Best Place to Throw Axes 2022 | LumberjAxes | Fun & Games | Phoenix

The 21st-century craving for a constant stream of new experiences and excitement has brought us to this: We now go throw axes for fun. The two Valley LumberjAxes locations blend safety and fun in equal measure (lucky for us — we have terrible aim). You can book a one- or two-hour reservation for four to 12 people, or just walk in, ready to start hurling (after a short session of safety talk and axe-throwing tips, of course). But even though we're not actually very good at throwing axes, the fun with friends always hits the bullseye. The Tempe location sells beer and wine, but if you head to the Westgate outpost, you'll find a full bar ready to serve you.

We love the feeling of flying through the air. The wind in our hair, soaring above the ground — we can't get enough. So the Superstition Zipline is just our speed. Located at the ultra-cheesy but fun Goldfield Ghost Town tourist attraction way the hell out there in Apache Junction, the zipline works a little different than others you may have experienced. For starters, you and a friend sit together in a chair rather than being hooked into a line. The mechanism pulls you up and back to the high starting point, then whoosh: You're flying back down to earth. As you ride, you're afforded spectacular views of the Superstition Mountains and the Goldfield Ghost Town complex. The zipline is $12 for your first ride, but the price drops by half from then on, so you may as well buckle in for several trips through the sky.

Throw up a climbing wall and we're all over it, especially after a day filled with deadlines and stress. Who wouldn't want to trade a mountain of paperwork for the colorful rocks that seem to jut out from black mountains inside this gym where everyone is friendly, helpful, and too focused on their progress to point out the shortcomings of others. Sometimes we're in the mood to scale the walls (the ratings on the routes cater to everyone from first-timers to experienced climbers); other times, we want to roll in yoga or fitness training mode. Here, we can do it all, including taking group classes or private lessons. If we're into solitude, we can climb on our own. But we can mix it up when that's more our style with events like the ladies-only climb on the first Friday of every month. The TapHouse Kitchen down the street from the gym gives us a place to relax after we climb, and maybe tell a few tall tales with other climbers before we jump back into mountains of work.

Sahuaro Ranch Park feels like two parks in one. On the west side, you've got everything you'd want in a public outdoor space: playing fields for softball, soccer, and volleyball; a playground for the kiddos and a dog park for the doggos; and some of the most beautiful picnic ramadas in town. But the east side of the park feels more like a museum, and with good reason. It houses the Sahuaro Ranch, a 17-acre property that dates back to 1886 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The house is currently not open for tours, but keep checking the website — it's worth a look inside. Even though the house is closed at the moment, the historic side of the park has plenty to see, including peacocks roaming the grounds and a beautiful rose garden.

This popular doggie destination just east of Old Town Scottsdale features three parks. One is designated for active dogs, and the second is for pooches with a bit more chill. Fortunately, both are well-maintained spaces, with nice grass, dog water fountains, plenty of room to run and play, and a regular collection of nice, chatty people. The third park is closed for maintenance and reseeding; the spaces rotate, so the park will never close down, leaving dogs and their owners stir-crazy for months. Since the dog park is part of the larger Chaparral Park, you've got plenty of space to walk around outside the designated dog area. We recommend putting your pup on a leash and heading to the Scottsdale Xeriscape Garden for some zen via a fountain and lots of native flora.

Pelicans in the desert? Yeah, we're not kidding. The Riparian Preserve at Water Ranch, a 100-acre park tucked away in Gilbert, is a bona fide desert oasis — and a haven for birdwatchers. The town stores some of its water in several basins across the park, and birds flock from miles away to congregate in the shady pools. It's a particularly good place to see water birds; white pelicans, cinnamon teals, black-necked stilts, and roseate spoonbills are all easily found here, foraging and bathing in the water. But birds of all kinds abound, from hummingbirds to raptors to quail. The park is partly forested, and paths are accompanied by cheerful signage about the wildlife, making for a nice stroll. You're sure to encounter many veteran birders here, armed with their scopes and binoculars, but fear not, newbies — there are so many birds at the Riparian Preserve that you need no skill to see them. Simply take a walk, and enjoy the momentary respite from the desert.

One of the upsides of living in Phoenix is the way that nature and urban areas often rest literally right atop one another. For instance, you could drive 20 minutes from almost anywhere and be atop Camelback Mountain or Piestewa Peak for scenic hiking. Or, just head into Arcadia proper for a truly dazzling destination: the Phoenix Bat Cave. Every summer between May and October, as they migrate south toward Mexico, a colony of some 20,000 Mexican free-tailed bats make a flood control tunnel their temporary nesting spot. That means that as they emerge every day around sunset, the most unlikely of places becomes a majestic little nature observatory. To get there, just head to the northernmost end of the Arizona Canal Trail — near 40th Street and Camelback Road — where there's actual "Batcave Parking" available. (If you're savvy enough, the actual coordinates are 33.5147, -112.0012.) If it seems odd to have bats right around a delightful spot like Chelsea's Kitchen, that's sort of the point. Phoenix is a weird and wonderful place, and something beautiful can often be found where it's least expected.

Cat cafes are big business in Japan. Many Japanese apartments forbid pet ownership, so if you're in Tokyo and want to spend time with a flock of frisky felines while sipping a cup of joe, there are dozens of places that will help you scratch that itch. If you're looking to spend time with a purrfect stranger in Arizona, there's no better place to kick up your paws than La Gattara. Arizona's first cat cafe offers a bright, comfortable environment where folks can relax, read, talk with human friends, and make some new cat friends as well. La Gattara are also advocates for pet adoption and are always looking to help cats find their forever homes. Come on down to the cat cafe and watch them scamper on their towers — maybe one of them will climb their way into your heart.

Variety is the spice of life, it's been said, although some people are skeptical when they're pondering outdoor time in Arizona, where you could be forgiven for thinking it's all cactus or housing tracts as far as the eye can see. The Arizona Canal Trail stands out because it comprises nearly 40 miles of varied terrain where you'll encounter not only nature, but also suburban neighborhoods, commercial enclaves, and parks. We're smitten with the smattering of bridges and tunnels that make for a fun change of pace now and then, and also with the way this trail connects us to places in the city we don't get to experience in our everyday routines. We're keen on moving between dirt, rocks, and pavement, because adapting is one of our superpowers. People riding the trail are pretty low-key unless you're completely ignorant of cycling etiquette. Take your camera along, because you never know when you'll be surprised by an unanticipated photo op.

The sports world always loves a good comeback story. Just ask fans of Phoenix Rising Football Club, as their favorite team might be in the midst of one at the moment. After spending the past few years as perennial contenders in the United Soccer League, the local pro soccer team went off a cliff this season, losing a majority of their games and going from heroes to zeroes. (It's par for the course with local sports franchises these days.) After a front office shakeup, including promoting former assistant coach Juan Guerra to team manager, the Rising reversed their fortunes and got back into the playoff hunt. The team's rabid fanbase couldn't have been more ecstatic. They already turn out in droves to the Phoenix Rising FC Soccer Complex in Chandler, packing the bleachers while adorned in face paint, waving red and black flags, and cheering on their squad. In certain sections, you'll see huge fan groups such as the Banditos and the Red Fury getting even rowdier, creating a cacophony with musical instruments and leading chants as their enthusiasm grows to a fever pitch. It helps heighten the experience and makes games, even the losing ones, fun to attend.

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