Arts & Entertainment

  • BEST SIN BY A VALLEY SPORTS STAR

    Raja Bell

    Back in the day, the Valley's pro athletes were, well, human. Every month or so, one of them would drive drunk, or very fast, or kick someone's ass, or pinch someone's ass, or stalk their ex, or get caught with some dope, or blow, or say something racist, or sexist, or profoundly stupid, or knock somebody up who wasn't their… More >>
  • BEST SAINT ON THE FIELD

    Kurt Warner

    Kurt Warner seems like a good guy, and he certainly came to the Arizona Cardinals with great credentials as an NFL quarterback: a Super Bowl ring. The fact that he was injured much of last year may have had a lot to do with why the Cards turned in such a terrible season, and it led to criticism that he's… More >>
  • BEST PRO SPORTS TEAM

    The Phoenix Suns, of course

    Now, how could we give this coveted award to anybody but the Phoenix Suns, who made it to the NBA conference finals twice in the past two years? Hell, there's no other team that's come close to doing that since the Arizona Diamondbacks won the World Series in 2001, and now they suck (okay, not as bad as they did… More >>
  • BEST PRO ATHLETE

    Shawn "The Matrix" Marion

    Yeah, we've heard about Phoenix Suns point guard Steve Nash's work ethic. About injury-riddled center-forward Amarι Stoudemire's future as the most dominant player in the NBA. But when it comes to bringing it home night in and night out for the Suns, there's only been Shawn Marion. The sportscasters in town talk about the "underrated" Shawn Marion, the "overlooked" Shawn… More >>
  • BEST COLLEGE ATHLETE

    Rudy Burgess

    Diehard Sun Devil football fans still remember the 2004 season, when then-freshman Rudy Burgess, filling in for ASU's decimated running back corps, pounded and punished Stanford defenders on his way to a 34-carry, 186-yard Herculean performance that left him immobile for two weeks. And after that come-from-behind victory, any casual team follower knows that without the big-game showings of the… More >>
  • BEST COOL NEW ATHLETE IN TOWN

    Eric Byrnes

    Arizona Diamondbacks center fielder Eric Byrnes is crazy. That's the first thing any knowledgeable baseball fan or professional ballplayer will tell you. He makes crazy plays in the outfield, he's crazy on the base paths, he has a crazy sense of humor. He just follows his own wacky muse. After all, Byrnsey played for the Oakland Athletics, and the antics… More >>
  • BEST PRETTY BOY ATHLETE

    Matt Leinart

    Come on, he dated Paris Hilton! He quarterbacked the University of Southern California Trojans to one national championship and nearly a second, winning a Heisman Trophy in the process. When everybody thought he'd come out of college to a fat NFL contract a couple of years ago, he opted to stay at USC for his senior season. Though that didn't… More >>
  • BEST SPORTS HAIR

    Steve Nash

    We know, we know . . . Steve Nash, National Basketball Association most valuable player over the past two years, has cut his flowing locks. No, he's done more than that — he's shaved his pate. Those pictures of Little Stevie Wonder (sorry, that's what sportscasters have taken to calling him) running around on soccer fields this past summer… More >>
  • BEST SPORTS GRILL

    Edgerrin James

    We almost fell over dead when Edgerrin James signed with the Arizona Cardinals. But there he was holding up his red and white number 32 jersey and grinning at the camera with that grill of gold teeth, dreadlocks hanging around his face. James is among the top running backs in the NFL these days, and we just couldn't see him… More >>
  • BEST ERECTION

    Cardinals Stadium

    There's an old saying about teams like the Arizona Cardinals, who for 18 years played in cavernous Sun Devil Stadium in front of thousands of fans disguised as empty seats: The stadium was vast, but for the most part, the team on the field was only half-vast. But hold on to your seats — things may be looking up for… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO SEE A SPRING TRAINING GAME

    Hohokam Stadium

    Since 1997, the folks running Hohokam Stadium have kept the price of the lawn seats at five bucks. Five bucks to watch the Cubbies, for God's sake! Five bucks to watch the ebullient Cubs fans before the Cubs have been able to begin losing any real games, when Cubs fans are still happy-go-lucky drunks rather than the sour drunks, like… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO SPOT SPRING TRAINING PLAYERS OFF THE FIELD

