Arts & Entertainment

  • BEST PLACE TO PLAY POKER WITHOUT LOSING YOUR SHIRT

    Horse & Hound - CLOSED

    The only thing that keeps us away from a poker table is our serious and committed relationship with money. (Well, that and a large man with a concealed weapons permit who really hates losing.) Lucky for us, we found the Horse & Hound on a Saturday night, where two free poker tournaments -- run by the Nationwide Poker Tour (www.pokerplayersinc.com)… More >>
  • BEST TEXAS HOLD 'EM

    Casino Arizona's Talking Stick Poker Room - CLOSED

    Other casinos might throw a gimmick or two your way to get you through the door for a poker tournament, but none offers the action you'll find at Talking Stick, home to the best cash players in the Valley. With 45 tables of nonstop poker (most tables offer Texas Hold 'Em, but you'll also find Omaha and seven-card stud),… More >>
  • BEST OFF-TRACK BETTING

    Gallagher's Food & Fun

    For Valley urbanites who think dog tracks like Turf Paradise are just too doggone far away, there's an abundance of off-track-betting sites scattered across our sprawl. These havens for bombastic betting behavior are usually found inside assorted sports bars and taverns and allow wagering on races at numerous dog and horse tracks both locally and around the nation, with remote… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO PONY UP

    Turf Paradise

    Take a break from the strip malls, the freeways, the dog eat dog of the real world, and break for the ponies. Few things in life are as satisfying as leaning against the fence at the finish line, nursing a drink and looking left to catch the first glimpse of the pack coming home. If your horse finishes out of… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO FIND COLLEGE KIDS PLAYING HIDE-AND-SEEK

    Wal-Mart Supercenter Store #2768

    Sometimes college students need to just let loose, get a little crazy and occasionally get escorted out of a building after a bit of debauchery. Spending your nights on Mill Avenue can get old. The real place to catch raucous 18- to 22-year-olds mid-shenanigans is at Wal-Mart. By midnight, at least 10 people will be running, yelling and climbing over… More >>
  • BEST SLIDE

    Rustler's Rooste

    Face it: Steak houses can be pretty bland. The menu of most typical wood-paneled, sawdust-on-the-floor family restaurants can easily be replicated on the grill at home if you know your way around a kitchen. But throw in a giant steel slide that propels you into the dining room at relatively scary velocities, and you've got Rustler's Rooste. The designer of… More >>
  • BEST WAY TO SCORE A HO WITHOUT CATCHING VD

    Hookers . . . on Van Buren

    It's late on a Saturday night in the PHX. You've just downed a dozen Seven and Sevens at the strip club Band Aids. There's a $20 bill left in your wallet, and before you know it, you're rollin' down Van Buren, checking the ho stroll for a 10-minute GFE (Girl Friend Experience). Don't do it, bro! Sure, you might have… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO DRINK AND THEN DRIVE

    GameWorks

    Shhh! Don't tell. The other night we went for a little spin while seriously soused. With our bloodstream filled with more booze than John Q. Law permits, we hopped into a souped-up streetcar and set out broadsiding Caddies and crashing through cinderblocks on a private path of destruction. Don't fret; you're not going to be seeing our mugs on the… More >>
  • BEST CHEAP THRILL

    Bobby's Rock Trail, Echo Canyon Recreation Area

    There are few breathtaking views in town to be had as easily as the one from Echo Canyon. Around here, getting high enough up a mountain to get a panoramic view tends to involve hiking for miles, purchasing a $12 cocktail, or even finding a sugar daddy. (How else are you going to buy that manse in Paradise Valley, real… More >>
  • BEST NOT-SO-CHEAP THRILL

    The Phoenician

    The palm trees that stand dramatically at attention along the entrance to this posh resort should give you some clue: Nothing about this place is going to be subtle. Or even quietly luxurious (except perhaps in the meditation room of the spa). The Phoenician is shiny and rich, a paean to the joys of having money. Its premier restaurant, the… More >>
  • BEST FUNKY WEEKEND GETAWAY

