things to do
the bucket list
Things To Do
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Things To Do
The Bucket List
Shawndrea Corbin, Keridwen Cornelius, Niki D’Andrea, Wynter Holden, Amanda Kippert, Lilia Menconi, C
March, 2013, Page 82
1. Learn to fly a combat plane.
Hop in the cockpit, throw on some aviators and make those Top Gun fantasies a reality. Under the guidance of a real military fighter pilot, you’ll learn dogfighting techniques in a super-nimble Extra 300L – no experience necessary. You’ll begin with a formation takeoff, then learn advanced handling, weapons usage and basic aerobatic maneuvers. Next, you’ll pull 5 Gs as you engage in air-to-air combat with your opponent using simulated bullets. The dogfight finishes with a high-speed chase and low-altitude pass down the runway. Half-day intro to two-day missions cost $795 to $1,799. Fighter Combat International, 5865 S. Sossaman Rd., Mesa, 480-279-1881,
2. Treat yourself to a gold facial.
Forget fruity facial scrubs – ore is more. Ask for the Four Seasons spa’s aptly named Pinnacle Facial, and your visage will be gilded with Omorovicza’s gold sugar scrub, which contains real 24-carat gold particles. Next, you’ll go all Goldfinger as your facial is paired with an all-over gold-infused sugar body scrub. The nearly two hours of golden luxury will run you $300, but you’ll leave feeling like a million shimmering bucks. 10600 E. Crescent Moon Dr., Scottsdale, 480-515-5700,
3. Get PADI Certified.
Academy of Scuba
4015 E. Bell Rd., Phoenix
4. Dig Four Peaks Amethyst Mine.
At this quartz quarry more than 5,000 feet up a mountain, miners follow a purple vein 90 feet into the side of Four Peaks and hand-dig precious gems for peerless pieces by Fountain Hills-based Sami Fine Jewelry. The remote mine is inaccessible by foot (unless you take a two-hour drive in an ATV, followed by a two-hour hike), but twice a year (in April and October), would-be prospectors pay $395 per person to take a helicopter ride to the site, meet the miners, hammer and chisel at the rosy rocks, and take home some treasure. 480-837-8168,
5. Seek the Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine.
Since 1892, thousands of people have searched, all in vain, for this fabled gold mine in the Superstition Mountains. At least six people perished on their quests, with the last casualty – Denver bellhop Jesse Capen – discovered dead in a crevice last November. With stats like that, just surviving a search for the mine is bucket list-worthy.
6. Pan for gold.
Take a guided, two-hour gold-panning tour with Apache Trail Tours ($75/adults, $65/children; 480-982-7661,
) or go it alone at one of the local gold panning sites listed at
4900 N. Taylor St., Eloy
8. Do a Light Rail bar crawl.
The Recovery Room
19th Ave. & Montebello
Frequented by staff from nearby Phoenix Baptist Hospital.
2027 W. Bethany Home Rd.,
Maizie’s Cafe & Bistro
Hipster haunt. 4750 N. Central Ave.,
George & Dragon
At Indian School
British pub. 4240 N. Central Ave.,
Cheuvront At McDowell
Upscale wine bar.
1326 N. Central Ave.,
Portland’s Restaurant & Wine Bar
At Roosevelt Professional hangout.
105 W. Portland St.,
Seamus McCaffrey’s Irish Pub & Restaurant
At Van Buren
Whiskey hub. 18 W. Monroe St.,
Lustre Bar at Cityscape
Third St. & Washington
A sleek rooftop bar with impeccable views of Downtown Phoenix.
2 E. Jefferson St.,
Long Wong’s at The Firehouse
Dorsey Ln. & Apache Blvd.
Hot spot for live, local rock music.
1639 E. Apache Blvd.,
Sycamore & Main St.
A neighborhood favorite sports bar since 1979.
