Posts Tagged ‘things to do’

The Great Outdoors in Downtown Phoenix: Enjoy Springtime in an Urban Setting

Friday, April 5th, 2013

Civic Space Park

Spring is here. Just as the season arrives, it seems to quickly vanish to the scorching summer temperatures. Spring is here. Now is the perfect time to explore the great outdoors, parks and gardens of Downtown Phoenix.

Margaret T. Hance Park, named after former Phoenix Mayor Margaret Taylor Hance, sits directly above the Papago Freeway Tunnel (also known as the Deck Park Tunnel) in Downtown Phoenix. Hance was a strong proponent of the tunnel and the park, and thus the park was named after her. On any given day, hundreds of vehicles drive through the tunnel right under the feet of any park-goer! The park is lovely and features walking paths, drinking fountains, grills, ramadas to reserve, a volleyball court, and The Irish Cultural Center and Japanese Friendship Garden.

At The Irish Cultural Center the foundation’s Academy of Irish and Celtic Studies offers an array of unique indoor and outdoor classes in everything from Celtic instruments – including bagpipes and the bodhran – to Celtic languages, such as Welsh and Scottish Gaelic, to step dancing.

At the Japanese Friendship Garden (Ro Ho En), one can admire elegant waterfalls, streams filled with swimming Koi fish, and more than 50 varieties of plants. Strolling through the garden offers tranquility and beauty. The garden’s name, Ro Ho En, is a combination of three Japanese words. Ro means Heron, a bird symbol of Himeji City. Ho is the Japanese word for the city of mythical Phoenix bird. En means garden. Apparently, more than 50 landscape architects from Himeji, Japan, contributed to the Japanese Friendship Garden project. General admission prices are: adults $5; students, military, seniors (62+), and children $4; children ages six and younger when accompanied by an adult are free. Daily traditional Japanese Tea Ceremonies take place at various times. Participation is available for an additional fee.

Just a few blocks away, Civic Space Park sits as the newest park in downtown Phoenix, which is across the street from Arizona State University’s Downtown Phoenix campus. At night, look for a large illuminating sculpture that soars high into the sky. This sculpture is called “Her Secret is Patience” and was created by Janet Echelman. During the day, this park offers many shaded areas making Civic Space Park a comfortable retreat from the sun. Frequently, park-goers can enjoy weekend activities such as yoga and movie nights in the park.

At Central Avenue and Washington Street sits Patriots Square Park at CityScape where kids can enjoy water features and adults can kick back to relax in the outdoors on a lunch break. Patriots Square Park also features Pop-Up Parks during the week with a DJ, games, and even a library of books to choose from! The park also hosts yoga and other fitness activities throughout the year.

Spring is here and Downtown Phoenix offers many options to get out and enjoy the great outdoors in an urban setting. So, get out there!

Margaret T. Hance Park

West side of the park -> 67 W. Culver Street

(between Central and Third Avenues in downtown Phoenix)
(602) 262-6412

Japanese Friendship Garden – Ro Ho En

1125 N. Third Avenue, Phoenix, AZ 85003
(602) 256-3204

Irish Cultural Center

1106 N. Central Avenue, Phoenix, AZ 85004

(602) 258-0109

Civic Space Park

424 N. Central Avenue, Phoenix, AZ 85004

(602) 262-7490

Patriots Square Park at Cityscape

1 East Washington, Phoenix, AZ 85004

New to Phoenix? A Beginner’s Guide to Your New Digs

Monday, March 4th, 2013

PocketFolderShot300pxArriving in a new city is never easy, and, given the overall stress levels associated with it, the more you know in advance the better. Let’s be honest, moving is horrid. All you once knew is blown away in a wave of activity and confusion. What you’re left with is akin to nuclear fallout disguised as innumerable boxes, an alien landscape with places you’ve never heard of and the feeling of instability. Moving to Phoenix happens for a variety of reasons, but whether those reasons are for family or work, the resources to make this city your home are plentiful. Below are a few tips to help.

