Best Place to See a Spring Training Game 2022 | Sloan Park | Fun & Games | Phoenix

Best Place to See a Spring Training Game

Sloan Park

For decades, Arizona has been a magnet for baseball fans nationwide who soak in the sun's rays watching their favorite players show off their talents before the regular season begins. There's no better place to make springtime baseball memories than Mesa's famous Sloan Park, winter home to the Chicago Cubs. The Cubs, who snapped a 71-year National League pennant drought in 2016 en route to their first World Series title since 1908, have trained in the East Valley since 1952. Built in 2014, and located just east of the Loop 101 freeway, Sloan Park (formerly Cubs Park) boasts a 15,000-seat ballpark and seven practice fields, meaning Chicago Cubs fans will be closer than ever to the spring training action. It's earned the stadium, which is also the home of the Arizona League Cubs of the Arizona League and the Mesa Solar Sox of the Arizona Fall League, the nickname "Wrigley West." Fun fact: Sloan Park is the largest spring training stadium by capacity in Major League Baseball, eclipsing Camelback Ranch in Glendale (coincidentally, the spring training home of the Cubs' in-city rivals, the Chicago White Sox) by 2,000 seats.

So, you're eager to up your creativity quotient, but you don't have time to hit one place for theater and another place for painting. Or you want to go beyond drawing and other traditional mediums to try something more unconventional, like blacksmithing or throwing pottery on a wheel. Mesa Arts Center has a wide range of classes that let you stretch your imagination and discover art forms you didn't even know you wanted to explore. The center has spacious, pristine classrooms where you can study with super-talented local artists. It's a bonus that classes are held on the MAC campus, because you can find inspiration inside the contemporary art museum, do your gift shopping in the museum store, or take in some public art while you do a bit of walking. Best of all, the center has special classes for servicemembers and for youth.

You might enjoy the guilty pleasure of holing up for days inside your apartment with a big basket of yarn and your favorite knitting needles. Still, there's nothing like spending time with fellow crafters who get your love affair with felt, beads, and fancy ribbons. Sunshine Sunflower Studio nails it with a wide variety of craft workshops, including some just for kids and some just for grownups. You can learn to use a pottery wheel during Saturday Spin classes or Mimosa & Mud classes when you bring your own Champagne. Or you can hit open studio times, or holiday-themed workshops. The vibe is casual and easygoing, so you never have to be embarrassed if more clay ends up on your apron than on the mug you were making for your bestie.

Few musicians better embody the wrestling concept of "kayfabe" like Andrew W.K. Kayfabe is all about fully committing to the bit and not letting the performer's mask drop. Think about it: When's the last time you've seen W.K. wearing anything that isn't all-white and stained with blood or sweat? So it's only fitting that his all-in-on-the-gimmick, party-all-the-time ethos inspired an entire wrestling promotion. Party Hard Wrestling is the Valley's go-to promotion for wild wrestling gimmicks, bizarre characters, and imaginative matches that push the boundaries of what you'd expect from an indie wrestling show. From Evil Dead references to elaborate street fight matches that literally turn into fights on the streets of downtown Mesa, PHW has been all about getting real weird with it. What the future holds for the beloved party animals remains to be seen: Their big fall event is called Series Finale. Will there be a Party Hard Reboot in the future? Or are they hanging up the title belts for good?

You know how sometimes you return from a trip and need a vacation to get over your vacation? For a local respite that's actually relaxing, check out CIVANA Wellness Resort & Spa in the north Valley. Named as a top destination by Conde Nast Traveler, CIVANA is a hotel and wellness spa tucked along the backdrop of the Sonoran Desert. Upon checking in, you receive a journal to keep track of your mental state. With daily classes such as Pilates, yoga, and meditation, this is the staycation destination that will be your to-go spot to unwind and be recharged in unexpected ways. The property is expansive, with a rock circle labyrinth, a lush green lawn, and a relaxing pool. Whether you want to spend time getting a massage or learning how to meditate, CIVANA is intent on getting you to relax.