    Francisco Grande Resort

    With an $8 million overhaul, the main tower of the Francisco Grande Resort has been returned to its swingin' modernist splendor, circa 1961. Once the haunt of the likes of John Wayne and Willie Mays, Francisco Grande, about 40 miles south of Phoenix, went through several decades of slow decay before its recent restoration. It was a structure worth… More >>
  • BEST BOUTIQUE HOTEL

    Sanctuary Camelback Mountain

    We've learned the hard way that boutique hotel does not always equal luxury hotel. Don't be sucked in by a fancy lobby and a ritzy bar -- it doesn't mean your room will be up to par. When we're looking for luxury in an intimate setting, we head up the mountain to Sanctuary, which offers a great view of the… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO HIDE IN YOUR HOTEL ROOM

    Four Seasons Resort Scottsdale at Troon North

    The Valley's own Four Seasons is perhaps best known for its location, snuggled up against Pinnacle Peak, with beautiful views of the landscape, the perfect home base for a serious hike. But if you're serious about relaxing, this is also the place for you. We recently checked in and checked out -- that is, passed out, in a king-size bed… More >>
  • BEST SPA

    Camelback Inn

    Every year, we try new spas in this town (it's hard to keep up with the craze), and every year, we rush back to the comforts of the spa at the Camelback Inn. From the thick white robes to the cushy pool chaises, we're relaxed and happy, sipping the spa's signature tea, swiping on its own special lotion. We've never… More >>
  • BEST SPA FOR MEN

    Willow Stream at the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess

    The male staffers -- excuse us, "experience coordinators" -- at the five-diamond Fairmont's elegant Willow Stream spa are pleased as prickly pear punch when another guy shows up to check out the 44,000-square-foot multilevel pampering place. Willow Stream was recently essayed in the New York Times as one of the West's foremost examples of the new male-friendly resort spa, and… More >>
  • BEST RESORT POOL

    Hyatt Regency Scottsdale at Gainey Ranch

    The best resort pools are the wet dreams you can still sneak into without springing for a room card key; where a casual flip of a wrought-iron fence latch and a confident "been here since Thursday" attitude is enough to keep security from tapping you on the shoulder, even if you have just wandered in from your sun-baked Honda. In… More >>
  • BEST ROOFTOP POOL

    The San Carlos Hotel

    Sipping chilled martinis poolside, draped across a whitewashed deck chair, the breezy air whispering over you as beads of sweat gather beneath the rim of a shady sun hat, you stir. Squint a little and, because you're at the San Carlos Hotel, you can almost imagine Mae West basking beside you. Given a time machine and a little luck, this… More >>
  • BEST COMPETITIVE POOL

    Mona Plummer Aquatic Center at Arizona State University

    If knocking down 3,000 meters an hour sounds like fun, then this is the pool where you'll want to do your flip turns. The outdoor facility features a very fast eight-lane, 50-meter Olympic pool that is 25 yards wide, allowing for both short-course and long-course training. The six-foot-deep pool is equipped with wave-absorbing gutters that keep the water smooth as… More >>
  • BEST POOL SHAPED LIKE A BONE

    Applewood Pet Resort

    Here in the Best of Phoenix, we won't tell you where to get a boob job or a nose job; we don't even want to recommend our favorite tattoo artist. And we certainly won't tell you where to board your best friend, man. But we do feel comfortable saying that Applewood Pet Resort has the coolest pool around -- 30… More >>
  • BEST DOG PARK, NORTH PHOENIX

    North side of East Paradise Lane, between 58th and 60th streets

    A dog's version of the Holy Grail, or should we say Growl, this greenbelt oasis provides canines of all shapes and sizes a sweet outdoor locale to sniff and be sniffed. At sunrise and sunset, the pups (and, alas, their owners) convene on what sometimes serves as a soccer field for the daily meet and greet. Miss Jack Russell terrier,… More >>
  • BEST DOG PARK, WEST VALLEY

