Things to do in Arizona…
It’s been a nice day off from the happenings of Reds camp, especially before the games get going this weekend. Many snowbirds so used to Florida and the beaches have a tougher time grasping that there might be things to do in Arizona.
Today I went hiking on Piestewa Peak in the Phoenix Mountain Preserve. In terms of mountains to real hikers and climbers, it’s probably equivilent to a kids ride at Kings Island. There were lots of people up there ranging from little children to the elderly. For a rookie like me, it could have been Everest. I was just happy to have reached the top. It was a beautfiul view of the area from there.
Here is a much-delayed list of suggestions for places to go besides the Spring Training complex and places to eat out around here. The list isn’t limited to Goodyear. It’s not hard to get around here, but you do need a car.
Camelback Mountain — Phoenix: I tried this hike last year and only made it about three-quarters of the way. It’s more difficult than the one I did today but the views are stunning, even if they’re not from the top.
Phoenix Zoo — I’ve taken my family here and we were very impressed. The animals are perky and actually do more than lay around. There’s a cool wide open area called the Sanctuary where you see a bunch of animals roaming and you can feed the giraffes.
Westgate — Glendale: It’s like Newport on the Levee, times 100. Lots of restaurants and bars and the Jobing.com Arena is also on site for Phoenix Coyotes NHL games and concerts. Free parking, even for the hockey games. The Arizona Cardinals football stadium is next door and you’ll see it from miles away.
Estrella Mountain Regional Park — Goodyear: Only about 10 minutes from the complex. They have good playsets for the kids but also a bunch of hiking trails. My colleague from Cleveland, Jordan Bastian, did a run there and felt like he was the only man left on Earth.
Goodyear Community Park — Also a good kids spot to let them run around and play.
Sedona — two hours away but worth the drive and bring a camera. The mountain peak views and red rocks are simply spectacular. The town itself is a little touristy for me but the surroundings are a living postcard.
Phoenix International Raceway — Only worth mentioning this weekend since NASCAR is racing here this weekend.
Most writers only really know one thing away from the ballpark — and that’s where to eat. Here are some suggestions. Many are chains but there are some nice local spots. You can find all the places on Google Maps, Mapquest or your GPS.
NYPD Pizza — I’m a native New Yorker and this place has legit NY-style pizza. It’s very good.
Raul and Theresa’s — One of the best Mexican restaurants I’ve ever been to and it’s not a chain, yet. It’s only 10 minutes from Goodyear Ballpark, but they are adding their second Goodyear location in about a month I’ve been told.
In-N-Out Burger — A west coast hamburger mecca with multiple locations. A little bit like Five Guys, everything you get there is fresh.
Senor Taco — down the road from Goodyear Ballpark and they have burritos the size of an adult forearm.
Pei Wei — Same food and owners as PF Chang’s but you order at the counter and they bring it out.
Rokerij, Phoenix — A very nice, but not kid friendly, restaurant. It is a great “date night” kind of place but be prepared for a wait. It’s a unique combination of Dutch-Southwestern smokehouse food. That’s because the owner’s southwestern restuarant burned down and he simply moved that menu to the Dutch place. It’s fantastic food. A Chicago writer friend suggested it last year on advice from Lou Piniella.
Don and Charlies, Scottsdale — It’s kind of an iconic local eatery with sports memorabilia (mostly from Chicago) and decor that might remind some of Montgomery Inn. They specialize in steaks and ribs. The food isn’t the greatest quite honestly but it’s a good place to see people and worth trying. Also a lengthy wait…make reservations.
Frasher’s, Scottsdale — another steak place but it’s main thing is St. Louis style meals and pizza. I sat under a Vince Coleman jersey the other night.
Majerle’s Sports Grill — lots of TVs, great place to watch games — especially NCAA’s.
Yogurtland, Avondale and Scottsdale — Great dessert spot with about 15-20 different yogurt flavors. It’s all self-serve and there’s around 30 toppings to choose from. You do it all yourself and pay according to the weight of your cup on the scale.
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