Arts & Entertainment

  • Best Bike Gang

    PhoenixPhreaks

    If you've never seen the PhoenixPhreaks in action before, just wait until the next First Friday rolls around. This roving gang of cycling psychos (who serve as the local chapter of the national Freakbike Militia) can typically be found cruising down Roosevelt Street or in the vicinity of Bikini Lounge or the Firehouse. They're as much a part of the… More >>
  • Best Place to See Lowriders

    Cruise on Central

    The annual Cruise on Central has been happening in the Valley since the 1960s, and it embraces a proud tradition of hot rods, custom cars, and pimped-out lowriders. Generally held the first Saturday in April, Cruise on Central features a variety of vintage rides, from '70s model Chevy Impalas to '67 Chevy trucks to '41 Pro Street rods. Participants meet… More >>
  • Best Go-Kart Racing

    Speed Street Indoor Racetrack - CLOSED

    Nothing gets the adrenaline pumping like a good old-fashioned auto race. For those of us who don't own a muscle car or have the cash to try the big leagues at Bondurant, there's Speed Street Indoor Racetrack, where you can traverse a third-mile track in a bright yellow speedster with a nine-horsepower, four-stroke engine. Okay, their go-karts aren't exactly NASCAR-worthy,… More >>
  • Best Day of the Dead Merchandise Year-Round

    Purple Lizard

    We've looked high and low, and Purple Lizard — a dear little boutique in west Phoenix packed with cute linen clothes, cuter bags, and spicy-sweet candles — is the only place in town we could find that is currently selling the supplies you need for Dia de los Muertos, a.k.a. Day of the Dead. Here we can stock up the… More >>
  • Best Indoor Rock Climbing

    The Phoenix Rock Gym

    Want to reach new heights but you're afraid of coming face-to-face with a rattler, scorpion, or hive of Africanized bees? Get inside. The Phoenix Rock Gym offers routes for any level climber. The Beginner's Canyon has straight vertical walls, and those without gear can rent everything they need and climb all day for under $20. More experienced? Ape up the… More >>
  • Best Skateboard Park

    Goodyear Skate Park

    Part of a 27-acre complex that includes tennis courts, a splash pad, and athletic fields, Goodyear's Skate Park is 1,200 cubic feet of heaven for concrete surfers. There's an awesome peanut bowl for beginners, metal coping for grinders, two snake runs, and a 16-foot-high half-capsule. This being Arizona, helmets aren't required. But we feel obligated to suit up our noggins… More >>
  • Best Indoor Shooting Gallery

    Caswells

    Don't be skerred that President Barack Obama will be putting a permanent safety lock on Americans' right to bear arms. You're just being paranoid and probably a little on edge. Relieve some of that pent-up anxiety at Caswells, a small-ish, 21-year-old gun range tucked inside a warehouse area near Stapley and Baseline roads in Mesa. Eleven shooting lanes, which cost… More >>
  • Best Outdoor Shooting Range

    Usery Mountain Shooting Range

    Whatever your preference, if you're into firearms, Usery Mountain is the place to go. Whether you're a beginner who wants to get comfy with a new firearm in a safe environment or a seasoned marksman, you will feel welcome at this massive outdoor shooting range. Usery Mountain's versatility is impressive. The shooting range boasts several pistol bays, clay pigeon throwers,… More >>
  • Best Brimstone (and Hellfire)

    Final Destination

    Beware: Final Destination, in its fourth incarnation at the Door Christian Center in Chandler, is not a traditional haunted house. If you're looking for a fun and scary activity to work in between bouts of recreational drug use, promiscuous sex, and idol worship, this "haunted house-style attraction" run by evangelical Christians is not for you. Unless, that is, you're willing… More >>
  • Best Haunted House

    Fear Farm

    As Halloween season gears up, you're going to hear a lot of boasting by haunted attractions around town. Last year, we pretty much hit them all, and Fear Farm was truly the best. Sure, it's likely a haul from your own unhaunted house, but this massive indoor/outdoor experience is well worth it. Spread over a dozen or so buildings of… More >>
  • Best Holiday Event for Kids

    Holiday Harmony

    The holidays can be downright depressing in this cactus garden of a city. But one of our absolute gems is this annual seasonal bash, held on the Saturday after Thanksgiving. Part of the charm is its location, on Scottsdale Civic Center Mall, which looks the part with its well-groomed greenery. And despite the fact that it's choked with hundreds of… More >>
  • Best Bowling