    Foothills Park

    Located next to the Foothills Library parking lot, this gated, "leash-optional" dog park draws people and pups of every persuasion, and it's not unusual to see Great Danes and dachshunds romping together. The park includes ramps, a watering area, and random toys scattered throughout the grass, so the dogs can let loose while their owners socialize (you didn't think that… More >>
  • BEST DOG PARK, TEMPE

    Mitchell Park

    We're fashionable folk, but even we need to dress up to visit Tempe's favorite dog park. The leash-free zone is a hipster haven. These scenesters may look pissed off when you see them at a coffee shop or an art gallery, but they are still good mommies and daddies to their cute wittle puppies. Make no mistake: Taking the pup… More >>
  • BEST DOG PARK, SCOTTSDALE

    Horizon Park

    Horizon Park is small -- just two-thirds of an acre -- compared to other Valley dog parks, but what it lacks in space, it makes up in amenities (this is north Scottsdale, after all). You and Bowser will find a large, shaded area, as well as a special dust-control feature that allows you -- with the push of a button… More >>
  • BEST DOG PARK, SOUTHEAST VALLEY

    Quail Run Park

    We should really give this puppy hangout "Best Name for a Dog Park" because we bet if there are any quail in the vicinity, they certainly do run fast, to escape Rover. The off-leash doggy portion of this Mesa park is more than three acres, completely fenced and featuring benches, water fountains for both dogs and humans, and poop bags… More >>
  • BEST HISTORY LESSON CLEVERLY DISGUISED AS A PARK

    Steele Indian School Park

    A surprisingly big city park at the intersection of Central Avenue and Indian School Road, four-year-old Steele Indian School Park has a little something for everyone: swings for the kids, a lake with trout and bass for anglers, and a very cool spiral of a garden for quiet reflection. But the best part of the park has got to… More >>
  • BEST PARK FOR ICE BLOCKING

    Freestone Park

    If you're unfamiliar with the quasi-sport of ice blocking -- the act of locating a steep hill, plopping your bum down on a big block of ice and getting a push from a friend in order to bobsled silly down a grassy hill -- you really haven't lived. Or maybe you are actually sane. Epic ice-blocking opportunities are aplenty at… More >>
  • BEST BIKE SHOP

    Domenic's Cycling

    Wouldn't you know it? Turn your back for one minute, and some mysterious bicycle bandit has snatched the phat beach cruiser you use to get around town. Looks like you're gonna have to beat feet down to Domenic Malvestuto's Mill Avenue bike business to score a new ride. Willing to drop a couple Gs? The helpful staff of cycle psychos… More >>
  • BEST SKATEBOARD SHOP

    Pulse Boardshop

    Pulse, which this summer celebrated its first anniversary in what owner Erik Beckmann predicts will be the Valley's next extreme-sports mecca -- Goodyear ("It's blowin' up out here!" he says) -- strikes the perfect medium between the hard-core street cred of Cowtown and the board-park mom friendliness of the industrial mall shops. "I like to say, 'We put the… More >>
  • BEST OLD-SCHOOL SKATEBOARD PARK

    Chandler Skatepark

    The city's outdoor skate parks have become a battlefield of sorts between young and old skateboarders and even BMX bike riders, who all want to claim the turf as their own. One thing they all seem in agreement on is that the sprawling concrete playground occupying a corner of the Snedigar Sportsplex in Chandler, just south of the Bashas' headquarters… More >>
  • BEST NEW SKATEBOARD PARK

    Tempe Sports Complex Skate Park

    While Tempe's city government was very late to acknowledge its local skating scene, it delivered a winner with this new park, which opened in February. Area skaters are raving about the street-oriented course, saying it is by far the best in the state. Spread across 26,000 square feet, the well-lighted concrete park is attracting the top skaters in the region… More >>
  • BEST INDOOR SKATEBOARD PARK

    Phoenix Skatepark - CLOSED

    Skateboarding might not be a crime, but those damn punks seem to always find ways to get busted. Thankfully, Phoenix has the state's only indoor park at Metrocenter, where kids can skate 40 hours a week for less than the cost of a trespassing citation. To shred through Phoenix Skatepark's 36,000 square feet of pipes, bowls and street courses --… More >>
  • BEST PAINTBALL PARK

