January 21, 2015

Vacationers and retirees long ago anointed sun-splashed Phoenix one of the country’s top winter retreats. As far back as the ‘50s, Marilyn Monroe spent time at the swanky Arizona Biltmore and gum magnate P.K. Wrigley escaped the harsh Chicago winters to his hillside mansion overlooking the valley. Fast forward a few decades and the once sleepy desert haven, now the U.S.’s sixth largest metropolitan area, has become a major sports destination. In the next three years, the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale will host three of the country’s premier sporting events -- Super Bowl XLIX on Feb. 1, the College Football Championship Game in January 2016 and the Final Four in April 2017.

The Phoenix area offers visitors unique experiences, from authentic Mexican food to spectacular sunsets to scenic golf adventures. You can gamble in the Native American casinos, swim in luxurious pools and, yes, even snow ski barely two hours away. To put together a comprehensive travel guide of the Phoenix area, Sports Illustrated teamed up with students from Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, who came up with 49 things to do for Super Bowl XLIX. 

Price Guide $0-25 | $$25-50 | $$$50-75 | $$$$75-100 | $$$$$100+


Short Leash Sit Stay
Ryan Hill
Short Leash Sit Stay
110 East Roosevelt St, Phoenix | 480-620-8479 | $

If you're looking for a local flavor, chow down at Short Leash Sit Stay, where the food truck icon has found a parking spot for hot dog lovers to prop up a chair and enjoy a link. Enjoy their hot dogs of a different breed, served on the Indian bread naan. Bite into a dog called the Bear, served with peanut butter, Cracker Jacks, bacon, smoked gouda and barbecue sauce.

Ted’s Hot Dogs
1755 E. Broadway St, Tempe | 480-968-6678 | $

Ted’s Hot Dogs allows those coming to Phoenix to get the taste of Buffalo, N.Y., in Tempe, Ariz. As soon as you enter the building, the smell of all-beef franks, Polish and Italian sausages and the New York classic white hots fill your nostrils.

65 S McClintock Dr, Tempe | 480-968-6678 | $

If you’re from Chicago, you can get the flavors of home at Portillo’s. Their famous chili cheese dogs, Italian beef sandwiches and the Combo, a polish sausage dropped into an Italian beef sandwich, will take you back to the frigid breeze coming off of Lake Michigan ... if that’s what you miss about Chicago.

-- R.H.


Barrio Café
Ryan Hill
Barrio Café
2814 N. 16th St, Phoenix | 602-636-0240 | $$

Barrio Café wheels a cart up to your table, and that’s when the fun begins. It’s guacamole prepared right before your eyes. Cilantro is flying around. The white onion is so fresh it will make you cry. The avocado is scooped out of its skin right into the mixing bowl. Just when you think the guacamole extravaganza can’t get any more intense, Barrio includes a special ingredient: pomegranate seeds. Trust us, the combination of avocado and pomegranate is fantastic. If you feel like you need a little tequila to be adventurous enough to dabble in this wild ride your taste buds are about to go on, order one of Barrio’s 250 tequilas or their signature Lowrider Margarita.

El Rinconcito D.F.
8901 N. 12th St, Phoenix | 602-943-5933 | $

If you're looking for traditional, authentic and gritty Mexican food, then El Rinconcito D.F. is your spot. The name translates to “The Little Corner of Mexico City” and it truly is a little portal to our friends to the south. The menu is vast yet simple and features favorites like chilaquiles and tamales, but get the tacos. On weekend nights they set up a taco stand out front with fresh cooked meats and warm handmade tortillas. Good luck trying to resist an al pastor taco that’s been freshly sliced right off the spit. Practice your Spanish, leave your nice shirt at home, grab a Mexican soda and enjoy some real deal comida.

Chino Bandido
15414 N 19th Ave, Phoenix | 602-375-3639 | $

It’s becoming trendy to mix two types of ethnic food these days. Everyone wants to be unique. But the people at Chino Bandido have been fusing Mexican and Asian cuisine for the past 26 years. And they are good at it. You have plans to eat somewhere else? Cancel them and order up Jen Red Pork with Jerk Fried Rice. Want a teriyaki chicken burrito? This is your spot. This place will change how you view Mexican and Asian food forever. Visually, the restaurant is bland with plastic chairs and tables. Its menu isn’t.

-- R.H., L.R., T.R.


La Grande Orange
Facebook: La Grande Orange
4410 N 40th St, Phoenix | 602-840-7777 | $$

Split between a fresh grocer known for fantastic breakfast options and a pizzeria putting out some of the best pies in the Valley, La Grande Orange -- better known to Phoenicians as LGO -- is a hidden gem. From classics like cheese and Margherita to specialty pies like the popular avocado pizza (topped with avocado, tomatoes, basil and lemon zest), there’s something for every palate. You can even create your own pizza with freebies like garlic, spicy Fresno chiles, an egg or xtra love. Yes, xtra love is really an option. Favorites on the grocery side include an array of fresh salads and sandwiches, along with breakfast favorites like the Commuter Sandwich, an English muffin topped with scrambled eggs, tomato and mayo with your choice of bacon, ham, turkey, smoked salmon or avocado. Regardless of what you order, you can’t go wrong at LGO. Insider’s tip: Order a side of French fries. Served piping hot, piled high and perfectly seasoned, these might not be on the menu but you can’t pass them up.

-- G.P.


Courtesy Compass Grill
Compass Grill
122 North Second St, Phoenix | 602-252-1234 | $$$$$

Compass Arizona Grill, located at the top of the Hyatt Regency Phoenix, moves while you eat. If you’re looking to impress someone with your taste in dining and elegance, this is your place, especially if you want to watch the sun go down over the buildings while you sit by candlelight. The menu changes with the seasons, so there’s never a dull time to enjoy the reasonably priced steaks and seafood. Don’t want to leave after dinner? You don’t have to. Reverse happy hour starts at 9 p.m. and desserts and drinks start at $5.