    Sluggo's Sports Grill

    The Chicago Cubs may be cursed, but that doesn't mean local fans wouldn't want a 'graph from John Mabry or Derrek Lee. Sluggo's is a natural post-practice watering hole for Cactus League players. It's only a mile from the Fitch Park training grounds the Cubs have called their home away from home since 1979. It's also the closest thing to… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO SEE MERCURY PLAYERS OFF THE COURT

    Einstein Bros Bagels

    The statuesque ladies of the WNBA are not to be found cruising the nightclubs of Snottsdale en masse. Whether it's because they're clean-living, underpaid, or a little of both, Phoenix Mercury hoopsters tend to fuel up for practices and games at this friendly little cafe in the Safeway shopping center at Seventh Street and McDowell Road. We're not suggesting stalking… More >>
  • BEST PRO SPORTSWRITER

    Joe Reaves

    Sorry if this turns out to be the kiss of death for what must be a dream beat for a sports nut like Joe Reaves — the national baseball writer for our usually wretched daily rag. We appreciate his knowledge of the game and love of offbeat takes, such as his clever look back at the infamous 1919 Black Sox… More >>
  • BEST SUPER FAN

    Mike "Tee Guy" Crowley

    When we think "super fan," embarrassing images of shirtless drunk dudes painted team colors come to mind. Gross. That's why we were so delighted to discover Mike "Tee Guy" Crowley — an ASU football fan so devoted, he has a cult following of his own. And he keeps his shirt on. For the past 12 seasons, Crowley has served… More >>
  • BEST PRO WRESTLING SHRINE

    Eddie Guerrero's grave at Green Acres Mortuary & Cemetery

    As caustic comedian George Carlin once opined, "Death makes you popular." Nowhere in town is this truer than with the gravesite of popular pro wrestler Eddie Guerrero. Ever since the World Wrestling Entertainment superstar known as "Latino Heat" was body-slammed into the ground last November at the Scottsdale cemetery, hundreds of wrestlemaniacs from around the Valley and across the country… More >>
  • BEST CHEAP THRILL

    Arizona Falls

    Ask Phoenix newbies what they miss most after moving to the desert, and, whether they say Seattle's rain, Michigan's lakes, or California's beaches, the common denominator is usually water. Which is why this way-cool waterfall, a collaboration by Salt River Project, the Phoenix Art Commission, and the Arcadia neighborhood, is just the place to take 'em. Stand here on a… More >>
  • BEST NOT-SO-CHEAP THRILL

    Skydive Arizona

    Most everyone has dreamed of skydiving. But the gap between dream and actually jumping out of some plane at 13,000 feet above Arizona can be, um — analogy, please? Yes, of course, as big as the gap between you and the ground you're terrified of being pancaked on. This first jump, seemingly a jump to oblivion, must be handled by… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO CLIMB THE WALLS

    Phoenix Rock Gym

    We're all for physical fitness (uh . . . in theory, at least), but the treadmill is so damn boring, and lifting weights is for meatheads. So we're stoked on the workout we can get dangling 30 feet in the air at Phoenix Rock Gym. The first trip to the top of the wall is a little scary, but it… More >>
  • BEST BEGINNER'S CLIMB

    Praying Monk, Camelback Mountain

    Enough, already — it's time to get out of the rock gym and climb outdoors. We know indoor climbing walls are fun, but they are to climbing what stationary bikes are to cycling. And there's no better first climb to conquer than Praying Monk. Camelback Mountain is right in the middle of the Valley, meaning that if you really screw… More >>
  • BEST ADVENTURE CLIMB

    Weaver's Needle

    Mountains must be climbed because they are there, but some people also feel compelled to stand on all big, pointy things. Show us any rock tower, pinnacle, cone or spire and we'll find a photo of someone showing off on top of the damned thing. So we understand if you've been looking with desire at Weaver's Needle, a stubby finger… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO GET HIGH AND SEE STARS