    Westworld Xtreme Pursuit Paintball Adventures

    Many of the Valley's outdoor paintball parks look like glorified junkyards, littered with precisely the kind of old industrial waste barrels and weathered wooden fortresses your mother would've warned you not to play on -- which, of course, is part of the appeal. But at Westworld's indoor Xtreme Pursuit, a cavernous warehouse stuck in the shadow of the Grand Avenue… More >>
  • BEST UNOFFICIAL PAINTBALL PARK

    Jomax Drive, west of Cave Creek Road, Phoenix

    The dedicated pay-to-spray parks around the city all offer their own unique charms, bunkers and hiding spots. But these days the serious splatter-junkies stock up on their own paintball guns, paint, air and wear, and head out north of Phoenix on Cave Creek Road until just beyond the canal overpass, where a winding ride on a bumpy dirt path takes… More >>
  • BEST BOWLING

    Saturday Night Live Monthly League

    The operative word here is "monthly." While there are a few ringers and rabid pinheads lurking about with their death-head balls and pro-style gear, the demographic of this nifty league tends toward amateur to midlevel bowlers with little time to spare. (Speaking of sparing, we recently witnessed a lanky young lady heft an air ball halfway down the lane, where… More >>
  • BEST COSMIC BOWLING

    AMF Frontier Lanes

    Got a few hours to kill before your fave Scottsdale danceteria opens? Join your pin pals for a few frames of Cosmic Bowling (a.k.a. Xtreme Bowling) at the nearby Frontier Lanes, before trying to talk your way past the doorman at CBNC. Although many Valley alleys have been lowering their lights and blowing out their loudspeakers with Steppenwolf or Meat… More >>
  • BEST GO-KARTS

    Speedway Raceway - CLOSED

    It'll cost you about $1,200 a day to get your speed fix driving race-ready Corvette C5s out at Bob Bondurant's School of High Performance Driving. For most of us, that just ain't gonna happen, particularly on any regular basis. For us, there's Speedway Raceway, where racing is so intelligently miniaturized it gives you a super-size thrill at a teeny-weeny… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO DRIVE FAST AND FURIOUS

    Speedworld Raceway Park - CLOSED

    Crotch rockets. Imports with supercharged engines, injected with nitrous oxide for extra speed. Tricked-out Mustangs that are all show and no go. Hoochie-mamas that can do a neck roll to beat Mr. Fantastic. Fly bitches that'll make you drool like a fool. These are just some of the sights you'll peep if you head up to Speedworld in Wittmann… More >>
  • BEST MOTORCYCLE RIDE

    Phoenix to Prescott via Wickenburg

    The first 40 miles on U.S. 60 are nondescript desert. Flat, but with not a lot of traffic -- given the sparse population in these parts, you should be able to get through this in a half-hour or less. A few miles past Wickenburg, things get interesting as you begin the ascent to 5,200 feet on State Highway 89. Highway… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO RIDE YOUR MOTORCYCLE REALLY, REALLY FAST

    State Highway 238 between Maricopa and Sonoran Desert National Monument

    Carbon buildups are bad, and downright dangerous for the modern exhaust system. In the interests of safety and proper maintenance, the conscientious motorcycle rider must occasionally remove small carbon deposits before they have a chance to become big ones. And there's only one way to blow carbon out of your pipes. You need a road less traveled, a place where… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO CATCH A WAVE

    Big Surf

    Of the Valley's three water parks, all owned by the Mesa-based Golfland Entertainment Centers, only Big Surf offers a wave pool where you can actually ride the waves -- and even then, the only spot the curls break strong enough to carry your rental raft all the way in to shore is at the three-foot depth marker, about two acres… More >>
  • BEST MINIATURE GOLF

