Download our Free Best Of App

Arts & Entertainment

  • BEST PLACE TO REVEL IN THE DESERT

    Tovrea Castle Carraro Cactus Garden

    The City of Phoenix's ongoing renovation of Tovrea Castle, one of the Valley's premier oddball landmarks, has given us hope that Phoenix has finally learned to spell "p-r-e-s-e-r-v-a-t-i-o-n." The estate — which looks like a royal wedding cake defended by a swarm of palace-guard saguaros — was built by Italian entrepreneur Alessio Carraro and named after meat-packing magnate Edward Tovrea,… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO REVEL IN THE DESSERT

    Amazing Jake's Food and Fun

    Why do kids (and the parents who pay for them) love Amazing Jake's Food and Fun, the indoor amusement extravaganza in Mesa?Ask Anna, age 9: "They have brownies, which are so good. And chocolate chip cookies, and ice cream — vanilla, chocolate and swirl. They have all different choices of desserts, too. Last time I went there, it was lemon… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO ROLL AROUND IN THE DESSERT

    Dirty Darlins of Debauchery Pudding Wrestling

    It only makes sense that things might get a little wild in Phoenix. After all, we're living in a land settled by outcasts, criminals, and whores. That restlessness still exists in the desert air and has certainly been huffed by Phoenix's very own Dirty Darlins of Debauchery, the first and only female pudding-wrestling league in Arizona. These hot mamas, clad… More >>
  • BEST RESORT POOL

    Sanctuary Resort & Spa

    It's not the biggest pool in town, and it's not even the flashiest (you won't find any fountains or water slides at this serene spot), but there are still three good reasons why the pool at Sanctuary on Camelback is our favorite place for a swim: location, location, location. Nestled amidst an oasis of lush palm trees and palo verdes… More >>
  • BEST SPA

    Spa at Camelback Inn

    We hate to sound like a broken record, but once again, this year's honor for Best Spa must go to our all-time favorite, the Spa at Camelback Inn. As a friend recently waxed (heh heh, get it?), "You feel so close to the desert, it's like you can actually reach up and touch the cactus." And it's true — snuggled… More >>
  • BEST WAY TO GET PAMPERED FOR A GOOD CAUSE

    Summer Spaaah Series

    We remember when $20 was all it took for a fun night on the town. Dinner, movies, drinks — heck, even dancing — were all within reach. These days, $20 won't cover our weekly designer coffee habit. That all changed with the Summer Spaaah Series. This is one beauty of a benefit, raising money for the Jewell McFarland Lewis-Fresh Start… More >>
  • BEST WAY TO GET SWEATY FOR A GOOD CAUSE

    Al Moro Dance Studio

    Imagine your P.E. class back in the '80s, minus the embarrassing, random boxer-short tents you pitched in the locker room. Think tube socks, push-ups and jumping jacks. But this time, replace your high school gym with the Al Moro Dance Studio on Camelback and the sounds of '80s pop and lock thumping out of the speakers. If you're willing to… More >>
  • BEST CHEAP THRILL

    Phoenix Symphony Target Family Series

    Want to raise your kid to like Beethoven and Brahms, not just Beyoncé? In Phoenix, at least, you don't have a financial excuse not to instill a love of classical music early, thanks to the fine people at Target. With their assistance, the Phoenix Symphony is able to offer a series of six kid-friendly concerts. Next season's bill of fare,… More >>
  • BEST NOT-SO-CHEAP THRILL

    Arizona Opera at Symphony Hall

    Tired of evenings out that always seem to feature those Valley standbys: flip-flops and cheap margaritas? There's no better cure than a trip to an Arizona Opera performance. It's the one of few things in town that people really do get dressed up for. And while the good seats aren't cheap — the opera wants a $2,500 donation plus $121… More >>
  • BEST DATE IF THE SKY'S THE LIMIT

    Turf Soaring School

    If you really want to bond with that special someone — and you and your date collectively weigh less than 300 pounds — a glider ride at Lake Pleasant is the adventure for you.Our spies who've tried the experience say it's a great way to get a little bit closer and check out the beauty of mountains, the lake, and… More >>
  • BEST CHEAP DATE

    Public Art Tour, Scottsdale Civic Center

    Instead of the usual dinner, movie, and awkward conversation, we suggest something a little more creative. Get off your butt and get moving. Not quickly; a meandering pace will do. Don't worry, we'll give you something to look at, even if your date's not super-viewable.Scottsdale is home to some impressive public art, a large deal of it near the Civic… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO DANCE LIKE THE STARS

