Phoenix Travel Guide
Sports Travel / Spring Training / Arizona Travel / Phoenix Travel / Scottsdale Travel / Tempe Travel / → All Tags
You can hear the whipping of the bat through the air from the on-deck circle, the crunching of the cleats in the dirt. You can see the beards on their faces and hear the words from their mouths, whether it’s a player, coach, or umpire. Autographs are easy to come by, and “good” seats turn into “great” ones thanks to the small stadiums. If you’re a baseball fan, that’s pretty much all that needs to be said to convince you that Spring Training is a worthwhile jaunt.
If you’re a casual or less-than-serious fan, the atmosphere – relaxed and summer-esk and filled with beer drinking in the sun during the winter month of March – should do the trick. While baseball is certainly the main event, the entertainment goes well beyond the ball field.
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We’ve got a good feeling that many of you will find yourselves at the airport at some point during the holiday season. It may be on your way to visit friends and relatives, but we’re even more hopeful that you’re at the airport flying somewhere fun to avoid friends and relatives.
No matter how you end up at the airport you’re going to need a bite to eat while you’re wandering the terminals, so thankfully HMSHost and their food-from-your-phone technology is back with a new airport and new restaurants.
Airport Restaurants / Airport Dining / Airport Food / Food Travel / PHX / Airports / Airport News / Phoenix Travel / → All Tags
Whether it's awesome sandwiches or the latest frozen food fad we're all over airport dining, so we just had to pass along a few updates about the new eats options that are coming to Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport in the future. The best part of the new options is that it's just not Sbarro and Starbucks, as some local options are sneaking through the security line; however, no need to worry, as there will still be a Starbucks too.
Last week airport officials did their thing to grant approval to a bunch of new spots for the airport's Terminal 4, and everything should arrive both before and after the TSA checkpoint by sometime between now and 2013. There will be some Phoenix specific pizza from La Grande Orange, and Cowboy Ciao from over in Scottsdale will also be making an appearance in the airport. There will also be a few spots from Fox Restaurant Concepts including Sauce, Blanco's Tacos and Tequilia, and Modern Burger.
Arizona really isn’t known for their vast variety of roller coasters or theme parks, and that’s probably because it’s just too darn hot to even go outside during the summer. There’s a solution to this weather problem, and a group of investors is looking to build it, with a new kind of amusement park right in the desert that will keep visitors cool all day long.
Catalyst Land Holdings is planning an amusement park filled with snow. They want kids to be able to build snowmen, go sledding, and chuck snowballs at one another while temperatures soar well above 100 degrees outside, yes just like the one in Dubai (although without the skiing).
Airport News / Airports / PHX / Free Stuff / Events / → All Tags
We love visiting airports around the globe, but it’s rare that we truly feel appreciated and loved by the airports back. Well Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport is looking to change that, as today is the airport’s second annual Customer Appreciation Day. That’s right—the airport is glad you are visiting the area or just passing through on your way to another destination.
Unfortunately it doesn’t look like the airport has the authority to hand out free flights; however, they do have some stuff that might just make you feel warm and fuzzy all over. Free candy and popcorn are just some of the freebies that airport personnel will be passing out within the terminals. The airport claims it’s America’s friendliest, so we’re sure there will be plenty of service with a smile.
Despite Arthur Frommer’s feelings about the Grand Canyon State, people seem to be ready to head out to Phoenix this fall. It is possible that his opinion might not have made it through to everyone yet, or it’s possible that nobody cares what Frommer thinks. Even though things are slow due to the economy, the Valley of the Sun appears to keep drawing the crowds into town.
According to the 2009 Travel Leaders Fall Travel Trends Survey—catchy name—the Phoenix and Scottsdale area sits just outside the top ten at number 11 among destinations booked throughout the rest of the year. People must want to avoid the cool crisp days of autumn at any cost. About 75 percent of those asked said that trips were down compared to last year overall, and about 60 percent said they had a good feeling about the strength of the fall travel season. Let's just hope the travel season isn't too strong, we're getting used to all the great deals.
Ever heard the urban legend about how peeling the top layer of a golf ball will cause it to explode? Us too! We expect a tour of Karsten Manufacturing, maker of Ping golf balls, to clear this mystery up for us.
Karsten Manufacturing founder Karsten Solheim got into golf as a young engineer when his coworkers at General Electric strong-armed him into joining their foursome; the putter he subsequently designed first made a big splash when a winner at a Phoenix PGA tournament used it. At Karsten in Phoenix, you can watch club heads being molded in a machine and later, real-life orders personalized for golfers around the world.