    Golfland/Sunsplash

    Sandwiched between the barreling tube slides of the entertainment complex's water park and its oddly secluded bumper boat lagoon, the mini golf course at Golfland/Sunsplash wins points for funneling the park's fascination with H2O throughout the typically hot, hot, hot putt-putt setting. It takes the average player a few holes into the course to notice the elaborate Rube Goldberg-like contraption… More >>
  • BEST QUICKIE GOLF COURSE FOR DOWNTOWN WORKERS

    Encanto 9-Hole Golf Course

    So you're sick of the grind -- the tough morning commute, the uptight boss, the boring gig. And you like to whack the little white ball around now and then. Then why wait for the weekend, when there's so many other things facing you? The Encanto courses may not be as challenging or as beautiful as any of the fancier… More >>
  • BEST MUNICIPAL GOLF COURSE

    Bear Creek Golf Course

    A good city golf course must have open arms to all ages, skill levels and pocketbooks. And if it's a city course in a course-saturated and golf-crazy place like the Valley, it needs to offer good golf, too. Bear Creek in south Chandler fits both bills. Besides offering good golf at a great price, the course has an expansive… More >>
  • BEST PUBLIC GOLF COURSE

    Gold Canyon Golf Resort's Dinosaur Course

    On the Dinosaur Course at Gold Canyon Golf Resort, central Arizona's most spectacular mountains are on full display as you play one of Arizona's most impressive golf courses. Nowhere else do you feel like you're getting the vistas you'd find on a long, challenging hike when you're actually in a golf cart. The Dinosaur Course, simply put, is a unique… More >>
  • BEST GOLF WEEKEND GETAWAY

    Apache Stronghold

    Apache Stronghold remains Golfweek magazine's top golf course in Arizona. This is heady stuff, and certainly debatable. Better than Troon North? The Boulders? Grayhawk? That's like saying Ferrari is better than Lamborghini. It's more a matter of taste than quality. But for a weekend golf getaway from Phoenix, especially in July or August, particularly if you're not a trust-fund… More >>
  • BEST THING TO HAPPEN TO GOLF SINCE THE CREATION OF THE 19TH HOLE

    BlueBallSports' "Putt-Her"

    Chris Wehrle and his mom, Candy Phelps, are at the top of our "Wish I'd Thought of That" list, thanks to their Putt-Her golf club, which is flying out of pro shops across the land. The Putt-Her, like those old stag-party ballpoint pens, displays a bikini-clad woman when you tip it over. Although Mom, a retired peddler of golf attire,… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO PLAY TENNIS

    Scottsdale Athletic Club

    Serious racqueteers are unanimous in their praise of the Scottsdale Athletic Club. The enterprise began decades ago as the Scottsdale Tennis Club and over the years has evolved into a full-fledged tennis, fitness and dining/banquet facility. The club's pride and joy are its 11 immaculate courts, each featuring a lighting system that is the equal of any tennis center in… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO CLIMB THE WALLS

    Phoenix Rock Gym

    Phoenix Rock Gym's personable owner Paul "Dief" Diefenderfer has been scaling the big buttes around Arizona for 30 years -- he favors Pinnacle Peak and the giant domes of Cochise Stronghold near Tucson -- and he designed his indoor rock gym, now situated just across from the APS power plant on University Drive in Tempe, as a small-scale replica of… More >>
  • BEST DAY HIKE

    Lost Goldmine Trail

    Perhaps because of its proximity to the hugely popular -- and stunning -- Peralta trailhead, this newish (c. 2001) trail seldom gets its props as one of the Valley's best. Don't make the same mistake. A 10-mile trek along the edge of the Superstitions, the Lost Goldmine Trail brings a hiker close to both giant saguaros and stunning mountain views… More >>
  • BEST KILLER HIKE

    Reavis Ranch Trail

    There are 170 miles of trails through the Superstition Mountains, which, by far, give hikers the most intense Sonoran Desert experiences within an hour of Phoenix. One of the longest, meanest and most rewarding hikes in the Superstitions begins at the Reavis Ranch Trailhead. From this trailhead, you can work yourself deep into the wilderness and onto several of… More >>
  • BEST SHABBY CHIC HIKE

