July 24, 2019
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Best Place to Play Battleship - Snakes & Lattes; Photo by Mirelle Inglefield
Best Place to Play Battleship - Snakes & Lattes; Photo by Mirelle Inglefield

Lifestyle & Entertainment

The Arts

Best Arts Festival
Grand Avenue Festival
Beatrice Moore really knows how to throw a party. Once a year, she and other Grand Avenue business owners get together to promote the historic arts district’s candy-colored buildings and the people who create there. Past festivals have featured music, home tours and a recycled fashion show. This year’s festival is scheduled for November 9.

Best Secret Concert Seats
The Owner’s Suite at Celebrity Theatre
Arizona native Rich Hazelwood purchased the iconic, in-the-round venue in 2002, investing more than $1 million in updates, including a refurbished private owner’s suite, where Hazelwood and friends enjoy a bird’s-eye view of the action, along with private bathrooms and full bar service. Rumor has it that renting out the suite, or at least a few seats, is being considered in the near future. We’re hoping it’s a go before Ringo Starr hits the stage on August 26. 440 N. 32nd St., Phoenix, 602-267-1600,

Best Jazz Spot
The Nash
Jazz culture in many cities can be a bit impenetrable, but not in Phoenix, thanks to The Nash, which helps cultivate jazz appreciation in the Valley through top-notch concerts and a robust education and workshop program. When you buy a ticket to a show at The Nash – for instance, the Scandinavian quintet Union32 on August 3 – you’re not just entertained with silky sax solos, you’re helping students through the Jazz in AZ nonprofit. 110 E. Roosevelt St., Phoenix, 602-795-0464,

Best Instagram Backdrop
Phoenix Art Museum
From our awesome urban hiking trails to our burgeoning restaurant scene, there are plenty of places in Phoenix to curry Instagram likes, but none that competes with the carefully crafted aesthetic beauty of a larger-than-life Phoenix Art Museum exhibition. And, once you get your ’gram, there’s much more to explore. Don’t miss Pay-What-You-Wish Wednesdays, which grants bargain admission to all art appreciators. 1625 N. Central Ave., Phoenix, 602-257-1880,

Best Use of the Canals (Aside from Flood Irrigation)
Canal Convergence
Canals have long watered our yards, but now they refresh our sense of delight, thanks to Canal Convergence, the annual outdoor festival thrown by Scottsdale’s public art department. Past years have featured light displays, dance and even fire. This year’s event, scheduled for November 8-17, will tell The Story of Water, featuring workshops, artist talks and performances.

Best Puppet Workshop
Puppet Pie
She can tell you how to get to Sesame Street – and she can tell you how to make a puppet, too. Stacey Gordon is the puppeteer of Julia, a Sesame Street Muppet who is on the autism spectrum. When she’s home, you can find Gordon making puppets and hosting workshops in her Grand Avenue studio. 1301 Grand Ave., Phoenix, 602-842-9433,

Things To Do

Library With the Best Views
Desert Foothills Library
It’s difficult to focus on your reading with sprawling views of the Tonto National Forest calling you from the library’s patio at Desert Foothills Library. And just a short walk behind the library on Saguaro Ridge reveals a panoramic view of Downtown Phoenix. 38443 N. Schoolhouse Rd., Cave Creek, 480-488-2286,

Best First-Run Theater on a Budget
Paradise Valley Mall Picture Show
If you want to see blockbusters on a Netflix budget, this seven-screen multiplex is your jam: Adult admission is $4-$8. Throw in snacks and refreshments, and a $20 movie date for two is within the realm of possibility. Take advantage of the family popcorn combos when you’re catching the next Disney remake with the kids. With rocking-chair seats and stadium seating, you’re not skimping on comfort, either. 4550 E. Cactus Rd., Phoenix, 602-923-1213,

Best Private Movie Screening Room
The Freezer at Harkins Camelview at Fashion Square
There are myriad luxury cinema options in the Valley now, from AMC Dine-In at the Esplanade to the glitzy IPIC at Scottsdale Quarter. For an ultraluxe – and local – option, try The Freezer, a speakeasy-style screening room at Harkins Camelview, where you literally enter through a stainless steel commercial freezer door. Inside, there are 16 plush recliners with pillows and blankets, and table service with food and cocktails. 7014 E. Camelback Rd., Scottsdale, 480-947-8778,

Best Way to Rediscover the Valley
Western Sky Helicopters
You’ll feel like Aladdin and Jasmine soaring above “a whole new world” during your aerial tour with Western Sky Helicopters, which offers four 30- to 60-minute options – Valley & Downtown Tour, City Lights Tour, Mountain & Lakes Tour and Sunset Tour – or specialty flights. There’s just something magical about seeing familiar sights from above, and helicopters allow you to get much closer than planes. 7305 E. Greenway Rd., Scottsdale, 480-416-6415,

Best Pop-Up
PHX Night Market
We may not have an official K-Town or Chinatown, but we finally have our own Asian night market thanks to the enterprising folks behind PHX Night Market. The biannual pop-up event brings together food and merchandise vendors for a Downtown Phoenix festival of boba, bubble waffles and banchan.