Your home

Moving can cause your already crazy life to be even more unstable. That’s why making your home as perfect as possible should be priority No. 1. First, make the choice what kind of home you want…apartment or house?

Phoenix apartments are plentiful, and given the median home price in the Phoenix area rose 40 percent in 2012, this may be a good option. To dispel a popular myth: apartments aren’t always small. Some range from 700 to over 1,500 square feet. Given that there are so many Downtown phoenix apartments, and the fact that you don’t want to immediately take on a mortgage when you move to a new city, an apartment is a good option for a single person or a family.

Don’t like apartments? That’s fine. If you’re interested in a house, don’t do it on your own; find a realtor. Why? These people rarely get paid until they find you a house, it’s all they do and it saves you time — which is invaluable. Simply state what you’re looking for and what’s in your price range, and they go to work for you. Let’s face it: the reality is you don’t have the time to deal with the stress of doing it on your own.

Whatever type of home you end up in, there are some follow-up tasks that will make your adjustment period easier — some seem obvious, but they’re still important.
- Unpack: Fewer boxes means less stress. Remember stability and carry on. Home doesn’t conjure up images of unpacked boxes.

- Add visual appeal: White walls and no furniture do not make a home. You aren’t in college anymore, so don’t act like it. Decorate your place with a variety of complementary styles and add your flair. Need some suggestions or ideas on what art you might like? Visit a First Friday to pick up artwork ranging from photographs to sculptures from local artists. And don’t forget to take advantage of all of your kids’ artwork. Using removable wall hooks, hang string or wire across the wall for them to pin their work to.


Moved in? Good for you. Now let’s do something fun. Remember stability? It’s often associated with a familiar setting, both inside and outside the home. You won’t have to look far in Phoenix. Check out the Downtown Phoenix events calendar or visit a DREAMR Best of Downtown Winners to sample what Downtown has to offer.

Carry on

Moving is stressful. Moving to a new city is worse. Moving to a new city and not knowing about the culture, events or surrounding area can be a nightmare. But remember stability? That’s in your hands.

Free 4th of July at Arizona Center!

Wednesday, June 27th, 2012

hot dogCelebrate the 4th of the July with free parking, free live music and free food!

The Arizona Center invites the first 1,000 guests with D-back’s tickets (for that evening’s game) to enjoy a free hot dog! The free hot dogs will be served from 5 to 7 p.m. on the patio of Sam’s Café.

Free live music will be performed by Flying Pig Band.

Complimentary parking for all attendees will be provided at the 5th Street Garage from 4 to 11:30 p.m.

Come to Downtown Phoenix and make this an unforgettable Independence Day!

Things to Eat, Do and See this Father’s Day

Friday, June 8th, 2012

“Fatherhood is pretending the present you love most is soap-on-a-rope.”  – Bill Cosby

fathers_dayOk, so Father’s Day isn’t exactly Mother’s Day. There’s no prescription for getting it right. This isn’t brunch and foot rubs (although, dads would probably like that too), this is baseball, beer and steak. Or a play? Or a concert? Or a day at the museum? Or, you know what? We just don’t know.

So we’ve broken it down into categories. Things to Eat, Things to Do and Things to See. Whatever you do, don’t get dad soap-on-a-rope, we hear that’s passé.

Things to Eat

The Compass Arizona Grill

Hey! Brunch! And it’s a buffet, too. Perfect for a dads with a sweet tooth. 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. $59 for adults and $29 for kids 5-12. Reservations are recommended.

Majerle’s Sports Grill

Dads eat free this Father’s Day at Majerle’s with the purchase of entree.

Steve’s Greenhouse Grill

BBQ? Buffet? Heck yes. Dads eat for half off with the purchase of an adult meal.

Things to Do

Arizona Science Center

This Father’s Day the Arizona Science Center will have a sweet surprise for the first 200 fathers and grandfathers that walk in the door – free general admission.