430 N. Dobson Rd.,
9. Try all 250 tequilas at Barrio Café.
2814 N. 16th St., Phoenix, 602-636-0240,
10. Learn to salsa.
Gainey Dance Studio
16597 N. 92nd St., Scottsdale
11. See Roger Clyne and the Peacemakers in Mexico.
It’s great to see them in Tempe, but this is RCPM’s natural habitat. Thrice a year, Arizona’s favorite fiesta-fetishizing party band books a beer-drenched weekend engagement in Rocky Point. The band’s signature Circus Mexicus show takes place June 6-9 in 2013.
12. See Roger Clyne and the Peacemakers... sober.
You’d probably be the first person on the planet to do this.
13. Watch a sunset from Hole in the Rock.
At least once, behold the glorious spectrum of a Phoenix sunset from someplace other than your car window (how depressing). See it from Hole in the Rock by hiking the 0.15-mile trail in Papago Park up to a wind-eroded cave in a sandstone butte. The trailhead is on the east side of the park, at the northeast end of Ranger Office Loop Trail. 602-262-6862,
14. See a sunset from Dobbins Lookout at South Mountain.
We love photographing our ridiculously, stupidly-gorgeous sunsets, and at Dobbins Lookout, perched 2,330 feet above the city, the view comes with a ready-made rock frame. To hike to Dobbins Lookout, take Holbert Trail (2.3 miles one way). The trailhead is located east of Scorpion Gulch, near South Mountain Park’s Central Avenue main entrance. To drive to Dobbins Lookout, enter at the Central Avenue main entrance and follow Summit Road for 5.5 miles. 602-262-6862,
15. Hike the Phoenix Summit Challenge.
The Holy Grail of international hiking elites is the Seven Summits, a Herculean challenge to hike the highest mountains on seven continents. Luckily, Phoenix has its own icepick-free version. Every November, health nuts take one or two days to climb seven summits including Piestewa Peak, North Mountain, Shaw Butte, and more, totaling 23 miles and 6,000 feet of elevation gain. Start training now.
16. Shower at Dick’s Hideaway.
If you frequent this hidden gem known for its hangover-curing vittles and hair of the dog, you’ll have noticed another stimulating spectacle in the bathroom: a shower. And you may, like us, have had a fantasy of heading to the restaurant with soap and robe in tow, ordering eggs Benedict, excusing yourself, then lathering up and belting out a few tunes in the shower before returning to your table donning terry cloth, then tucking into your brunch. We dare ya. 6008 N. 16th St., Phoenix, 602-241-1881,
17. Learn a little about a lot of languages.
If you don’t know your genou from your gomito, diversify your word-stock and build cultural bonds with 20-minute “mini language lessons” at ASU’s “Night of the Open Door” (5-9 p.m., March 2). Throughout the night, instructors share basic vocab and phrases in Japanese, Chinese, Romanian, Vietnamese, Italian, German, French, Arabic and Latin. Free.
18. Sleep with Marilyn Monroe and ghosts.
In the Marilyn Monroe suite at the Hotel San Carlos, you’ll not only snooze where the starlet slept, you may also find yourself among stranger bedfellows: the spectral auras of chuckling children and a suicidal blonde. Take a ghost tour by night, and by day, make like Marilyn in a white maillot at the paparazzi-defying rooftop pool, where the resident electronics-foiling phantom may make your iPod’s batteries go out like a candle in the wind. 202 N. Central Ave., 602-253-4121,
19. Ride the Zamboni at a Coyotes game.
Someone has to smooth out the ice after goalie and goon come to fisticuffs, and that someone could be you. For a $150 donation to Coyotes Charities, you can ride the ice resurfacer named after creator Frank Zamboni to your 15 minutes of ice resurfacing fame. Must be purchased 72 hours prior to the game date.
20. Become a (temporary) biker dude/chick.
If you don’t already have a sweet Harley-Davidson in your garage, rent one at a place like EagleRider Motorcycle Rental in Scottsdale (
). Then, rev up your engine and ride up to Cave Creek during Arizona Bike Week, April 5-14, and ogle other hot hogs. Finish it off at the huge biker party and concert Cyclefest at Westworld in Scottsdale. This year’s performers include Blues Traveler and Third Eye Blind.