    ASU Astronomy Open House

    Don't be alarmed if you happen to hear indecipherable nerd babble echoing off the fluorescent bathed hallways of ASU's Bateman Physical Science building. That's because Physics and Astronomy graduate students are high off cool neutrons and totally hot electrons during the department's free open house. Every last Friday of the month from September through November and February through April, the… More >>
  • BEST PLACE FOR A SELF-CONFIDENCE-BUILDING WORKOUT

    Central Boxing Club

    Don't be intimidated if you see Mike Tyson working out nearby, because what the Central Boxing Club is more about is honing the pugilistic skills of average folks. Really. Iron Mike and other big-name fighters, including Julio Cesar Chavez, have trained at the club. But the main emphasis of general manager Harwood Hamilton, a former champion on the Toughman… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO BALLROOM DANCE

    Lou's Tivoli Gardens

    Even with the revived popularity of ballroom dancing, thanks to reality television, it's no surprise that we found the best ballroom dancing in Sun City, a town where "flashing" involves showing a guy your AARP card, and "bar hopping" means getting up to order a brandy without using your walker. Every Thursday through Sunday, Lou's Tivoli Gardens hosts dine-and-dance night,… More >>
  • BEST RED STATE ACTIVITY

    Manzanita Speedway - CLOSED

    With NASCAR and Formula One on such a posh high these days, it's good to know that them good ol' boys are still holding down the redneck racing fort at "The Track That Action Built." Instead of mega-corporate sponsors and luxury suites garnished with shrimp and fine wines, Manzy offers $2 bean burros, cheap beer, and free dirt clods in… More >>
  • BEST GO-KARTS

    Speedway Raceway - CLOSED

    Okay, so it's all just a fantasy. But we've seen this particular fantasy — the one about becoming a world-class NASCAR competitor taking the checkered flag at some super-cool international drag race — overtake even our stuffiest friends. There's something about the thrill of zipping around Speedway Raceway's curvy quarter-mile indoor track in a 270cc Honda-powered Indy-style go-kart that morphs… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO BUILD A CHOPPER

    Wicked Bros

    Ever since Jesse James swag began to outsell Mary-Kate and Ashley stuff at Wal-Mart, everyone and his mom seems to want a pimped-out chopper. The only problem — a true boutique chopper is both difficult and expensive to build. That's where the Wicked Bros come in. They've been building custom sleds and chops since long before the Discovery Channel… More >>
  • BEST CAR CLUB

    The Invaders

    Local car enthusiasts Syd "The Squid" and Tammy Chase love chopping and reconcocting vintage cars so much that the vehicles fill the driveway, front yard, and backyard of the couple's Glendale home, sometimes spilling out onto the street. Not all of the cars belong to the Chases — since they founded The Invaders car club in 1998, more than 20… More >>
  • BEST BIKE SHOP

    Tempe Bicycle

    Good bike shops are a lot like good bars: They have their own smell, their own special mood. They are not too clean, they are not too new, they are staffed with people who might otherwise not be employed. They are not designed off some corporate template for success, but rather off someone's obsession. Tempe Bicycle is a good bike… More >>
  • BEST SKATEBOARD SHOP

    Scottsdale Sidewalk Surfer

    Dude, where's my board? As far as we can tell, no one can beat this popular Scottsdale spot when it comes to pimpin' your concrete ride. The walls are lined with brand names like Zoo York, Flip, Toy Machine and Alien Workshop, organized by manufacturer. The shop stocks more than 500 boards, and there are several glass display cases filled… More >>
  • BEST SKATEBOARD PARK

    Foothills Sk8 Court Plaza

    For anyone who needs proof that the JimmyZ-totin', Future Primitive-watchin' second generation of baby boomers is coming of legal age, look no further than the slew of skate parks that have popped up around town in the past few years. One of the latest and greatest, the bowl and street course in northwest Glendale, often plays host to hundreds of… More >>
  • BEST PAINTBALL PARK

    WestWorld Xtreme Pursuit Paintball

    How do you separate friend from enemy? Shoot 'em first and worry about that later. WestWorld's paintball experience is a safe way to get out all of your pent-up aggression. Target your opponents as they try to hide behind hay bales and stealthily sneak around corners. Aim the scope. Point. And shoot. Blam! They'll be washing fluorescent pink paint out… More >>
  • BEST BOWLING