    Chad's Ballroom Bash at Arthur Murray Dance

    With the popularity of ABC's Dancing with the Stars, you'd think old-school ballrooms would be packed nightly. Sadly, Phoenicians seem to prefer watching the foxtrot on television, rather than trotting their asses out to actually do it. The exception is dance instructor Chad Lakridis' Ballroom Bash night, a monthly social gathering with music, food, door prizes, and dancing — from… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO PLAY BOCCE BALL

    The Vig

    As Americans, one of our favorite pastimes is hunting for new trends by shamelessly copying traditions from other cultures. We think the Vig has the right idea with their Euro-inspired bocce ball lawn. On the east side of the bar's fabulous patio is a strip of Astroturf that is the perfect size on which to roll some balls back and… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO WATCH A D-BACKS GAME IN STYLE

    The Diamond Club (inside Chase Field)

    Homers and hotties collide at this swanky nightclub-style lounge located at Chase Field, allowing D-Backs fans to cheer on the Snakes in style. Singles and scenesters needn't worry about cramming into cramped seats with the nacho-eating masses when they can relax at this posh two-level pad. Located above the right field warning track, the club is the first of its… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO SEE A SPRING TRAINING GAME

    Phoenix Municipal Stadium

    The Cactus League has taken an ominous turn in the past decade, what with all of those new bells-and-whistles ball yards sprouting like synthetic weeds in the West Valley. Despite an $8 million partial makeover in 2005, the 1965-vintage Phoenix Muni remains old-school Cactus League, and a trip to the venerable 8,500-seater is about the game, not the place.This is… More >>
  • BEST BOWL GAME

    Insight Bowl

    Until December 29, 2006 — and the stupefying football game that put it on the map — the Insight was second-tier all the way. It started life as the Copper Bowl in Tucson in 1989, enduring a decade of lame, forgettable matches that even Old Pueblans couldn't give a hang about. In 2000, the game moved to Phoenix's Chase Field.… More >>
  • BEST MALE PRO ATHLETE

    Steve Nash

    What can we say about Phoenix Suns point guard Steve Nash, except that he's the greatest?Here's a guy who runs about 40 miles a night on the basketball court as he enters his mid-30s, all the while shucking and jiving with the ball, passing to this teammate and that. Making the art of basketball assists look like child's play. Never… More >>
  • BEST FEMALE PRO ATHLETE

    Diana Taurasi

    Phoenix Mercury guard Diana Taurasi is a marvel to watch. She's every bit as great an athlete as Steve Nash, and she's only in her fourth season in the WNBA.Too bad the women's game isn't more universally popular. Maybe it's that two-tone ball. Or the fact that only a few of the players can dunk? In any case, it's a… More >>
  • BEST PRO COACH

    Mike D'Antoni

    Who else?! He's the man who's transformed pro basketball from a low-post slog-fest to a run-and-gun showcase. He's the reason the NBA's fun to watch nowadays and becoming the most popular sport in the world (except for football, um, we mean soccer). We've always wondered how a sport that's not even the most popular in its own country (real American… More >>
  • BEST MALE COLLEGE ATHLETE

    Brett Wallace

    Though Brett Wallace lists his favorite movie as The Natural, his unorthodox swing at a baseball is anything but. For starters, he kicks his front foot in the air as a pitch comes in, as he keeps his back foot anchored to the ground instead of in the normal pivot. It all adds up to something that would not be… More >>
  • BEST FEMALE COLLEGE ATHLETE

    Katie Burkhart

    ASU's softball program had been wobbling under the sports radar for a generation before Clint Myers took over as head coach last year and immediately led his team to the College World Series. Myers was blessed right out of the chute with Katie Burkhart, a statuesque left-handed pitcher with a potent riseball and a nasty changeup, who was entering her… More >>
  • BEST COLLEGE COACH

    Pat Murphy

    Arizona State University's storied baseball program has had three great coaches: Bobby Winkles, Jim Brock, and Pat Murphy. But Murphy may wind up being the best.If Murphy coaches until he's 65 (he's 48 now) and continues to win games at the same pace, he will break the all-time NCAA record for baseball victories. Just this year, he was named to… More >>
  • BEST HIGH SCHOOL COACH

    Gary Ernst

    For the longest time, Mountain View was known as a football school. But those days are gone. Not that the Toros pigskin program has bitten the dust (they finished second in the state last season), but the accomplishments of Ernst's recent basketball squads have led pundits to properly pull out the D word — as in dynasty.Last season, Mountain View… More >>
  • BEST SPORTS CELEBRITY