5700 E. McDowell Dr, Paradise Valley | 480-948-2100 | $$$$$

The aptly-named Sanctuary Camelback Mountain Resort is located at the base of Camelback Mountain in lush Paradise Valley. Whether you’re an out-of-towner or a local, you won’t be disappointed with your decision to spend time there. Ranked as a top resort in the continental U.S. by Travel + Leisure in 2014, there aren’t many better spots in the Phoenix area to get away from the hustle and bustle of work life. The in-house restaurant, Elements, is a perfect spot for a special occasion. Elements features a fantastic wine selection and its executive chef, Iron Chef America winner Beau MacMillan, offers the big-name experience and big-time dishes required from an award-winning restaurant. If you’re just looking to grab a great Arizona sunset photo, take one at the Sanctuary and watch your Instagram likes soar. Instead of circling downtown Phoenix looking for the perfect restaurant for the night, go to the restaurant where you can eat a classy meal while circling a 360 degree view of the city.

Orange Sky
9800 E. Indian Bend Rd, Scottsdale | 480-850-8606 | $$$$$

While driving up to Talking Stick Resort, it’s refreshingly apparent that it’s a place where the views are breathtaking. This premonition turns into a reality when you enter Orange Sky, the resort’s upscale restaurant. Orange Sky is located on the 15th floor of the resort and there isn’t a bad seat in the house to take in the views of the East Valley, especially with floor-to-ceiling glass windows surrounding the restaurant. If the views and the food aren’t enough to impress a date or a group of friends, just make your server show your table the glass wine room, which boasts more than 100 white wine choices.

-- D.S.


Lola Coffee
Miranda Perez
Lola Coffee
1001 N 3rd Ave, Phoenix | 602-252-2265 | $

A laid-back crowd is what you’ll find at Lola Coffee. Lola features indoor and outdoor seating with a modern and relaxed feel as paintings surround the entire shop. And if you’re in a hurry, there’s no need to worry; the baristas take pride in working quickly.

Copper Star Coffee
4220 N 7th Ave, Phoenix | 602-266-2136 | $

When you go to Copper Star Coffee, make sure to bring your appetite because you get a free pastry for your first visit. The small shop, an old gas station, has also won several awards for its coffee. It’s simple, family-friendly and very welcoming.

Cartel Coffee Lab
1 N 1st St, Phoenix | 602-432-8237 | $

Regulars at Cartel Coffee Lab in downtown Phoenix love the espresso and filter coffee because of the flavorful taste and slow roast. Businessmen and Arizona State University students are Cartel’s most popular customers and keep coming back for the affordable prices.

-- M.P.


Alexis Eader
2303 N. 7th St, Phoenix | 702-262-5545 | $

If you’re coming to Phoenix for the Super Bowl, take a step off the beaten path -- and back in time -- and have lunch or early dinner in MacAlpine’s Soda Fountain. The restaurant is unique, from its setting, in an antique shop, to its soda flavor options, offering nearly 100 different flavors. Throw down a chili dog, slurp on a delicious Irish-cream soda and take a look at the vintage collectables and trinkets that line the walls of the restaurant and are be found in the adjacent rooms. Accessible to downtown Phoenix, it’s easy for any visitor to take a break from Super Bowl Central and grab a quick meal.

-- T.L.


Arianna Grainey
808 E Jefferson St, Phoenix | 602-262-9256 | $

The southwest is known mostly for its Mexican food, but tucked away in a small, yellow building just north of Jefferson Street is some of the best soul food you’ll find on this side of the Mississippi. Mrs. White’s Golden Rule Café has been around for 50 years. You don’t stay in business that long without serving up some good grub. The peach cobbler is a must and the fried chicken is cooked to crispy golden perfection. But don’t just take our word for it. Famous patrons who have graced the restaurant include U.S. Sen. John McCain, boxer Evander Holyfield and Rev. Jesse Jackson, just to name a few. And if you’re lucky, you’ll be serenaded by Larry White, Mrs. White’s grandson whose musical repertoire spans everything from Elvis to Barry White.

-- E.S.


Alexis Eader
924 East Roosevelt St, Phoenix | 602-495-1111 | $

It’s simple: you’re hungry and looking for the ultimate burger or chicken sandwich. You don’t need a trendy, chic atmosphere to chow down. All you want is a big, fat, juicy burger. Welcome Diner is your answer. Actually, Welcome Diner is always the answer. Based out of an old trailer giving it a retro look, Welcome Diner offers some of the best burgers and chicken-biscuit sandwiches in the area -- at a reasonable price. Just two minutes from downtown Phoenix, the restaurant in a quiet residential area will create long-lasting memories for your stomach.

-- T.L.


Arianna Grainey
Urban Cookies
4711 N. Seventh St, Phoenix | 602-451-4335 | $

Urban Cookies is a small bakery and more than likely you might drive past it if you’re not looking closely. But if you trust your smell, you’ll find it. What’s your choice? Cookies? Cupcakes? Cake? Brownies? A doughnut? This is sugar heaven. But don’t just take our word for it. In 2011, the quaint bakeshop owned by husband and wife Brady and Shaun Breese won Food Network’s “Cupcake Wars.” They’re legit. So, if you happen to be near 7th Street and Camelback Road in downtown Phoenix, stop by for one of their famous concoctions. You’ll be in for a sweet time.

Sweet Republic
9160 E Shea Blvd, Scottsdale | 480-248-6979 | $

Sweet Republic’s Toffee Banofi Sundae is quite possibly the best-tasting dessert in the entire state. It’s Madagascar Vanilla ice cream, topped with fun and calories -- almond toffee brittle, fresh bananas, whipped cream and caramel sauce. Oh, and it’s all wrapped up in a waffle bowl. If you trust the Food Network (and really, who doesn’t?), they featured it on the “The Best Thing I Ever Ate.”

