I’ve written a number of posts about our three weeks in the Phoenix area (and our home base of Scottsdale), and there a number of “one-offs” that I wanted to share with you. These are attractions and sites that we visited that didn’t quite deserve a post on their own, but nevertheless warranted some mention. So here goes.
If you are in the downtown Phoenix area near Chase Field where the Arizona Diamondbacks play their home games, there are a number of things you may want to consider doing, including a tour of Chase Field itself.
We paid a visit to the Wells Fargo Museum – 20 to 30 minutes worth of fun, with a well thought-out, nicely displayed history of Wells Fargo. While there you can get your picture super-imposed on money (no charge), as well as have your picture taken beside a vintage Wells Fargo stagecoach (again no charge).
You’d have thought that Mary’s incarceration at the Phoenix Police Museum would have taught her lesson, but no, she was right back at it again at the Wells Fargo bank – this time as a safe-cracker.
The long arm of the law caught up to her again, though.
We had lunch at the Hard Rock Café (across the street from the US Airways Centre where the Phoenix Suns of he NBA play their home games), where Mary rocked out to old Aerosmith videos while we were eating lunch. Mary also cracked up the waitress when she got caught moon-walking back to our table from the gift shop.
First place I’ve ever seen black bathroom fixtures before too (who takes pictures of toilets???? Me.)
We spent an enjoyable afternoon at Heritage Square which includes Rossun House, an 1895 Victorian Era home you can tour (well worth it), the Doll and Toy Museum (waste of time and money from our POV), and the Science Centre (closed both times we were there).
There is also an excellent pub (the Rose & Crown) housed in one of the historic buildings and a great pizza restaurant too (Pizzeria Bianco). Warning though, the Pizza restaurant is a well-known pre-game/after-work hangout and there is limited seating inside, so if you are not there before 5, you might be SOL.
A little bit south of the city, at the bottom of Central Ave, you can take a 15 minute drive up to the top of South Mountain, where you are afforded magnificent panoramic views of the entire valley from Dobbins Lookout.
In case you missed it in an earlier blog-post, it was on our drive up South Mountain that Mary finally saw a Roadrunner after 10 years of determined but fruitless bird-watching trips.
While walking around the downtown core, you’ll come across the Hotel San Carlos, the only historic boutique hotel in the city, and one that has been in continuous operation since 1928. From it’s opening in 1928 through the early 1960’s, it was a hub for the social and political elite of Phoenix as well as a mecca for Hollywood stars. Famous guests include Mae West, Humphrey Bogart, Clark Gable and Carol Lombard, Ingrid Bergman, and Marilyn Monroe, who stayed at the hotel while shooting the movie Bus Stop in 1956.
Last on the list is a visit to Chase Field itself to watch an Arizona Diamondbacks baseball game. It is a beautiful ball-park but unfortunately on the day, well night actually, we attended a game (versus the Giants), it was the coldest evening of our entire stay in the Phoenix area.
Inexplicably (to us at least), they opened the retractable roof at 6:30 just before the opening pitch and while the temperature at game time was 65 degrees (18 Celsius), it soon began dropping and a cool breeze developed. Even though we had long pants and lined hoodies on, we were forced to leave the game in the 5th inning as we were absolutely chilled to the bone.
The things that I’ve written about in this blog-post, as well as in previous entries, are by no means the only things one can do in the Phoenix area. They are merely the ones we chose to do, and had the time to do during our three week stay in the area.
Our lasting impression of Phoenix was and is one of a clean and well-laid city that is very easy to get around. It is blessed with a great road system (just like you told us Glen), but the one thing it lacks as far as we’re concerned is much of a “walking-around” district. For the 6th largest city in the United States, it is definitely a car-centric market, and that was a mild disappointment to us as we just love walking around the downtown cores of major cities.
Another observation is that this is an area with a proliferation of malls, to a fault. There were a few (the Fashion Mall, Chandler Mall, Desert Ridge come to mind) that were full, regardless of the day or time we visited them, but a lot of them were almost devoid of customers, and that can’t be good for the economy.
One last thing. If you are a baseball fan, as Mary and I obviously are, and you come to Arizona in March for spring-training, be aware that baseball madness is pervasive throughout the entire area. There are 11 ball-parks scattered across Tempe, Glendale, Mesa, Scottsdale, Phoenix, and Surprise, and they are almost always full (sold out) regardless of who is playing. There are traffic jams galore, before and after the games, so don’t assume (as we did at first), that you can head out the door 45 minutes before game time and pick up tickets, just because the ballpark is 10 minutes away from your condo.
The ballparks we visited were gorgeous; Tempe Diablo Stadium (opened in 1968 and fully renovated in 2005), and the newly opened Cubs Stadium in Mesa, and they both seated in excess of 10,000 fans.
Truth be told we enjoyed the spring training games more than the regular season game we attended and not just because of our cold weather experience. It was the fans and the accessibility and proximity of the players themselves.
Bottom line, we loved it in Phoenix, and we’re already planning our 2015 visit.