    Matt Leinart

    So the mother of his child claims he's not a great dad? So he had the bad taste to date Paris Hilton after he got dumped girlfriend, Brynn Cameron (a University of Southern California women's basketball star), pregnant? So he has a cameo in one in a long line of dumbass Adam Sandler movies? So he was clocked speeding four… More >>
  • BEST NATIONAL GAY SPORTS HERO

    John Amaechi

    If nothing else, this was the year the Valley of the Sun churned out more pop culture icons than any other year in its shortish history. We laid claim to Phoenix native Max Crumm, who won a lead in the Broadway revival of Grease on the NBC hit You're the One That I Want. Then there was Jordin Sparks, the… More >>
  • BEST SPORTS HAIR

    Eric Byrnes

    Eric Byrnes has had a career year. Last we noticed, he was batting .307 and continuing to dive like a madman for flyballs in left field. He goes all out at all times! We're saying, we would've given Byrnsie (last year's winner of the Best Cool New Player on the Sports Scene) something much more imperial, except for those rumblings… More >>
  • BEST PRETTY-BOY ATHLETE

    Raja Bell

    Dammit, he's worked as a fashion model! Our own girlfriend would drop us in a millisecond for one night alone with him. We keep telling her there's no chance; he's happily married with a new baby, to which she recites the old joke about NBA athletes: "What's the hardest thing about being on the road so much as a professional… More >>
  • BEST TROUBLED SPORTS ICON

    Mike Tyson

    One morning when we lived in L.A., we were jogging through our neighborhood in short pants when we came upon a hulking black man (shoulders about a yard across in a gray T-shirt and black suit pants) leaning against a very large Mercedes-Benz. When we got closer, he turned toward us, and we had a glimmer of recognition.But not until… More >>
  • BEST DISAPPOINTING SPORTS WIFE

    Janet Jones-Gretzky

    The thing about Phoenix Coyotes Coach Wayne Gretzky is that he's always been so damn squeaky-clean. Then, along comes wife Janet Jones-Gretzky and her gambling proclivities. Now, we're not much for keeping wives in line (impossible task), but the most prolific scorer in National Hockey League history sure didn't control Janet as well as he did the puck during his… More >>
  • BEST THUG ATHLETE

    Loren Wade

    We wish we could say that Loren Wade was the reason Dirk Koetter's no longer head football coach at Arizona State University. But, sadly, Koetter's dismissal had more to do with his mediocre win-loss record. This newspaper reported in detail how Koetter had coddled thugs on the ASU team, and Wade was the best example of the ex-coach's philosophy: As… More >>
  • BEST SPORTS GIMP

    Randy Johnson

    The Big Unit? More like the Busted Unit. All right, whose freakin' idea was it to bring back Randy Johnson to the Arizona Diamondbacks? What has this former world champion baseball team become, a charity for cranky, worn-out pitchers?The 43-year-old Johnson — who ranks up there with Ty Cobb historically as one of the biggest jerks in the game —… More >>
  • BEST SPORTS EMBARRASSMENT

    Barry Bonds

    We saw a story the other day that said Barry Bonds memorabilia was sitting on the shelves unsold in the midst of the season he broke Henry Aaron' s career home run record. Sad commentary on the former Arizona State University prodigy turned slugger for the San Francisco Giants. In a national pastime that's had its share of jerks, Bonds… More >>
  • BEST REASON TO BELIEVE THE CARDINALS CAN GO 8-8

    Ken Whisenhunt

    Hey, we said it last year when the Cardinals drafted Matt Leinart out of USC and acquired Edgerrin James from the Indianapolis Colts. The Cardinals are gonna go 8-8! We guarantee it!Yeah, it didn't happen, and, yeah, a .500 season ain't nothin' to brag about. But for the lowly Cardinals, it would've been a grand first step. Now we have… More >>
  • BEST REASON TO BELIEVE THE SUNS CAN WIN IT ALL

    Steve Kerr

    You might argue that there are too few new faces in the Phoenix Suns organization, despite the signing of veteran swingman Grant Hill, but there's one that shines bright: that of natty new general manager Steve Kerr. The former University of Arizona star's already signed Hill, and we predict Hill will be the edge that the Suns need to go… More >>
  • BEST FUTURE MVP