Best New Stadium
Casino Arizona Field
Seating 6,200 fans in north Tempe, with 15 stilt-supported luxury suites, the home field of the Phoenix Rising soccer club might be called state-of-the-art if it were, say, a cricket field in Myanmar. But forget the modest dimensions and lack of major-sport-style amenities – CAF represents a huge leap forward for Phoenix soccer, and the most important step yet in winning the city an MLS franchise. So we love it.

Best Place to Paint and Drink Wine
Carrie Curran Art Studios
Celebrate a night out by joining a Van Gogh Vino BYOB art class or book a private party at Carrie Curran’s airy McCormick Ranch studio overlooking Marguerite Lake. With the help of skilled artists, you can let your creativity rip while you sip a glass of wine, nibble on snacks and listen to music. Art supplies included. 8300 N. Hayden Rd., Scottsdale, 480-478-8121,

Best Bathroom
OdySea Aquarium
Just when you thought it was safe to go to the bathroom, this Scottsdale family attraction – the largest indoor aquarium in the Southwest, they say – may have you running out in fear. Don’t worry, the commodes are clean, but when the 9-foot tiger shark or one of his friends swim past the window in front of you as you’re doing your business, your pants might not be. 9500 E. Vía de Ventura, Scottsdale, 480-291-8000,

Most Anticipated Midcentury Design Event
Modern Phoenix Week
Fans of Ralph Haver and Al Beadle take note: February 1 is when tickets go on sale for Modern Phoenix Week, a deep dive into all things midcentury. Also: Tickets sell out in hours. Hosted by Alison King of, this March event packs the calendar with home tours, workshops and lectures. Events held throughout metro Phoenix.

Best Place to Play Battleship
Snakes & Lattes
As Stefon from Saturday Night Live would say: This place has EVERYTHING. Trivia nights, weekly rosé brunches, espresso drinks, craft beer and yummy food, plus thousands of games to play, from retro classics like Clue and Risk to new favorites and video games. 20 W. Sixth St., Tempe, 480-361-6644,

Best Cuban Getaway Without Leaving the U.S.
The Scott Resort & Spa
After a $15 million renovation completed in late 2018, the former FireSky resort is now bathed in earth tones, decorated with wicker furniture and adorned by leafy palm trees. The resort’s Canal Club restaurant, bar and lounge has Cuban-inspired fare and is reminiscent of 1930s Havana. Cubano sandwiches, fried plantains and rum drinks abound. 4925 N. Scottsdale Rd., Scottsdale, 480-945-7666,

Best Not-Your-Basic Jewelry-Making Class
Blink Studio
Sign up for a class or workshop at artist Ingrid Donaldson’s Scottsdale studio and learn jewelry fabrication using ancient and modern techniques for beginners, intermediate and advanced students. Classes are kept small for individualized instruction. Learn to make sterling silver and stone rings, copper bracelets and other treasures in a Make It & Take It class. 7077 E. Main St., Scotts-dale, 480-363-2225,

Best Concert Venue Not in the Middle of Downtown
The Rhythm Room
There are plenty of Valley joints to catch live music, but there’s nothing quite like the Rhythm Room, a bar and concert venue dedicated to blues, jazz and roots musicians, occasionally spotted with rock acts. The bartenders are kind and funny, the acoustics are killer and the shows shouldn’t be missed. Plus, you don’t have to deal with the parking nightmare of Downtown. 1019 E. Indian School Rd., Phoenix, 602-265-4842,

Fitness & Outdoors

Best Sky Party
On the second Friday of each month, the East Valley Astronomy Club points its telescopes toward the heavens and invites the public to stargaze for free. The guide-led event at the Gilbert Rotary Centennial Observatory teaches would-be astronomers about current celestial events and the season’s changing sky. Located at Gilbert Riparian Preserve, 2757 E. Guadalupe Rd., Gilbert,

Best Women-Only Fitness Studio
Empower Wellness Studio
If macho gyms and their John Cena-worshipping clientele are a bit much for you, try a class or treatment at Empower, a tiny, intimate, bare-bones studio “designed for women by women” in North Phoenix. There are weekly yoga classes, an infrared sauna, massage tables, personal trainers, nutritional counselors and low-intimidation classes like Women & Weights. 10818 N. 32nd St., Phoenix, 602-368-6336,

Best Camping Spot to Bring Your Dog
Lost Dutchman State Park
Pups love spending time with their owners in the great outdoors, but it can be difficult to find a camping spot that welcomes dogs. The Lost Dutchman, a dog-friendly camping spot right at the base of the Superstition Mountains, is ideal for hiking and biking with your wee beast during the day before cuddling up for a night under the stars. 6109 N. Apache Trl., Apache Junction,

