You Arizona bucket list: 25 things to do in Phoenix
Japanese Friendship Garden
Enjoy a tea ceremony at the Japanese Friendship Garden. The 3.5-acre park features 1,500 tons of hand-selected rock, more than 50 varieties of plants, and a koi pond with more than 300 fish. Taking a respite at the teahouse where a formally trained tea master offers a taste of spiritual refreshment is a way to live in the moment.
DETAILS: japanesefriendshipgarden.org. 1125 N. 3rd Ave. 602-256-3204.
Arizona State Capitol
Tour the Arizona State Capitol and discover which two of Arizona’s 5 “C’s” — copper, cattle, citrus, climate and cotton — was left out of the state seal on the main floor. Completed in 1900 at a cost of $136,000, the building is made from indigenous malapai and granite and has a copper dome. One room is dedicated to the USS Arizona, which was destroyed in the 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor.
DETAILS: azlibrary.gov. 1700 W. Washington St. 602-926-3620
Drink a dry martini at Durant’s and sink into the red vinyl seats and feel the red-flocked walls. This snapshot of the 1950s in Phoenix remains primarily a steakhouse where regulars enter through the back door into the kitchen and business leaders and politicians still make deals. A good time to possibly hear political gossip is from January through April, when the Legislature is in session.
DETAILS: durantsaz.com. 2611 N. Central Ave. 602-256-3204.
Lunch on the best pizza in the U.S. — so say plenty of experts — at downtown’s Pizzeria Bianco. Lunch during an Arizona summer may mean you get in for under the usual three-hour wait. Order either the Rosa or the Marinara, which happen to be owner Chris Bianco’s favorites.
DETAILS: pizzeriabianco.com. 623 E. Adams St. 602-264-5967.
Mrs. White’s Golden Rule Cafe
808 East Jefferson Street. 602-262-9256
So maybe Arizona isn’t what you think of when you think “southern.” But that doesn’t mean you should deny yourself one of the Valley’s tastiest offerings at Mrs. White’s Golden Rule Cafe. Get the classic fried chicken, smothered in gravy and served with sides of greens, red beans, black-eyed peas or sweet potatoes and cornbread.
Be seen at the Heard Museum during its two-day Indian Fair and Market in March. The fair features dancers, and more than 500 artists, many of whom inform about their crafts — jewelry making, painting, pottery and sculpture.
DETAILS: heard.org. 2301 N. Central Ave. 602-252-8840
Dobbins Point on South Mountain
Take a drive up to Dobbins Point on South Mountain — the largest municipal park in the U.S. — and watch as sunset colors the Valley landmarks spread out below. The road is paved, so the only challenge is the twists and turns (and steep drop-offs) along the way. Then head a few miles up Central Avenue to Lo-Lo’s Chicken and Waffles. You’ll blow your calorie limit for the day, but it will be worth it.
DETAILS: phoenix.gov. 1125 N. 3rd Ave. 602-256-3204.
Hole-in-the-Rock at Papago Park
Picnic inside the prehistoric-looking red sandstone of Hole-in-the-Rock at Papago Park. It’s an easy climb to the opening, which offers vista and mountain views. Note: a near constant wind blows through the hole so opt for hearty hand-held picnic food that won’t be blown away.
DETAILS: phoenix.gov. 625 N. Galvin Parkway. 602-495-5458
Arizona Science Center’s Bed of Nails
Prove mind over matter at the Arizona Science Center‘s bed of nails in Phoenix. Visitors can lie down on a Plexiglas platform with tiny holes in it. When they press a button, 1,000 nails rise underneath them. It’s your chance to bed down with a celebrity — Ellen DeGeneres tried the bed on her television show.
DETAILS: azscience.org. 600 E. Washington St. 602-716-2000
Cactus League Spring Training
Play hooky from work and attend a Cactus League spring-training game. The trick to scoring tickets on the morning you decide to cross out “work” from your to-do list is to be flexible. A little advice: weekday games earlier in March offer the widest selection of seats. And the best seat selection is often for games in the West Valley, where nine teams play at stadiums in Peoria, Surprise, Goodyear and Phoenix, including Maryvale.
Carolina’s Mexican Food
Savor the taste of an authentic tortilla at Carolina’s. Large, thin and chewy, the tortillas have been turned out at this institution for 50 years. Never has a simple mix of flour, water, lard, baking powder and salt been so satisfying.
DETAILS: carolinasmex.com. 1202 E. Mohave St. 602-252-1503.
Tour the Wrigley Mansion. William Wrigley Jr., known for his chewing gum and the Chicago Cubs, bought the Arizona Biltmore hotel in the ’20s and had the nearby mansion built as a 50th-anniversary gift for his wife. Built in 1932, the grand home that sits atop a knoll in Phoenix is as historic as the Valley gets, with a salute to Mediterranean, California Mission and Spanish architecture.