    Amaré Stoudemire

    There was talk during the summer of the Phoenix Suns trading Amaré Stoudemire for Kevin Garnett of the Minnesota Timberwolves in a monster deal that involved the Boston Celtics, future draft picks, and bench players from all three teams.In another scenario, it was Shawn Marion instead of Stoudemire in the roundabout. While we could have gotten behind a deal that… More >>
  • BEST NEW FACE ON THE SPORTS SCENE

    Grant Hill

    When we heard the Phoenix Suns had signed Grant Hill, our first thought was that he'd be another Jalen Rose. Now, we love Jalen Rose; he was a great player back in his long-past Indiana Pacers days, and he's an entertaining presence on Best Damn Sports Show Period, but he was too old and slow to play for the run-and-gun… More >>
  • BEST HOPE FOR THE D-BACKS' FUTURE

    Brandon Webb

    Amazingly, the Diamondbacks were up for most of the season this year. And, at this writing, were sitting in first place in the National League West. One of the reasons for success is pitcher Brandon Webb, who won the 2006 Cy Young Award with a 16-8 record and 3.20 ERA in 33 starts. This means an Arizona Diamondback was the… More >>
  • BEST PHOENIX SPORTS LEGEND

    Charles Barkley

    How can we not love Charles Barkley? He's always said he would someday run for governor of Alabama (he used to be known as the "Round Mound of Rebound" back there at Auburn University), but we wish he'd go for that office here in the AZ.What a soundbite he'd be! No more of that wishy-washy politspeak from the likes of… More >>
  • BEST ATHLETE EVER

    Muhammad Ali

    And we don't just mean in the Phoenix metroplex. Anywhere! That the greatest athlete, much less the greatest prizefighter of all time, lives in Scottsdale is more a testament to our lower taxes (than places like Southern California) and our reputation as a bastion for the aged and infirm than anything else. But it's great to see the star of… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO SEE IDIOTS

    Idiotarod Shopping Cart Race

    Remember the opening sequence in Jackass: The Movie, when the superstars of idiocy push each other down a bridge in a shopping cart? Then you're close to imagining the tomfoolery on display during the Idiotarod Shopping Cart Race. The event, named sardonically after the 1,151-mile Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race in Alaska, originated in San Francisco and has spread to… More >>
  • BEST BINGO

    Fort McDowell Casino

    We've decided that playing bingo has gone past ironic to kind of sad and come back around again to some kind of post-irony level of acceptable things to do with your weekend. (And that was before that stupid television show.) There's something inherently soothing about watching those little white balls roll around their cage while you hope your number will… More >>
  • BEST WIFFLEBALL LEAGUE

    Arizona WiffleBall League

    Thanks to the folks who run the Arizona WiffleBall League, big kids of all ages can baffle hitters with nasty, perforated plastic ball benders or go way downtown by swinging a Herculean, yellow synthetic bat.The league is part of the 19-region Fast Plastic association, which grants division winners a spot in the wiffle national championships (this year's version was held… More >>
  • BEST BOWLING

    Glen Fair Bowl

    Retro furnishings such as orange shag rugs and chrome diner tables are back in style, and vintage-style threads dominate the runways. That's why we love Glen Fair, an old-school alley with beige stucco walls and a curvaceous sign that mimics the monogramming on your dad's old polyester bowling shirt. There are league nights for youth and adults, dollar days and… More >>
  • BEST MINIATURE GOLF

    Golfland

    Screw the FBR Open. Who needs it? The only golfer we follow with any regularity is Korean-American sweetie Michelle Wie, and she doesn't have the plumbing to play the PGA. After all, what kind of golf is it when there's no windmill to putt-putt through, no Lost Dutchman-themed course, or King Arthur-themed greens? Hey, we've seen the FBR on TV,… More >>
  • BEST MUNICIPAL GOLF COURSE

    Encanto 18

    Ah, the lush smell of bermuda grass and dried mud. The dull thwack of metal on polymer. The shower of grass in the air and the white smudge of a ball rolling on the ground.There's nothing like passing a summer day at Encanto, where the greens are flat as prairieland and our confidence is as high as it gets. Except… More >>
  • BEST PUBLIC GOLF COURSE

    Ken McDonald

    What we enjoy most about this easily accessible course is the dress code, as in there is NONE! You want to yank the ball around in your favorite ratty T-shirt and goofy shorts that cover at least most of your behind, go for it. That's not to say, however, that this mature track — which opened for business back in… More >>
  • BEST FANCY-SHMANCY GOLF COURSE