    Glenfair Lanes

    Remember the good old days, when dads would spend two nights a week bowling with their buddies, clad in Pepto-Bismol-pink bowling shirts embroidered with their names on the front? No, we don't either. But we've seen them on TV, which is why the seriously old-school Glenfair Lanes was a beat-up, patchwork, bowling shoo-in for this category. The large alley is a… More >>
  • Best Bingo

    Reflections Bingo

    We went through a phase in which we were bingo-ing like mad, all over town. But after visiting a certain number of high-tech, 21st-century bingo halls (you know the type — replete with clever cafes, electronic number callers, and kid-pleasing video arcades grafted on), we began to yearn for the more intimate bingo parlors of our granny's dotage. We found… More >>
  • Best Miniature Golf

    Castles N' Coasters

    If you've ever wanted to feel like the giant in Gulliver's Travels, Castles N' Coasters' mini-golf courses will make you feel super-size. That's because the four courses are decorated with small structures and mini-monuments, from mermaid fountains and mysterious caves to a teeny Taj Mahal and old Western saloon. The price isn't big, either, with an 18-hole game running $7.63… More >>
  • Best Arcade

    GameWorks

    Hadouken! Flying fireballs launched from your fists knock your opponent on his ass. Just another button-smashing affair at GameWorks. Whether you're a fighter, driver, or gun-toting maniac, there's a cabinet here to sate your sadistic desires. GameWorks has great taste in games. Street Fighter IV was not only sitting upstairs in the arcade months before the home console release, it… More >>
  • Best Indoor Playground

    Smaland at Ikea

    Sure, there are places with more stuff, but in our wanderings with offspring, we've run across no place quite as pleasing to both adult and youth palates. Partially, it's the Smaland space itself, which is minimal in the classic Swedish tradition but also exploding with primary colors. Located just inside the Ikea main entrance, the playland features a craft area,… More >>
  • Best Outdoor Playground

    Playtopia at Tumbleweed Park

    Looking for a unique play experience for your kids? Then head to Playtopia, the newest addition to Tumbleweed Park in Chandler. Based on the region's history, Playtopia is a collection of three themed playgrounds. Your junior 4-Hers will enjoy Farmland, a huge agri-inspired play structure housed under a giant barn roof. Cityland has an urban theme and includes tot-sized streets,… More >>
  • Best Dog Park, East Valley

    Chaparral Park's Off Leash Area

    Valley dog parks are a grab bag, but Chaparral Park's four-acre off-leash area is a winner every time. Dogs are separated into two enormous play sections — one for "passive" pups and another for "active" ones. What this really means is that the large pit bulls and Dobermans are on one side of a fence, while teeny dachshunds and Chihuahuas… More >>
  • Best Dog Park, West Valley

    PetSmart Dog Park at Washington Park

    It may not be the most chichi dog park in town, but we're still stunned at how far people will drive just to get their pooches to this pretty northwest Phoenix park. Regulars tell us they like how well PetSmart keeps the place up, how many dogs are usually on the scene, and how the nice little amenities (drinking fountains,… More >>
  • Best Place to Dance Your Ass Off

    Express Mie Studio

    Ever hear yourself say, "I can dance and sweat all night but can't jog for 15 seconds. What's up with that?" This new dance fitness studio for women, tucked behind Trader Joe's in the Tempe Square shopping center, makes that question moot. Now you can have your dance party and burn fat, too. The folks who created this playground for… More >>
  • Best Place to Get Your Ass Kicked

    Ken Shamrock's Lion's Den

    There's an art to caving in a human face or blasting someone in the package like those mixed martial arts fighters do. And thanks to the Lion's Den in Scottsdale, anyone can learn no-holds-barred sparring. UFC Hall of Fame inductee and "the world's most dangerous man" Ken Shamrock heads the dojo, where controlled muay thai sparring techniques are taught to… More >>
  • Best Place to Cross Swords

    SCA's weekly Wednesday battles at La Padera Park

    For Valley members of the Society for Creative Anachronism, there's no better way to beat the midweek blues than to beat the crap out of each other with wooden swords. Every Wednesday, would-be warriors hone their battle skills on the northern and eastern ends of the baseball field at La Padera Park, charging with rattan sticks and clubbing each other.… More >>
  • Best Place to Battle on Your Bike

    Arizona Hardcourt Bike Polo

    If your idea of polo involves a well-heeled crowd engaging in refined combat atop magnificent thoroughbreds, then you've apparently never hung out at the Dorsey Center in Tempe on a Monday night. Every week, the members of Arizona Hardcourt Bike Polo gather for an intense, two-wheeled version of the world's oldest team sport. More crusty punk than upper crust, it's… More >>
  • Best Road Bike Ride

