Best Place to Watch a Spring Training Game 2017 | Peoria Sports Complex | Fun & Games | Phoenix

Let's face it — there's no bad place to watch spring training in Arizona. If you're at a game, you're likely either retired, on vacation, or skipping work. Many fans favor the grander stadiums like Salt River Fields at Talking Stick, where our Diamondbacks play, and the new digs in Mesa for the World Champion (doesn't that sound strange?) Chicago Cubs. But we agree with Texas baseball fan and author Dan Hammond (Delbert Judd, The Solomon Twist). He prefers the stadium in Peoria, spring training home of the San Diego Padres and the Seattle Mariners. It has more of a "minor-league feel," says Hammond, who was an average high school player. "Nothing beats sitting on a low row behind the manager and coaches when they sit outside the dugout." You don't just learn strategy, he says, you also learn who is watching the game and who is watching some of the women in the stands.

A solid, panoramic view of the mountains that make Phoenix "the Valley" usually comes at a premium price point. If a plane ticket, a cushy bank job on the top floor, or a high-end resort cocktail all sound out of your league, try the Biltmore parking garage, why don't you? Sure, the once-charming shopping mall has gone the way of the rest of the malls in Phoenix, and now feels more bougie than bohemian, but we are here to tell you that a good, old-fashioned, cheap thrill can still be had. When you arrive at the mall, head straight for the four-level parking garage on the north side. That sunlit stairwell you always pass without noticing? That's your ticket to paradise. Climb past the floors of employee parking until you get to the top, where virtually no one is parked, and then take a deep breath. The cross-breeze will reward your climb (and clear away the exhaust fumes), and you'll be left with the best, free, 360-degree view of our fair city. Shhh, don't tell anyone — we don't want them to start charging us for it.

If Phoenix is known for anything besides the "dry" heat and former Sheriff Joe Arpaio, it's our Technicolor sunsets. The cotton-candy pinks, dandelion yellows, and dusty purples lining any lingering clouds paint our desert sky and are sure to fill your eyes, and definitely your Facebook feed, with wonder. But if you truly want to watch the desert become a piece of art during the golden hour, drive east out of town to the base of the Superstition Mountains. Lost Dutchman State Park becomes a living watercolor as the sun dips below the horizon, especially during the cloudy, dusty monsoon season. The fading light refracting and dancing across the results of volatile ancient volcanoes showcases just how beautiful our harsh landscape can be. If these descriptions sound a little flowery, just wait until you see the waning sun radiate through a field of cholla cactuses, and you'll be waxing poetic, too.

On any given day, James Turrell’s Knight Rise skyspace installation at Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art is an interesting component of the museum, a concrete enclosure equipped only with a narrow entrance, concrete bench, and elliptical opening in the ceiling. But at sunrise on the day of the winter solstice, and sunset on the day on the summer solstice, SMoCA invites the community to come into the skyspace to appreciate the beauty of nature in a unique way. The design of Knight Rise produces an optical illusion in which the sky seems to descend into the space while appearing as a disc of shifting color. The nominal fee for the SMoCA solstice events usually includes beverages and snacks, making it a magical way to mark the passage of time.
The Supes, as locals call the range, soar above all other Phoenix-area crags in both height and spirit. The western cliff faces — the volcanic rock colored a soft brown — rise to more than 5,000 feet and can be seen from most anywhere in metro Phoenix. In rainy weather, they brood like dark giants, their upper reaches in the clouds. This is the Valley’s Yosemite, a place of incredible vistas, gravity-defying rock hoodoos, and a lush Sonoran ecosystem that’s home to elusive desert animals like coatimundis, javelinas, and bighorn sheep. Don’t mistake this federal wilderness preserve for just another mountain park. It comprises about 240 square miles — bigger than Scottsdale and Tempe combined. Take it easy on the short trails around Lost Dutchman State Park, gazing in awe at circling hawks and plains that erupt with color in wildflower season. Or take it hard, pushing your physical limits to the top of steep trails like Siphon Draw. Rock climbers can challenge themselves here on the tallest routes in the Phoenix area. Whatever you do, be prepared for adventure — and that means taking enough water for your hike, especially if the weather is warm. Every few years, people searching for the fabled Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine traipse deep into Superstition Mountains with homemade treasure maps — and are never seen alive again. But don’t fret — most Superstitions visitors enjoy this natural treasure without any problems bigger than a blister. You’ve seen them from afar — now go experience them at their best, up close and personal.
In Greek mythology, the Labyrinth was the structure that held the ferocious Minotaur captive. Fast-forward thousands of years, and labyrinths are more commonly used as tools of meditation and reflection. That’s the case at the Franciscan Renewal Center, an oasis of calm in the heart of Scottsdale. The labyrinth is a flat path bordered by stones where the public is invited to walk in quiet contemplation. There’s no cost to use it or reservations needed; the labyrinth is open when the center is, from early in the morning to mid-evening, all year round. There’s something about the mindfulness required to navigate the gently winding path that makes the cares of the world drop away, and while there’s no monster in this labyrinth, it does an admirable job of soothing worried minds and anxious spirits.
Legend has it that nailing a horseshoe near your front door is a good thing, but we’ve heard conflicting instructions — open-end up keeps the good luck in the house, but open-end down wards off evil. We don’t want to take a chance on doing the wrong thing (and horseshoes would really clash with our decor), so when we want just a bit of that good horseshoe juju, we play a couple of rounds at The Monastery in east Mesa. The bar/restaurant is located in a Santa Fe-style house and has a little something for everyone, including a full menu, plenty of TVs, cornhole, volleyball, live entertainment, giant Connect 4, and the aforementioned horseshoe pits. The Monastery is family-friendly as well, making it an ideal place to take the kids for an afternoon of fun. Just be careful: We’re pretty sure hitting a youngster with a horseshoe is bad luck — whichever end is up.

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