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Phoenix & Scottsdale Attractions
Fun Things to See
Out-of-This-World Rocks - On October 9, 1992, a meteorite slammed into a car in Peekskill, New York. It was a nightmare for the car's owner, but a dream come true for the tabloids. Here was a reminder of just how dangerous out-of-this-world rocks can be. You can see a piece of the Peekskill meteorite, and dozens of other otherworldly rocks at Arizona State University's Center for Meteorite Studies, Bateman Physical Sciences Center, Palm Walk and University Drive (tel. 480/965-6511), on the ASU campus. The center, which is just a single small room, is open Monday through Friday from 9am to 5pm, and admission is free.
Don't Bug Me! - Want to hold a tarantula in your hand? Pet a giant millipede? Then head out to Glendale and the Katydid Insect Museum, 5060 W. Bethany Home Rd., #7 (tel. 623/931-8718). This tiny strip-mall museum is affiliated with an exterminating company, but it has an astonishing collection of live and mounted bugs. Best of all (or is it worst of all?), this is a hands-on place. The museum is open Monday through Friday from 11am to 4pm, and admission is $4 adults, $3 seniors, $2 children ages 7 to 11, and $1 children ages 3 to 6.
Hunt's Tomb: The Great Pyramid of Phoenix - If you're driving through Papago Park, perhaps on your way to the Desert Botanical Garden, and see a shimmering white pyramid on a hilltop, you might at first imagine that you're having a heat-induced hallucination. Not so. The pyramid is real. However, it was not built by wandering Aztecs or ancient Egyptians. It is the tomb of Governor George W. P. Hunt, who was the first, second, third, sixth, seventh, eighth, and tenth governor of Arizona! No other governor in any state has served as many terms in office as Hunt, who was born in 1859 and died in 1934. The tomb is accessible from a parking area near the zoo.
Cave Creek - Founded as a gold-mining camp in the 1870s, this is the last of the Valley towns that still has some semblance of Wild West character, but this is rapidly fading as area real-estate prices skyrocket and Scottsdale's population center moves ever northward. Still, you'll see several steakhouses, saloons, and shops selling Western and Native American crafts and antiques. The main family attraction is a place called Frontier Town, which is right on Cave Creek Road in the center of town. It's a sort of mock cow town that also happens to be home to the Black Mountain Brewing Company, which brews Cave Creek Chili Beer. You can try this fiery beer at The Original Crazy Ed's Satisfied Frog Saloon & Restaurant, located here in Frontier Town. Another popular local watering hole goes by the name of The Horny Toad. To learn more about the history of this area, stop in at the Cave Creek Museum, at Skyline Drive and Basin Road (tel. 480/488-2764). It's open from October through May, Wednesday through Sunday from 1 to 4:30pm; admission is $3 for adults and $2 for seniors and students.
Forbidden City in the Desert - So you're driving along the Loop 202 freeway near Sky Harbor Airport and this strange mirage materializes. You think you're seeing a mall-size complex of classical Chinese buildings. Don't worry, it's not a hallucination -- it's the COFCO Chinese Cultural Center, 668 N. 44th St. (tel. 602/275-8578). This fascinating complex includes several Chinese restaurants, Asian art galleries and antiques stores, and an Asian supermarket. There's also a Chinese garden with numerous traditional viewing pavilions.
(c) Zagat © 2013, Google.
Fun Things to Do
Hiking Up Camelback Mountain or Piestewa Peak. Hiking the trails up these two mountains is a favorite activity among the city's more active residents. Both trails are steep climbs, but the views from up top are superb. Bring water and start early in the morning if it's going to be a hot day.
Strolling through the Desert Botanical Garden after Dark. This cactus-filled garden is beautiful any time of day, but is particularly enjoyable after dark, when the crowds are gone and hidden lights illuminate the cacti.
Hanging Out Midday at the Oasis. Phoenix and Scottsdale have plenty of great pools, but the Oasis water park at the Pointe South Mountain Resort is the biggest and the best. Not only are there terrifyingly steep water slides, but there's also a wave pool.
Taking the Scottsdale Art Walk. Thursday evenings from October to May, both dilettantes and connoisseurs turn out to visit the nearly 60 galleries in downtown Scottsdale, many of which have artists on hand and provide complimentary refreshments.
Attending a Spring-Training Baseball Game. Get a head start on all your fellow baseball fans by going to a spring-training game while you're in Phoenix. Just be sure to book your hotel well in advance; these games are the biggest thing going in the Valley each spring.
Mountain Biking in South Mountain or Papago Park. The trails of these two desert parks are ideal for mountain biking, and whether you're a novice making your first foray onto the dirt or a budding downhill racer, you'll find miles of riding that are just your speed.
Spending the Day at a Spa. When it comes to stress relief, there's nothing like a massage or an herbal wrap. The chance to lie back and do nothing at all is something few of us take the time for anymore. And, for the price of a single 1-hour treatment, you can usually spend the whole day at a spa.
(c) Zagat © 2013, Google.