Tumbleweed Park
Playtopia at Tumbleweed Park in Chandler is a free place for families to romp, featuring a 2.5-acre playground and picnic area. For a good six months out of the year, this is a go-to spot for families looking for a good time. You'll find themed areas throughout, including Farm Land, City Land, and Critter Land. This is also a great place to drop off the kids with the grandparents, because there are photo ops at every turn.
Jump Street
You know what's bullshit? Walking. Of all the evolutionary traits that could be insanely better, bipedal motion is right at the top of our list. That's why we literally jumped for joy when we stumbled upon Jumpstreet, an indoor trampoline park in Chandler. We're going to repeat that: an indoor trampoline park. Here, the limbs you once used merely as a mode of conveyance from place to place can have you ninja-flipping like some sort of acrobatic madman. Want a challenge? Jumpstreet also has trampoline dodgeball. Bounce to avoid a big, red ball to the face. Tigger won't have shit on you.
Hearing the word "dodgeball" may awaken nostalgic memories of the game played during recess in grade school. Well, recess is over, punk. The AZ Dodgeball League made sure of that. As part of the league, you can join up with ball-throwing maniacs just like you (on teams with names like "Ninja Please" and "Two in the Pink"). League play goes down at the Family Life Center in Mesa. Want to test the waters before committing to the full-on dodgeball lifestyle? Head to an open-gym night, when anyone can play for a small fee. If you think that AZ Dodgeball is only about the game, think again. After a few hours of slugging red balls at each other, AZ Dodgeball parties hard at drinking establishments that sponsor teams, such as Bogeys in Tempe.

Best Public Lifelong Game You've Never Heard Of

Birdman

The rules of Birdman are simple. First, make the "okay" sign with your index fingers and thumbs. Rotate your wrists outward and flip these rings over your eyes. These are your "goggles." If, while wearing your goggles, you make eye contact with a participating Birdman player (after they've agreed to play with a handshake) he or she must immediately lie down so that his or her back touches the ground. However, should the targeted player sense your attack, he or she may block your goggles with the "monocle," or one index finger and thumb ring pressed against an eye with the other fingers pointing up. The origins of Birdman are shrouded in mystery. Suffice it to say the game is catching on in Tempe. Flash your goggles at the wait staff at Boulders on Broadway and prepare for the inevitable counterattack.
If you happen to see a family of four dressed as video game characters or superheroes running down the sidewalks of Mill Avenue in Tempe, don't panic. The Arizona heat hasn't finally gotten to you. They likely are part of one of the off-kilter Urban Dare adventure races. Inspired by such reality TV competitions as The Amazing Race and offering cash prizes and free airfare, these twice-yearly costumed scavenger hunts require participants to don outlandish outfits and dash around Tempe and Phoenix. Meanwhile, they hunt for clues and complete a series of goofy challenges, like maybe a giant game of Jenga or jump-rope contest. Then again, they could just be a bunch of nutters who let the Arizona heat get to them. The next Valley event is scheduled for March 24, 2012.
Let It Roll Bowl
This still-charming, vaguely futuristic building was designed in 1960 by Ralph Haver-influenced Pierson Miller Ware and Associates, a well-regarded architecture firm. It opened in 1962 with 32 lanes and a coffee shop that served a heaping plate of biscuits and gravy for 35 cents and packed in a crowd for the Friday-night fish fry. The former Northgate Bowl (which became Sunset Bowl sometime in the '70s) is a Sunnyslope fixture and looks the same (from the outside, anyway) as it did way back when. Even the wacky light-up sign with its pop-out letters is the same one erected in 1962, although new owners overhauled the interior in the '90s, adding lanes, a computer scoring system, a video arcade, a daycare, and a pro shop. But these improvements only make bowling at Let it Roll all the more fun for the whole family.
K1 Speed
When local off-road racer "Pistol" Pete Sohren closed his Speedway indoor kart-racing business, Valley go-kart enthusiasts weren't left with many options — that is, until national chain K1 Speed opened a Phoenix location in the old Speedway building. Visitors can now enjoy all the medium-octane (45 miles per hour, max) excitement of whizzing around an indoor track on a go-kart — minus noxious exhaust fumes. All K1's karts are electric, which means you can race with a group of friends, and spectators won't have to shout at each other or gag on the smell of gas. As a company, K1 has credibility — professional racer Boris Said is a co-owner — and the tracks are designed to mimic those in NASCAR. Plus, the lobby is pretty pimp, all decked out in custom paintings of cars, chrome siding, and shiny arcade racing games, with plenty of black leather couches and chairs for resting after the big race.
This rugged road provides a challenge for quad riders and other off-highway vehicle enthusiasts, and it offers breathtaking views and a chance to discover remnants of Arizona's mining days. You can explore the area and see the stone houses occupied by early miners. Take I-10 west to the Salome Road exit and turn right. Turn right again on Eagle Eye Road and travel 8.5 miles to a dirt road that heads north toward a mountain summit. It's an amazing playground year-round, but especially welcoming in the fall, winter, and spring.
"I wish I was at the mall," our wife muttered as the Jeep tilted sideways, the doorless passenger's side showing nothing but rocks and earth. The nod to our studly 4x4-ing didn't go unappreciated, and we assured her the vehicle was far from tipping over. This was just one of several times she expressed regret for signing up for this tour, but at least one of us was having a great time. Driving from Interstate 17 to Seven Springs on Table Mesa Road (a.k.a. Forest Road 41) is one of those half-day Arizona adventures that should be experienced at least once by everyone with a high-clearance vehicle and a love for bumps. You could probably get a passenger car down this road, if you don't mind beating it up some. But for the minority of SUV owners willing to drive on dirt, Table Mesa offers an experience that falls neatly between extreme and boring. Exit I-17 just north of New River and head east. The few river crossings are nothing you can't handle (assuming no storms and flash-flooding). Stay on FR 41 until it merges with the southbound Seven Springs Road. You can go east-west, of course, but we found it charming to end the trail with the transition from the beautiful-but-austere Sonoran wilderness to the riparian Seven Springs area, with its sprinkling of cottages and almost Connecticut-like feel, before heading back to town through upscale Scottsdale and right past the mall.
South Mountain Park and Preserve
After a hectic day, there are many surefire ways to escape from reality. Some are expensive. Others are illegal. Luckily, viewing the sunset at South Mountain is a free antidote to calm your weary mind without any side effects. Head up to Dobbins Point at dusk and take it slow as you drive up the windy, meandering Summit Road. We recommend raising the volume of your tunes (possibly Alexi Murdoch's "Orange Sky") as you take in the light against the crags and the mountain profiles along the way. Once you reach the top, check out the planes departing and arriving at Sky Harbor to the east as they fade in and out of view, and, to the west, see the lights over the neighborhoods below. Remember to appreciate the contours of the many varieties of cacti on your way back down the road to reality.

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