Phoenix Bucket List: 100 Things to Do in Phoenix Before You Die
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.
Turns out, we had no trouble getting to 100. The challenge was cutting it back. Enjoy our list.
Visit James Turrell's Knight Rise at Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art
Amy Silverman Knight Rise by James Turrell
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.
Eat fried chicken at Mrs. White's Golden Rule Cafe
Chow Bella Mrs. White gets a kiss from her grandson, Larry, whose Lo-Lo's serves some pretty great chicken and waffles, too.
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.