Best Place to Eat on the Water if You Don’t Have a Boat
Scorpion Bay Marina
It used to be said that the two best days in a man’s life were the day he buys his boat and the day he sells his boat. But if you’re not between those days, you can still enjoy lunch on Lake Pleasant – and enviously ogle other people’s boats – at this floating diner/bar/gift shop/harbor. 10970 W. Peninsula Blvd, Peoria, 928-501-2628,

Best Canal Run
Granada Park to Camelback Road
For runners seeking a flat, easy-on-the-knees course, this is the one for you. Start at Granada Park (bathrooms! water!), running east along the canal. You’ll jog past the manicured lawns of the Arizona Biltmore and Wrigley Mansion, glimpse the Downtown skyline, and if you go at dawn, watch the pink and orange sunrise over Camelback Mountain. 6505 N. 20th St., Phoenix, 602-262-6696,

Best Place to Meditate
Franciscan Renewal Center
“Mindfulness” gets a bad rap as a trendy buzzword, but let’s be honest: Sometimes we need to recharge. At the Franciscan Renewal Center, you can quiet your thoughts with a walk around the peaceful labyrinth – an ancient practice used for spiritual centering and contemplation. Free of cost and open year-round. 5802 E. Lincoln Dr., Scottsdale, 480-948-7460,

Best of the Valley TRIO
Burton Barr Central Library
1221 N. Central Ave., Phoenix, 602-262-4636,

1 Best Place for Some Quiet
In addition to sweet refuge from the heat that radiates off the Downtown concrete, Burton Barr Central Library and its Great Reading Room offer gorgeous views of the Valley, plus an incredible archive of magazines, including every one of the 634 monthly issues published by PHOENIX.

2 Best Original Co-Working Space
We were considering chipping in for an office decorated with ironworks and macramé, then we cruised Burton Barr and were reminded that the library is the original co-working space. There’s no coffee or music – but there’s also no fee.

3 Most Beauteous Library
Books are beautiful, but libraries aren’t always – that is, except Burton Barr, designed by Will Bruder in 1995. Holding a collection of more than 1 million books, the library is good on the eyes and for the environment, winning a Crescordia Award for Environmental Excellence.

Best indoor play center

Altitude Trampoline Park
Two Valley locations,
• Wear out your kids (or join them) on the trampolines with designated areas for the wee ones.
• Want to slam like Shaq? Work the dunk lanes in the bouncy basketball court.
• If your legs are tired, work your upper body on the indoor rock wall (with Styrofoam cubes below to break your fall).


Pump It Up
Three Valley locations,
• The indoor bouncy houses and equipment will inflate your child’s fun.
• Got a birthday coming up? Get a private playroom with features that fit every budget, including cake and pizza (which isn’t half bad).
• Need some adult time? There is a recurring Parents’ Night Out babysitting service.

Best Arcade Bar
Cobra Arcade Bar

Best Arts Festival
Tempe Festival of the Arts

Best Bowling Alley
Uptown Alley Surprise

Best Casino
Talking Stick Resort Winner four years running.

Best City Park
McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park

Best Dog Park
Cosmo Dog Park

Best Drag Show
Charlie’s Phoenix And fantastic tacos outside.

Best Escape Room
Dynamic Escape Rooms

Best Food Festival
Arizona Taco Festival

Best Gay Bar
Charlie’s Phoenix

Best Gym/Workout Studio
Arrowhead Fit Body Boot Camp

Best Hike: City Core
Camelback Mountain

Best Hike: City Outskirts
Superstition Mountains

Best Holiday Light Display
Zoolights/Phoenix Zoo

Best Karaoke Bar
Copper Blues Rock Pub & Kitchen

Best Kids’ Birthday Party Location
The Slumber Shack

Best Lesbian Bar
Boycott Bar Ha! We get it…

Best Live Music Venue
The Van Buren

Best Movie Theater
Harkins Camelview at Fashion Square 14

Best Museum
Musical Instrument Museum Your all-time BOV leader with six listings.

Best Music Festival
McDowell Mountain Music Festival

Best Parade
Phoenix Pride

Best Performance Theater
Herberger Theater Center

Best Place to Go Dancing
Dierks Bentley’s Whiskey Row Your boot-scootin’ solution.

Best Place to Take the Kids
Children’s Museum of Phoenix

Best Place to Take Visitors
Desert Botanical Garden

Best Place to Volunteer
Herberger Theater Center

Best Place to Watch a Game
Gila River Arena

Best Pride Event
Phoenix Pride

Best Private Golf Course
Troon North Golf Club

Best Public Golf Course
Papago Golf Course

Best Retirement Community
Westminster Village

Best Running/Fitness Event
Pat’s Run

Best Staycation Resort
Hotel Valley Ho

Best Trivia Night
GenuWine Arizona Roosevelt wine bar has it on Monday nights.

Best Wedding Venue
Hyatt Regency Scottsdale Resort & Spa Gainey Ranch

Best Yoga Studio
radi8 HOT YOGA