Rosson House Museum
Half-price admission for all dads from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m.

Children’s Museum of Phoenix

Not just for kids, the Children’s Museum of Phoenix brings out the kid in everyone. This Sunday all dads and granddads get free admission.

Things to See

Stand Up Live

This is not your granddad’s comedy show. Three funny men, Andy Steinberg, Mike Kennedy, James Hoenscheidt and James Harvey Heard, will take the stage at Stand Up Live this Father’s Day. 7 p.m. Tickets are $12 with a two drink minimum.

The Wallace & Ladmo Show – Herberger Theater Center

If Dad grew up in Arizona, he probably watched the Wallace and Ladmo Show. But this play is more than just the story of the rise and fall of a one-hit wonder band spawned from a kid’s TV show in 1964 in Phoenix, Arizona; it is a story about the measure of success in our own lives. Tickets are $24 – $40, kids 12 and under $20.

KMLE 108 Summer Throwdown – Comerica Theatre

Is your dad a country music fan? Then round him up and move him out to the KMLE Country Throwdown featuring some of country music’s newest up and coming stars including Brantley Gilbert, Love and Theft, JT Hodges and Jana Kramer. Comerica Theatre at 7 p.m. Tickets are $35.

Treat Mom to a Day Downtown

Tuesday, May 8th, 2012

mother's dayMaybe your mom is like mine. Maybe she said all she wanted for a Mother’s Day gift was a little time together or, “just something small, honey.” Maybe you’re like me and you just looked at your calendar and realized you have less than a week to get this all together. Maybe, this year, instead of hastily buying a $20 scarf at 10 p.m. on Saturday and wrapping it in tissue paper in the car (just a random example), you take mom out for a nice day around town.

Don’t panic. We got this.

1. Start with a nice brunch…

Breakfast in bed is nice gesture, but it inevitably ends with a kitchen full of dirty dishes and orange juice on the comforter. Skip the mess and pick one of the fabulous brunch options below:

Province is reviving their Eggs Benedict Action Station, giving mom the option to create her eggs Benedict one of 252 ways. The make your own Bloody Mary bar and complimentary mimosa and house-made pastry with Meyer Lemon curd are back as well. If a buffet is more your speed, The Compass Arizona Grill has endless sweet and savory options for $69, while District American Kitchen is rolling out a bottomless Bloody Mary and mimosa bar and special brunch items. Maybe you’re a little short on cash, in which case you should head to Steve’s Greenhouse Grill where the Mother’s Day brunch has moms eating free with the purchase of an adult entree.

… or, head straight to lunch:

Let mom sleep in (that means you!) and forget the breakfast shuffle. Go for a late brunch or just skip all those breakfast sweets and go for lunch:

The Arrogant Butcher is opening on Sunday at noon with a special menu featuring eggs Benedict, Banana Bread Pudding and a veggie scramble. If mom is all about eating healthy, My Big Fat Greek Restaurant is offering a three course meal for $21.95, while Kincaid’s – a seafood lover’s haven – is open for lunch at 11 a.m.

2. Then, take in a special event:

d-back earringsNothing says quality time with mom like America’s pastime, and the D’Backs are going all out with a Mother’s Day earring giveaway. The first 5,000 moms will get a pair and, psst, gifting secret here, if you pay for tickets, those earrings totally count as a present.

If mom isn’t a sports fan, head over to Stand Up Live for the 3 Blond Moms show and share a chuckle with Joanie Fagan, Donna Cherry and Kat Simmons as they joke about all those irritating things moms deal with on a daily basis. For more laughs, head to the Phoenix Comedy Festival for a bevy of comedians and musicians, all in support of the Bill of Rights Monument Project.

If a play is more mom’s speed, Herberger Theater has two on tap for Sunday. RED, a searing portrait of famous expressionist painter Mark Rothko, is showing at 1 and 7 p.m., while Time Stands Still – showing at 2 p.m. – tells the story of a photojournalist and foreign correspondent working to find happiness in a world that seems to have gone crazy.