    Papago Park

    Most people would stop at "shabby" when describing Papago Park, but we think it's one of the coolest and most underutilized hiking areas in the Valley. Yes, the Phoenix city park is something of a faded dowager; yes, it's trashy; yes, the pea-green muckhole generously termed a pond looks as if it might spontaneously combust; and no, the hiking here… More >>
  • BEST HIKE FOR THE FAMILY

    South Mountain Park's Telegraph Pass Trail

    Within a mile of all sorts of fast-food restaurants in Ahwatukee, you and the kids can set off on the Telegraph Pass Trail and quickly feel like you've left civilization. This one-and-a-half-mile trail offers fantastic views of the Valley as well as gorgeous desert flora and fauna, rugged Sonoran terrain and even a few petroglyphs. And when you're done, suburbia… More >>
  • BEST FALL DAY TRIP FOR THE FAMILY

    Boyce Thompson Arboretum State Park

    Boyce Thompson Arboretum is gorgeous and deeply informative any time of the year. But only in fall, as you walk the 1.5-mile path through the steep-walled Queen Creek Canyon, do you pass through hundreds of different tree species from ecosystems around the world changing colors together. It's a palette seen in few places on Earth. And surprisingly, most visitors come… More >>
  • BEST SPRING DAY TRIP FOR THE FAMILY

    Picacho Peak State Park

    Late February and early March is wildflower season in Arizona, something many locals had forgotten until the rains returned last winter, bringing the desert's incredible flowers this past spring. One of the most spectacular shows of color, and one of the most easily accessed, is Picacho Peak State Park 60 miles south of Phoenix, which, if you didn't know, is… More >>
  • BEST DRIVE BACK IN TIME

    The Apache Circle Route

    The narrow, serpentine Apache Trail cuts through deserts, around mountains, near cliff dwellings, along the shores of three lakes dammed up along the Salt River, past active copper-mining towns, and through beautifully eroded canyons. It's easy to see why this gorgeous 120-mile route has been a favorite of tourists since its completion in 1922. President Teddy Roosevelt described the route… More >>
  • BEST DRIVE TO SEE WILDFLOWERS

    Florence Junction to Oracle; San Manuel to Superior

    This wonderful day trip cuts through segments of spectacular cactus forest vistas interspersed with old copper-mining towns and steep mountain grades. The route is a favorite for motorcyclists and convertibles, with some choice camping and picnicking spots scattered along the way, and a couple of crusty watering holes in Florence, Oracle Junction, Mammoth, Kearney and Superior to help keep you… More >>
  • BEST WAY TO GET YOUR KIDS OFF THEIR BUTTS

    Racelab Jr.

    This is what P.E. was meant to be: stretching, training for races, and -- get this -- having fun. Some of the kids we've seen running around at the two parks where Racelab operates aren't in the best of shape. But they're getting there, and seem to be having such a good time that they forget they're -- yuck! --… More >>
  • BEST WAY TO TEACH YOUR KIDS TABLE MANNERS

    Table Graces at Bravo Bistro

    Kids will be kids, but do they have to have lousy table manners, too? Not according to Katie Hamati and Kim Frampton, founders and teachers of this hands-on, interactive class on proper table etiquette. Table Graces teaches Johnny and Janey (and perhaps their manners-impaired parents as well) which fork to use, when it's okay to use your fingers, and why… More >>
  • BEST WEEKEND SCENE FOR TEENS

    Desert Ridge Marketplace

    Every weekend night, a sea of teenage boys and girls makes its pilgrimage to this user-friendly outdoor mall. There, in what the mallsters call The District, the teens engage in the north Valley equivalent of the Mexican paseo, strolling around and around the outdoor heart of the mall to see and be seen. The teens are most welcome here, for… More >>
  • BEST ENTERTAINMENT FOR KIDS, STRINGS ATTACHED