    Troon North

    Most of the super-luxe courses in the Valley are super-private, but a few will let you on the links if you have the cash. We asked our favorite golfer for his favorite course — price being no object — and he didn't hesitate to spew out verbiage worthy of a Madison Avenue public relations firm:"Troon North," came the immediate response.… More >>
  • BEST SHORT ROAD BIKE RIDE

    Tempe Town Lake/Indian Bend Wash bike path system

    Sometimes we feel our hackles rise while riding the mean streets of the Valley. We feel lucky the dumbass serial shooters missed us, since we make such a pretty target in our colorful spandex biking jerseys. But we figure we're still bound to get creamed someday by a drunken legislator or some other idiot motorist. We like to avoid those… More >>
  • BEST LONG ROAD BIKE RIDE

    Around South Mountain

    This route keeps us in the saddle much longer than we'd like, but it's probably a two-hour ride for the hardest of bicycle butts. Where you start depends on where you live, but we do the loop clockwise, finding Maricopa Road from the East Valley. However you get there, you should eventually find yourself on Riggs Road/Beltline Road, a wind-blown… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO RIDE YOUR BMX

    Chandler Bike Park at Espee Park

    Bump-jumping BMX riders of the Valley haven't been terrorizing local shopping malls, co-opting canals, or taking over skate parks with their two-wheel trickery that much lately. It ain't 'cause the cops have tossed the lot of 'em into the slammer, but rather, it's because these cycle psychos have been pulling sick stunts at the stellar Chandler Bike Park. This 25,000-square-foot… More >>
  • BEST EASY MOUNTAIN BIKE RIDE

    San Tan Mountain Regional Park

    We were jonesing to put fresh dust on our mountain bike, so we decided to make the long drive to San Tan. Last time we were out there, we took our high-clearance vehicle on rough roads deep within the craggy landscape, back to where the cliffs rise to breathtaking heights. You can't do that anymore. We'd heard most of the… More >>
  • BEST HARD MOUNTAIN BIKE RIDE

    National Trail

    When we want the sweetest punishment on two wheels, we take a trip to this dominatrix of mountain biking trails. Sometimes nothing satisfies like a good whipping. She leaves us sweaty with exertion, yet chilly with the naked fear of imminent injury or death.Mountain bike manufacturers go here when they want to test their equipment to the max. Only experts… More >>
  • BEST BIKE REPAIR SHOP

    Landis Cyclery

    We know from bike shops.Allow us to start at the beginning: Our fancy mountain bike is what we call a nervous shifter. She's as nimble and fast as a thoroughbred, but after the first few months she lost her groove, derailleur-wise. The chain kept jumping the gear rings at unexpected times, usually right in the middle of a tough grind… More >>
  • BEST SKATE SHOP

    Cowtown

    The skate shop is a pretty simple concept: decks, trucks, wheels, bearings, maybe a video or two. Add some jaded 14-year-olds loitering outside — bumming smokes and talking shit — maybe throw a miniramp in the back, and you've pretty much got our sophomore year of high school. It's not pretentious, and we love it. That's why we're so annoyed… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO INLINE SKATE

    Arizona State University

    A good pair of inline skates turns the urban world into an ice-skating rink — a beautiful, romantic place where the human body glides like an incorporeal spirit.But it ain't quite that easy. When the ground beneath our polyurethane gets too bumpy or there are too many other people on the path, those little wheels are like a voodoo curse… More >>
  • BEST SKATEBOARD PARK

    Tempe Skate Park

    The Valley is home to plenty of skate spots, but Tempe Skate Park, opened in 2005 as part of the Tempe Sports Complex, tops our list as a must-ride destination. The park features two levels and about 32,000 square feet of skatable space. The top level is a technical skater's dream, featuring stairs, rail ledges, a picnic table and a… More >>
  • BEST PAINTBALL PARK

    Cowtown Paintball

    There are two kinds of paintballers: People who do it for fun once in a while, and people who do it as sport every weekend. Cowtown's paintball field is there to facilitate both. Open Saturday and Sunday from 7 a.m. to midnight, the park has a natural-terrain field where you can splatter your friends with paint and indulge your camo-wearing… More >>
  • BEST ROCK GYM

    Phoenix Rock Gym

    The PRG is a wonderful community gathering spot that draws people in from every Valley city, so we forgive the intentional inaccuracy of its name. The Tempe gym is a place where we can get a buzz on the climbing, meet friendly people, and hang out for hours, and it's safer than drinking in a bar. It doesn't matter where… More >>
  • BEST DIY ROCK GYM