    Sunset Bowling Center

    We've long since despaired of finding old-timey bowling in Phoenix — the kind with manual ball returns and those funky handwritten scorecard projectors. But we're happy to settle for the fun we have whenever we visit Sunset Bowling Center, which offers everything we need to conquer our bowling jones: 32 professional lanes, wide-screen monitors, and state-of-the-art computer scoring systems. After… More >>
  • BEST BINGO

    Arizona Italian American Club

    Whenever we get to missing Grandma, we head down to the Italian American Club, where the smell of simmering red sauce wafts over us as we dab hot-pink ink all over our lucky bingo cards, just like Nana used to do. The friendly folks who run this game offer both Power Bingo and good, old-fashioned "Paper Only" Bingo, and we… More >>
  • BEST MINIATURE GOLF

    Mini-Golf Paradise

    Sure, miniature golf is a fun family activity, but who wants to putt-putt outside in the blistering summer heat? That's why we love this 18-hole indoor range with its cute jungle theme. Tigers pounce throughout the course, and one hole sports a giant hippopotamus ready to gobble up your ball. Little adventurers can take a stationary Jeep ride, and there's… More >>
  • BEST GOLF FOR UNDER $50

    Gold Canyon Dinosaur Mountain Course

    While we continue to bitch about the price of a round of golf in the Valley during the high season, we also continue to be amazed by the level of golf one can purchase for pennies when the weather takes a turn for the torturous. Really, though, 105 degrees isn't bad in a speeding covered cart, the breeze calcifying the… More >>
  • BEST MUNICIPAL GOLF COURSE

    Papago Golf Course

    Once the finest golf course in the Valley, arguably the best muni in the country, Papago has fallen from its heyday in the 1970s and '80s. By 2002, the course was a disgrace. But with some recent improvements, including new restrooms, improved cart paths, a face-lift of the clubhouse and a topnotch pro, Papago appears as though it could be… More >>
  • BEST PRIVATE GOLF COURSE

    The Estancia Club

    Everyone's heard of The Boulders, and no doubt a private membership there is one of the most prestigious and (since it swaps the private course and resort course every so often) enjoyable golf experiences in America. But for a fully private course experience (meaning no riffraff like us), absolutely stunning desert golf, and prestige so prestigious few people realize how… More >>
  • BEST PUBLIC GOLF COURSE

    The Golf Club at Eagle Mountain

    Most golf clubs radiate a snooty, privileged air — and this one is no different. Eagle Mountain features many of the amenities of a private course: pro shop, banquet facilities, full-service clubhouse, and expansive emerald-green fairways. It's a chip shot away from the sprawling mansions of Fountain Hills, and the par-71 course, designed by Scott Miller, is enhanced by the… More >>
  • BEST GOLF WEB SITE

    www.golfnow.com/phoenix

    For the young or even middle-class golfer, Arizona can be like the proverbial ocean: Golf courses, golf courses everywhere, but not a single one I can afford. The creators of this golf Web site, however, have worked out deals with numerous top Valley golf courses to open up selected tee times at discounted rates for Web site members. Every day,… More >>
  • BEST VALLEY GOLF EVENT

    FBR (Phoenix) Open

    The FBR O . . . , O . . . , Oh, hell, call it the Phoenix Open. PHOENIX OPEN! PHOENIX OPEN! Doesn't that feel good? Yes, thank you, FBR, whatever the hell it is you do, for providing the big bucks necessary to keep the top golfers coming here. That is important. Without the top golfers, the goobers… More >>
  • BEST MOMENT AT THE VALLEY'S BEST GOLF EVENT

    John Daly at work

    To be sure, the Valley's biggest annual sporting event (though NASCAR definitely is right up there) is much more about the scene than the golf. Every now and then, however, we stop to watch a professional golfer hone his craft. To wit, the ever-popular "Big" John Daly, the most dysfunctional hillbilly linksman this side of the Ozarks. We wandered over… More >>
  • BEST GOLF GETAWAY WEEKEND