    Usery Pass Road

    There are a lot of killer bicycle rides in the Valley, but the one along Usery Pass Road is our absolute favorite, thanks to the backdrop of desert plant life unharmed by the gated communities that swallow up the land to the east and south. Plus, there are super-spacious bike lanes on each side of the windy route, so you… More >>
  • Best Mountain Bike Trail

    Desert Classic

    What goes up must come down — at least, that's what mountain bikers count on. The South Mountain Desert Classic Trail is not the most grueling trail in our neck of the desert, but it's close, it's scenic — and full of ups and downs. Phoenix South Mountain Park is over 16,000 acres of desert landscape overlooking downtown Phoenix to… More >>
  • Best Central Phoenix Hike

    Piestewa Peak Trail #304 (1.52-mile Nature Trail)

    Don't just take our word for it — recent research suggests that spending time in nature will improve cognitive function. Scientists say the human brain has two types of attention: directed attention (which we use when we work, drive, Facebook) and involuntary attention (like that triggered by the call of a bird or the shape of rock formation). The problem… More >>
  • Best South Phoenix Hike

    Alta "Alt" Trail

    There are two things you need to know about this hike, and they're both supercool: 1) the Alta Trail is situated on the front range at South Mountain Park, and we're betting that many of you didn't even know there was a front range; 2) the "Alt" section of this trail is not maintained and does not appear on any… More >>
  • Best West Valley Hike

    Quartz Peak Trail

    The Sierra Estrellas are the most maddening mountains in our midst. The southwest Valley chain is within shouting distance of civilization, and its craggy spires scream to be summited, but the formidable range gets more redoubtable the closer you get to it. So much so that there's only one legal point of access to its long crest and six striking… More >>
  • Best East Valley Hike

    Pass Mountain Trail

    Like some of the exceptional backcountry hikes at the Phoenix Mountains Preserve that are eclipsed by the gravitational pull of Piestewa Peak, this phenomenal hike is often lost in the glare of Usery's popular Wind Cave Trail. But you don't always have to go up to get to the top; sometimes, as with Pass Mountain, you can go around. The 7.4-mile… More >>
  • Best Guided Hike

    Elephant Mountain Fortress Hike

    True hikers view guided hikes as literate Parisians view ushered tours of the Louvre: dimly. This excellent seven-miler is the exception. A relatively difficult trek over primitive trails, the ranger-led hybrid hike takes participants into the park's achingly beautiful backcountry for sublime views and solid interpretation. The ranger du jour will fill you in on the newest, and most unusual, entry… More >>
  • Best Hike for Speed Freaks

    San Tan Trail

    Despite the word "Mountain" in its name, this park is located in the eastern molehills of the San Tans, with the 3,054-foot namesake peak looming far off in the westerly distance. Translation: It's flat and it's fast. There are some mild ups available, but most of the park's trail system, and especially the centerpiece San Tan Trail, cuts through hard-pan lower Sonoran… More >>
  • Best 10-Mile Hike

    Black Mesa Loop, Superstition Mountains

    There aren't a lot of cities in this country where you can throw off your business-casual garb after your workday, zip onto a freeway, and be knee-deep in miles of wild desert. If you're into hiking, Phoenix totally rocks. And when you can really take your time with an all-day hike, we recommend you ditch your weekday trail and head… More >>
  • Best Place to Encounter Tenderfeet

    The Big Buttes at Papago Park

    For a hiker, it seems counterintuitive that going up should be easier than getting down. Down is good. Down is always better. Well, not at the Big Buttes, humongous sandcastles of petrified mud that must look tame, even comic, to someone from Indiana who's in town for Cactus League. Here's how the scenario invariably unfolds: Dad and two kids — it's always… More >>
  • Best Night Hike

    Desert Botanical Garden

    There's something magical about the desert at night. Everything looks, sounds, and smells different. And in the hot summer months, it's a great time to go and experience what desert plants and critters are up to after the sun sets. But if the idea of a nighttime desert exploration has you feeling a bit uneasy (ever seen the 1972 made-for-TV… More >>
  • Best Place to Go After Hiking South Mountain

    Los Dos Molinos

    As with so many things, proximity's often a key for hikers looking to arrange a post-trek meet-up. For most, a redneck bar or a convenience store'll do the trick if it's the nearest place to score a frosty brew. So while it doesn't hurt that this historic New Mexican-style restaurant is the closest dining-and-drinking establishment to the South Mountain Park exit,… More >>
  • Best Place to Go After Hiking Camelback

