Best Public Tennis Courts 2023 | Roadrunner Park | Fun & Games | Phoenix

There are six courts always up for the taking at Roadrunner Park in north Phoenix. No fee is required to use the courts, but it's first come, first serve. The courts were recently resurfaced, so you don't have to worry about a giant crack getting in the way of the backhand winner down the line. On any given day or evening, you'll see hardcore competitive tennis players practicing serves as well as recreational players enjoying a fun game of doubles. There's no need to cut the evening short, because the courts are lighted, and for those who want to practice their strokes, there's a hitting wall available, too. When it's time to cool down or shake off a bad game or two, you can stroll around the park, watching kids play on the playground or dogs walking with their owners.

Scottsdale is known among a certain set (read: people with real money) as one of the epicenters for Arabian horses, not least because its annual horse show is the largest in the world. From its humble start at the Arizona Biltmore in 1955 with 50 horses, it's grown to nearly 2,400 horses and top owners, breeders and trainers at WestWorld each February. This is the premier event for witnessing these magnificent creatures, known for their shimmering coats, distinctive facial features, long necks, high tail carriage and athletic yet graceful trot. Hundreds of thousands of people — including big names like Shania Twain — come from around the world for the 11-day event to show and view Arabians, the best of which fetch into the six figures and can be worth it for their stud fees. Not only is it fun for anyone who ever dreamed of a pony, but it's a fundraiser for the Arabian Horse Association of Arizona, which has donated millions to local charities.

If you love cars — particularly classic, rare, flashy, historic and even quirky ones — you can't miss this over-the-top show that happens every January at WestWorld. This year, more than 1,900 cars were auctioned, including a $2.75 million Ferrari F40. Even if you're not in the market to buy a limited-edition Jaguar or a badass muscle car — or the blue AMC Pacer with flames on the side used in "Wayne's World," which sold for $71,500 in 2022 — it's a great place to gawk. But it's also interactive: You can sign up for the hot laps and thrill rides that let you ride shotgun with a professional driver in a fast machine on a fun track or off-road in a four-wheel drive. And you don't have to know your straight-eight from your hemi to enjoy the massive party, which draws about 300,000 people, including more than a few celebrities, over nine days. Get your motor runnin' with live music, a hall of vendors hawking everything from hot tubs to neon signs, a ton of food from pizza to lobster mac and cheese, and bars, baby, bars for your day-drinking pleasure.

The car has always been king in Phoenix — and not just because it's often the only way to actually get around. So while that reliance often means road rage and gnarly traffic, it also means a robust culture surrounding cars and driving in general. If you're ever looking to connect with said culture, Official Arizona Car Meets is an important resource for every gearhead. The unofficial network shares events and car-centric happenings taking place across the Valley, from free car washes and "rides and coffee" to car meets and other showcases. It's about connecting to folks young and old, lovers of American muscle and international speedsters, in a way that fosters community and connection about what matters most: the cars. And as with most things free (or free-adjacent), there are no limits to just who can come and enjoy the simple pleasures of riding around or showing off your own mean machine to like-minded folks. So spend your hot nights (and perhaps even your hotter days) enjoying the power and promise of car culture — just make sure you've filled up the tank on your way out.

The free-of-charge lowrider car show's appeal lies in its blend of elements that cater to a wide range of interests. The April event has been Guadalupe's hometown staple for 20 years now — and keeps growing. From the stunning display of lowrider cars to the car hop contest for starters, this competition draws the top car builders from all over metro Phoenix and beyond. The vehicles that compete are of all eras and sport lots of chrome, candy paint jobs, tuck-and-roll interiors, hydraulic pumps and loud bass music. Then, the live music, local food and family-friendly activities create camaraderie and fam bam reunions for metro Phoenicians and out-of-town cruisers. Its unique setting is located in and around the hacienda-style El Mercado de Guadalupe and the closed-down Guadalupe streets for blocks. The above mentioned elements focus on community engagement, making this a standout car show. After a day of festivities, hundreds of vehicles pull out and cruise Priest Drive, while spectators post up on the adjoined sidewalks and parking lots to watch the art-in-motion lowriders drive into the sunset. The Guadalupe Car Show promoters, Miguel Alvarado and his Intimidations Guadalupe AZ car club, have their next date on lock for April 28, 2024.

For cyclists, Phoenix is a hostile place. It's frequently ranked one of the most dangerous cities in the nation for bicycles, with its giant boulevards, poor bike infrastructure and urban sprawl. But every so often, a group called Critical Mass Phoenix takes to the streets. With Critical Mass, dozens, sometimes hundreds, of Phoenix cyclists ride together, often down Central Avenue, taking over the streets themselves. These rides usually happen at night, starting at sunset. Cyclists wear fluorescent orange and yellow; some attach colorful lights to their bikes. Critical Mass is a nationwide movement dating back decades, but its nighttime Phoenix rides are a sight to behold — a reminder of the power of collective action, even in a car-centric desert city like Phoenix.

The view from Dobbins Lookout in the South Mountain Preserve is always beautiful, sure. But it's at night that you can witness the true glory of this popular scenic spot. From this vantage, the full expanse of Phoenix and its surrounding sprawl is set, panoramic, before you, glistening. The barren desert extends out into the horizon. If you're driving, make sure to get to South Mountain before sunset as the entry gates close at 7 p.m. (and if not, there are various not-too-strenuous treks up to Dobbins). Once at the lookout, settle yourself on a cobblestone bench or boulder at the top and watch Phoenix, as the sunlight fades, disintegrate into an expanse of lights. The city comes alive at night, both up close and from 2,300 feet up.

Maybe your idea of a wild and crazy night has nothing to do with bars but rather with a jaunt through nature. You're in luck, as Phoenix is jam-packed with trails that are open far into the evening, and few of them are as compelling as the Alta Trail. Located at South Mountain Park & Preserve (just a short-ish drive south on Central Avenue), the trail is nine miles — or five hours round trip — of moderate climbing. And, sure, that may be a bit of a trek for some, but Alta is truly worth the slightly achy muscles and slight windedness. You can spend much of the night (the trails are open until 11 p.m.) taking in the gorgeous heights of the Estrella Mountains, a continuously underrated part of Phoenix's many picturesque ranges. Or, you can get it done early enough by starting mid-afternoon and enjoying sunset in one of the most bright and vibrant locales across the city. Either way, this trail is a way to celebrate a different side of nightlife in the Valley, and to see our city in a whole new way. Then, when you're done, go grab a celebratory drink or two.

Evie Carpenter

There's something a little magical about descending the staircase at The Salt Cellar into its wood-paneled depths. No matter what time it is outside, things are always the same in this long-standing underground bunker in south Scottsdale. But the benefit of visiting at night is a stellar reverse happy hour. From 10 p.m. to midnight each evening, oysters, clams and oyster shots are only $3, and gargantuan shrimp deck out a cocktail for $16. During happy hour, the prices take a spin back in time, with discounted well drinks and a friendly cohort of regulars to chat and sip with.

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