Best Place to See a Spring Training Game

Salt River Fields

Salt River Fields

If baseball is America's pastime, then we think it's safe to say that spring training specifically is Arizona's. Despite the increased traffic from snowbirds, spring training might just be the most wonderful time of the year in the Valley. And while we're lucky enough to choose from a mittful of places to watch this American classic, we keep going back to Salt River Fields. Even if the complex wasn't incredibly easy to access right off the Loop 101, didn't have an abundance of parking available or a well-shaded grandstand, and didn't offer great tanning potential on the affordable lawn seating, we'd still have a soft spot for these fields. What could be better than watching our home team play against the background of the beautiful McDowell Mountains in the distance?

SunRidge Canyon Golf Club

In a region known for top-notch golf courses, it can be hard to choose. Don't get teed off; choose SunRidge Canyon, made famous by its challenging last six holes (the Wicked Six). Though the 71-par course is in a residential neighborhood, it doesn't feel that way, because everywhere you go on the course, you're surrounded by gorgeous panoramic views of the McDowell Mountains. And it's not just the backdrop that's beautiful. Designer Keith Foster made a point of incorporating the naturally occurring rock deposits and undulations of the land in his design, giving the course a uniquely tranquil and desert-like feel. Make sure you save time to check out the patio and outdoor fire pit at the Wicked Six Bar & Grill restaurant — unless you've somehow grown tired of breathtaking views.

The history behind Big Surf is nothing short of incredible. Once a pool hall featuring musical acts such as Pink Floyd and Elton John, for decades, Phoenicians have been catching waves formed from 2.5 million gallons of water. These days, Big Surf is a bona fide water park, with speeding water sides and its newest addition, the Mauna Kea Zip Line. Big Surf is bringing the island vibes without the jet lag.

If you want to feel hip, modern, and cool (literally), we recommend grabbing your most fashionable swimsuit and heading over to the Hotel Palomar in downtown Phoenix. Sure, other hotel pools might be larger or more tricked-out, but none are more stylish than the Palomar's rooftop escape. Between dips, you can lounge in one of the plush poolside cabanas with a delicious cocktail from Lustre Rooftop Bar, just actual steps from the edge of the pool. And if you time your visit just right, you can bathe in the glow of the evening sun reflecting off the surrounding skyscrapers. We don't think there's any place that in Phoenix that feels more "big city."

South Mountain Park and Preserve

One of the best things about venturing into nature is the humbling feeling of being incredibly small. And thanks to the fact that Phoenix has the largest municipal park in the nation within the city's limits, this feeling is always close at hand. If you truly want to take advantage of everything South Mountain has to offer, we suggest visiting at sunset. Whether you brave the hike or opt for the windy drive to the summit, there's no better place to let the vastness of both the park and the surrounding city overwhelm you than standing on the peak of the mountain while watching the glow of the evening golden hour wash over the Valley.

Everybody knows that Phoenix has stunning, photo-worthy sunsets. Though fewer people rave about them, the Valley's sunrises are just as remarkable. Maybe the desert's daybreaks have kept a lower profile because it's not as convenient to wake up before the sun to catch these spectacles. Or maybe it's just because people don't know the best place from which to view them. Well, take note, early birds: Phoenix Mountains Preserve holds the best places to watch the sun slowly peek over the eastern horizon. And the best part is that the hikes to get to the vantage points aren't overly strenuous. Stick to the southern side of the preserve, try to get as much height as possible, and watch the Valley light up as the day begins.


We know you've seen it before. The bright, colorful dresses, the braided hair with flowers, the embroidered jackets and pants, the large decorative sombreros. The women and girls dance in hypnotizing circles while holding the hems of their long skirts up in the air, swishing them back and forth gracefully. The men stamp their feet, echoing the beat of the music. This is folklorico, a traditional Mexican dance. And our favorite performers of this historic art form belong to Ballet Folklorico Ollin Yoliztli. "Ollin Yoliztli" means "life and movement" in ancient Aztec, and it's clear to see the meaning of the words incarnate combined with pride in the tradition in the motions of the school's students.

A word to the wise, wey: Don't expect to see any WWE-style pyrotechnics, posturing, or production values at the weekly wrestling events put on by Lucha Libre Por. (You can always catch Raw or SmackDown for that sort of stuff, cabron.) Here, it's all about bigger action, wilder matches, and higher-flying acrobatics, with a majority of grapplers sporting colorful and exotic-looking masks. In other words, all the traditions of Mexican-style wrestling, better known as lucha libre. It's what draws families and fans alike inside the Plaza Del Sol marketplace every Sunday afternoon to cheer and boo the larger-than-life luchadores or chant along en español as the action takes place in the ring. The cozy nature of the venue also allows for up close and personal interaction with the competitors, like when spectators hurl vicious insults their way, resulting in a few heated (but ultimately harmless) exchanges that are all in good fun. Don't worry, they won't lay a finger on you, no matter how badly you've dissed their madre.

Best Place to Learn Mariachi and Folklorico Dance

C.A.L.L.E. de Arizona

History is at the center of everything C.A.L.L.E. de Arizona does. The nonprofit's goal is to share the rich history of Mexican culture through various art forms. Two of these are music and dance, specifically mariachi and folklorico. And they celebrate these traditional arts at the yearly Mariachi and Folklorico Festival in Chandler. But they don't just expect people to show up and enjoy the festival. C.A.L.L.E. de Arizona offers workshops leading up to the festival, so as many folkoristas as possible can participate. This year, the organization employed the talents of Maestro Miguel Angel Arellano Peña to teach the students, so you know the festival is gonna be good.

 

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