Phoenix Bucket List - 100 Things to Do in Phoenix Before You Die: The Introduction

Amy Silverman
Knight Rise by James Turrell
A funny thing happened in 2013. Both of us -- two curmudgeonly writers who between us have lived in Arizona way closer to 100 years than either would like to admit -- came to a shared conclusion.

We like Phoenix.

That's funny because for years we've loved to hate this place -- even as we wrote dozens of entries for Best of Phoenix, reviewed plays, covered the art scene, and investigated politicians. (True, Amy's always maintained there's nothing more fun than picking the low-hanging fruit at the Arizona Legislature.) But last year, there was a lot of talk about leaving the Valley, and somewhere in the midst of the conversation we each decided that we actually don't dislike Phoenix anymore. The city has grown up; or we have. Or both.

That's why we both jumped at the chance to write up our bucket list for Phoenix -- 100 things to do in this metropolis before you die. Most we've actually done ourselves. A few are still on the "to do" list.

Funny, we had no trouble getting to 100. The challenge was cutting it back. Enjoy our list. This week we start things off with Robrt Pela's first 10 items. Check back next week (and the week after that, and so on) till we get to 100 in March. And please, share the items on your own bucket list in the comments section. We're not going anywhere -- we need some more stuff to do around here.

Visit James Turrell's Knight Rise at Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art
Internationally acclaimed artist James Turrell has created dozens of his skyspaces since 1975, and Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art's sculpture garden is home to one of only 14 of them that are open to the public. Knight Rise frames the sky and captures the desert sky's changing light, allowing us to see both sunrise and sunset in a most refined way. It's all about the perception of light and color, according to Turrell, "at the bottom of the ocean of air." It's also cool as heck, and worth a trip to one of the Valley's best museums.

See also: 10 Years Later, Phoenix is Still Hot. But is It Finally Cool?

Chow Bella
Mrs. White gets a kiss from her grandson, Larry, whose Lo-Lo's serves some pretty great chicken and waffles, too.
Eat fried chicken at Mrs. White's Golden Rule Cafe
The menu is scrawled in magic marker on the wall of this downtown favorite, known and loved by anyone with great taste in wonderful soul food. And what a menu: juicy chicken-fried steak, Southern fried chicken, smothered pork chops, and catfish, of course, a house specialty since Mrs. White threw open her doors in 1964. All meals are $13 apiece, a smoking deal when you consider that a Mrs. White's lunch will stay with even the heartiest eater well past dinnertime.

See a Nearly Naked Theater performance
Your life may not be changed by sitting through a play or musical presented by this quirky community theater, but you'll almost certainly be wildly entertained. Phoenix has been home to several offbeat theater companies over the years, but Nearly Naked, dreamed up by and managed by artistic director Damon Dering, has raised the bar by maintaining high quality and creating distinctive productions. Past huzzahs have included a stunning Equus; a near-perfect Blood Brothers, and a whole slew of plays that other theaters would never be brave enough to bring to their stages.

Tour Cerreta's chocolate factory
Located in downtown Glendale, the Cerreta Candy Company is a point of local pride, even among those who don't especially care for chocolate. This fifth-generation family-owned business offers a particularly thrilling free half-hour tour of the various kitchens that create the high-quality chocolates and candies that have wowed the nation. Dig the caramel kitchen, the room where cream centers are inserted into bon-bons, the chilling room, and the candy-wrapping stations. On your way through, check out the big wall murals depicting various aspects of candy-making by real live Cerreta's employees.

See a New Wave band perform at a reservation casino
Actually, it sounds kind of pathetic: A bunch of 50-somethings, bouncing up and down while a once-popular, now-long-in-the-tooth New Wave band that hasn't had a hit since 1983 runs through a set of synth-driven oldies. But for people of a certain age, Arizona's casinos are a gold rush of post-punk bands and solo performers whose signature songs (and obscure album tracks!) bring back fond memories of frat houses and water bongs. You haven't lived until you've seen the B-52s doing "Rock Lobster" on a double bill with the Go-Go's, who can still rock "We've Got the Beat" like it was the summer of '83.

Location Info


Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art

7374 E. Second St., Scottsdale, AZ

Category: General

Mrs. White's Golden Rule Cafe

808 E. Jefferson St., Phoenix, AZ

Category: Restaurant

Nearly Naked Theatre

100 E. McDowell Road, Phoenix, AZ

Category: General

Cerreta Candy Company

5345 W. Glendale Ave., Glendale, AZ

Category: General

Downtown Phoenix Public Market

721 N. Central Ave., Phoenix, AZ

Category: General

Burton Barr Central Library

1221 N. Central Ave., Phoenix, AZ

Category: General

Hyatt Regency Phoenix

122 N. Second St., Phoenix, AZ

Category: General

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66rock topcommenter

What?  Didn't even read this.  If I did all of them, then I'd die.  No thanks!

Jeffrey Aspland
Jeffrey Aspland

Is it just me or are there only 8 things on this list?

Kenneth Bykerk
Kenneth Bykerk

#1 thing to do...move to any other part of the State.

Josh Coker
Josh Coker

i DID those things...i am NOT returning to that awful desert wasteland.

Jimmy Smith
Jimmy Smith

A little shy of 100 things....just saying.

JR Olviga
JR Olviga

there are over 100 things to do in phoenix you can't do anywhere else? interesting.


Read the introduction.  It explains that there are two people who wrote 100-thing lists that will be revealed weekly.  It won't be complete until March.  

There are a couple of cool things on this list.  The artist who created Knight Rise has created dozens of works of this type, but there are only 14 open to the public.  We're lucky to have one in Phoenix. 

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