DETAILS: wrigleymansion.com. 2501 East Telawa Trail. 602-955-4079
Las Noches de Las Luminarias
Behold the desert in a different light during the Desert Botanical Garden’s Las Noches de Las Luminarias. More than 8,000 hand-lit luminaria bags, inspired by the Mexican holiday tradition, line the trails of the garden from November’s end through December. The Phoenix event features music, carolers, food and holiday-themed cocktails and spiked hot drinks.
DETAILS: dbg.org. 1201 N. Galvin Parkway. 480-941-1225.
Brave the depths of your fears and dare to witness as many as 20,000 bats journey out to their nighttime feeding. The “bat cave” is on the north bank of the Arizona Canal, several hundred yards west of 40th Street, north of Camelback Road. Position yourself at a specially built deck at that location at dusk.
DETAILS: azgfd.gov. Arizona Canal and 40th Street.
Built in 1929 as a vaudeville house, the Orpheum was restored in 1997. Go early and check out the lobby’s Spanish Baroque Revival decor that mirrors a medieval nobleman’s art gallery. Inside, gaze upward at the hand-painted ceiling, which depicts a bright sunset turning into a starry night sky.
DETAILS: orpheum-theater.com. 203 W. Adams St. 602-262-6225.
Hike the Valley’s Mount Everest at sunrise — Camelback Mountain, so named because its shape resembles the animal that typifies desert adaptation. So, like Everest, we caution that this hike is strenuous. At 2,704 feet, it’s one of the premiere views in Arizona, but it’s steep and rocky. For an easier approach, try the Cholla Trail. It’s longer but not quite as steep in some areas.
Quiessence’s Brick Oven Table at South Mountain
Rev up the romance and reserve the exclusive Quiessence’s Brick Oven Table at South Mountain. The customized dining experience for two to four people each night is set among pecan groves and vegetable gardens in an old-time Arizona ranch house. The multi-course dinner offers such food as pan-roasted monkfish medallions and a savoy cabbage wrap filled with guinea hen and foie gras.
DETAILS: thefarmatsouthmountain.com. 6106 S. 32nd St. 602-276-0601.
Compass Arizona Grill
Dine atop the Compass Arizona Grill at the Hyatt Regency. Perched like a flying saucer on the 24th floor of the hotel, the revolving restaurant opened in 1976 and is the only Arizona restaurant of its kind. Reserve a window seat 30 minutes before sundown to watch the sun glint off Phoenix landmarks.
DETAILS: phoenix.hyatt.com. 122 N. 2nd St. 602-440-3166.
Musical Instrument Museum
Play the theremin at the Musical Instrument Museum in Phoenix. Or not. But do check it out. With more than 15,000 instruments from hundreds of cultures, the place is pure fun.
DETAILS: mim.org. 4725 E. Mayo Blvd. 480-478-6000.
Tour Tovrea Castle, the structure that resembles a wedding cake, seen from the Loop 202 freeway. Built in 1929, it was later sold to cattle baron E.A. Tovrea and wife Della. The kitchen has a bullet hole from when Della was robbed and beaten in 1968. She died two months later.
DETAILS: tovreacastletours.com. 5025 E. Van Buren St. 602-256-3221.
Splurge with an overnight stay at the Arizona Biltmore. Architect Frank Lloyd Wright consulted on the design of the hotel, which opened in 1929. The Ocotilla wing features upgrades of everything from bed linens, bathroom shampoo and French press coffeemakers. It has hosted many a U.S. president and countless Hollywood royalty.
DETAILS: arizonabiltmore.com. 2400 E. Missouri Ave. 602-955-6600.
With 1,200 animals, there’s always some swinging (and crawling and scurrying) at the Phoenix Zoo. But this zoo knows how to throw a party. ZooLights from November through January features more than 500 light sculptures and two different Music in Motion shows. Boo! at the Zoo! in October spotlights amphibians with costumes, games, music and crafts. Winter in July beats the heat with real snow, animal feedings of fish-sicles, blood-sicles, fruit-sicles and other ice-cold treats and water play areas.
DETAILS: phoenixzoo.org. 455 N. Galvin Parkway. 602-286-3800.
Grand Avenue Festival
The neighborhood Grand Avenue Festival in the fall celebrates the quirky qualities of Grand Avenue. There’s the “Recycled Rubbish” fashion show and arts, crafts and music that reflect the area’s diversity. The one-day festival includes tours of old buildings such as the former motel, Oasis on Grand, that is now apartments.
Spook yourself with a candlelit Halloween tour of the Rosson House. Built in 1895, its Gothic features provide the perfect backdrop for stories of unexplained footsteps, turning keys and creepy sensations. If no ghosts are spotted at least you can see the Victorian residence’s antique furnishings, tin ceilings, and parquet floors of oak, walnut and mahogany.
DETAILS: heritagesquarephx.org. 113 N. 6th St. 602-261-8063.
Rock ‘n’ Roll Arizona Marathon
Elite runners and weekend party types alike look forward to January’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Arizona Marathon. The musical marathon is a fun-and-run event that emphasizes entertainment and a bucket-list experience with a run through Papago Park before a post-race beer and concert or dinner.
By: The Republic | azcentral.com