    The Vig

    We have a love/hate relationship with Camelback Mountain. There's no better view of home than from the top, and no greater sense of accomplishment than getting there. Yet we loathe the getting-there part — the Camelneck, the Backbone, the etiquette-challenged hikers. Ugh. But when it comes to The Vig, we're feeling only the love. This chic tavern on the fringe of… More >>
  • Best Place to Go After Hiking Piestewa Peak

    Aunt Chilada's

    The Dreamy Draw is a lovely place, but it's not named for its oasis-like beauty. It earned the designation back in Phoenix's Territorial days, when workers from the Rio Mercury Mine near Squaw Peak would wander the area in a daze, high on mercury fumes, after their shifts. You'll see that same thousand-yard stare on dust-covered folks who wander into this… More >>
  • Best Competitive Sport Played with a Keg on the Field

    Kickball

    The concept of adult kickball got its start in our nation's capital, where over-educated and underpaid young professionals used the semi-ironic playing of a children's sport to take out their aggression, hide their shameful post-college binge drinking, and find suitable hookups. Perhaps it's the gorgeous weather, or maybe it's the party atmosphere created by that boozed-up college in Tempe, but… More >>
  • Best Waterpark

    The Oasis at Arizona Grand Resort

    When it comes to surviving summers here, Phoenicians are ready to pull out all the stops, from breaking out the water hose to sneaking into someone's pool. A whole genre of swim-and-drink nights at local hotels have even blossomed over the past few years to keep us cool. Other options around town, though, leave us, um, cold. Many local waterparks… More >>
  • Best Public Pool

    McDowell Mountain Ranch Aquatic Center

    We're not sure what we like more about this place: the pools, the views, or the architecture (considering we spent more time admiring Phil Weddle's rusted steel and glass aquatic center building than we spent actually swimming). Not only does this place feature myriad aquatic options — including an eight-lane lap pool, a diving well with four diving boards, a… More >>
  • Best Public Pool You Didn't Know Was Public

    The Oasis at the Clarendon Hotel

    One of the crown jewels of any local high-end hotel undoubtedly is its sumptuous swimming pool. For instance, the W Scottsdale boasts an opulent oasis of white sandy beaches, glowing fire pits, and relaxing cabanas. Meanwhile, the swank swim tank at the Mondrian Scottsdale is a cerulean-colored lagoon of lavishness usually frequented by skinny and stylish bikini-clad chickadees. Both are… More >>
  • Best Mississippi River Experience

    Dolly Steamboat at Canyon Lake

    The Dolly Steamboat markets itself as the "Junior Grand Canyon Tour," and Teddy Roosevelt compared the area favorably to the Alps, but we prefer to think of Canyon Lake as a stand-in for the Mississippi — at least when you're aboard the Dolly Steamboat. This recently restored sightseeing boat cruises the lake like Tom Sawyer once did down south. Though… More >>
  • Best Out-of-Town Weekend Getaway

    The Shady Dell

    As much as we love Phoenix, sometimes we need to get the hell out of Dodge for a day or two to collect our thoughts and find our center. Lately, there is only one place that comes to mind when the urge to disappear strikes us: the Shady Dell. Located in historic Bisbee, the Shady Dell RV park has nine… More >>
  • Best In-Town Weekend Getaway

    Sheraton Wild Horse Pass Resort and Spa

    The drive to Wild Horse Pass is 20 minutes from central Phoenix, but as soon as you check in, you'll feel like you flew a thousand miles. The resort's signature restaurant, Kai, got Mobil's five-star rating this year and, thanks to the down economy, it's offering a "Kai Cares" prix fixe menu for $59. At the spa, Aji, you can… More >>
  • Best Spa

    Joya Spa

    If you've ever had fantasies of being Caesar or Cleopatra, a day at the Joya Spa is an absolute must. Joya's "Hammam" bath revives the ancient Roman tradition of the bathhouse. For $45, you get a scrub, herbal steam in rose mist, whirlpool, sauna, and refreshingly brisk shower. And that's just the beginning of the royal treatment. To compliment a… More >>
  • Best Walking Tour

    Taliesin West

    When you hear the words "walking tour," inspirational may not be what comes to mind. But the tour at Taliesin West, former winter home of Frank Lloyd Wright, just may prod the creative genius in you. Regardless of your medium, this place will make you think. Always willing to go against conventional wisdom, FLW left his fingerprints all over the… More >>
  • Best Urban Fishing