Cerreta’s Fine Chocolates
5345 W. Glendale Ave, Glendale | 623-930-1000 | $

Cerreta’s Fine Chocolates is Glendale’s own version of Willy Wonka’s Factory. The moment you walk through the door you get hit with the smell of fresh-made chocolate. Across the shelves full of chocolates you can see the workers and machines producing more chocolate and candy. You will then realize what it is really like to feel like a little kid in a candy store.

-- E.S., J.E., A.C.


Justin Emerson
4005 N Scottsdale Rd, Scottsdale | 480-946-0051 | $

If you like pink, head to the Sugar Bowl. The 1950s-style, all-pink restaurant in Old Town Scottsdale has soups, salads and sandwiches. It is also one of the city’s gems for ice cream. It has got an old-time feel to it, complete with a menu featuring caricatures of kids and adults enjoying its ice cream. Sugar Bowl is family-owned and open until 10 p.m. if you’ve got that late-night craving for a frozen treat. Whether you like it by the scoop, in a shake or malt, a float, sundae or split, the real Sugar Bowl isn’t the college football game.

-- J.E.


Alexis Eader
623 E. Adams St, Phoenix | 602-258-8300 | $$

Venire alla pizzeria! Greeted by homey bricks and the warmth of the pizza oven in the back corner, you can expect nothing less than an authentic experience at Phoenix’s Pizzeria Bianco. Founded by Chris Bianco, la Pizzeria came to Phoenix in the late 1980s and nationally recognized by The New York Times, it has since had a line out the door, which now extends to Bar Bianco next door. There, guests can enjoy a glass of vino while they wait for their table. Originally open for dinner only, the pizzeria now serves lunch too. The Heritage Square restaurant began in the back of a grocery store and has expanded to another location in the Valley. Pizzeria Bianco also caters to the Arizona Wildcats in Tucson. Praised for the rich flavor and style that no doubt comes from a native New Yorker, your empty belly is sure to be satisfied. A tip: the lines at lunchtime are much shorter than at dinner hour.

-- A.E.


Evan Webeck
825 N 1st St, Phoenix | 602-254-1074 | $

It’s listed on the menu with no frills. It’s simply “waffle.” After you undoubtedly order it (though you’re faced with eight other menu items clawing for your attention), one pressing question remains: Do you first indulge in the flaky crusted, melt-in-your-mouth Belgian or its partner on the side, the two thick-cut strips of peppercorn-seasoned bacon, cooked perfectly to satisfy both the crispy and chewy crowd? The last time the Super Bowl was in Arizona, its best breakfast spot could only hold about 25 people and waits were consistently more than an hour. Now, with a new location just up the street, you can get your Matt’s Big Breakfast fix with a limited wait. Although the “new” Matt’s (it opened in 2012) comes with a brand new Phoenix mural in its honor and a nice patio waiting area outside, it still has that same diner feel with the same friendly wait staff.

-- E.W.


Courtesy Anjali Pinto/Lettuce Entertain You
7501 East Camelback Rd, Scottsdale | 480-990-0900 | $$

You came to Phoenix for a sporting event. Why not eat at a steakhouse built for sports fans? Eating at Don & Charlie’s is like eating in a sports museum. Every inch of wall space is covered in sports memorabilia, including signed footballs, basketballs, baseballs, jerseys and old Sports Illustrated covers. But it doesn’t stop with the walls. Sports permeates the menu too with items like “chopped steak a la Bud Selig” and “Ned Colletti’s chicken schnitzel.” Just looking at the prime steaks and award-winning ribs on the menu will induce a mouth-watering reaction.

-- T.L.


Alexis Eader
2611 N. Central Ave, Phoenix | 602-264-5967 | $$

Rare, medium or well done? How about all three at Durant’s? Rare: that a restaurant is owned and operated by family members for over half a century. Medium: or shall we say “meat-ium” considering the main attraction at Durant’s is the well-renowned steak. Well done: a compliment to the establishment and its staff after your experience. Durant’s is one of the unique, locally-owned and operated restaurants of the Valley. Since its opening in 1950, Durant’s has touched the hearts of customers by welcoming them through its own: the kitchen. There is a front entrance but avoid it. Head to the back instead, where a stained glass window reads, “Durant’s”, allowing you to pass through and say hello to the folks who will be feeding you. Make your way back to a red leather booth or chair and another eating era.

-- A.E.


3146 E Camelback Rd, Phoenix | 602-522-2288 | $

Looking for a burger joint a bit more upscale, with some sushi alongside? Head to Delux.

The Chuckbox
202 University Dr, Tempe | 480-968-4712 | $

The burgers at the The Chuckbox are big, they’re messy, they’re greasy, but man, they are delicious. Do you want a big burger? How about a bigger burger? Or an even bigger burger with bacon? Not feeling a burger? Try the spicy chicken sandwich, or the wings. How about the deep fried zucchini? Located on the ASU campus in the heart of Tempe, The Chuckbox has award-winning burgers and sandwiches. They supply the meat and cheese; the rest of your burger necessities are located on an island in the middle of the room. You put on what you like and how much you like, but there is a catch. The Chuck Box only accepts cash. They do have an ATM located inside, but it has a $2 service charge. The burgers are relatively cheap, its $4.79 for a Big One, and $8.75 for the Double Great Big One. Don’t forget your fries for $1.96. They even have beer on tap. Chuck Box has a western saloon feel, with wooden tables and wooden crates for your choice of sitting inside or out.

-- D.C.


Downtown Phoenix

To find the culmination of all Phoenix has to offer, head to the heart of downtown, Roosevelt Row. Although Roosevelt Street only becomes the community gathering spot once a month, for the First Friday Art Walk, it is still the cultural hotbed of Arizona 24 hours a day, seven days a week. On the first Friday of each month, don’t mistake the bass beat of the First Friday’s background soundtrack for the pulsating heartbeat of the Valley of Sun -- it’s an easy mistake to make. On one corner, there’s a farmer’s market with local food and crafts. Across the street, restaurants are packed with visitors enjoying local cuisine. If you want to get a firsthand look at the best local fair Phoenix has to offer, Roosevelt Row is your place. From art to food to music to drinks, there isn’t a better melting pot of everything uniquely Phoenix.