21. Ride a real bull.
Think you have what it takes to tame an actual bull, not one made out of a mechanical pulley system and a piece of foam? Every Wednesday night at the Buffalo Chip Saloon in Cave Creek, bull riders compete to see who can stay hitched to a wild, manic bovine the longest. If you’re crazy enough, throw your hat in the ring. Reservations recommended. 6811 E. Cave Creek Rd., Cave Creek, 602-688-9894,
22. See bats take flight at sunset.
You won’t find a caped crusader in this bat cave, but it’d be criminal to miss thousands of western pipistrelle and Mexican free-tailed bats as they take flight from a flood control tunnel and swarm the skies at sundown from May to November. From the Arizona Canal just north of Camelback Road and 40th Street, walk about a quarter mile west to the Arizona Game and Fish Department sign on the right. 602-942-3000,
23. Watch a meteor shower with Phoenix Astronomical Society.
There really is “fire in the sky,” and celestial spectators Phoenix Astronomical Society (
) want you to join them in observing flaming rocks flying through space. On November 16 and 17, they’ll gather to gawk at the Leonids meteor shower, which produces an average of 40 meteors per hour at peak, and on December 14 and 15, they’ll take in the gigantic Geminids meteor shower, with its peak 60 multicolored meteors per hour. All ages are encouraged to attend the potluck viewing parties at a PAS member’s house in Carefree. No telescope required, but you must RSVP at 480-488-3031.
24. Learn trapeze.
Have you ever dreamed of flying through the air with the greatest of ease? Make it a reality without running away with the circus. At Trapeze U in Gilbert, set aside any fear of heights you may have and sign up for classes like Trapeze 101, Catching U 102 and Circus Class (which includes knife throwing!). 14407 E. Pecos Rd., Gilbert, 888-872-7101,
Make your mark on Phoenix as a volunteer. The following websites list loads of opportunities to pay it forward as a recycling ambassador, youth mentor, hospice companion, and more:
26. Shoot a Gatling gun.
Prepare for the apocalypse by blasting big ol’ 14-gram bullets from a Gatling gun at the Arizona Game and Fish Department’s Outdoor Expo, March 23 and 24 at the Ben Avery Shooting Facility (4044 W. Black Canyon Blvd., Phoenix). Vintage Gatling guns can shoot up to 1,000 rounds per minute – perfect for taking down a plague of locusts. Free admission; fee for ammunition.
27. Volunteer or donate to the Bucket List Foundation.
Most bucket lists comprise exotic vacations, heart-stopping adrenaline rushes and a litany of expensive and rarified endeavors. But local hospice nurse Kimberly Iverson heard a different set of final wishes while caring for her terminally ill patients, especially senior citizens. “Most are not looking for a fantastical wish,” she says. “In fact, many... seem like such simple requests. However, because of their disease process and physical limitations, financial means or emotional outlook on life, these simple wishes seem grandiose and unattainable.”
Iverson began fulfilling the hindmost hopes of some of her patients when her means allowed, but eventually realized their desires exceeded her resources. So in 2011, she launched the Bucket List Foundation. The volunteer-dependent nonprofit grants wishes to terminally ill seniors, from revisiting a hometown and reuniting with family to riding the light rail and having lunch out on the town. Along with the participation of local businesses and monetary contributions, the Phoenix-based foundation sells donated items on a special eBay page to finance their efforts. Iverson says she’s seen the foundation create a ripple effect of “joy and fulfillment” from the seniors to their loved ones and community, manifesting the foundation’s motto, “Living each day to the fullest because tomorrow isn’t promised.” For more information on donating or volunteering, visit
28. Watch a Chihuahua beauty pageant.
Get a load of leg-humping hilarity at the Chihuahua beauty pageant at Chandler’s Cinco de Mayo Festival. The smallest breed of dog shows its huge personality while regaled in ponchos, sombreros, cheerleader outfits, and tuxedos. Dogs are judged on three criteria – Best Dressed, Best Temperament, and Most Fashionable. Free. 480-310-2018,