Finally, let mom in on the secret of Crescent Ballroom for the Portland Cello Project – a group of classically trained cellists playing symphony-style music. Moms love live bands and great cocktails, too.

3. And, after a full day, give mom a foot rub.

Yes, with your hands.


She’ll love it.

NCAA Elite Come to Phoenix

Wednesday, March 21st, 2012

basketballA rough sketch of the conversations of every college basketball fan in America : “March Madness! March Madness! Upsets! Brackets! March Madness!”

And guess what? All the fun of the Sweet 16, bracketology and that Cinderella story in the making is coming here.

But you already knew that.

Somewhere in those 100 glorious, basketball-filed hours of the weekend, you discovered whether or not your team, or the team that beat your team, or the team you picked to win your bracket is coming to the U.S Airways Center this Thursday.

So dig out your  green / red / blue / gold and hustle yourself Downtown. If you’re going to the game or just planning to watch all the action close to the action, here’s our shortlist of where to grab a bite or a celebratory brew:

Majerle’s Sports Grill

The sports bar of sports bars. A hop, skip and a travel to the stadium, this place was made for all your basketball loving ways. If you’re in a rush, swing by Downtown Pizza Lounge right next door and grab a slice before heading off to the game.

Alice Cooper’stown

Right next to Chase Field, this is another one of those Phoenix giants in the sports bar world. Amazing hotdogs, award winning barbecue, this place takes watching the game to a whole ‘nother level.

Arrogant Butcher

On the steps of the U.S Airways Center, this place has some seriously good eats. Start with the Pretzel with Provolone Fondue appetizer or grab a Turkey Pastrami sandwich. If you’re a Louisville fan, they’ve got the official Cardinal’s pre-game party on Thursday.

Coach & Willie’s

It seems like there’s a TV everywhere you look in this hopping joint. The beer is cold, the games are blasting and the food is delicious.

Tom’s Tavern

Maybe you want to watch the games outside where your deafening yells of joy and disappointment can be heard for blocks. Maybe you want to heckle the losers or high five the winners as they file past on Central Avenue. Or maybe you just want to get their killer pulled pork sandwich.

Lucky Strike Lanes and Lounge

There isn’t just bowling at this swanky little place. There’s also 12 big TVs and a solid game-day atmosphere. Bonus:  if your team loses, you always have the chance to redeem some of those lost bets over a game of ten pin.

Networks Bar and Grill

The food here is fan friendly and the happy hour specials rock. You can even bust out your chopsticks skills over sushi, just don’t stab your neighbor when your team loses.

Tilted Kilt Pub & Eatery

Floor-to-ceiling TV, a massive bar and all the fun of watching the game at a pub.


TVs, beers and as many wings as you can wolf down.

Photo by Salvatore Vuono

Catch March Madness Games Downtown

Thursday, March 15th, 2012

March MadnessThe brackets are filled out, the betting has begun and half of the office is refusing to move from their desks – and no, they aren’t working.

Maybe you’re thinking about leaving work early to catch one of those 3,000* March Madness games. Maybe you’re barely working anyway.

Whatever your productivity levels, skip the commute home and relocate yourself to a sports bar where no one will complain about your all-basketball-all-the-time needs. Here’s our shortlist of where to catch a game:

Coach & Willie’s

It seems like there’s a TV every 12 feet* in this hopping joint. The beer is cold, the games are blasting and the food is delicious.

Majerle’s Sports Grill

The sports bar of sports bars. If you haven’t watched a game here, you’re missing out.

Tom’s Tavern

Maybe you want to watch the games outside where your deafening yells of joy and disappointment can be heard for blocks. Or maybe you just want to get in on the $5 appetizers during Happy Hour.

Lucky Strike Lanes and Lounge

There isn’t just bowling at this swanky little place. There’s also 12 big TVs and – in honor of the Madness – $2 domestics.