-- E.W.


Evan Webeck
Various locations | $

In Phoenix, you can dine at the top of the Hyatt Regency Phoenix, in a rotating, romantic restaurant -- that costs $30 a plate. You can dine at Durant’s, a wonderful, award-winning steakhouse -- that costs $50 for a slab of meat. Either is a fantastic option, but if you’re on a budget, having already paid hundreds or even thousands of dollars just to get into the Super Bowl, maybe you’re looking to get Phoenix’s best cuisine but not looking to refinance your house. Let me introduce you to Phoenix’s best food trucks. Some of the Valley’s finest food can be found in a truck, where it’s made on-site, in a kitchen-on-wheels. Throughout the week, the Phoenix food truck brigade travels all over the Valley, from Glendale to Gilbert. Get your street food fix at any of the 66 trucks, a part of the Phoenix Street Food Coalition. Some of the local favorites include creatively made burgers from Burgers Amore!, a fresh take on Arizona Mexican cuisine by Luncha Libre and, if you haven’t experienced a gourmet hot dog or grilled cheese, don’t miss Short Leash Hot Dogs or Paradise Melts.

-- E.W.


6185 West Hunt Hwy, Queen Creek | 480-882-2995 | $$

While Arizona is known as part of the Wild West, the country vibes can be hard to find in the Valley. But fear not. Located in Queen Creek, San Tan Flat is the perfect place to channel your inner cowboy or cowgirl. The grill and saloon have two areas with indoor and outdoor seating. While the front of the building and the indoor dining area may have you fooled into thinking this is just your average run-of-the-mill, well-decorated, country-themed restaurant, once you set foot onto the outdoor spaces you’ll swear you’ve been transported back to the roots of Arizona’s cowboy days. The space boasts excellent food and decor, live country music, dancing, fire pits and the beautiful Arizona sunset or star-filled sky as your backdrop.

-- G.P.


Alexis Eader
6920 East Cave Creek Rd, Cave Creek | 480-437-1072 | $$

Among the old-town charm of Cave Creek, Ariz., is the original Binkley’s Restaurant. Founded by Chef Kevin Binkley and his wife, Amy, in 2004, Binkley’s and its four sister restaurants have yet to go a year without being recognized for their style and excellence. Recent awards include a spot in the Open Table Top 100 Hot Spots of 2013 (Binkley’s), 2013 Best Happy Hour as voted by the Phoenix New Times (Binkley’s Midtown), and a finalist spot for Chef Kevin in the James Beard Award Foundation’s Best Chef of the Southwest from 2012-2014. In addition to offering a vegetarian menu, hot and cold appetizers, seafood (yes, there is good seafood in Arizona), cheese dishes, and desserts, Binkley’s is also known for its Tasting Menu. It allows guests to try a number of dishes while enjoying one or more of the 129 bottles of wine that include 25 varieties and blends and hail from 25 countries. If you prefer something a little stronger, be sure to try the Buffalo Trace whiskey, selected by Mrs. Binkley because it, “…tastes delicious! Simple as that.” The local favorite also offers personalized cookies, a stylistic siphon for your table and chocolate drops made in liquid nitrogen. Sufficed to say the staff likes to experiment and have fun, so don’t be afraid to give them some license and try something new.

-- A.E.

The travel guide was compiled by Arizona State University journalism students Dallas Campbell, Aileen Carrasco, Alexis Eader, Justin Emerson, Arianna Grainey, Ryan Hill, Troy Lopez, Ben Margiott, Miranda Perez, Ginger Poulson, Lucas Robbins, Secily Seljeskog, Danny Shapiro, Eric Smith and Evan Webeck.


Price Guide $0-25 | $$25-50 | $$$50-75 | $$$$75-100 | $$$$$100+


Courtesy Bondurant School of High Performance Driving
20000 South Maricopa Rd (Gate #3), Chandler | 480-403-7600 | $$$$$

Some of the fastest athletes in the world will be showcased at the Super Bowl. But they can’t compete with the Bondurant School of High Performance Driving. The school gives you the opportunity to get behind the wheel of several different types of high-performance cars and put the pedal to the metal. If you’re trying to get your Mario Andretti on, you’ll get to floor it in a real Formula Mazda race car. Maybe you’re not quite ready to take on the Indy 500 yet. That’s okay, the Bondurant school offers programs in all types of cars from basic go-karting up to Corvette ZR-1s and Chevrolet Camaro SS 1LEs for advanced road driving techniques.

-- E.S.


Courtesy Arizona Snowbowl
Arizona Snowbowl
9300 N Snowbowl Rd | 928-779-1951 | $$$

On the outskirts of Flagstaff, there is Snowbowl. With six lifts, each with runs varying difficulty from beginner to advanced, Snowbowl is a decent Ski Resort providing a good place for new skiers and boarders to spend the weekend. Lift tickets are $62 for the day.

Greer, AZ | 855-735-7669 | $$$

In the other direction, Sunrise Mountain has a peak of 10,000 feet and plenty of cross-country trails for any ski enthusiast. The view from the top is incredible. With eight lifts and two lodges, Sunrise is a surprisingly good resort for being in the Grand Canyon State. Both resorts offer terrain parks for the adrenaline junkies and rentals for the gearless. Usually, the weather is bright and sunny, just perfect for hitting the slopes.

-- D.C.