29. Rent a mansion.
Hotel, shmotel. Rent your own private mountainside mansion through Sanctuary Resort in Paradise Valley and see how the other half lives. The ultimate in luxurious getaways will run you a couple grand, but you can’t beat your own private lap pool perched a few thousand feet above the city. 800-245-2051,
30. Learn crew.
If you thrilled to the rowing competition at the London Olympics, when athletes sped across the water in boats seemingly as slim as a pencil, get thee to Tempe Town Lake. The City of Tempe offers rowing and sculling classes, where you’ll learn technique and teamwork as you glide across the lake with the Olympic theme song playing in your head.
31. Cook truffles with Vincent Guerithault.
Kick up your dinner party beaucoup notches by bringing home a Frenchman. The chef at Vincent on Camelback will school you in searing scallops and perfecting tart crust while whipping up a multi-course meal. In winter, he’ll make it truly bucket list-worthy with a truffle-themed feast. Call Amy Fox: 602-224-0225.
32. Do the Scottish Golf Experience at Westin Kierland.
Rent a kilt at the course, play a round fortified with a Johnnie Walker-stocked beverage cart, and get serenaded by a bagpiper on the 18th. It’s the closest thing to St. Andrews this side of the Salt River. Reserve in advance: 480-922-9283,
33. Ride public transportation with no pants on.
Tons of bums – of the cheeky variety – take over Metro Light Rail for one day in January during the annual No Pants AZ Light Rail Ride. NYC group Improv Everywhere started this global event in 2002, and Phoenicians have dropped their drawers on commutes every year since 2009.
34. Go one week without a car.
35. Be a pirate on the Salt River.
Want the apple of your eye-patch to show a little peg-leg? Avast ye: A couple hundred costumed corsairs tube the Salt River one day a year (usually in June) for “Pirates on the Salt River.” Even the shuttles are decorated like pirate ships, with confetti-loaded cannons. $15 per person or tube. 480-984-3305,
36 .Compete (or just eat) at the Arizona Barbecue Festival or Ahwatukee Chili Cookoff.
(dates to be announced),
37. Watch a D-Backs game from the stadium pool.
License fee starts at $1,500.
38. Audition to sing the National Anthem at a Diamondbacks game.
No one will ever forget the late Whitney Houston’s tear-jerking rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner” at Super Bowl XXV. Luckily, judges at the Arizona Diamondbacks’ season auditions understand that even professionals can have an off day (ahem, Christina Aguilera). So shut your eyes and pretend you’re in the shower, and you could be the next idol to croon for our hometown heroes. Auditions are free and usually held in March. 602-462-6000,
39. Take a halftime half-court shot at a Suns game.
Show up early for a game and approach the Planet Orange Fan Zone booth outside the arena to sign up for a chance to take your shot at halftime glory.
40. Have Suns players serve you hot wings and cocktails.
Buy a ticket for the team’s annual Celebrity Waiters event at Majerle’s in Scottsdale (4425 N. Saddlebag Trail) and let Suns players and other local celebrities wait on you hand and foot to raise money for charity. 480-245-6088,
41. Play paintball in Cowtown.
10402 W. Carefree Hwy., Peoria
42. Take a cocktail class at Sanctuary Resort. Then invent a cocktail and name it after yourself.
5700 E. McDonald Dr., Paradise Valley, 480-607-2300,
43. Dine in an orchard.
At Schnepf Farms’ Dinner Down the Orchard events, have a seat among fruit trees and enjoy a four-course meal made with locally grown ingredients and prepared by a notable local chef. Reservations required; these events (next scheduled for March 23) frequently sell out. 24810 S. Rittenhouse Rd., Queen Creek, 480-987-3100,
44. Eat a Big Unit at Cooperstown.
Alice Cooper says he knows of only six people who’ve finished his 22-inch franks. Gain his respect: Be the seventh. Better yet, share one with him. 101 E. Jackson St., Phoenix, 602-253-7337,
45. Take a seaplane to a desert island brunch.
Seven thousand feet above Scottsdale’s slice of the Sonoran desert, the accordion-shaped Skysong building resembles a crumpled, white plastic bag. Golf courses creep over the sepia landscape like giant green amoebas. All the symbols of civilization are subordinate to the organic panorama as you fly over Saguaro Lake, Weaver’s Needle, the Apache Trail, and finally, Roosevelt Lake, aboard a nine-passenger Cessna Caravan 208 Amphibian Seaplane.
