Your car's navigation will never, ever, ever route you to the 303. That's because, based purely on mileage, it is always out of the way. But here's the thing: If you ever dare to venture the 10-15 miles out of your way, ignore the incessant route recalculations on your navigation system, and take the lovely, practically brand-new stretch, you'll discover that it takes exactly the same amount of time to get to where you were going as if you had taken the 101 or Grand Avenue. The only difference is, you'll be cruising along at top speed, without any traffic to distract you from your car karaoke. If your route should take you north, the section from Interstate 17 westward is an especially beautiful drive, the empty stretch lined with saguaros and jagged mountain peaks. Sure, you'll put more mileage on your car, but it's a hell of a lot nicer than watching taillights during rush hour, and sometimes, an even faster way to get to where you're going.

Call us traditionalists: On Halloween, we're less about topical yet sexy costumes and overpriced cover charges at bars, and more into some good, old-fashioned spookiness. Which is why we love PoeFest, an annual event in downtown Phoenix that pays homage to the creepy genius of the original master of horror, Edgar Allan Poe. For much of the month of October, PoeFest puts on live renditions of some of the author's most beloved works at the very haunted San Carlos Hotel; local actors dress up as asylum patients and perform dramatic readings of works like "The Tell-Tale Heart." The 2016 iteration, the festival's eighth, even included a seance where participants tried to make contact with Poe himself. The festival culminates with multiple readings of Poe's "The Raven" at the turn-of-the-century Rosson House on October 31. The poem is pretty short, so you can get a strong dose of Halloween spirit before donning your costume and heading off to the bar.

This is Phoenix. When Christmas rolls around, there's no winter wonderland, no riding in one-horse open sleighs, and no roasting chestnuts on an open fire (it's probably a no-burn day, anyway). What we've got, though, are mild evenings perfect for driving around and looking at holiday light displays, and the Moon Valley Neighborhood Association's 12 Homes of Christmas event in north central Phoenix is our favorite way to do it. The 29 subdivisions that comprise the MVNA include plenty of homeowners who go all out on the decorating front, including sound, light, and motion displays. Judges come through in early December to pick the delightful dozen, then produce a guide to the winners (along with winners in several other categories like the Spirit of Christmas award and the Santa's Helper award). Print out a map, pick up a hot cocoa (or an iced coffee, depending on the forecast), and get ready to light up the night.

A good Christmas lights display is equal parts awe, merriment, and pity for one's neighbors. The Sepanek home, south of the intersection of 44th Street and Camelback Road, makes you wonder if the rest of the people in the neighborhood simply take December off. Go to Fiji? Hibernate? It must be damn near impossible for the Sepaneks' neighbors to muster up the Christmas spirit to deal with the steady flow of cars come holiday time, not to mention the sleep-deprivation chambers their own houses must become, with millions of watts' worth of twinkle shining through their windows at all hours of the night. But that's not our problem. We silently thank those poor sods as we walk the grounds of the Christmas extravaganza on their block. Kids will love the bubbles, hot chocolate, and animatronic reindeers. Adults will love the fact that it's free. And everyone can get on board with the care and attention that has gone into each crèche, character, and carol singer; the display's tradition has carried on for over 30 years. Ho-ho-holy electric bill!

The Willo Historic Home Tour is our favorite see-and-be-seen old-house extravaganza. Every February, we head to downtown Phoenix to play lookie-loo at a dozen or more beautifully restored historic homes representing a variety of styles and eras: bungalows from the '20s, modified ranches from the '50s, Tudors and Craftsmans and adobes. After checking out crown moldings and wood floors and neat old furnishings, we head to the street fair featuring local vendors. Unlike some historic home tours, this one features a trolley that will take us to and fro, and an all-day pass lets us revisit our favorites, too.

This historic neighborhood sandwiches the Interstate 10 and serves up 20th-century charm. Founded by Francis Quarles Story in 1920 (hence the name), this 602-home hood features an assortment of Tudors, bungalows, and Spanish revivals — a good majority of which have been lovingly restored to their architectural heyday. Despite the slightly patchy surroundings, F.Q. delivers a serious draw: downtown proximity, pedestrian-friendly streets, and some serious curb appeal. So although homes in this area are of modest size, the real estate is pricey. No matter, we're fine oohing and aahing at the neighborhood's annual home tour in December.

We've got two words for why the Modern Phoenix Home Tour keeps returning to Paradise Gardens: Beadle Mania. The north Phoenix neighborhood nestled near Shea Boulevard and 32nd Street has some of the best examples of Midcentury Modern aesthetic in town, thanks to acclaimed architect Al Beadle, who had a hand in the initial design of the area. Whether the houses are genuinely his, however, is up for debate (supposedly, Beadle did not want his name associated with the project in the end). Regardless, the '60s-style concrete block homes are breezy and balanced thanks to curated desert landscapes and color accents that pop against earthy undertones. It's an unassuming area of town for sure, but its restaurant scene is improving, and from the right angle, it could rival a residential area in Palm Springs.

There's a little pocket of houses on the west side, bounded by Dunlap and Northern avenues and 35th and 43rd avenues, and a bunch of them are true-blue Ralph Haver homes. The renowned midcentury architect's low-slung designs are unmistakable with their slanted rooflines, clerestory windows, massive mantle-less chimneys, and tidy cinder block construction. They're also much sought after, and with fewer than 20,000 Havers in all of Arizona, we're sure this pocket tract will be hot real estate any day now. Grab one while you can, before this neighborhood even has a nickname.

For those of us that like to daydream about our future homes in Phoenix, Tonka Vista is essentially our Fight Club: We don't talk about it, because spreading the word about Tonka Vista means surrendering some of its charm. Despite being centrally located, backing up to State Route 51 and Bethany Home Road, this midcentury marvel manages to keep a low profile. With rolling streets and homes designed by prominent architects, including Ralph Haver, Fred Guirey, and Al Beadle, Tonka Vista has just about everything you want in a Phoenix suburb: great location, scenic streets, designer dwellings, and of course, a hush-hush address.

In the age of Atlas Obscura and murder podcast fandom, some of the city's more sinister properties are getting some renewed attention. The most prominent is the duplex of the 1931 murderess Winnie Ruth Judd. It was at this midtown home that the infamous Judd murdered her two roommates with a .25 caliber handgun before packing their bodies into trunks and taking the train out of Phoenix's Union Station with the victims in tow. After being caught and found guilty for her crimes, Judd was sentenced to a state mental hospital in 1933. Unlike the deceased murderess herself, however, the house lives on despite a close call with demolition last year. And while this macabre piece of real estate is private property, true crime enthusiasts can easily drive by the murder house for a shot of its eerie exterior.

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