Pizza / Phoenix / Food Travel / Food / → All Tags
Before we felt it right to make our way to one of the country’s best ice cream parlors, we had to backtrack for a moment and hit up one of the country’s best pizza places first. Located in a historic square along Phoenix’s downtown border, Pizzeria Bianco has been the pizza Mecca for crust aficionados across the country.
We knew that Bianco was a must-eat during our visit to Arizona, so we headed to the restaurant at 4:30 pm, as the place opens at 5:00, and only takes reservations for six or more. From what we’d read, we knew we’d have to wait, but we didn’t totally believe that our wait would be as long as it was. When we arrived, the line was already way down the block, and by the time we finally sat down and were rewarded with two delicious pies, it had become a five-hour journey.
This weekend is a great time to get away to Phoenix. Not only will you be able to escape the winter weather and enjoy sunny skies with highs in the mid 60s, but you’ll also get to attend the very romantic 2009 NBA All-Star Game with your sweetheart.
Things kick off Friday evening with the rookie and celebrity games. Saturday evening brings the fun stuff like the slam dunk contest, three point shootout, and the skills competition. Finally, on Sunday night, Jordin Sparks will get the evening started when she performs the National Anthem, before the league’s best look to battle it out at the US Airways Center. Originally, Chris Brown and Shaq were going to announce the starting lineups, but we’re thinking Shaq might be performing this one solo.
We know, we know...you’re thinking, “Phoenix's Desert Botanical Garden? Is there anything to see besides cactus…lots and lots of cactus?” Apparently there is now through May 31, 2009, since glass artist Dale Chihuly’s fanciful exhibit, “The Nature of Glass,” will be on display at the PBG, which is usually known for...well, just for its wide variety of agave and palo verde trees.
But for now, there are 17 separate sculptures and installations, including The Sun, which towers over the entrance at 16 feet tall and 14 feet wide, and chandeliers in the Cactus and Succulent Galleries—that just sounds naughty, doesn’t it?
After training at the Venini glass factory in Venice (where else?), Dale Chihuly has been creating these fantastical glass works since 1965 at his Pilchuck Glass School in Washington State.
What makes the monumental scale and vibrancy of his works even more impressive is the fact that Chihuly himself is blind in one eye—that’s right, the eye patch he wears isn’t just for dramatic effect.
Advanced reservations are required as the garden is doing timed admissions. Members get free admission while the rest of us have to pay $15. Seniors get in for $13.50 and students get in for $7.50. Children 3-12 still have to pay too at $5 a pop.
· Chihuly Exhibit [Desert Botanical Garden]
[Photo: Adam Rodriguez/PBG]
Phoenix Unveils Fancy Light Rail Line, Newbie Transit Riders Too Polite to Squeeze Into Crowded Cars
We were in Phoenix for Christmas, and we wondered, as we always do when we travel, if we could ever be happy living there. Having fled the cold and wet New York winter, Arizona's mild weather and breezy lifestyle seemed awfully enticing, but we'd hate to give up the energy and convenience of the city for a suburban, car-dependent existence. We're just so used to taking the subway that the idea of having to drive everywhere seems like a drag.
But as of now, it's possible - if difficult - to live in Phoenix without owning a car. The city just took a big step toward a 21st century public transit system with the opening of its light rail line, and while it's a far cry from the New York City Subway, it's a cheap and convenient way to get around the city without worrying about traffic, gas, or those insidious red light and speeder cameras that keep popping up everywhere.
Transit geeks that we are, we took a ride on the Phoenix Metro on its first day of operation and found it to be quite impressive. The $1.4 billion line stretches twenty miles from northwestern Phoenix to Mesa, and the green-and-white cars are quiet, smooth, and futuristic. Since the train was free during its first few days of operation (normally it costs $1.25 a ride, or $2.50 for an all-day pass) it was packed with riders, many of whom probably haven't taken public transit in years. As regular subway commuters, we found it cute that people were reluctant to press into the crowded cars, opting instead to wait for the next train. That will change.
The light rail is also great news for area boozers, as it passes through the bar-heavy town of Tempe. While the last train leaves at 11:00 p.m., it offers safe, sober transportation to many tipplers who heretofore saw little alternative to getting behind the wheel after having a few too many. If only Charles Barkley had the option of taking the train on New Year's Eve he might not be in such hot water right now.
[Photo: Victor Ozols]
John McCain hushes a booing crowd during his concession speech at the Arizona Biltmore in Phoenix last night, flanked by running mate Gov. Sarah Palin.
Early punditry blamed the Arizona Senator's loss on a combination of tactical errors (including, some might say, the Palin pick), an inability to stick to a message that reached undecided voters and the shadow of President George W. Bush.
But McCain was all grace last night as he told a crowd, "I would not be an American worthy of the name, should I regret a fate that has allowed me the extraordinary privilege of serving this country for a half a century."