Like its namesake book-turned-movie, Ready Player 1 Arcade taps into hardcore nostalgia. Located inside Jesse James Comics in Glendale, the place is packed with retro games galore, including 35 pinball machines (both classic and modern) and a few dozen old-school arcade titles. The throwback thrills come cheap, too: Arcade games are only a quarter and pinballs cost 50 cents a pop. Everything comes from the personal collection of owner Danny Moreno, who keeps each unit operating in peak condition. So, if you get wasted by the enemies of Double Dragon, The Simpsons, or NARC, don't blame the joystick. Your skills might be lacking, just like they were back in the day.

A bounty of billiards tables is just the tip of the iceberg at Freezer's. The Tempe establishment also offers darts, cornhole, ping-pong, and giant Connect Four games. Still, the 24 Diamond pool tables are what really make the place shine. The exquisitely crafted multi-wood and slate tables remain smooth with nary a snag in their cloth surfaces, despite their constant use. Orbiting these gems are more than 70 large-screen TVs and servers ferrying more than 24 kinds of different beers from the taps to the tables. Good deal alert: There's free pool from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday with a $10 food or drink purchase.

You could spend a whole day inside Mavrix and still not get around to trying out several of the enticing activities on offer at this Scottsdale party venue, which opened in March. Located in the Talking Stick Entertainment District, Mavrix has 22 bowling lanes (several of which deploy augmented reality and video game technology), laser tag, a massive arcade full of games, pool tables, a couple of bars, a restaurant, an outdoor beer garden, a meeting space for events, and probably some things we didn't even see when we visited earlier this year. We'll be back soon, though: We don't want to live in a world where Angry Birds-themed interactive bowling exists and we haven't tried it yet.

Castles -n- Coasters

You might think we'd be jealous of all of the Southern Californians and Floridians, with their world-class theme parks right in their backyards. You're right; we kind of are. But we've got our own little amusement park to keep us occupied until the next time we can visit a coast. Castles ~n~ Coasters is an easy drive from most corners of metro Phoenix, it's less than $40 for unlimited rides, and the parking situation isn't bad. And there's no shortage of stuff to do, from Desert Storm, Arizona's only real roller coaster, to our personal favorite, the Sea Dragon rocking-boat ride. Add in bumper cars, bumper boats, mini golf, go-karts, a freefall ride, a fun house, and an arcade full of games, and the fact that we don't have to hear "It's a Small World" when we're there, and we've all but forgotten the so-called happiest place on Earth.

Octane Raceway

Octane Raceway's 1/3-mile racing track winds through the facility and then outside before looping back in. It's the only full-time indoor-outdoor track in the United States, and during the summer, the oppressive Arizona heat that builds inside drivers' racing helmets has the added effect of making them push the pedal to the metal even harder. Suffice it to say, these aren't state fair bumper cars — the 32 go-karts at Octane Raceway are electric SODI RTX European racing karts that can hit speeds up to 45 miles per hour. Adult races are 14 laps, while junior races make 10 laps around the track. Winners are determined by a fastest lap format. Racing memberships are required to race but cost as little as $7 a year for the standard membership (which includes helmet rentals and head socks) and $200 a year for the titanium membership (which includes everything from the standard membership, plus five cart races and additional discounts). Races cost $22 per driver. Vroom, vroom.

Open the doors at Bowlero, and you're hit with all kinds of stimuli: bright lights, the bleats and blurts of electronic games, the familiar sound of balls knocking over pins. That's because Bowlero is much more than a bowling alley. It's also an arcade and a lounge that serves bar food (wings, burgers) and craft beers from local breweries. Bowlero is a safe space, in other words, for those with low attention spans and for those with low bowling scores. If you're rolling gutterballs, there's always something else to do here.

With triple-digit temps lasting all the way through October, we're constantly seeking refuge from the burning Phoenix sun. Ice Den is always there for us. We especially like that this Scottsdale spot is more than just a rink. Ice Den has its own on-site bar, 18 Degrees, where Mom and Dad can grab a drink or a bite to eat while watching the kids whiz by out on the ice. Want to join them, but afraid you'll crash and freeze? Ice Den offers lessons for adults as well as children. Or maybe you can pick up a few pointers by catching a glimpse of the Arizona Coyotes, who practice here. Even if the hockey pros are hogging the rink, at least you've beaten the heat for a frosty few hours.

Phoenix Suns fans suspected shooting guard Devin Booker might have some serious game when the team nabbed him with the 13th pick in the 2015 draft. But the 23-year-old from the University of Kentucky has become a megastar, leading one of the most exciting young franchises in the NBA. A lethal scorer who can drive or drain jumpers from anywhere on the court, Booker lately has been sinking dimes from the logo and netting buzzer-beating, game-winning daggers; he's arguably the MVP of the NBA bubble. Yes, Booker has a supermodel girlfriend in Kendall Jenner. But we're more impressed with what he's doing on the court.

Kobe Bryant (may he rest) nicknamed Phoenix Mercury guard Diana Taurasi "The White Mamba." Deandre Ayton called her the Michael Jordan of the WNBA, where she's the all-time leading scorer. Taurasi has four Olympic gold medals as a member of Team USA. She's a nine-time WNBA All-Star who led the Phoenix Mercury to three WNBA Championships (2007, 2009, and 2014) and took home the MVP Award in 2009. But all of the records, medals, and titles are just part of what makes Taurasi the G.O.A.T. — it's also her spirit, her grit, and her determination that encourages her teammates and makes everyone around her better. Look for her to possibly coach in Phoenix after spending her entire pro career here.

The merchandise for the Valley's United Soccer League team isn't fancy or expensive. The designs are all simple but effective variations and amalgamations of the Phoenix Rising logo, soccer balls, and the shape of the state of Arizona. Unlike a Phoenix Suns player jersey that will set you back about $110, Phoenix Rising jerseys have sponsor logos on the front that are larger than the team logos (this season, that sponsor is Carvana), but they cost less ($65 to $95) and are super comfortable — like all Phoenix Rising apparel. That's what makes this gear so great. Shirts are made from high-quality cotton, polyester, and rayon blends, and some of the T-shirts can be colorful and edgy compared to the rest (we love the sugar skull with soccer balls for eyes). But perhaps the best merch offerings are the Phoenix Rising socks — five kinds to choose from (designed by Rock 'Em Socks and For Bare Feet), all engineered to keep feet healthy while looking awesome.

Best Of Phoenix®

Best Of