Spotting the spate of mountain-cradled lakes near Globe is easy on a Desert Splash Seaplane Adventures brunch (
), which takes place the second Sunday of the month, October through April. This epic epicurean experience ($350 per person) pairs sumptuous scenery with flavorful food from FnB purveyors Charleen Badman and Pavle Milic. After gliding over limestone-capped clifftops, you’ll come to rest on the cerulean waters of Roosevelt Lake – a touchdown so gentle “it’s like landing on a cloud,” says Desert Splash owner Scott Currier. The minute your shoes hit the shore of Rabbit Island, you’ll be crunching chalky white sea shells underfoot and fielding a fresh glass of Arizona wine, poured by the winemaker.
Under a canopy sometimes circled by seagulls, guests enjoy a hot-plate brunch made with locally-sourced ingredients (previous fixings included smoked Jerusalem artichokes, fig chutney, cinnamon brioche, sausages, and huckleberries from Peoria-based McClendon Select Farms). Whatever the fare, the food’s always a belly full, with an eyeful of scenery on the side.
“The idea was to do these brunches, and not just to feed you, but to at least showcase the bounty of the local terroir here, in this beautiful place that we live in,” Milic says. “You can sit down and meditate and cogitate on the vicissitudes of being alive.”
After your meal and meditations, the Cessna delivers you back to Scottsdale Airport in a mere 20 minutes. Reservations required; call FnB at 480-425-9463.
46. Get married at the Scottsdale Polo Championships.
Views of the McDowell Mountains. Members of the Wales Polo Club thwacking a ball in the background. Stomping the divot with 15,000 of your closest... polo fans. What better setting to tie the knot than on the field of the “Sport of Kings”? This November 2, for the first time, the Scottsdale Polo Championships will allow one couple to wed at America’s largest single-day polo event. Interested? Contact Jennifer Parks at 480-495-3806 to negotiate the site fee (expect a somewhat princely sum).
47. Run Pat’s Run.
This April 20, join the more than 35,000 runners, walkers, rollers and stroller-pushers descending on Tempe for the ninth annual Pat’s Run. The race – named after Pat Tillman, the Arizona Cardinals player-turned-U.S. Army Ranger who was killed in Afghanistan – is 4.2 miles, a nod to Tillman’s jersey number (42) when he played for the Sun Devils. You’ll help raise funds for the Pat Tillman Foundation, which provides resources and scholarships to veterans, active service members and their spouses. $42 entry fee. 480-621-4074,
48. Ride the Tour de Scottsdale.
Tone your thighs and save the desert the second Sunday in October on this 30- or 70-mile ride to benefit the McDowell Sonoran Conservancy. The nonprofit is creating the McDowell Sonoran Preserve, which, when complete, will span 57 square miles, becoming the largest urban preserve in the United States. 480-538-3540,
49. Run in the P.F. Chang’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Arizona Marathon or half-marathon.
Go big with this annual race in January that funnels more than 25,000 participants through Phoenix, Scottsdale and Tempe in streets chock-full of bands and spectators. Conventional wisdom holds that transforming from couch potato to half-marathon runner takes about six months of training, so switch from noodle bowls to running shoes ASAP.
50. Now, complete a triathlon.
The thought of swimming, biking and running in succession might make your legs shake, but triathlons start as short as the “Sprint Distance” with a 0.47-mile swim, 12-mile ride and 3.1-mile run. Consider the Four Peaks Brewing Urban Dirt Off-Road Triathlon (
) at Tempe Town Lake on October 6. First, visit the triathlon specialists at Triple Sports (4032 N. Miller Rd., Scottsdale, 866-994-1174,
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