Phoenix Bucket List - 100 Things to Do Before You Die: Books, Bats, and the Biltmore

Claire Lawton
Behind the scenes at the VNSA sale.
Welcome to the Phoenix Bucket List. Robrt Pela and Amy Silverman -- two New Times contributors and longtime Phoenicians -- have put together a list of 100 things to do in this city before you die. Each week we're presenting another 10; in March we'll wrap it all up in a cover story in New Times. For now, stay tuned to Valley Fever for more installments and be sure to share your suggestions in the comments section. Today, Robrt Pela presents the next 10 items on the list.

Camp out at the annual VNSA book sale
You're a word nerd if you camp out overnight outside the Volunteer Non-Profit Services Association annual book sale. And, if you've never attended this 58-year-old tradition, you're something far worse. (Full disclosure: Pela's a member of the board in charge of the sale.) The VNSA sale is the largest two-day used book sale in the southwest, and draws collectors from as far away as Manila. Savvy book dealers, collectors, and just plain old readers line the parking lot outside the State fairgrounds hangar where VNSA peddles more than a half-million books over two days, some of them early the night before the sale opens, trading stories about rare book finds or comparing notes on Anne Tyler and Scott Turow. Before you shuffle off this Earth, you should join them, just once.

See also: 5 Cool Phoenix Neighborhoods You've Probably Never Heard Of

Chow Bella
Eat penuche nut ice cream at Mary Coyle's
If Mondays suck in Phoenix, it's only because Mary Coyle's is closed on that day. There's nowhere to go, between Sunday and Tuesday, for maple walnut ice cream. Or for amaretto sorbet. Not to mention a double-dip penuche nut cone, a Mary classic. The rest of the week, you can visit this 63-year-old ice creamery, where you might order a Hula Bowl (vanilla, burgundy cherry, and maple walnut ice cream served with pineapple, walnuts, fresh bananas, and coconut topping) and enjoy the framed photos of people eating dessert in old-time Phoenix.

Ogle a Vietnamese Catholic Church
For the first several years after founding their church in 2004, parishioners of the Vietnamese Martyrs rented a hall at a nearby cathedral. Today, their big, gold-encrusted place of worship is a sight to behold, both inside and out. Built in honor of the more than 100,000 missionary-trained Catholics persecuted and murdered in the 18th-century, the building is a gilded stunner. Facing Northern Avenue and flanked by giant gilded dragons, the three-story church's massive arch is framed by smaller arches and peaked with swooping points that shelter octagonal windows and towering pillars. The gargantuan silver cross crowning the peak of the roof is a stunner, and tips us off that this is, in fact, a place of worship.

Hear a diva sing outdoors at Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts
Judy Collins swallowed a moth there, once. She was singing "Famous Blue Raincoat," and it just flew into her mouth. Otherwise, nothing bad has ever happened at the outdoor band shell at Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts, where Rosanne Cash performed a Valentine's Day concert two years ago that people are still talking about. Our town may never recover from Betty Buckley's one-woman show, which the Broadway diva presented in 2003. Women singing to us in the dark, while we lounge on the grass outside Scottsdale's best museum, drinking wine and staring at the stars -- who could ask for more?

Location Info


Arizona State Fairgrounds

1826 W. McDowell Road, Phoenix, AZ

Category: General

Mary Coyle Ol' Fashion Ice Cream Parlor - CLOSED

5521 N. Seventh Ave., Phoenix, AZ

Category: Restaurant

Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts

7380 E. Second St., Scottsdale, AZ

Category: General

Arizona Biltmore Resort & Spa

2400 E. Missouri Ave., Phoenix, AZ

Category: General

Metrocenter Mall

9617 N. Metro Parkway, Phoenix, AZ

Category: General

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I'll pass on the murder bungalow and the freak show mall, but I'm finding lots of other good things to do on this list.  Carry on, tipsters.  And thanks.

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