    Tempe Town Lake

    A typical city can't offer its residents a fully stocked lake right in the center of town — more likely, you'll get a polluted river full of mercury-filled carp and hypodermic needles. Lucky for us, this is not your typical city. Tempe Town Lake is filled and refilled with 12 species of fish, including rainbow trout, large-mouth bass, and flathead… More >>
  • Best Tennis Courts

    Phoenix Tennis Center

    No, they don't sell Perrier in the pro shop, some of the courts occasionally are dotted with leaves, and the noise factor from the nearby streets can be a pain. But we'll take this city-run tennis mecca any day, if only because it's cheap, the lights are good, and, if you learn how to play your cards right, it's easy… More >>
  • Best Park for Pickup Basketball

    Encanto Park

    Some may take issue with giving this award to a place that charges for an activity that's typically free, but look at it this way: The hoopin' has gotta be good if it's all pay-to-play (not much, only a few duckets). Encanto is Phoenix's one-and-only spot for finding legendary pickup games that parallel those found in Brooklyn and the Bronx.… More >>
  • Best Place for Indoor Pickup Basketball

    Lincoln Family Phoenix Downtown YMCA

    When the downtown Y remodeled its facility a few years ago, it upgraded the wooden upstairs b-ball court. The result is a full-on awesome gym ó minus the creaky floorboards and dead spots in the paint. Donít have an indoor-worthy basketball? No problem, because you can rent one free of charge at the front desk, whether youíre playing a game… More >>
  • Best Batting Range

    Casey at the Bat

    We love the egalitarian nature of this friendly north Phoenix "cage." The pitching machine on one end of this clean and spacious outdoor facility flips in strikes slow enough that a determined 8-year-old can feel comfortable going for it. Down on the other end, a burly slow-pitch type can pretend to be Babe Ruth (beer-ball style) on every pitch. In… More >>
  • Best Driving Range

    Fiesta Lakes Golf Club

    It might be called a "golf club," but Fiesta Lakes, a down-home par three (tucked behind a Hilton and an abandoned Best Buy across from Fiesta Mall) is anything but fancy. The parking lot is gravel and the clubhouse is a trailer. This is the kind of course you won't feel self-conscious playing in cut-offs and flip-flops, which is why… More >>
  • Best Golf Carts

    Kierland Golf Club

    Purists everywhere will tell you that to truly play golf you have to walk. They are wrong. The truth is, walking sucks, and in the middle of a hot summer, it sucks hard. That's why someone invented the golf cart, and the Kierland Golf Club offers a nearly perfect version. Over time, the golf cart has evolved to include things… More >>
  • Best Public Golf Hole

    Fifth Hole, Encanto Golf Course

    It sets up as a deceptively easy shot, even for duffers like us. About 180 yards dead ahead from tee to pin, maybe uphill a hair. Piece of cake, right? Nope. First, there's that big trap that looms to the immediate left of the green. Damned thing seems to call golf balls like an invisible siren. To the right of… More >>
  • Best Budget Golf Course in the Winter

    Ken McDonald Golf Course

    With the arrival of the snowbirds comes the most dreaded day in the life of any brave Phoenix summer golfer: September 1, winter-rates day at many Valley courses. It's like having cold water thrown in your face. The course you played for months at $15 a round instantly triples in price. You say to yourself, "But nothing's changed. It's the… More >>
  • Best Budget Golf Course in the Summer

    Troon North Golf Club

    Troon North is one of the premier golf courses in the world; but who's planning a trip to the Valley in the summer? That's when a devoted local golfer needs to pounce on the countless deals available. For July and August, you can double-bogey your way through Troon for about $50 per round. This past summer, Troon offered a two-round package… More >>
  • Best Budget Seat at a Suns Game

    Section 231, Row 6, Seat 15

    The NBA is notorious for outrageous ticket prices. But we have discovered a relatively affordable way to see Steve Nash and the boys in person. The trick: Pick a corner, any corner. Only Shaq could have afforded seats parallel to the court, and end zone seats, while cheap, limit your view of what's happening on the other side of the… More >>
  • Best Budget Seat at a Cardinals Game

    Section 437

    Let us not forget, the Arizona Cardinals are the improbable NFC champs. They took us all the way to the Super Bowl last year. If you don't go to a game this year to show your support and at least say, "Thank you," you deserve to live in Tucson. Tickets, however, are pricey; some cost as much as $430 each.… More >>
  • Best Budget Seat at a Coyotes Game

