Best Hidden Neighborhood 2017 | Tonka Vista | Megalopolitan Life | Phoenix

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.

Phoenix's history runs deep. Block 23, otherwise known as that empty parking lot next to CityScape, has seen its share of activity over the years: a theater, a JCPenney, and, before that, the city's first fire station. But when construction crews broke ground for what will eventually become a mixed-use development, they uncovered something older than all the previous tenants combined: five Hohokam pit houses believed to date back as far as 300 B.C. The site was remarkably intact given the centuries of activity above, but takeaway artifacts were few and far between. And while construction ultimately resumed, tearing up the remaining houses in the process, archaeologists were able to preserve some shards of pottery, which will be recorded, carbon-dated, and eventually gifted to the Pueblo Grande Museum.

In Phoenix, we've got a bad habit of tearing down our history. So go scope out the Buckhorn Baths sign while you can. The famous Mesa curiosity, posted outside of the long-shuttered Buckhorn Mineral Baths, has been the subject of much debate and was included in a historic-trust purchase. To this day, no one can quite decide what will become of it. Make the trek to Mesa and take it in. Bask in its kitschy glory. There's something majestic about that buck deer gazing out over Mesa. It's a relic of bygone days, of Old West mystique, and former glories. Even as Mesa morphs and sprawls, there's something about that stoic buckhorn that seems to remind us of who we once were, of the promise and hope of the desert. We can't put a finger on it either, but it's worth preserving.

You'll spot Psychic Consultations by the small sign announcing psychic readings in the front yard of a little white house at the corner of 44th Street and Glenrosa Avenue. After you find street parking, you'll meet your reader — a European woman who specializes in tarot card readings and palmistry. Psychic Consultations covers areas like relationships, goals, career paths, and spiritual development through their palm reading-services. You'll get a basic character reading in this quaint east Phoenix neighborhood home, which is said to provide insights to yourself, your future, and your love life in 30-minute and one-hour sessions. What's more, they're also available for parties and events. Plus, there are plenty of good restaurants around for after your reading.

Some superstitions say that black cats bring bad luck. Some superstitions say black cats bring good luck. We say that black cats, like all cats, are soft and adorable and we want to snuggle them. When the urge hits, we go to La Gattara Cat Lounge & Boutique. The lounge, which opened earlier this year, is a bright space decorated in cheerful tones of pink and blue. Shag rugs, pillows, and beanbag chairs dot the floor, making it feel like someone's basement rec room — y'know, if that person also had, like, 20 cats. Besides allowing the feline-loving public to just come in and hang out for a small fee, the lounge also holds a number of events, like yoga with cats, cat-themed movie nights, group painting sessions, and even speed dating. The cats and kittens come from a number of local rescue groups and are adoptable, so if you happen to fall in love with one feline in particular (black or otherwise), you could end up with a forever friend. Lucky you.

It's about 5,000 miles from Phoenix to Dublin, so it's not exactly practical to hop a plane to the Emerald Isle to experience the best of Irish culture. We prefer to get in on the luck of the Irish a little closer to home; namely, at the Irish Cultural Center and McClelland Library in downtown Phoenix. It's hard to miss — it's the only set of buildings that looks like a freaking castle and Irish cottage in the neighborhood — and it's got a little bit of everything. St. Patrick's Day celebrations? Check. Full-color facsimile of the Book of Kells? Yup. Historical exhibits, live music, genealogy resources, and Irish dance classes? Those too. You can even get married there if your nearest and dearest aren't willing to go to Ireland for a destination wedding. Whatever the reason for visiting, we feel lucky that the Irish Cultural Center is a part of downtown Phoenix.

Scottsdale artist Oliver Hibert dabbles in the erotic, the creepy, and the trippy. Small wonder he'd lend his talent for painting spectacularly psychedelic scenes to three sets of tarot card decks, including his most recent Secret Arcana edition. This 22-card divination set is a saturated, mod take on the symbols and themes of a typical tarot set. Instead of pentacles, cups, and swords, Hibert unleashes headless bodies, skeleton keys, and outer-space scenes in chartreuse, lime, highlighter yellow, and flamingo pink. And yes, the set comes with an explainer booklet that reveals what all that stuff means.

Located among the quaint storefronts of Historic Downtown Glendale, the Astrology Store is a metaphysical supply store and gift shop that definitely draws attention. Yes, there are books, jewelry, even a massage studio — but it also makes sense that The Astrology Store would have some decent astrology readings. The shop has a small fleet of readers specializing in astrology, among other subjects, in the store for 20- and 30-minute sessions. One reader in particular is Dave Campbell, a member of both the American Federation of Astrologers and the Arizona Society of Astrologers, who specializes in natal, forecast, relationship, relocation, asteroid, and horary readings. The shop also offers a specialty astrology class series and the Superstar Advanced Course in Asteroids, plus books on how to conduct your own astrology reading if you were so inclined.

Have you been feeling stressed? Had something that you just can't get off your mind? A burden weighing on your shoulders? We hate to say it, but all that worry may be causing your aura to get a bit mucked up. But it's nothing that Ron Seavey and his team at Phoenix Rising Now can't handle. With their aura photography and imaging technology, they'll pinpoint what has your energy all whacked out and use energy or crystal healing to get everything back in sync. You'll walk out of Phoenix Rising feeling refreshed, with a squeaky clean aura. And when you're perusing the crystals Phoenix Rising Now has on display and one particular healing stone seems to be pulling you in, just go with it. Your aura may be trying to tell you something.

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