Dallas Campbell
Tempe | $

Need an escape from all of the Super Bowl madness? Try Tempe Town Lake. This beach park is the perfect way to relax. It has a 1.9-mile trail loop, perfect for walking, biking, rollerblading or any other “ing” you can imagine. You can rent kayaks, paddle boats and paddle boards to ride on the lake. At $18 for a two-hour kayak rental, it is a perfect date night or family outing. Use the kayak how you want, whether fast, slow, in circles or in lines, the whole lake is at your disposal. Yes, this even means fishing. The lake is open from 5 a.m to midnight, but the best time to go is right around sunset. The pedestrian bridge gets lit with a gorgeous blue light while the rest of the park illuminates the water creating a sight to behold.

-- D.C.


Scottsdale | 480-298-3364 | $$$$$

If you are a thrill-seeker and you’re looking to explore Arizona in an exclusive way, Rappel Arizona is the place to go. It offers a chance to experience the state while zip-lining over the Sonoran desert. Whether you are an experienced rock climber or a first-timer, this place accommodates all. Rappel Arizona offers rock climbing, rappelling, hiking and an outdoor adventure course. Test your balance walking across a log suspended in mid-air, traverse across a cargo net or even take a leap of faith off their trapeze bar.

-- S.S.


4900 N Taylor St, Eloy | 520-466-3753 | $$$

If you’re coming to Arizona for Super Bowl week and looking for an even bigger thrill than the game, try skydiving. Skydive Arizona, located between Phoenix and Tucson, has the largest drop zone in the world. I took the jump myself and it was the most thrilling “touchdown” of my life.

-- M.P. (video provided by Wes Moraes)


Courtesy Desert Splash Adventures
15115 N. Airport Dr, Scottsdale | 877-588-8819 | $$$$

Desert Splash Adventures offers a way to enjoy Arizona’s scenery that definitely puts a little twist on any traditional tour. Instead of views from the ground or a mountain top, Desert Splash takes you to the next level -- the clouds. Arizona is known for its unique and spectacular sunrises, so why not experience one from the air with a bit of bubbly, on a Sunrise Champagne Flight? Hop on a Cessna Caravan Jet-Prop Amphibious Seaplane for a 60-75 minute round trip tour and soar above the Apache Trail. After an unforgettable water landing at Roosevelt Lake, enjoy a Champagne toast on Splash Island with a spectacular sunrise. If wine is more your speed, try Southwest Wine Tasting -- a 2 1/2-hour flight over the beautiful Phoenix scenery with a water landing on Roosevelt Lake. There experts will present four wines and talk in detail about their Arizona ‘Peloton’ of wine makers. Definitely a fun way to learn how Arizona wine got its start.

-- A.C.


Spa Avania
7500 E. Doubletree Ranch Rd, Scottsdale | 480-444-1234 | $$$$$

Avania is enclosed by the McDowell Mountains, overlooking the regal Sonoran Desert. Every detail of the four-star spa is centered on the idea of time. Guests can start the day with an O2 awakening, a facial that is infused with oxygen molecules to energize and remove toxins, followed by Aromatic Vichy scrubs or even a mineral water therapy session. Avania encourages guests to get in sync with their internal body clocsk with assistance from natural light streaming through the room, the sounds of uniquely synchronized music and the antioxidant blessings of some of the worlds’ finest teas.

Sanctuary on Camelback Mountain Spa
5700 East McDonald Drive, Scottsdale | 480-607-2326 | $$$$$

Sanctuary on Camelback Mountain Spa and Resort was rated as one of the top five spas in the country by Travel and Leisure magazine. This Asian inspired retreat is settled on top of Camelback Mountain with breathtaking 360-degree views of Arizona. Visitors can be pampered in any of the 12 indoor and outdoor treatments rooms or they can unwind in the Zen Meditation Garden. If you’ve got $315 to spare be sure to check out the Tok Sen healing treatment. This treatment originated in Thailand and encompasses Thai Yoga stretching with vibration therapy. Sanctuary on Camelback was originally developed in the 1950s exclusively as a tennis resort. Staying true to its roots, the Sanctuary still features five championship tennis courts with daily lessons taught by professional coaches. The Sanctuary even provides a unique style of tennis known as Zennis. This is a movement based tennis clinic that focuses on the values of tennis with specific Yoga movement and stretches.

-- S.S.


Ben Margiott
Camelback Mountain

If you’re in search of the ultimate Phoenix hiking experience, go no further than Camelback Mountain, aptly named because of its two distinctive humps. Just a quick 20-minute drive from downtown, Camelback offers a hard way (Cholla Trail, 1.6 miles) and a harder way (Echo Canyon Trail, 1.2 miles). Both end up in the same place, so split the group and race to the top, where you will be rewarded with a spectacular view of the Valley. Bring water -- and a lot of energy.

Superstition Mountains

Looking to get out of the hubbub of the city for a while? Hop on the 60 and head east until you run into the Superstition Mountains, about the easternmost place in the Phoenix metropolitan area and home to Peralta Trail, a more secluded, less strenuous version of Camelback with equally stunning views. The trail is 6.2 miles long through vegetated canyons with Weavers Needle -- a 4,553-foot spire that towers over the landscape -- your reward for all the calories burned. Celebrate the day with, what else, a beer. You’ve earned it.

-- B.M.




The Boulders
Miranda Perez
The Boulders
34631 N. Tom Darlington Dr, Carefree | 480-488-9028 | $$$$

If you want to play a different scenic course, head up to play the 36 holes of The Boulders. Both the North and South Courses look exactly how they sound, surrounded by huge boulders. The driving range and tee boxes feature sights of the majestic rocks that huddle around the community. Try hitting one straight in the fairway with an enormous stone looming behind the green. All three of these courses are must-plays in the Phoenix-metro area for those who’ve been bitten by the golf bug.

The Raven
3636 E. Baseline Rd, Phoenix | 602-243-3636 | $$$$

If you’re from the South or East, then you know and appreciate old-school rustic golf. While that’s not usually Arizona’s style, The Raven is a distinct desert gem with fairways lined by Georgia Pines. The desert-scape road to the course is a contrast to the wooded links at the foot of South Mountain. It may not be Augusta but a Sunday morning tee time at The Raven is tough to beat.