    Section 205, Row M, Seat 8

    In case you've forgotten — and judging by Phoenix Coyotes attendance records, you have — Phoenix has a hockey team. For how long is anyone's guess; they did just file for bankruptcy and almost moved to Canada (where people might actually go watch them). Well, while they're still here, is there anywhere to sit in Jobing.com Arena and not feel… More >>
  • Best Budget Seat at a Diamondbacks Game

    Section 108

    After the Diamondbacks' atrocious season, it's hard to believe that anyone would still want to go to a game, no matter how cheap the seats are. It's a good thing they're in the same division as the Dodgers or they might not ever fill that place again. Chase Field is one of the best stadiums in all of baseball, and… More >>
  • Best Softball Stadium

    Big League Dreams Sports Park

    For the softballer who gets drunk in the parking lot before the game, and doesn't hold twice-weekly practice, any dusty old field will do. For the serious athlete, Big League Dreams Sports Park has the only fields worthy of such talent. The park has eight replicas of iconic professional baseball stadiums like Fenway Park, Wrigley Field, and Yankee Stadium, scaled down… More >>
  • Best Place to See a Spring Training Game, Old School

    Phoenix Municipal Stadium

    The "ballpark village" known as Goodyear Ballpark, Cactus League home of the Cleveland Indians and Cincinnati Reds, cost $100 million to build. Camelback Ranch Stadium, the spring digs of the Los Angeles Dodgers and Chicago White Sox, features a fish-filled lake, a sunken playing field, and practice fields that mimic the exact dimensions of Dodger Stadium and Chicago's U.S. Cellular… More >>
  • Best Place to See a Spring Training Game, New School

    Camelback Ranch

    Picking your favorite spring training ballpark is like picking your favorite Beatle: Even if you're comfortable with your choice, you have to concede there are certain merits to the options you've passed up. Still, having been to every park in Arizona, we give the nod to Glendale's $100 million Camelback Ranch, home to the Chicago White Sox and Los Angeles… More >>
  • Best Place to Watch a Game Without Jocks

    Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication

    Sports are cool and all, but we like cheering for our favorite team sans the beer swilling, chicken-wing flatulence, and bro-dude'ing. For something more our non-jock speed, we like to watch the big game at the First Amendment Forum at the Walter Cronkite School in downtown Phoenix. The school shows the majority of the ASU football games (both home and… More >>
  • Best Superfan

    Clayton Jacobson

    We talked to a great many Phoenix sports fans in the lead-up to the Super Bowl, but only one really sticks out: Clayton Jacobson of Parker, Arizona. Jacobson is a California native, the son of the man who invented the Jet Ski, but has adopted the Cards with a fervor we'd love to see in all local sports fans. Jacobson,… More >>
  • Best Local Sports Radio Show

    Bickley & MJ

    We're Gambo & Ash evacuees. Ironically, we've gravitated to the time slot formerly held by the Valley's No. 1 sports-gab team, who remain at the top by being abrasive, controversial for its own sake, and downright mean to their yahoo callers. (Representative call from last March. Ash to a caller: "You're a moron." Gambo: "Yeah. You should go stick your… More >>
  • Best Syndicated Sports Radio Show

    The Herd with Colin Cowherd

    Colin Cowherd is that know-it-all kid on the playground who all the big, stupid kids wanna slug. But while the meatheads grew up to be janitors and solid-waste technicians, Cowherd parlayed his wit and wiles into this big-time gig with "The Mothership" — ESPN Radio. And don't he know it. He's the most arrogant SOB on the 'waves (well, not counting Rush… More >>
  • Best Speed Racer

    Danica Patrick

    Not only is IndyCar driver Danica Patrick super-hot — she landed in Sports Illustrated's swimsuit issue twice — but she's super-fast, too. The Scottsdale resident was named Rookie of the Year for the 2005 Indianapolis 500, finished fourth at the Indy 500 that same year (the highest Indy 500 finish ever for a woman), and she became the first woman… More >>
  • Best College Team

    Phoenix College women's softball team

    It may seem odd to select the Phoenix College Bears fast-pitch softball squad as the Valley's best team in a year when they didn't win the national championship. After all, the school had won five previous nationals in a row, a remarkable feat by any measure. But, heck, they finished second (to a team from Normal, Illinois) and destroyed the… More >>
  • Best College Coach