    AZ on the Rocks

    Sometimes we have no choice but to fly solo. Fortunately, AZ on the Rocks is there for us when the climbing bug bites.This Scottsdale gym allows us to get high — about 30 feet — all by our lonesome by using mechanical auto-lockers mounted at the top of select climbing walls. It's almost like free-soloing, which is climber-speak for scaling… More >>
  • BEST BEGINNER'S ROCK CLIMB

    Pinnacle Peak summit route

    Aside from using an aircraft of some sort, good old-fashioned rock climbing is the only way to get to the top of Pinnacle Peak, that crab-claw-like block of pointy granite near the swanky Four Seasons Resort in Scottsdale.This ain't no sport climb, with handy hardware pre-installed in the rock for safety. The lead climber will need a set of wire… More >>
  • BEST ADVENTURE CLIMB

    Crying Dinosaur, Superstition Mountains

    We've climbed this one four times now. Never a dull moment.The approach to the base splinters off of Siphon Draw Gully trail, up a steep catclaw-infested slope — you'll want to consult a local guidebook like Phoenix Rock 2 for the full scoop on the hike and climbing route.We've come back to this allosaurus-like spire over the years because it's… More >>
  • BEST RAPPEL

    Top of Ridge Route

    We've gotten way more out of Camelback Mountain over the years than heart-stopping views and heart-pounding workouts. But be warned: What we're about to describe is not for the faint of heart. In fact, you're best off consulting a professional — or at least a guidebook — before embarking on this adventure, if you're a novice.The sketchy rock-climbing routes on… More >>
  • BEST HIKE IF YOU'VE GOT ALL DAY

    Quartz Peak

    As veteran hikers of Camelback Mountain and Squaw — ahem — Piestewa Peak, we try to make an occasional hajj to Quartz Peak in the way, way southwest Valley. The trail has a sweet, 1,000-feet-per-mile ratio like the Valley's two most popular mountains, but is more than twice as long. This is the perfect calf-burning grade that feels as much… More >>
  • BEST CREATIVE WAY TO TAKE A HIKE

    Maricopa County Parks & Recreation-sponsored hikes

    Yeah, we don't really like to hike, either. In fact, we're not much for any form of exercise that involves standing up. But we're easily distracted, so we can force ourselves onto the treadmill as long it involves an iPod, television, and plenty of Propel. Oh, and snacks.But it's hard to take the TV on a hike, and our snack… More >>
  • BEST HIKE FOR THE FAMILY

    Papago Park

    Unless you're one of those "green" parents who strap a backpack on their kid when he's 2, hiking is probably an afterthought for you and your busy clan. After all, there are scads of things to do that don't require clambering on rocks and fending off snakes — and most of those other places have bathrooms.We have the perfect solution… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO LET THE KIDS RUN WILD

    Makutu's Island

    It's a jungle in there. Multistory slides. Mazes of ocean-themed connecting tubes for scampering in. A friendly treehouse. Places to climb and jump and run. Makutu's Island is like an energy-transfer facility for loud, hyper kids. It's an especially good spot to cure the cabin fever that takes hold in the dead of summer, with 20,000 square feet of air-conditioned,… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO DIG UP DINOSAUR BONES

    Gilbert Riparian Park

    In our endless quest to find something for the kids to do that doesn't involve food or a video screen, we stumbled upon Gilbert's lovely little bird park near Greenfield and Guadalupe roads. It's a bit artificial, like all other attempts to make the desert into something it isn't, but the Riparian Preserve elicits more of a feeling of wonder… More >>
  • BEST PUMPKIN PATCH

    Brooke's Pumpkin Patch at Mother Nature's Farm

    This sweet little patch is all you need to satisfy fall's pumpkin-y urges. From mid-September to mid-November every year, kids of all ages stop by to peruse the Halloween crafts in the gift shop, walk the maze, ride the hay, and even — on some days — pet an alligator. Oh, yeah, and pick out that pumpkin, for the all-important… More >>
  • BEST EASTER EGG HUNT

    The Phoenician

    We've made an unspoken deal with The Phoenician. We won't ask why you call yourself The Phoenician, but have a Scottsdale address. And you won't ask what a bunch of Jews were doing at your Easter egg hunt last year.Actually, if you must know, we were enjoying ourselves immensely! There's no better lawn in town for an egg hunt than… More >>
  • BEST WAVES

    Big Surf

    In the ever-changing, nothing-is-sacred urban landscape that is the Valley, any spot that's been around as long as Big Surf deserves a special place in our hearts. Soon after it opened in 1969 as America's first artificial wave pool, it was pictured in National Geographic for an article on Phoenix. We'll never forget the early days of burning our feet… More >>
  • BEST BEACH