    Apache Stronghold Golf Club

    The San Carlos Apache Tribe had several advantages when they went about building one of the state's great courses. They already owned the prime piece of landscape and, besides, they could always depend on a flow of golfers thanks to the dependable flow of gamblers making the drive to the nearby casino. For golfers, the fact that this amazing course… More >>
  • BEST FUNKY WEEKEND GETAWAY

    Noftsger Hill Inn

    A former copper boomtown, Miami (said: "Mi-am-uh") has fewer than 2,000 residents, but more original merchandise than you'll find in any shopping mall in metro Phoenix. Ditch eBay; check out the antique stores in the old downtown district in person. And don't forget the Book Bank, a great used bookstore, right off U.S. 60 as you're passing through Miami. A… More >>
  • BEST FALL DAY TRIP FOR THE FAMILY

    Slide Rock State Park

    Tired of being stuck in town for the fall? It's bone dry, daytime temperatures are still scorching, and kids are relegated to crowded water parks or picnics on dead park grass. Pack up the family station wagon and head to Sedona's Slide Rock State Park, a scenic red rock canyon nestled in a 43-acre apple orchard. It's a setting straight… More >>
  • BEST SPRING DAY TRIP FOR THE FAMILY

    Boyce Thompson Arboretum

    This sprawling nature preserve, a little more than an hour's drive east of Phoenix on U.S. 60, doesn't have the polish of the Desert Botanical Garden. But it more than makes up for that with its slightly tatty, quirky charm, and no can deny that its collection of plant life is just as impressive. Its trails gently loop through 320… More >>
  • BEST HIKE FOR THE FAMILY

    Piestewa Peak

    Named after the late Native American war hero Lori Piestewa who died in Iraq, the former Squaw Peak provides a sweet desert experience for beleaguered urbanites who've had their fill of concrete and glass. Myriad hiking paths rated from easy to difficult provide a choice for those looking for a cardio crunch or just a gentle outing with family and… More >>
  • BEST HIKE FOR NUDISTS

    Black Top Mesa

    If you've ever daydreamed about lying naked 'neath a clear, blue sky, this hike's for you. While the strenuous jaunt is not an "official" Bureau of Land Management/Tonto National Forest route, it's the best trek we've come across in our many years of meandering through the Valley and surrounding areas. One of the main reasons is the solitude. Unlike… More >>
  • BEST HIKE IF YOU'VE GOT ALL DAY

    Round trip on the National Trail

    While not particularly challenging in a technical sense, the National Trail is one bad mutha if tackled from beginning to end — and back. The round trip is approximately 20 miles, the equivalent of walking from 48th Street to 51st Avenue and then turning around and doing it in reverse. The best approach is from the east end, at the… More >>
  • BEST HIKE IF YOU DON'T HAVE ALL DAY

    Trail 8 at the Phoenix Mountains Preserve

    Little-known fact: You do not have to drive all the way out to Apache Junction to have a great hiking experience. In fact, Trail 8, which wends its way through the Piestewa Peak/Dreamy Draw area of the Phoenix Mountains Preserve, can be just as breathtaking as anything in the Superstitions, with amazing summits and a plethora of cactus. Enter at… More >>
  • BEST HIKE FOR OUT-OF-TOWNERS

    Telegraph Pass Trail

    While the Superstition Mountains provide by far the most dramatic scenery of any Valley-accessible day hikes, the Superstition hikes likely demand too much of a visitor's time. And, well, you read the newspapers. The Superstitions also are much more likely to disappear people. So, if the in-laws have overstayed their welcome, perhaps a hike in the Superstitions is exactly what… More >>
  • BEST EASY MOUNTAIN BIKING

    Papago Park

    You bought that mountain bike with dreams of tackling South Mountain or the Phoenix Mountains Preserve, but then you discovered something — mountain biking can be a lot harder than pushing the old steed down a sidewalk. Perhaps you'll be in shape someday to grind up gravel-ridden slopes and rocket down luge-run trails like the big boys and girls. In… More >>
  • BEST HARD MOUNTAIN BIKING

    Pemberton Trail

    The Valley has more kick-ass mountain bike trails than you can throw a broken chain at, but nothing beats Pemberton for continuous one-way rough-riding pleasure. In fact, since the few equestrians at McDowell Mountain Park are well spread out, and hikers rare, this trail transforms a land area the size of Fountain Hills into your own personal mountain bike heaven.… More >>
  • BEST PARK FOR BIKE POLO