    Herb Sendek

    The former coach of the North Carolina State Wolfpack and 2004 Atlantic Coach Conference Coach of the Year has done the impossible, if not unthinkable, by putting ASU's beleaguered program back on the rails in recent years. Still, some contend he's not even the best skipper on his own campus, citing ASU baseball's Pat Murphy and ASU women's basketball's Charli… More >>
  • Best College Coaching Legend

    Pat Murphy

    The following adjectives aptly describe the controversial longtime ASU coach: bullheaded, mercurial, self-absorbed. Also: witty, loyal, sensitive. We like our high-profile coaches complicated, and none is more so than Murphy, who won his 1,000th game during this year's College World Series, where his overachieving Sun Devils finished an impressive third. Murph, as he's known to many, has his fans —… More >>
  • Best Reason to Believe the Cardinals Will Be Better than Last Year

    Beanie Wells

    All the sports pontificators like to predict that the Arizona Cardinals won't make it to the Super Bowl again next season. They like to say that losing teams in recent Super Bowls have tended to tank, some failing to boast even a winning record the next year. All true. But, despite that opening-game loss, we believe the Cards will be better.… More >>
  • Best Owners of a Local Sports Franchise

    Bill and Michael Bidwill, Arizona Cardinals

    We've had our issues with the owners of the Arizona Cardinals. Mostly because Bill and Michael Bidwill fielded such lousy teams over the years. They ran the Los Angeles Clippers of the National Football League, a team that hadn't won a championship since they were the Chicago Cardinals in 1947, and hadn't made the playoffs since 1982 as the St.… More >>
  • Best Local Sports Executive Who Should Go Back to Broadcasting

    Steve Kerr, Phoenix Suns

    We had such high hopes for Steve Kerr, even though he seemed to have lackluster interest in leaving the broadcast booth and serving as an NBA general manager from the start. The guy was almost always a winner when he wore NBA short pants, but we're not so sure he's got the stuff to be a successful suit. Fact is,… More >>
  • Best Hardballer

    Dan Haren, Arizona Diamondbacks

    We attended a game not long after the All-Star break that proved Dan Haren is human. He gave up more than three runs for only the second time all season. On an Arizona Diamondbacks pitching staff that has been mostly dismal this year, Haren's been simply the best pitcher in the National League. Okay, there's the San Francisco Giants' Tim Lincecum,… More >>
  • Best Whiffer

    Mark Reynolds, Arizona Diamondbacks

    Mark Reynolds is a slugger, and with that comes strikeouts. But the Diamondbacks' third baseman, who has 42 home runs to lead the team at presstime, also has 200 strikeouts, on pace to lead the majors in whiffs again. Oh, he's also on pace to almost lead the majors in homers. Only the incredible Albert Pujos, the St. Louis Cardinals… More >>
  • Best Gimp

    Brandon Webb, Arizona Diamondbacks

    It's hard to remember now, but Brandon Webb was an even better pitcher than the phenomenal Dan Haren. He won the National League Cy Young Award in 2006 and was the ace of the Arizona pitching staff. Though he couldn't have saved the Diamondbacks from this season's weak hitting, Webb would've made them much better. If reports are true, could be… More >>
  • Best Whiner

    Anquan Boldin, Arizona Cardinals

    We're not saying Anquan Boldin isn't a stud. He's about as tough a National Football League player as they come. He's a great receiver. Who knows how great he would be if he hadn't gotten his face broken trying to catch a Kurt Warner pass in the Arizona Cardinals 56-35 regular-season loss to the New York Jets last September 28.… More >>
  • Best Sports Flop

    Eric Byrnes, Arizona Diamondbacks

    We love Eric Byrnes, with his crazy hair and hip clothing line. His Eric Byrnes Show on Fox Sports is a hoot, especially the one where he donned a safari outfit and cleaned up elephant shit for a day at the Phoenix Zoo. We loved him as a player, too, when he was in the middle of the lineup a… More >>
  • Best Neverland

    Men's Senior Baseball League World Series

    Long after spring training is over, even after the Diamondbacks have ended their season, baseball fantasies are fed here in Phoenix. Every fall, the Valley becomes a Neverland for men who want to live out their childhood dreams of playing hardball. The Men's Senior Baseball League hosts its annual World Series at spring training facilities (as well as some college and… More >>
  • Best Excuse to Get (Nearly) Naked

    ASU's Undie Run

    A few thousand college kids high on wrapping up their semester and an endorsement to take their clothes off — what could go wrong? Turns out it's a lot less than you may think. In the past two years, ASU has celebrated the semester's end with a massive on-campus party during which students strip down to their undies. Their discarded… More >>
  • Best Superhero Brawl