If you're looking for trendy, colorful vibes for your next staycation, check in at Rise Uptown Hotel. The midcentury-inspired, locally owned boutique hotel boasts modern amenities such as paletas-style popsicles at The Pop Stand at check-in, a lounge area with comfy, outdoor beds, and Cartel coffee for your caffeine needs. The luxurious rooms are filled with kitschy, vintage wallpaper, an old-school record player, (not just for show, you can actually borrow records and listen to them), and balcony views of uptown Phoenix. To contact the front desk, just shoot a text instead of making a phone call. For your relaxation and inebriation needs, Rise Uptown has two impressive bars: Lylo Swim Club, a poolside space serving up Hawaiian-Japanese bites, and Don Woods' Say When, a '60s-inspired cocktail rooftop bar. Both spots are led by Ross Simon, owner of two award-winning, world-renowned bars in Phoenix, so you know the drinks are artistic, tasty, and strong. Plus, the Dole Whipped cocktail comes with soft-serve, pineapple ice cream, the perfect accompaniment for those hot, sunny days.

You can't sling a sack of quarters in the Valley these days without hitting an amazing throwback arcade. Each is great in its own right — the nostalgia-fueled Player 1 Arcade in Surprise, the pinball-centric Stardust Pinbar, and the perenially popular Cobra Arcade Bar. Are any of these options the best, though? Sorry, Mario, but our winner is in another part of town. Out at StarFighters in east Mesa, the '80s-themed joint reigns over the scene like King Koopa, boasting the biggest lineup of games under one roof: 42 pinball machines and 84 different arcade classics. Its unparalleled selection is diverse, too, offering deeper cuts from yesteryear than other local arcades. Hard-to-find favorites like Crossbow and Lunar Lander. Vector classics like Black Widow and Space Duel. And gems like the campy Atari rarity Escape from the Robot Monsters. StarFighters' crack staff of Fix-It Felixes keep all the vintage machines working perfectly, so jiggly joysticks are never an issue. Admission is $11 per person with every game set to free-play mode, meaning no jerks will ruin your trip down memory lane by slapping their tokens onto the corner of the screen.

Ever wake up early in the morning and think, "I'd sure like to play some pinball right now?" Well, at 6 a.m. on the daily, you can get your game on at Electric Bat Arcade. That's just one of the reasons it's the go-to hotspot for pinball enthusiasts. The joint, owned and operated by artist Rachel Bess, also boasts a rotating selection of machines that attract and challenge players of all skill levels, from a vintage Dolly Parton machine to The Mandalorian. Housed inside the popular music venue Yucca Tap Room, you can match the machines' respective noises with music from local and touring bands on most nights. Taking its coolness to the top of the meter, a tiny tiki bar is tucked into one of the arcade's corners, solidifying the jaunty retro vibe. Electric Bat also has a Flagstaff location at Yucca North, meaning we get to play the silver ball at our favorite place outside the Valley, too.

Driving the streets of Phoenix can often feel like a race — one in which your opponents are usually looking at their phones with no regard for human life. We like our speed contests a little safer, which is why we frequent Octane Raceway in Scottsdale. There, in a controlled environment, we can drive top-of-the-line electric Sodi RSX2 racing karts that can reach speeds of 45 miles per hour. The first person to 14 laps wins, and it's absolutely thrilling without actually being dangerous. And then, once you've satisfied your need for speed, there's still plenty to do at Octane, since the facility keeps expanding its auxiliary activities. You can enjoy food and a full bar, take part in their virtual reality experience, throw some axes, and play arcade games inside and backyard games on the patio. Just drive safe getting home.

By now you're tired of seeing all those red, white, and blue campaign signs around town, enough so that you might be ready to draw the face of a particularly unpleasant politician on your bowling ball before you send it down the lane. That doesn't mean you can't enjoy this bowling hotspot's cool combo of bright hues and blacklights with patriotic colors that nod to its all-American offerings such as arcade games, pool tables, and menu items including burgers, pizza, wings, or street tacos. When we want to put on an outrageous bowling shirt and drink a bright blue cocktail served in a Mason jar, this is our top choice. With plenty of lanes, we know we can jump quickly into bowling mode. And when we want to take our game to a higher level, we can sign up for a league. Even if friends or family who don't share our devotion to bowling tag along, we know they'll have a great time watching high-def video walls that show music videos, classic films, and games with athletes who made the bizarre choice to pursue something other than pro bowling.

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