Arizona Doll and Toy Museum
We thought we'd seen it all when it comes to Phoenix, at least until a friend brought us to the Arizona Doll & Toy Museum. This small treasure, tucked into a historic house in downtown's Heritage Square, is a wonderful monument to childhood. Antique dolls from different decades share their home with more modern Betsy Wetsy types. There's even a period school room all set up for the dolls. We won't tell you everything that's there we don't want to ruin the surprise but make sure you go, and take a kindergartner along. You'll both have fun.
You'll have to excuse us if we're a little tired. We've spent the past few nights visiting the Valley's various flesh factories in search of the best strip club. Frankly, they tend to run together, all seemingly offering the same pole-dancing and lap-grinding brand of nearly naked ladies of the night who move and groove to blaring rock and hip-hop jams. Fortunately, the femmes fatales of the Pin-Up Girl Lounge stood out from the rest of the pubic pack. It's a classy joint, with a sultry red color scheme and a seductive series of dancers shaking their moneymakers, most of whom appear to be naturally endowed, with very little silicone in sight. While witnessing all this bumping and grinding, we enjoyed the lounge's seriously swank selection of premium liquors, including cognac and scotch. The cover only ran us $7 (from 7 p.m. to 1:30 a.m. daily), leaving plenty of greenbacks to partake in lap dances starting at $10 (it's $15 for "up against the wall action" and $20 to get into the VIP room), particularly from that one honey-haired hottie we had our eyes on all night. Do you think she'll really call us, like she promised?
It's crowded, sweaty and packed with college students trying to hook up for the night. So, why do we love the Buzz? Segregation. Yes, it's a political buzz word, but when you're talking nightclubs, having your own space is a godsend. There are three separate dance floors segregated by age and gender. The center of the hive is the aforementioned main floor, a huge, all-ages space pulsing with hip-hop beats. If you're over 21, make a beeline for the upstairs lounge. There's a private dance floor with two adjoining bars the only place alcohol is served on the premises. There's also a separate women's dance floor that hosts "Girls Night Out." It's a comfortable place for queen bees to bump and grind without having to push away a bunch of half-drunk drones.

BEST MUSEUM YOU HAVEN'T BEEN TO SINCE YOU WERE A KID

Heard Museum

Heard Museum
In case you haven't heard, the Heard Museum isn't the place you visited on that Brownie field trip, back in third grade. Sure, the traditional Native American exhibits are still in place (beefed up, in fact), but now you can get modern with other exhibits, like the recent one-man show of the work of Hector Ruiz, a local Mexican artist, or the current "Holy Land: Diaspora and the Desert." The "Holy Land" exhibition's stirred up all kinds of controversy, but isn't that what art's all about? Go see it for yourself. And if you are one of those kids who visited the Heard in third grade, check out the Indian School exhibit, about a Phoenix fixture that's gone, but not forgotten. One more museum improvement: There's now a beautiful cafe, run by Arcadia Farms a nice complement to the gift shop, still the best place in town to find quality Native American jewelry and crafts.
Louise Bourgeois' amazing 90-foot mirror was the talk of the town long before its dedication in August, and Phoenix is right to be proud of the latest project in a rich history of wonderful public art. Funded by the convention center's Percent for the Arts Funds, we can think of no better way to reflect our city's dedication to the arts. The mirror is made of polished steel cut into a spider-web pattern, offering viewers a constantly changing view. Look, it's Phoenix!
Stoudemire's may be the rookie among local sports pubs, but it's got all the makings of a major league player. Great location. Giant televisions. And a celebrity co-owner. The brainchild of Phoenix Suns superstar Amar Stoudemire and renowned chef Eddie Matney, the bar is sleek and modern, with billiards, a large dance floor, and wi-fi access. Hoping to see some stars in Phoenix? Celebrities like Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb and Sports Illustrated columnist Rick Reilly have already been spotted sipping late-night cocktails. We love this place because it doesn't look like a shrine to Stoudemire. There are a few token jerseys behind the bar, but that's the extent of the sports memorabilia. It seems stardom hasn't gone to Stoudemire's head, even though he was NBA Rookie of the Year, an Olympic athlete and an NBA All-Star.
We probably shouldn't admit that we always check our hair as we pass by this gorgeously reflective work by local artist Bob Adams, but we do. Our vanity isn't so great, however, that we think we're any prettier than Adams' super-cool installation of circular, convex mirrors lining the walkway between Phoenix Theatre and the Phoenix Art Museum. It's a work that's both a commentary on visual art and a nice reminder that important artists like Adams live among us. And fie on the jokers at Phoenix Theatre who recently tried to have this delightful installation removed. We know good art when we see it.
Padre Murphy's
Phoenicians who are convinced that the only thing north of Greenway Road is car dealerships and cookie-cutter housing tracts will be surprised to find a sports bar like Padre Murphy's. With 50 TVs, off-track betting, and a slamming menu, Padre Murphy's is all about sports, sports, sports, and caters to everyone. There are family-friendly booths and a misted patio for casual diners, and the bar for the quiet drinker looking to make a few bets on the dog races. Tired of burgers and fries? Try the Herbed Chicken Spiedie and the "Tommy Shea" sandwich (a cheesy bundle of peppers) with an Irish Car Bomb (a potent concoction made with Guinness, Bailey's and Jameson). Forget about going anywhere else on St. Paddy's Day the party pours out into the parking lot every year under a giant-size tent. Best of all, Padre Murphy's isn't a "status" sports bar no one cares about what kind of car you drive or how many Benjamins you have in your pocket (well, maybe that honey at the bar might) at Murph's, it's all about you.
Guadalupe Market
Next time you take a pass through the tiny town of Guadalupe, stop at the Guadalupe Market. Not for the fresh vegetables, which are pretty damn good, but to do a little urban sightseeing. The large mural on the side of the building is a window into the local culture. The mission-style Our Lady of Guadalupe Church is at the center of the painting, surrounded by children playing the piata game. A troupe of folklorico dancers floats on the painted dirt, and in one corner a large hand cradles the white dove of peace. It's not that we love the artwork, per se. The figures are little more than basic shapes, and the proportions are fantastical. But it does what a community mural should it makes locals proud to be who they are.
Dillon's Restaurant
Just the thought of pecan-smoked anything sends us through the roof. This friendly barbecue joint at Thunderbird Road and Loop 101 does the 'cue just right, slow-cooking the tender meats in a big vat in front of everyone. The great sight lines to the strategically placed TV screens naturally please the sports junkies in the house, and an encyclopedic piano player on the weekends adds yet another dimension. Try the brisket, a ball game and a beer at this popular northwest Valley spot, and you won't budge from your seat for hours.

Best Of Phoenix®

Best Of