    Epic Superhero Battle 2009

    Improv AZ and the AZ Cacophony Society had already thrown time-stop and pillow-fight flash mobs when they decided to take it up a notch. The mission: create original superhero or villain identities, make those creations manifest through costume, and do battle with each other at Scottsdale Fashion Square. On June 27, costumed crusaders armed with swimming pool "noodles" and marshmallow… More >>
  • Best Wheels

    Roller Derby

    Word to the wise: You don't wanna to piss off Ann Thrash or any of the other fierce-looking females who populate the Valley's roller-derby scene. Like many in the roller-girl sisterhood, the punky 36-year-old has become skilled in hand-to-hand combat as captain of the Arizona Derby Dames' Runaway Brides squad. Wielding hands of stone and the ability to land her elbow… More >>
  • Best Imagination

    Todd McFarlane

    For many comic book artists, it would have been enough to be the guy who breathed new life into Spider-Man. Not Todd McFarlane, a Canadian we're happy to say now calls the Valley home. He didn't rest 'til he'd built an empire — complete with a wildly successful series that spawned an animated TV series, a full-length film, a line… More >>
  • Best Beach

    Big Surf

    Long ago, Big Surf meant school was out and the beach — such as it was — was open. We wee Gidgets and mini Moondoggies pulled on our snorkels and grabbed our boogie boards and headed to Tempe to enjoy America's original water park, which was a fake "ocean" with a giant wave machine buried in its big, wet belly. Today,… More >>
  • Best Hidden Treasure

    Pueblo Grande Museum and Archaeological Park

    Tucked away behind State Route 143, near Sky Harbor airport, Pueblo Grande isn't easy to find — but it sure is worth the search. This half-museum, half-archeological park transports visitors back nearly 1,500 years to the crumbling capital of the ancient Hohokam civilization. We suggest starting with the 10-minute video introduction to the prehistoric ruins before grabbing one of the museum's… More >>
  • Best Male Pro Athlete

    Larry Fitzgerald, Arizona Cardinals

    Forget about T.O. (that would be Terrell Owens), Randy Moss, Chad Ochocinco, Steve Smith. Andre Johnson, okay?! Larry Fitzgerald, he of our very own NFC Champion Arizona Cardinals, is the best wide receiver in the professional game today. He's big, he's sure-handed, he's money. Everybody liked to marvel at aged Cardinals quarterback Kurt Warner's renewed prowess last season, and it was… More >>
  • Best Breakables

    "Chihuly: The Nature of Glass"

    Tourists and locals alike are still ranting and raving about DBG's spectacular exhibition featuring the gigantic glass sculptures of Seattle-based artist Dale Chihuly. Though the exhibit had traveled internationally before it came to the Valley (we had seen it at the Missouri Botanical Garden in St. Louis back in May 2006), Chihuly created a number of site-specific installations just for… More >>
  • Best Athlete and Prizefighter of All Time

    Muhammad Ali

    Muhammad Ali was the greatest athlete, much less the greatest prizefighter, ever. Beyond legendary. The Scottsdale resident moved to the Valley after he was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease and is seen at a plethora of charity and sporting events around town, including at the NBA All-Star Game at US Airways Center earlier this year. Ali was the proverbial poet in boxing… More >>
  • Best Superstar

    Steve Nash

    Steve Nash is a good guy. And he's all we've got in this basketball-crazy town. He's the only superstar left on the Phoenix Suns. He's a two-time NBA Most Valuable Player and the anchor of our professional basketball club. Sure, he's getting some miles on him. Point guards probably run 20 miles a game, and Nash is more frenetic than most… More >>
  • Best Hope for the Diamondbacks

    Justin Upton

    There have been a few great Arizona Diamondbacks during the team's short existence: pitchers Curt Schilling, Randy Johnson, Brandon Webb, and Dan Haren; hitter Luis Gonzalez. But "The Kid" may turn out to be the best of them all. That's our prediction, anyway, and a growing number of baseball professionals are also shouting the praises of Justin Upton. Upton, 21, played… More >>
  • Best Valley Pastime

    Spring Training

    In the 1989 Kevin Costner film Field of Dreams, the confused ghost of a 1910s-era baseball player walks around a baseball diamond in the middle of a cornfield, and asks, "Is this Heaven?" Costner's character, Ray Kinsella, responds, "No, it's Iowa." Well, walk around Phoenix in mid-March and you may find yourself asking that same question. For baseball fans, March in… More >>

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