3751 S. Clubhouse Dr, Chandler | 480-917-6660 | $$$$

If water is your thing, then you need to play Ocotillo. Water hazards come into play on 22 of the course’s 27 holes. Bring plenty of balls to this faux-Florida-like course because you’ll be spending plenty of time getting wet.

-- L.R.


Michael Baxter/Baxter Imaging LLC
9500 E. Indian Bend Rd, Scottsdale | 480-240-2402 | $$

So you couldn’t get that tee time at the course you were looking to play this week? No worries. You’ll have more fun playing at Top Golf with friends. The people at Top Golf have turned going to the driving range into a party experience complete with HDTVs. Enjoy food and drinks while competing to see which member of your group has the best accuracy or longest drive.

-- T.L.


Courtesy Arizona Grand
Arizona Grand
8000 Arizona Grand Pkwy, Phoenix | 602-438-9000 | $$$$

One of the best-known waterpark resorts is at the Arizona Grand, open to resort guests only. Not sure if you will see any players on one of the resort’s three water slides, but the Arizona Grand will be hosting the NFC Champions during Super Bowl week.

2400 E. Missouri Ave, Phoenix | 602-955-6600 | $$$

The Arizona Biltmore is a hidden gem with six pools. The Catalina Pool is known to have been a favorite of Marilyn Monroe’s. The Paradise Pool has a swim-up bar and a 92-foot water slide.

6000 E. Camelback Rd, Scottsdale | 480-423-2449 | $$$$

The opulent Phoenician, originally built by savings and loan tycoon Charles Keating, has a pool with inlaid mother of pearl.

Hyatt Regency at Gainey Ranch
7500 E. Doubletree Ranch Rd., Scottsdale | 480-444-1234 | $$$$$

The Hyatt Regency at Gainey Ranch boasts 10 recently-renovated pools. Be sure to try out the three-story tall water slide, which includes three turns and a top speed of 25 miles an hour.

-- A.G.

The travel guide was compiled by Arizona State University journalism students Dallas Campbell, Aileen Carrasco, Alexis Eader, Justin Emerson, Arianna Grainey, Ryan Hill, Troy Lopez, Ben Margiott, Miranda Perez, Ginger Poulson, Lucas Robbins, Secily Seljeskog, Danny Shapiro, Eric Smith and Evan Webeck.


Price Guide $0-25 | $$25-50 | $$$50-75 | $$$$75-100 | $$$$$100+


Arianna Grainey
2501 E. Telawa Trail, Phoenix | 602-955-4079 | $$

Wrigley Mansion is known across the valley for its views of the city. Gum magnate William Wrigley Jr. built the home in 1932 for his wife as a 50th anniversary gift. The family owned the home until the 1970s, but it has changed hands many times since then. In 1992, the city of Phoenix wanted to tear down the property to put up condos, but Geordie and Jamie Hormel bought the home and turned it into the private club you see today. To eat or visit, you have to join the private club, but the membership fee starts at just $5. Even if you don’t join the club, driving up the hill is worth the stop. The hill gives you a view of the Valley in every direction. Plus, it’s just a stone’s throw away from another Valley landmark, the Arizona Biltmore.

-- A.G.


5025 E Van Buren St, Phoenix | 602-256-3221 | $

If you’ve ever driven on the 202 eastbound towards Tempe, you’ve seen the castle surrounded by cacti and thought maybe it was a set for a Star Wars movie. The castle, known as Tovrea Castle, is actually a historic Phoenix landmark with a rich, yet fairly unknown history. Tours of the castle were not available until March 2012, but now curious visitors can experience the edifice at select times during the weekend. Plus, it’s easily accessible from the light rail, enabling you to escape the Super Bowl craziness and admire Arizona’s historic culture.

-- D.S.


Heard Museum
2301 N. Central Ave, Phoenix | 602-252-8840 | $

The Heard Museum is home to all that is Native American in Arizona. Experience the art and culture of the indigenous tribes.

-- R.H.

Musical Instrument Museum
4725 E. Mayo Blvd, Phoenix | 480-478-6000 | $

The Musical Instrument Museum in North Phoenix has a wide collection of instruments from 200 countries to go along with their exhibits that profile different artists and cultures throughout the world.

-- D.C.


1201 N Galvin Pkwy, Phoenix | 480-941-1225 | $$

Think Phoenix and the Suns Gorilla, brown landscape and hot weather come to mind. The Valley is the last place you’d find a lush botanical garden, right? Well, the Desert Botanical Garden is a tumbleweed roll away from the Phoenix Zoo and just off the 202 Freeway. It is home to some of the oldest cacti in the continental United States. The colossal Coronado is The Garden’s landmark cactus that has been at the garden since it opened in 1939. But there’s much more to see than the prickly plants. The Garden is 140 acres with more than 50,000 types of plants that can make you believe it’s possible to have a green thumb in the desert. They continue to add innovative and stunning structures for those coming to the Valley for Super Bowl weekend. Who knows what might grow next?

-- R.H.


Alexis Eader
'A' Mountain
Rio Salado + Mill Ave., Tempe

In the effervescent college town of Tempe, just north of Mill Avenue, is Hayden Butte Preserve, more commonly referred to as “A” Mountain. A short, but steep walk up its paved path will give you a view across the main campus of Arizona State University and a vast view of the Valley.

South Mountain Park/Preserve
10919 S. Central Ave, Phoenix

South Mountain Park/Preserve, located off south Central Avenue, is one of the largest municipal park in the country and there are many trails for hiking (beware of the Jumping Cholla), biking or horseback riding to reach a prime sunset vista.