    Great Arizona Puppet Theater

    We all know that the mass media dangle the strings of our little ones' minds -- must we utter the word Barney to make our point? But there are alternatives to the onslaught, and they're fun ones. Since 1983, the nonprofit Great Arizona Puppet Theater has been thrilling young audiences all over the state with its year-round performances. Puppet shows… More >>
  • BEST WAY TO COAX A KID INTO A HOT CAR

    Cold Seat

    We have to admit that we thought this was one of the dumbest inventions we'd ever heard of -- 'til a hot August afternoon when we scorched little thighs with seat belts, trying to coax our toddlers into the car, and thought, "Gee, why don't we have a Cold Seat or two?" Shari Griffin was tired of strapping her own… More >>
  • BEST STARBUCKS FOR SIGHTING SPORTS CELEBRITIES

    Starbucks

    We're not easily impressed. We're saying, we've seen our share of celebrity homies in this sun-baked metropolis: Alice Cooper, Glen Campbell. The list is, um, endless. But we've never seen either of them early in the morning, much less in the same place. And, before a year or two ago, we had never seen a local sports celebrity at all… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO SEE A DEFROCKED PEDOPHILE PRIEST CONSORT WITH JERRY COLANGELO

    The Phoenix Suns' Ring of Honor

    We almost choked on our popcorn last March 18 when, during halftime of a Phoenix Suns game, we spotted Monsignor Dale Fushek, once second in command of the Phoenix Roman Catholic Diocese, sitting alongside Jerry Colangelo and a score of other sports celebs as late legendary Suns coach Cotton Fitzsimmons became the 11th member of the Suns' Ring of Honor.… More >>
  • BEST PRO SPORTS TEAM

    Phoenix Suns

    Let's see. Best sports team? Duh! Ladies and gentlemen, your Phoenix Suns! With league MVP Steve Nash at the controls, the beast that is Amaré Stoudemire was unleashed, and Shawn Marion had a breakout season. Our very tall boys shattered the team NBA mark for three-pointers, with Quentin Richardson establishing the new individual standard while Coach of the Year Mike… More >>
  • BEST PRO ATHLETE

    Steve Nash, Phoenix Suns

    He looks like your quirky disheveled cousin who's supposedly on the edge of making a big breakthrough in the software industry. But he's not. Instead, this Canadian import took the town and the NBA by storm last season en route to winning Most Valuable Player honors. Everyone in town knows that the dude is a miracle on the hard courts… More >>
  • BEST SUNS-STROKE VICTIM

    Joe Johnson

    Now, we can certainly understand how a rich, young African-American celebrity would relish living in Blacklanta, the capital of Buppie America, but for Phoenix Suns shooting guard Joe Johnson to choose playing for the lowly Atlanta Hawks -- when he could get the same mega-money ($69 million and change over five years) playing for our elite pro basketballers -- is… More >>
  • BEST COLLEGE ATHLETE

    Ike Diogu

    Ike Diogu won over untold fans during his three wonderful years as the best college basketball player in these parts (hey, now, Arizona Wildcats fans), and it wasn't just for his uncanny ability to stick a ball through a hoop. We liked Ike because he wasn't a suck-up or a stuck-up, but a put-up, a team guy who won the… More >>
  • BEST SUPERFAN

    Rattler Man

    By day, Richard Rodriguez is a mild-mannered airplane mechanic for Timco Aviation. After nightfall, however, the 50-year-old Phoenix resident transmogrifies into his sensational alter ego known as Rattler Man. If you're wondering just who this snake-themed superhero is, you're obviously not going to enough Arizona Rattlers games. But fear not, foolish mortal, Rodriguez is. Dressed in an elaborate costume… More >>
  • BEST SPORTS FACILITY

    Surprise Recreation Campus

    Stand out in the thick haze of dust on a patchwork Little League field in the Milwaukee Brewers' abandoned spring training facility in south Chandler, and you'll learn to appreciate just how cool the Surprise Recreation Campus really is. While East Valley suburbs such as Chandler lag behind in providing quality sports facilities (not to mention quality sports events) for… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO SEE A SPRING TRAINING GAME