    Hyatt Regency Scottsdale

    There are 10 pools at the Gainey Ranch Hyatt, including a three-story water slide, whirlpools and a cold plunge, but you'll always find us on the beach. That's right, the beach. We don't know how they did it, but we're awfully glad the folks at the Hyatt found a way to import all the best parts of the beach (soft… More >>
  • BEST RACY MCDONALD'S

    Rock 'n' Roll McDonald's

    Uh, yeah, can I get a Big Mac, fries, and a master cylinder to go? Such is the scene on Saturday nights at the McCoolest fast-food joint on the planet, which, thanks to its affiliation with the Rock-and-Roll McDonald's Classic Car Show, is transformed weekly from a run-of-the-mill McD's into a swarming pit stop for buff dudes and their chicklets.… More >>
  • BEST UPSCALE KID BIRTHDAY PARTY

    A Child's Joy

    Little Caitlin's birthday is coming up, and she's remembering the gigantic Wild West bash you threw for her older brother a couple of months ago. She wants a fairy princess party, with pink napkins and a bouncy castle and a pony ride and a face painter dressed like Jasmine from Aladdin. Where the heck are you going to get everything… More >>
  • BEST NO-FRILLS KID BIRTHDAY PARTY

    McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park

    In the 2006 movie Keeping Up With the Steins, parents compete to see who can throw their kid the most obscenely lavish party. One bash is on an ocean liner; another is at Dodger Stadium — the whole stadium. We don't know about you, but we miss the good ol' days when a birthday party consisted of a store-bought cake,… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO THROW A BIRTHDAY PARTY FOR YOUR DOG

    In the Raw

    It's believed that one year for humans equals about seven in dog years. So it stands to reason that every time your pooch celebrates a birthday, you'll wanna pack septuple the amount of fun and frolicking into their party. The folks at In the Raw can help with that, as both locations of this holistically inclined juice bar/coffee bar/dog bar… More >>
  • BEST DOG PARK, NORTH VALLEY

    Rose Mofford Sports Complex Dog Park

    Legendary theologian and orator Henry Ward Beecher once described the canine as "the god of frolic," and, doggone it, we can definitely agree with the 19th century holy man, particularly whenever our pups are romping around the 2 1/2 acre dog park located in the southernmost section of the Rose Mofford Sports Complex in North Phoenix. Once they get free… More >>
  • BEST DOG PARK, WEST VALLEY

    Goodyear Dog Park

    The gorgeous high-desert terrain of the Estrella Mountains provides a breathtaking backdrop to the kidney-shaped Goodyear Dog Park, giving owners something else to stare at besides endless butt-sniffing and piles of poop. In between spells of spying the scenery, you can let Scruffy socialize and exercise in either of the two separate areas for passive and active dogs, or get… More >>
  • BEST DOG PARK, SOUTHEAST VALLEY

    Cosmo Dog Park

    If all dogs do, in fact, go to heaven, we suspect the puppy paradise awaiting them in the hereafter looks a lot like Cosmo Dog Park. This four-acre canine Cloud Nine (named in honor of Cosmo van Blitsaerd, Gilbert's first police dog) not only offers the usual waste-disposal stations and fenced play zones, it boasts a special fire-hydrant-shaped doggy drinking… More >>
  • BEST DOG PARK, TEMPE

    Tempe Sports Complex

    Little old Tempe has five dog parks, which is more per human companion than we've found in any other Valley city. But the pick of the litter is the two-acre dog park at the Tempe Sports Complex near Hardy Drive and Warner Road.It shouldn't be surprising that the biggest and best dog park is located on the side of Tempe… More >>
  • BEST DOG PARK, SCOTTSDALE

    Chaparral Park

    This spacious, 4-acre off-leash doggy park, constructed in early 2007 at the north end of lush Chaparral Park, is most definitely the dog's bollocks. Three gate-controlled and fenced-off areas include separate sections for passive dogs and active dogs, which is only disappointing news if you hang out at dog parks to watch Chihuahuas trying to hump Great Danes. The park… More >>
  • BEST URBAN PARK

    Encanto Park

    This charming park in the historic Encanto-Palmcroft neighborhood is hands-down the loveliest in the city, and there's a simple reason why: trees. Unlike Steele Indian School Park, Encanto doesn't look like it was cheated by the landscaping department. Far from it. Even on the hottest day, the tall palms around Encanto Lake seem to draw a breeze just by virtue… More >>
  • BEST URBAN FISHING