El Chorro
5550 East Lincoln Dr, Paradise Valley | 480-948-5170

If you want to experience the picturesque views without the risk of venomous animals, visit El Chorro at the base of Camelback Mountain. The historic restaurant originally opened as a school in 1934, before its conversion to a restaurant and lodge in 1937. Take in the sunset from El Chorro’s enormous patio, dining on a delectable meal that begins with a basket of mouthwatering sticky buns.

-- A.E.


4650 N. Mammoth Mine Rd, Apache Junction | 480-983-0333 | $$

Located 60 miles east of Glendale, just outside of Apache Junction, lies Goldfield Ghost Town, gateway to the legendary Superstition Mountains. The only historic ghost town in the Valley of the Sun boasts several attractions, museums and saloons, great for all ages.

-- L.R.


12621 N. Frank Lloyd Wright Blvd, Scottsdale | 888-516-0811 | $$

Taliesin West is one of Phoenix’s hidden treasures. Architect Frank Lloyd Wright built it as his own personal winter retreat. Today it sits in the foothills of the McDowell Mountains and hosts Wright’s School of Architecture.

-- A.C.


Christian Petersen/Getty Images
TPC Scottsdale
17020 North Hayden Rd, Scottsdale | 480-585-4334 | $$$

The Waste Management Phoenix Open is one of Arizona’s biggest sporting events, but for “The Greenest Show on Grass,” golf is just the beginning of the story. With highlights including the infamous 16th Hole and the Birds Nest, the largest tournament on the PGA Tour also becomes one of the largest party scenes in the Valley Jan. 26-Feb. 1. During the day, the party is at the 16th hole, which is surrounded by 20,000 stadium seats, each filled with rowdy fans who give the hole its reputation as the loudest in golf. Golfers tee off to tailored chants (“ASU! ASU! ASU!’’ for Sun Devil alum Phil Mickelson) and playful taunts such as “safety!” for shots that come up short on the par 3. But when the golf winds down for the day, the party doesn’t stop. Wednesday through Sunday beginning at 3:30 p.m., the gates to the 21-and-over Birds Nest open. Each night, the tent is alive with top national recording artists performing. Whether buying a general admission ticket or splurging for VIP admission or cabana packages, the Birds Nest is sure to live up to its wild reputation.

-- G.P.


TPC Scottsdale
26540 N. Scottsdale Rd, Scottsdale | 480-585-0239 | $$

MacDonald’s Ranch allows buckle bunnies from around the country to live out their cowboy dreams on their 1,300-acre ranch in North Scottsdale. You saddle up with one of their many fine steeds or climb on top of their vintage stagecoach down scenic trails to check out some of Arizona’s landscape.

-- R.H.

The travel guide was compiled by Arizona State University journalism students Dallas Campbell, Aileen Carrasco, Alexis Eader, Justin Emerson, Arianna Grainey, Ryan Hill, Troy Lopez, Ben Margiott, Miranda Perez, Ginger Poulson, Lucas Robbins, Secily Seljeskog, Danny Shapiro, Eric Smith and Evan Webeck.


Price Guide $0-25 | $$25-50 | $$$50-75 | $$$$75-100 | $$$$$100+


Jeremy Perez
1400 W Mars Hill Rd, Flagstaff | 928-774-3358 | $

The Super Bowl will be filled with star players, but if you want to see the stars in the sky Lowell Observatory is the spot to be for an out-of-this-world experience. The Lowell Observatory is located two hours from Phoenix in Flagstaff, but the drive is worth it, especially to see the famous Discovery Channel Telescope, the fifth-largest telescope in the country. Pluto was discovered at the Lowell Observatory, so if you appreciate astronomy and history, this is the place for you. The observatory is the perfect spot to get away and relax before the big game and see just what else is beyond Earth.

-- D.S.



A true oasis in the desert, three hours from Phoenix in Strawberry Ariz., sits Fossil Creek. The perennial stream is an ideal destination for locals and visitors who are looking for a getaway from the hustle and bustle of the Valley. Waterfalls and deep swimming holes with temperatures consistently around 70 degrees provide excellent places for swimming and kayaking, even in Arizona’s coolest months. While the distinct geographic features and crystal-clear waters also make for a unique snorkeling experience, Fossil Creek offers a great hiking alternative to the mountains of the Valley. The hike is relatively difficult and about eight miles round trip, so if you’re planning on completing the whole hike, be sure to designate at least four hours of your time. Given the length of the hike and the three-hour drive each way, Fossil Creek is a full day trip. However, the natural beauty is worth it.

-- S.S.


Bob Wick, BLM Photography
Coconino County | 602-417-9200

Coyote Buttes North, most commonly known as The Wave, located near the Arizona-Utah border, is a visually surreal and breathtaking world about a five-hour trek from Phoenix. The only way to get here is a six-mile, round-trip hike across the open desert. Filled with sandstone formations straight off a postcard, it is beautiful, but only the adventurous should even consider this trip. Between the sand dunes and sandy wash bottoms, it is not uncommon for hikers to get lost on their way to The Wave. Search-and-rescue operations are frequent. Be prepared to bring a GPS and carry a topographic map, compass and, of course, a camera. The best way to get there is to take a guided tour out of nearby Kanab or Page. Because of the fragile nature of this geologic feature, only 20 people are allowed to visit the area each day and permits are required to enter. Permits can only be obtained through an online lottery, or a live "walk-in" lottery in Kanab, Utah.

-- A.C.


Courtesy National Park Service
Camp Verde | 928-657-3322

Contrary to public opinion, not all of America’s deepest history exists on the East Coast. Sure it has national history, but head out west for continental history that predates the 17th and 18th century that dominates the East Coast. Arizona was the last contiguous state to gain statehood, in 1912, but its history dates well into the 12th century, when the Sinagua built the revered Montezuma Castle. The castle still stands impressively intact today, carved into the red-rock cliffs of Camp Verde, Ariz., no more than two hours northeast of Phoenix. It’s a perfect trip to see the true beauty of Arizona and not stay confined to the beige jungle that is the Phoenix metro area. You’re greeted with the green brush of northern Arizona that surrounds a visitor center, museum and trailhead. Don’t be intimidated, though. The trail is less than a mile long and provides views worth a marathon’s length. Get your nature fix without breaking too much of a sweat, and maybe learn something along the way.