    Peoria Sports Complex

    The Peoria Sports Complex is like a megaplex for baseball. Over here, you can watch Ichiro and the Seattle Mariners getting primed for the upcoming season. Over there, Khalil Greene and his Padres compadres are taking infield. And in most any direction, Padre and Mariner hopefuls are practicing some baseball fundamental on some gorgeous field under some beautiful springtime sky.… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO SPOT SPRING TRAINING PLAYERS OFF THE FIELD

    Babe's Cabaret

    We conducted a wholly unscientific survey to determine the best place to spot baseball players in town for spring training. Of the three guys (and trust us, these are men in the know) we asked, each said the same thing, before the question was even complete: Babe's. We won't tell you who we've heard hangs out at the Scottsdale… More >>
  • BEST PARK FOR PICKUP BASKETBALL,EAST SIDE

    Jaycee Park

    Less than a mile away from the concrete of downtown Tempe sits a seven-acre green neighborhood park -- and home to some serious rim-rocking pickup basketball. True, the courts at Jaycee Park are sparse (just two), but the competition is the real deal. On Thursday evenings, be prepared to wait 30 minutes before taking on the winning team to a… More >>
  • BEST PARK FOR PICKUP BASKETBALL, WEST SIDE

    Encanto Park Sports Complex

    According to hometown ballers, the only basketball game in town -- even when the Suns are playing at home -- takes place on Sunday nights at Encanto Park. With the aged Veterans' Memorial Coliseum as the backdrop, play alongside the best local talent from the high school, college and neighborhood levels during the Sunday jam session. The games have a… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO WATCH AMARÉ STOUDEMIRE PLAY FOR FREE

    Scottsdale Community College

    It's no secret that pro athletes love to get their recreational, off-season game on (sans paycheck) in the Valley. You'll frequently find NFL players like Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb and ex-Cardinal Simeon Rice hooping it up inside the student rec center at Arizona State University or the LA Fitness at Town & Country Shopping Center, respectively. Major Leaguers Nomar… More >>
  • BEST PLACE FOR PUTTIN' ON THE BLITZ

    Ritz-Carlton Hotel

    If you can stand to vacate your lucky armchair on Saturdays and Sundays, you'll be rewarded handsomely -- if not with a win by your favorite pro or college football team, then at least with a pigskin party fit for an MVP. The Ritz's Executive Football Club boasts three big-screen plasma TVs, laptop computers for fantasy geeks, an all-you-can-eat "tailgate… More >>
  • BEST URBAN FISHING

    Encanto Lake

    Our out-of-state buddies love teasing us about how the only bodies of water we have around these parts are the various "fake lakes" dotting the arid local landscape. "Back where we come from, ponds don't need to be filled with recycled toilet water," they exclaim, before deluging us with their various fish tales. Despite the contempt, our so-called friends would… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO DANCE WITH THE BUTTERFLIES

    Marshall Butterfly Pavilion, Desert Botanical Garden

    Every fall and spring, thousands of folks flutter over to this desert sanctuary to join the butterflies in an orgy of color and movement. Inside the pavilion, surrounded by native foliage and blooming wildflowers, the humans observe the butterflies in all their glory. Those really in the know can tell the Sleepy Orange from the Painted Lady, and the Southern… More >>
  • BEST VIEW OF THE VALLEY

    I-10 eastbound Just past the I-17 interchange

    If you're motoring into Phoenix from Los Angeles after the mind-numbing negative space of the Mojave and Sonoran deserts -- or even just returning from a visit to the West Valley -- this perspective of downtown and uptown with the Phoenix Mountains and Camelback Mountain looming to the left is simply breathtaking. This elevated stretch of eastbound 10 is one… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO FIND FUN AND GAMES

    Fun Services

    We love a parade, but we love a carnival even more -- you know, an old-fashioned, cheesy cake walk of a good time. But where to find the accouterment? We discovered rows of old cardboard boxes stuffed with carnival goods at Fun Services, an oddly named warehouse of a party store in Tempe. The store stocks all the best… More >>

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