    Under the 101/202 overpass, east of Tempe Town Lake

    For this little fishing hole, there are a few important things to know right away: It's illegal, so you'd best ride your bike to get there, in case you need a quick getaway. You don't want to eat the luggish motherfuckers you pull out of there. And you've got to watch the rain and water levels to see if it's… More >>
  • BEST WAY TO GET HITCHED

    Sisters on the Fly

    All drivers, except trailer drivers, hate trailers. The miserable mechanical beasts are the bane of the highway, the scourge of the byway. Remember the time you were cranking top-down on that twisting mountain road and you screeched up behind Grandma and Grandpa Jones toodling along at 20? Ahhhhhhh!Multiply that vehicular impotence a hundredfold and you've got Sisters on the Fly,… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO TAKE AN INJURED BIRD

    Fallen Feathers

    From the outside, Jody Kieran's makeshift bird hospital seems like any ol' brown tract structure in the desert. But step inside the nondescript West Valley home and prepare yourself for a wacky, surrealistic experience. The not-for-profit haven for injured and orphaned fowl grants medical attention to just about any type of bird species, including raptors, hummingbirds, baby chicks, owls, parrots,… More >>
  • BEST URBAN OASIS

    Sculpture Garden
    at the Phoenix Art Museum

    We seek refuge, and often. We do it through music, through food and drink, and other forms of escape that we'll leave to your imagination. But working in downtown Phoenix as we do, refuge just hasn't been much of an option, unless you count hunkering down at the now-smokeless bar at Durant's.A ways south on Central from Durant's is just… More >>
  • BEST NUDIST COLONY

    Shangri La Ranch

    Looking to express your freedom of choice with some nudie fun? Well, you name it and the Shangri La nudist camp probably has it. Naked swimming, volleyball and hiking are just a few of the options available to clothing-optional newbies and family-oriented die-hards.Outdoor activities center on the large pool, while indoor options feature a clubhouse with billiards and darts as… More >>
  • BEST MIDLIFE CRISIS MOTORCYCLE RIDE

    The road to Bartlett Lake

    So, you went out and bought that bad boy of a motorcycle just for the heck of it. It wasn't that your midlife job (and the accompanying stress) was all that bad, but you were just looking for something new and exciting that wouldn't get you in too much trouble with the wife.Oh, okay, she jumped all over you for… More >>
  • BEST CITY DRIVE

    Scottsdale to Phoenix, via Cave Creek

    When we were kids, Mom used to drive us on Sunday mornings over the desert and through the cactus — to Carefree, where there was little more than a tiny convenience store and (luckily) a bathroom. We were too young to appreciate the beauty of the raw landscape; we just wanted to go back to the city, to Thomas Mall,… More >>
  • BEST DAY TRIP

    Fossil Springs Canyon

    Old Tucson is pretty old hat. Bisbee seems a bit blasé. And consarn it, Tombstone has gotten tortuously tired. Frankly, if you're looking for a peaceful and scenic destination for a one-day vacation outside of the Valley, we recommend taking a road trip to Fossil Springs Canyon. Go north on Interstate 17 for 85 miles until you hit Camp Verde,… More >>
  • BEST FUNKY WEEKEND GETAWAY

    Gold Canyon Inn and Suites

    When San Diego is way too far and Sedona seems way too New Age-y, you can always get your kicks driving just a short distance east down U.S. 60. In Gold Canyon, your backyard is the Superstitions, so there's plenty of hiking and exploring to do. Make sure to check out the Hieroglyphic Trail, an easy walk that will lead… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO PRETEND YOU'RE NOT IN THE DESERT

    Ro Ho En — The Japanese Friendship Garden of Phoenix

    We've really taken to the desert lifestyle, soaking up plenty of sun, reveling in the gorgeous Sonoran scenery, and (of course) making the most of our glorious, spring-like winters. But sometimes we still long for some green, leafy trees and the sound of flowing water, the kinds of calming natural elements that are all too rare in this sprawling desert.… More >>
  • BEST SWEET VIEW OF PHOENIX

    North Mountain Park in Sunnyslope

    North Mountain Park has all the usual trappings of a mountain park in the Valley — hiking trails, a playground, a visitors center — but the view of the city from the mountain is sweeping in scope and dazzling in its diversity, especially when seen at night.The peak of the mountain (yes, the one with the big "S" on it)… More >>

Search Best Of Awards

Best of Award Graphics

Loading...