things. I’d love to visit someday. That’s awesome that they give out free sunscreen! I imagine that’s definitely not something you’d want to forget to bring with you.

  17. I miss my Chicago Portillo’s too! I haven’t eaten there in I don’t even know how many years. I’m glad you were able to go back another day and have such a great time at the ballpark.

  18. That looks like such a great time. My husband would love to visit a spring training camp and see some of the games they play there. Especially the Yankees spring training.

  19. We live in Florida and LOVE spring training games! We are so lucky (us being AZ and FL) to be able to enjoy that!

  20. What a fun afternoon! I love Mexican food, and a scrimmage baseball game makes it even better!! I love the SPF dispenser, I’ve never seen that before!

  21. What a great family outing. And, an awesome idea for them to put free sunscreen out for everybody. Wow, does the grass look amazing.

  22. That looks like so much fun! A guy I went to high school with plays for the Diamondbacks!

  23. Someday I would love to do this with my kids – do one trip to Florida to visit teams there and then go to AZ. Looks like it was a lot of fun!

  24. Oh boo! So sad the game was cancelled but it’s awesome that you got to go back! I would love to visit Scottsdale sometime.

  25. I have been to arizona two times. this looks like so much fun was had. P.s. I love your captioned photos

  26. I’m glad your husband found a place he likes. I’d love to take my kdis to a ballgame

  27. I visited Arizona once before, but never made it to Scottsdale. This looks like a great excuse to hit the West Coast again! Ballgames are so much fun!

  28. Seems like you family really had fun even with the rainy weather. I haven’t visited Arizona but hope to one day.

  29. Hey – my aunt and uncle are watching spring training for the Rockies right now too. I’ve always wanted to visit Scottsdale. It always looks so beautiful.

  30. Looks like such a fun place. And even though I’ve had dinner the tamales looked so gold at the restaurant. Mouth is watering!

  31. Omg! These pictures really look like you guys are really having a great time. I’ve never been to Arizona but I’m adding it to my list

  32. Wow, what a thrill for your family to have been able to see Spring training.

  33. What a great time! I love the complimentary sunscreen too, great idea.

  34. It looks like you guys had a great time. We love to attend spring training one year with the Atlanta Braves!

  35. that looks like a great family time. I love to find fun activities like that during the summer.

  36. Katie Klein says

    Living in Chicago we are huge fans of baseball and Portillo’s too!

  37. I LOVE baseball! I grew up with it. 🙂 My parents shared season tickets to the KC Royals for pretty much my entire childhood–Row N, directly behind 3rd base. I could see George Brett’s 5 o’clock shadow! It was wonderful!!!! I love Spring Training, too. It was always a dream of my dad’s to attend a Spring Training game and did get to a few years ago. I love the Scottsdale stadiums…gorgeous and nearby, too!!

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