    Desert Storm Park

    Every Wednesday over at the quaint and centrally located Desert Storm Park polo grounds, bicycle maniacs test their mettle during lightning-paced warfare on two wheels. Similar to the traditional yuppified fare, sans the prohibitive price tag, bicycle polo is actually an old sport that's been revitalized in recent years. Its birthplace is believed to be India about a hundred years… More >>
  • BEST URBAN PARK

    Papago Park/Tempe Town Lake complex

    With its otherworldly sandstone buttes, Papago Park has anchored the city of Phoenix park system since 1959. Papago's trails are generally easy treks with little elevation gain, making it a great place for a family hike or to hone your mountain-biking skills. The park covers 1,200 acres and has numerous picnic sites with ramadas, tables, grills, water and electricity.… More >>
  • BEST PARK FOR A WEEKEND BARBECUE

    Kiwanis Park

    The fine art of hanging out at the park seems lost on a lot of Valley residents, and we guess we understand why — it's hot (duh), and many parks in these parts are just small patches of dying grass with some busted old swings and a concrete table thrown in for good measure. Luckily, we've got Kiwanis Park, 125… More >>
  • BEST PARK TO FIND A PICKUP GAME OF ULTIMATE FRISBEE

    Benedict Park

    When the operators of Tempe Diablo Stadium decided to limit all of their auxiliary fields to baseball only, they left the future of the local ultimate scene up in the air like a flicking forehand flying disc toss. Thank goodness for the Frisbee backers at Valley of the Sun Ultimate, who rallied to find a new home at Tempe's… More >>
  • BEST LITTLE LEAGUE MOMENT

    Shaun Chase

    For the second time in five years, an Arizona team has advanced from the Western Regionals to the Little League World Series by rolling over the once invincible California squads. Last time, it was Chandler National. This time, Ahwatukee, which comes out of the same district as Chandler National. For anyone who has taken a small Arizona team over to… More >>
  • BEST REENACTMENT OF THE OLYMPIC MEDAL CEREMONY

    SWIMkids USA, Inc.

    Here at Best of Phoenix, there are some things we don't want to recommend. We're not going to tell you where to get a boob job, or what dentist to go to (although we really do love our dentist), or even what vet to send your pet to. We're just a little nervous. We don't want to have to feel… More >>
  • BEST BIRTHDAY PARTY IDEA FOR BOYS

    Racing Limos of Phoenix

    With the NASCAR craze in full flower, what better way to make big-time points with your young man than hiring out a racing-themed limousine for the evening? This typical stretch limo becomes an extra-long racing stock car, numbered, painted in multi-colors and raring to ride. The spacious interior is complete with a PlayStation, DVD player, flat-screen monitor, comfy seats and… More >>
  • BEST BIRTHDAY PARTY IDEA FOR GIRLS

    Tea Cups & Tiaras Tea Room

    Sometimes, you just gotta let a little girl be a little girl. Or a little girl pretending to be a big girl. That's why we're so glad we found Tea Cups & Tiaras. After months of hearing horror stories about over-the-top tea parties with gift registries and spa pedicures, we landed on an appropriate, classic birthday party for our little… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO HOST A CO-ED KID BIRTHDAY PARTY

    Pump It Up

    Face it — 6-year-olds don't want expensive party favors or complicated theme parties for their birthdays. They want to jump around, drink soda and make a mess until the sugar high ends and they crash. And chances are, you probably don't want them doing this all over your house or expensive party decorations, so ditch the high-concept birthday and let… More >>
  • BEST BUMPER BOATS

    Castles-n-Coasters

    What better way to get out your aggression than to crash giant, gas-powered rubber boats into walls and waterfalls? Figuring out how to maneuver the suckers is half the fun; the steering wheels turn a full 360 degrees, so the challenge is to do more than make crazy circles in the water while everybody else bashes into you. And it's… More >>
  • BEST PUMPKIN PATCH

