Best Ice Skating 2022 | Ice Den | Fun & Games | Phoenix

In a city where the weather can often be described as "sweltering," it's a comfort to strap on some skates to slide and glide along an inch of frozen water, and the two locations of the Ice Den are the place to do it. The rink opens up to the public every Saturday and Sunday and some select weekday afternoons, and also offers special events and affordable skating lessons so children and novice adults can get into the skating spirit together. There's even a bar and restaurant called 18 Degrees with twin views of the action on the rink and the gorgeous patio with its fire pit and family games. Done watching amateur hockey and newbie skaters face-planting on the ice? The bar contains a majestic 165-inch television to stare at sports. You can also quench your shopping fix with a pro shop and a store that carries women's fashion and accessories.

There's nothing fancy about longtime Tempe pool hall Q & Brew, and that's just the way we like it. We don't need to dress up, or even bring a lot of money for a chill afternoon or evening. Q & Brew, located in the historic Danelle Plaza, offers 14 tables, some TVs playing sports, a few pinball machines, and a full bar serving up cheap, strong drinks. Show up early (3 to 6 p.m.) for free pool, but even later in the day, you don't have to pay a lot to post up at a table. Play often enough at Q & Brew, and you'll get to know the regulars, which means you'll always have someone to play against when you drop in.

A night at the casino means different things to different people. It could be gambling, sure, but these days, there are plenty of other things to occupy one's time, including fine dining, live entertainment, and more. Wild Horse Pass, one of the Gila River casinos, is our favorite place for a night (or day) of excitement. It's got an enormous selection of slot machines, plus poker, roulette, blackjack, craps, and other ways to gamble. The dining selection ranges from the new, upscale Prime steakhouse to a little food court where you can grab a slice of pizza between poker hands. And recently, Wild Horse Pass got the very first TopGolf Swing Suite in the state of Arizona, a dedicated space on the second level of the casino that offers drinks, food, casino games, and bays where guests can play virtual versions of golf, football, hockey, and more. When you're looking for a place to have fun, Wild Horse Pass isn't a gamble.

What do you call a fertile spot in a desert where water is found? Most people call it an oasis. Here in metro Phoenix, we call it OdySea Aquarium. Arizona might be a landlocked state, but this Scottsdale attraction is devoted to water-dwelling critters — sharks, turtles, otters, seahorses, and of course, plenty of fish. It's even home to the world's only Russian sturgeon touch exhibit. OdySea is the largest aquarium in the Southwest, where more than 2 million gallons of water slosh inside the 200,000-square-foot attraction. On the hottest days, the dim interior of the aquarium is cool and refreshing. We love petting the stingrays and hanging out in the rotating submarine viewing theater, and we really love Fish & Sips, the aquarium's monthly adults-only evening event where we get to commune with sea life with a cocktail in hand. And now that the aquarium's animal encounters are happening again, we recommend ponying up the extra dough to get up close and personal with animal friends like penguins and sloths.

We love to watch nature shows at home, but sometimes, we just want to see the animals in person. A trip to Phoenix Zoo satisfies that desire to commune with other members of animal kingdom. Go, and you'll see kids and adults alike delighting in the sight of tigers, orangutans, lemurs, rhinos, eagles, and countless other creatures. (If you're really lucky, you'll catch a glimpse of Luna, the young giraffe born at the zoo in February). The trails are wide and easy to walk, and there are plenty of places around the property to grab a cold beverage or a snack. Events such as the adults-only Roars & Pours nights and the annual ZooLights festival keep us coming back again and again.

It's hard to believe, but the hot new amateur sporting trend is pickleball. It appeals to all ages, and at any given tennis court, you'll likely see players pinging the ball across the net. Pickleball Kingdom recognized the demand for everything pickleball and built a facility dedicated to the friendly sport. With 16 courts, it's the largest pickleball facility in the nation, and the good news is you can play year-round — the facilities are indoor, so heat or wind aren't a worry. In between games, you can unwind with beer, wine, and snacks. The facility is built like a gym, so memberships are available, and there's an online app to reserve your court. Lessons are available (there's even a free Pickleball 101 session), you can rent equipment, and if you don't want to become a member, you can just pay a minimal drop-in fee to play. The venue is open for corporate events and birthday parties too. Pickleball Kingdom makes it easy to jump on the bandwagon of this growing sports phenomenon.

They say that practice makes perfect. Odds are low that we'll ever have a top-level golf swing, but we do enjoy improving by hitting the driving range at Coronado Golf Course in south Scottsdale. The unpretentious facility is open from sunrise all the way till 9 p.m., and there's plenty of space to spread out and practice your swing. We recommend showing up between 4 and 8 p.m. during happy hour, when buckets and beer are both on special (cans of Pabst Blue Ribbon are only $1.50). Just remember to bring some folding money — the course is cash-only.

Metro Phoenix has what could be considered a glut of golf courses (nearly 200 by one count). And they've all got their benefits. But our pick is Las Sendas, a Robert Trent Jones Jr.-designed course in far east Mesa, for several reasons. The views of the desert and mountains, including the iconic Red Mountain, are spectacular. The course is challenging without being frustrating for golfers (like us) who land way down on the amateur end of the skills spectrum. Speaking of skills, if you want to get better at golf, Las Sendas offers private and group lessons for kids and adults. And since our favorite part of playing golf is the refreshments afterward, we're glad the food and drinks at The Grille at Las Sendas are several notches above standard clubhouse fare.

Golf is a dominating feature of Arizona's recreational landscape, and it's a fun way to get hammered and still claim the title of "athlete." But the elitist sport takes skills, patience, and plenty of cash. Luckily, we were introduced to the world of disc golf — a more laid-back way to drink, smoke, and then chill the rest of the day knowing you got some kind of physical activity in, because hey, throwing a Frisbee qualifies as sports these days, and people take it seriously. The disc golf course at Fountain Park in the quaint Phoenix suburb of Fountain Hills is quite well-maintained and features incredible, top-of-the-line baskets. The park and course wrap all the way around the lake and utilize it on most holes. Big circle tee boxes allow for alternate routes to baskets on this picturesque course, which is featured on the Disc Golf Pro Tour and the Professional Disc Golf Association tour. And maybe best of all, every hole features breathtaking views of the world-famous fountain in the center of Fountain Hills, a water feature that measures 560 feet tall at its full height.

On the second evening of Innings Festival in February, a lot of attendees found themselves suddenly interested in something besides the music. As the sun began to set, a particularly beautiful group of colors began to emerge: lemon yellow near where the water meets the sky, then a bold orange-pink, giving way to a blue-gray-purple. The paths near the side of the lake filled with people taking selfies and sunset shots. It was an unexpectedly lovely ending to a great weekend of music, but Tempe Town Lake is an excellent vantage point for sunsets even when there's not a festival going on. The surface of the lake, plus all the shiny buildings that line the water, means that one gorgeous sky gets reflected in countless surfaces, giving the viewer an impossibly beautiful eyeful of color every time.

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