Best of the Valley in Urban Scene Lifestyle

Editorial StaffJuly 5, 2022
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Best Building Rescue

Union Station

Amtrak hasn’t sent a train to Downtown Phoenix in well over a decade (the closest spot you can hop aboard is Maricopa) but the train station – once a pit stop for the Santa Fe and Southern Pacific railroads as well as Amtrak – is still standing south of Jefferson Street. And the beautiful space was recently purchased, with plans, we hear, for a movie studio and other cultural magnets. We’d love to see Amtrak start up again Downtown, but we’ll settle for a dusty step back in time. 401 W. Harrison St., Phoenix

Best Circle K

The Circle K from Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure

Here’s the truth: Every Circle K looks pretty much the same as every other Circle K. It’s part of the charm. And when one Circle K closes, another opens. But when a certain Circle K on Southern Avenue in Tempe closed in May, a cry of “BOGUS” erupted from dudes far and wide, given its prominent role in the movie Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure. One of the Valley’s proudest cinematic touchstones, vanished. Bummer.

Best Rockin’ Honor

Alice Cooper License Plate

Another year, another awesome Alice-Cooper-themed promotional product. New legislation brings us a “youth, music and art” plate that honors Alice Cooper’s Solid Rock Teen Centers, a noteworthy nonprofit promoting music education. Plates should be available by the end of 2022. 13625 N. 32nd St., Phoenix, 602-522-9200,

Best Hotel Wallpaper

Rise Uptown

All respect to the rooftop bar and ice pops upon check-in, but the guest room wallpaper is the true unsung hero of this Camelback-area getaway. We’re partial to the pink and green cactus motif, but there’s also a 1970s-inspired print of red, orange and brown semi-circles, and a floral design of colorful cactus blossoms. 400 W. Camelback Rd., Phoenix, 480-536-8900,

Photo courtesy Rise Uptown
Photo courtesy Rise Uptown

Best-Dressed Collegians

ASU Fashion Program 

The Phoenix fashion scene hasn’t ever knocked our socks off, but Arizona State University is changing that with an innovative, creative fashion program. If a recent fashion show at Scottsdale Fashion Square is any indication, ASU is the next FIT. Where’s Tim Gunn? 

Best Fashion Collab

JT Holmes & the Phoenix Suns

Local entrepreneur and designer JT Holmes started his urban streetwear brand Modern Rockstars in 2020, selling more than 5,000 graphic tees and hoodies since his debut. In February of this year, he collaborated with the Phoenix Suns for Black History Month with a limited-edition shirt design that promptly sold out in hours.

Best Senior Living

Mirabella at ASU

The new senior housing high-rise complex at Arizona State University in Tempe rightfully earned the scorn of the younger generation when residents won a court case against a noisy nearby bar. (C’mon, Grandpa, you moved to a college party zone, what did you expect?) But you can’t blame the geezers for liking the area. Not only are residents steps from a Whole Foods and Gammage Auditorium, artists live on-site and offer workshops and performances. Beats playing canasta in Sun City. 65 E. University Dr., Tempe, 480-317-4444,

Best Act of Bureaucracy

Mesa’s Autism Certification  

Though it’s been a few years since the city of Mesa became an Autism Certified City – the first-ever in the United States – it’s now ramping up efforts among the local community to engage more businesses to become trained in order to better serve people with autism and other cognitive disorders. Visit Mesa, 1 Macdonald St., Mesa, 480-827-4700,

Best City Job You Didn’t Know Existed

City Archaeologist

Like Boston, San Antonio and St. Augustine, Florida, Phoenix has an official City Archaeologist. Laurene Montero currently holds the job, which has been vested at Pueblo Grande Museum since 1929. Her focus is ensuring appropriate treatment of unearthed archeological resources. Whenever a contractor digs up artifacts or pot chards, Montero investigates. Ironically, her job is mostly looking ahead so everything is handled “just right.” 4619 E Washington Ave, Phoenix, 602-495-0901,

Best Billboards

Lerner & Rowe Injury Attorneys

Whether we’re stuck in gridlock on the I-10, or angrily pulling past an idling Valley Metro bus on Camelback, the sight of the Phoenix-incorporated firm’s two titular law-guys – with their can-do postures and blinding bridgework – makes us crack a grin. And God forbid if we ever are in a wreck and need a che… well, you know.