-- E.W.

The travel guide was compiled by Arizona State University journalism students Dallas Campbell, Aileen Carrasco, Alexis Eader, Justin Emerson, Arianna Grainey, Ryan Hill, Troy Lopez, Ben Margiott, Miranda Perez, Ginger Poulson, Lucas Robbins, Secily Seljeskog, Danny Shapiro, Eric Smith and Evan Webeck.



Price Guide $0-25 | $$25-50 | $$$50-75 | $$$$75-100 | $$$$$100+


Old Town Scottsdale
Arianna Grainey

For some, Old Town Scottsdale represents the hottest nightlife spot in the desert, filled with block after block of bars, from Bottled Blonde to HiFi. For others, Old Town Scottsdale is just an old town. Scottsdale’s official motto is “The West’s Most Western Town,” and Old Town Scottsdale is its epicenter. Old Town Scottsdale is full of shops peddling cowboy boots, bolo ties and Native American wares. If you want authentic Native American jewelry, check out the Gilbert Ortega stores. And every cowboy and girl needs boots, so stop in to one Saba’s Western Wear’s two locations. The area is not just a tourist destination; there is also history hidden in the sidewalks and benches in the area. Learn while shopping by taking yourself on a self-guided walking tour.

-- A.G.


Danny Shapiro
Hotel Palomar
2 E Jefferson St, Phoenix | 602-253-6633 | $$

Rated as the top luxury hotel in Phoenix by Trip Advisor, the Hotel Palomar Phoenix is a gem in the heart of downtown. Whether you’re hosting an event, staying overnight or grabbing a post-work drink, it’s a hot destination. The in-house restaurant, Blue Hound Kitchen & Cocktails, is one of the more popular downtown with its gastro-pub feel. Try the charred pork belly sliders, only $7 and one of the most popular items on the Blue Hound menu. If you want to wash your food down with a drink on the wild side, order the Lawless, a Blue Hound specialty. Make sure to take the stairs up to the trendy pool bar/lounge, Lustre Rooftop Garden, where you can sip a drink from their eclectic cocktail menu while taking in a gorgeous view.

The Duce
525 S Central Ave, Phoenix | 602-866-3823 | $$

Have you ever walked into a restaurant and feel like you’ve been in the same type of place hundreds of times? You won’t have that nagging déjà vu at The Duce, a refreshingly unique joint in central Phoenix. CNBC coined it as one of America’s most unusual restaurants and for good reason -- it’s an old warehouse with lots of open space and a boxing gym in the back. Yes, you can watch people train while enjoying one of The Duce’s fantastic dishes (try the pot pie). Nightlife at The Duce doesn’t disappoint, either. Dance along with the DJ, sing-along karaoke-style. Maybe you’ll even see Guy Fieri there. The Diners, Drive Ins and Dives host has taken his show there before and has been known to frequent The Duce on many occasions.

-- D.S.


Eric Smith
El Hefe
640 S Mill Ave #110, Tempe | 480-257-2797 | $

At the Mexican-themed El Hefe, you can sip away at one of nine styles of 20-ounce margaritas, or -- if you’re feeling audacious -- you can go for the 64-ounce Macho Garita, which requires at least two people to purchase.

Mill Cue Club
607 S Mill Ave, Tempe | 480-966-0068 | $

Shoot pool while sipping on one of Mill Cue Club's famous “Trash Cans,” a version of a Long Island Iced Tea mixed with Red Bull.

Moonshine Whiskey Bar
410 S Mill Ave, Tempe | 480-429-4044 | $

If a ho-down hotspot sounds like your kind of party, mosey on down to Moonshine Whiskey Bar for a night of line dancing and two-stepping.

-- E.S.


3622 N Scottsdale Rd, Scottsdale | 480-299-4182 | $$

If you’re looking to explore Old Town Scottsdale and have a few adult beverages along the way, then hop aboard the Tour De Tavern. This 15-passenger, pedal-powered bar takes visitors on a fun-filled, unique bar crawl.

-- S.S.


Facebook: Talking Stick Resort
Talking Stick Resort
9800 E. Indian Bend Rd, Scottsdale | 480-850-7734

Talking Stick Resort has its name on the Spring Training field of the Arizona Diamondbacks and Colorado Rockies, will have its name on the Phoenix Suns’ arena next season and is one of the hottest casinos in the Valley. Located right off the Loop 101 in North Scottsdale, it also hosts the Shadow Lounge, a Southwestern-style parlor featuring a cigar bar and all kinds of drinks, including its own specially bottled brand of Woodford Reserve bourbon.

Fort McDowell Casino
10424 N Fort McDowell Rd, Fort McDowell | 800-843-3678

Want to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city? Head up to Fort McDowell Casino, northeast of Scottsdale and near the Tonto National Forest. With 866 game machines, 55 card tables and everything you need in a casino, the 150,000-square foot Fort McDowell is one of the premiere gaming destinations south of Vegas.

Vee Quiva
15091 Komatke Ln, Laveen | 800-946-4452

And for the west side folks, Vee Quiva is the farthest west in the Valley. Just 10 miles South of I-10 on 51st Avenue, it is also the closest casino to the University of Phoenix Stadium. Vee Quiva hosts a world-class resort, as well as an outpost of da coach’s restaurant, Ditka’s.

-- J.E.

The travel guide was compiled by Arizona State University journalism students Dallas Campbell, Aileen Carrasco, Alexis Eader, Justin Emerson, Arianna Grainey, Ryan Hill, Troy Lopez, Ben Margiott, Miranda Perez, Ginger Poulson, Lucas Robbins, Secily Seljeskog, Danny Shapiro, Eric Smith and Evan Webeck.

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