Best Place to See Cool Cars 2021 | Martin Auto Museum | Fun & Games | Phoenix

Admiring the View on Galvin Parkway

It’s sort of silly, but you sometimes like to get on your bike and play a game you call Desert Tour Guide. In your favorite pretend scenario, you’re the director of a guided excursion through Papago Park and its amenities.

“Don’t forget to admire the Hayden Flour Mill,” you shout over your shoulder to your imaginary clients as you point your Schwinn Hybrid onto Mill Avenue Bridge, headed toward Phoenix. “But first, check out Tempe Town Lake! Woo hoo!”

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Valley car culture often presents as 10-foot trucks or sports cars pushing 100 miles per hour. But there's a place where cars are celebrated in a more stationary way: the Martin Auto Museum. Located on the I-17 frontage road near Bell Road, this "car-seum" opened its doors in 2005. Owner Mel Martin has filled the space with all kinds of rides, from hot rods and imports to classic cars and even a few oddballs. It's more than a warehouse for shiny cars; the whole place feels like a down-home, Phoenix-centric celebration of what cars really mean. It's a physical embodiment of the West Coast's relationship to the car (as both an everyday tool and something nearing an object of worship). And it's a place for all ages, where cars are the focal point for everyone to explore culture and history and daily life in our wonderful desert. MAM's intention is to educate just as much as it is to present eye candy, and in that regard, it's just as vital as any art gallery, educational center, or history museum.

The Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park is the answer to the question, "What if you designed a facility for those obsessed with speed?" It's not just that the park has been running for nearly 40 years and is a genuine institution for racing in the state. Or that it played host to racing legends like Ayrton Senna and Mario Andretti. The park caters to every kind of conceivable racing format, from an NHRA-sanctioned drag strip and 10-turn road course to a 2.4-mile oval lake. The park is a mecca for speed freaks, a site of cultural significance for a kind of art that feels especially vital and prolific across the Southwest. It's where the past meets the present and blazes a trail into tomorrow at 200 miles per hour. Add in some great desert vibes from the surrounding landscape, and the whole experience is a heady blend of technology and nature. Plus, where else can you enjoy popcorn and a fuel-soaked adrenaline rush?

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