Networks Bar and Grill

The food here is fan friendly and the happy hour specials rock. You can even bust out your chopsticks skills over sushi, just don’t stab your neighbor when your team loses.

Friday’s Front Row Sports Grill

Escape the crowds and get in on one of the better kept secrets around town. This place is open on non-game days and it comes with a seriously fun view.

Tilted Kilt Pub & Eatery

Floor-to-ceiling TV. Need I say more?


The TVs turn on at 9 am and all the games are on. Grab a giant beer and skip the office.

*number possibly an exaggeration

Art Detour 24 – March 17 and 18

Wednesday, March 14th, 2012

Art Detour 24There’s an excitement in the air around Downtown Phoenix this week.  Something of a  je ne sais quoi happiness.

Maybe it’s the joy that always builds around Spring Break or perhaps it’s that unmistakable giddiness that precedes a drinking holiday, but, for my money, I bet it’s the energy surrounding this year’s Art Detour.

In the past, Art Detour was about a community coming out to support and honor the Phoenix art scene. It was about bringing people together. Rejoicing in the beautiful weather and outstanding art. An all out celebration of what it means to be a vibrant, art-filled city. That feeling is back.

There’s a crush of last-minute desperation among artists to finish up their newest work. Studios are being cleaned out and the creative types are, I kid you not, greeting you as you pass along the streets. It’s like a small town coming together in honor of a presidential visit. Except this is Phoenix. This is a city of art walks. This is what we do every First Friday. But this weekend’s Art Detour 24, if all signs are to be believed, is going to be good – like, write a literal letter home good.

Over 60 galleries / studios / venues will be open for self-guided tours throughout Downtown, with a public hanging (no, not that kind) at A.E. England and a pop up gallery, live music and performances at the Arizona Center. While the trolleys will be running, this year’s stops are better designed around parking and walking, which is a good way to soak up all those good vibes in the air. And, speaking of parking, it’s free at the Arizona Center this weekend.

The madness kicks off Saturday at 10 am and runs through Sunday at 6 pm.

For more information, check out:

For a printable map, click here.

Nomojoe and Tequilya

Wednesday, October 5th, 2011

NoMoJoe and Tequilya. If you live in the Phoenix area, you know what that means and who these calaveras represent.

This mural on Roosevelt Row is by Lalo Cota, who I wrote about~again~a few days ago and his sometime collaborator, Thomas Breeze Marcus. I’ve photographed this building in the alley of the 400 block of East Roosevelt between Eye Lounge and Modified Arts before. This is what it looked like a year ago:

You can see that some of the roses and part of the background remain the same.

Over to the left, under the billboard, this is the mural on the side of Eye Lounge this month.

This mural changes every First Friday (except in the summer) and is always done by Joe Pagac, who you can watch paint amidst the crowds. This is what it looked like about a year ago:

And below is what it looked like about 6 months ago. This performance wall is commissioned by Stateside Presents, a concert and event promoter. So it’s a good gig for Joe Pagac.

Check it out this coming First Friday and see what changes are in store…

Mas Calaveras

Wednesday, September 28th, 2011

The other day as we were driving over to see the Valley of the Sunflowers field, my companion said, “There’s a new mural.” I knew right away that it was done by Lalo Cota since it features his unmistakable calaveras which I have blogged about before. Here’s a collage I did last year featuring several of them, scattered about the Downtown Phoenix area.

Sometimes Lalo collaborates with Thomas Breeze and/or Pablo Luna. I was excited to see a new one on the front of Tacos de Juarez (authentic Mexican food at 1017 N. 7th Street) and I know there are a couple more around town, too, that I will blog about soon. It’s great to be photographing a few more murals again and we’re coming up on the best time of year to be walking around colorful Downtown Phoenix with a camera.

I didn’t see any signatures so I’m not sure if he did the rooster, too.

Stay tuned for some new and updated murals…