    Mother Nature's Farm

    We've tried the bigger, more commercial Halloween festivals, but this year we'll go back to Mother Nature's Farm (humming the Beatles the whole way) to let our kids grab a pumpkin, get their faces painted, and spend a little time in the hay. With a nod to the desert, the folks at this farm not only stock cute crafts in… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO SEE A PEACOCK

    Glendale Community College

    Sure, there are peacocks at the zoo, but how often do you see a large, brightly colored bird wandering around a college campus? You'd cry fowl at least a couple times a week if you attended Glendale Community College. The campus is located right next to Sahuaro Ranch Park, which technically occupied 640 acres until 1977, when the City of… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO SEE A PENGUIN

    Wildlife World Zoo

    This is the Little Zoo That Could, always to be in the shadow of the bigger, more complete Phoenix Zoo. But this little west-side park is home to some species that that other zoo doesn't have — namely penguins. You won't be much reminded of the amazing documentary March of the Penguins; the Wildlife World Zoo is home to only… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO MONKEY AROUND

    Monkey Village at the Phoenix Zoo

    No matter how often we visit, we never get tired of seeing the squirrel monkeys roam their 10,000-square-foot habitat just off the Tropics Trail at the Phoenix Zoo, mostly because this is one exhibit where you can get up close and personal — no cages involved. Although we've never had one land on our shoulder, we love hanging with the… More >>
  • BEST DOG PARK, DOWNTOWN PHOENIX

    Steele Indian School Park

    This new downtown dog park, opened in July in the northeastern area of Steele Indian School Park, is gated and divided into sections — one for larger dogs, and one for smaller dogs under 20 pounds. The park is off-leash, so canines can carouse untethered in an area that covers almost two acres, provided their owners keep an eye on… More >>
  • BEST DOG PARK, NORTH PHOENIX

    PETsMART Dog Park at Washington Park

    If you could see into your dog's dreams, there would be a huge grass lot for running, tons of toys, a never-ending water supply, and maybe a sexy little companion. This one's got it all. The 2.65-acre bark park includes water fountains and benches for owners, plus doggie watering stations and free mitt-mutts for scooping up Fido's little surprises. There… More >>
  • BEST DOG PARK, WEST VALLEY

    Northern Horizon Park

    This park isn't strictly for dogs, but it does have a large, fenced area just for canines, where your pups can play off their leashes. And since there's an area for small dogs separate from the larger dog park, owners of little Chihuahuas and terriers needn't worry about having their little pets trampled or humped on by big huskies and… More >>
  • BEST DOG PARK, SOUTHEAST VALLEY

    Shawnee Bark Park

    Dog runs were created so owners and pets could play together, but this Chandler park has really gone to the dogs. Once your pooch gets a load of the agility course, you might as well just perch on a bench and get comfortable, because all you'll be doing is watching. There's a seesaw, play tunnels, hurdles and several A-frames with… More >>
  • BEST DOG PARK, TEMPE

    Mitchell Park Dog Run

    In the early '90s, Tempe's Mitchell Park was a notorious hot spot for pet owners disobeying leash laws. After confrontations between owners and regular park patrons, a separate dog run was created. Now dogs are allowed to roam free inside the fenced area, which includes benches and tables for owners and an adapted water fountain with a doggie dish for… More >>
  • BEST DOG PARK, SCOTTSDALE

    Chaparral Park

    Scottsdale, with its high-end boutiques and resort hotels, isn't exactly known for accommodating pets — at least, not if your pet's too big to fit in your purse. But there's one place in town where dogs can get a sweet taste of freedom. The 71-acre Chaparral Park, which is currently being expanded, has the largest off-leash run in the city.… More >>
  • BEST WAY TO PRETEND IT'S RECESS

    World Adult Kickball Association — AZ Fire division

    Everyone knows the best times of day in elementary school were recess and nap time. As we slough through our 9-to-5(ish) grown-up gigs, we've often bemoaned the fact that neither is available in the corporate world. Well, come to think of it, we're too hopped up on Red Bull to squeeze in a nap, but recess would be nice. Good… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO UNDO YOUR WORKOUT

    Native New Yorker

    Work hard, play hard — right? At this Native New Yorker, no one will think twice about your tennis shoes and sweaty clothes in the lounge. It is the perfect spot to replenish all the carbs and calories you just burned with its extensive menu that includes wings, pizza, burgers, hot dogs, nachos and just about anything fried. Quench your… More >>
  • BEST SPA

    Willow Stream Spa at the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess

    Move over, Calgon. We'd rather let Willow Stream take us away. At this upscale spa devoted to beauty and pampering, tucked amid the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess' sprawling, Spanish-style courtyards, there are so many ways to relax that it's easy to stretch an hourlong treatment into a whole afternoon of aimless leisure. Check in early, check out the schedule of free… More >>
  • BEST BODY WRAP

    Golden Door Spa

    The Turquoise Wrap at the Golden Door Spa at The Boulders in Carefree is 50 minutes of pure bliss. Allow us to explain. It might sound weird, but really, stop a moment. Take a deep breath. Close your eyes. Wait, that won't work. You need to read. Anyhow, the wrap begins with a full body exfoliation with a… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO RUB YOUR PARTNER THE RIGHT WAY

    Dolce Salon & Spa

    Looking for an alternative to the standard movie-and-dinner date night? Dolce Salon & Spa in Chandler offers a couples' massage class one Wednesday night a month. It is a gift that can keep on giving. After registering at the front desk, couples are escorted into a mirrored room filled with mattress pads and pillows. Keeping shorts and loose shirts on,… More >>
  • BEST RESORT POOL

    The Buttes Resort

    Landscaped rocks and cascading waterfalls are the hallmarks of any good resort pool, but The Buttes sets itself apart with the best poolside bar in the area. The aptly named Thirsty Cactus dishes quick bites, burgers, and ice-cold cocktails, so you won't have to leave the comfort of the warm water to grab another margarita. The pool itself is a… More >>
  • BEST URBAN FISHING

    Red Mountain Park

    City anglers can get their daily fix of aquatic sport during year-round urban fishing at Red Mountain Park. The eight-acre oasis features two fishing docks and waters stocked every two weeks from September through July with hybrid sunfish, largemouth bass, carp, white amur, and tilapia. The 17-foot-deep lake is also stockpiled with rainbow trout during the winter months and channel… More >>
  • BEST VIEW OF THE VALLEY

    South Mountain

    The best thing about the view from the top of South Mountain is that you don't have to be a super jock to get there: There's a road that will get you all the way to the summit without one ounce of exertion. (Well, your car will be working it; you won't.) And once there, what a sight: After getting… More >>
  • BEST DATE IF THE SKY'S THE LIMIT

    Hot Air Expeditions

    If you really want to impress your date, give her the world. Sail over the beautiful mountains, enjoying breathtaking 360-degree panoramic views of untouched desert wilderness. Hot Air Expeditions offers the tour du jour of balloon rides. You and your date snuggle in the basket as a trained pilot hovers at 400 feet, pointing out clusters of desert flowers or… More >>
  • BEST RIDE OFF INTO THE SUNSET

    T-Bone Steakhouse Ride

    Usually, asking your companion to "go bareback" on a date would warrant a slap in the face, but not this time. Ponderosa Stables offers a unique trail ride that includes a hearty meal at the T-Bone Steakhouse. Riders depart from the stables with a guide and take an hourlong ride down the mountain at sunset. It's a quiet journey —… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO PRETEND YOU'RE NOT IN THE DESERT

    Ro Ho En — The Japanese Friendship Garden of Phoenix

    A traditional Japanese garden that can survive the Land of the Blazing Sun? Believe it. Heck, they even managed to get moss to grow here, in a shady patch near the authentic tea house. Phoenix might have parched riverbeds, but inside this tranquil downtown oasis, there's a waterfall, a flowing stream, and a huge, koi-filled pond dotted with bright green… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO REVEL IN THE DESERT

    Desert Botanical Garden

    Over the years, we've honored Desert Botanical Garden as the Best Place to Take an Out-of-Towner, but really, we think you should stop by, too. Check out the Web site, and visit the Marshall Pavilion, where butterflies roam twice a year; take a gardening class; or come for a festival (there's a great Day of the Dead one, at the… More >>
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