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

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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.)

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Phoenix Bucket List - 100 Things to Do Before You Die: the Cash Inn, West Wind Drive-In, and the Shangri-La

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Lauren Saria
Fry bread.
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, and today, Amy Silverman presents the final round; later this week we'll wrap it all up in a cover story in New Times.

Eat Fry Bread
When in Rome, eat spaghetti. When in Phoenix -- fry bread. There's debate over just how authentic (or appropriate) a dish Native American fry bread is, but few will argue that it's totally delicious. Most equate it with fair food, but here in the Valley you can get it in a variety of places year-round -- from shacks on reservation land, to the James Beard Award-winning Fry Bread House in Central Phoenix, newly expanded for all your deep-fried, honey-coated, sugar-sprinkled needs. Savory versions served, as well.


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Phoenix Bucket List - 100 Things to Do Before You Die: the Psycho Building, Tea at the Ritz, and Lots of Greek Beer

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Jonathan McNamara
The Japanese Friendship Garden near downtown Phoenix.
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.

Check out the Japanese Friendship Garden
The waterfall, surrounded by hand-placed boulders from Congress, Arizona, is a must-see. So is the White Heron Castle monument, depicting a Shachi--a mythical fish with the face of a tiger. Ditto the Japanese tea garden (cha-niwa or roji), rightfully billed as "a place for quiet reflection," and the koi pond, full of brightly colored and beautifully shaped fish. No matter what you see there, downtown's Japanese Friendship Garden is a great place to detach from the hectic everyday world, with a tranquil tea ceremony or just a mindful mosy through the cool greenery there.


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Phoenix Bucket List - 100 Things to Do Before You Die: Penguins, Peaches, and Celebrity Theatre

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Amy Silverman
Cosanti.
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, Amy Silverman presents the next 10 items on the list.

Wander Around Cosanti
The late Paolo Soleri -- onetime Frank Lloyd Wright apprentice, longtime Arizona (by way of Italy) architect and artist -- is probably best known for Arcosanti, his futuristic housing development off I-17 north that never quite was. And it's true, you can actually stay at Arcosanti; it's even on the Phoenix Bucket List. But equally awesome is a trip to Cosanti. If you grew up in the Valley, chances are good that your mom dragged you here at least once so your great aunt from Chicago could bell shop. The place is frozen in time, a bell foundry that supported Soleri's efforts (and housed him) and continues to operate. The fact that Paradise Valley mansions surround this hippie haven only makes a visit more fun.


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Phoenix Bucket List - 100 Things to Do Before You Die: Bikini Lounge, Posh, and the MIM

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Andrew Pielage
The Bikini.
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.

Go to Bikini Lounge with a Twentysomething
It's the ultimate hipster hangout, and manages to pull off being retro and up-to-the-minute trendy at the same time. Corner-tabled in the Bikini's murk, one can easily imagine it's 1966, when Grand Avenue was chockablock with similarly divey bars, and that the festively tiki-themed surroundings are new and all the rage. People "of a certain age" hang here, too, and for the best Bikini blast, a late night on the patio with DJ Shane and a bunch of people who were recently teenagers is a real Grand experience.


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Phoenix Bucket List - 100 Things to Do Before You Die: Late Night Love, the Westward Ho, and Louise Nevelson

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Katie Johnson
Pool hopping is a Phoenix bucket list must.
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, Amy Silverman presents the next 10 items on the list.

Sneak Into a Hotel Pool
Now, I'm not going to tell you which pool to sneak into, or just how to make it happen -- but I will say that there's a wide selection here in the Valley of the Sun. It may not make for the most relaxing experience, and the nicer the pool the better the chance you'll get kicked out, but it's the definition of a cheap thrill. Pass the sunscreen.


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Phoenix Bucket List - 100 Things to Do Before You Die: Kiddieland, FilmBar, and Ladmo's Tree

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Will Mejia
The Orpheum, circa 2008.
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.

Give yourself a walking tour of the Orpheum
Maybe you're one of those people who like to pretend it's a long time ago, when things were "better." Or maybe you love yourself some Spanish Revival architecture. Whatever. Take yourself to this gorgeous Baroque building, with its intricate murals and moldings, where all the big names played live in the '20s and '30s. The Orpheum became The Paramount movie house in the '40s and a circuit playhouse in the '60s before falling into disrepair. A 12-year-long renovation has restored it to its former glory, and it's been waiting, ever since its reopening in 1997, for you to come ogle it.


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Phoenix Bucket List - 100 Things to Do Before You Die: Prickly Pear, Gammage, and Chris Bianco's Mom's Chocolate Cake

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Andrew Pielage
Life in Phoenix is not complete without a trip to Big Surf.
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, Amy Silverman presents the next 10 items on the list.

Catch a wave at Big Surf
Sure, there are faster slides at bigger water parks in town, and there are others with wave pools -- but you can only wax (your surfboard) nostalgic at Big Surf, the first fake ocean in the country and a Valley institution. I have (not so) fond memories of wave pool face plants as a child; be careful. Ah, memories.


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

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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.


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Phoenix Bucket List - 100 Things to Do Before You Die: Castles, Crescent, and Really Hot Mexican Food

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Andrew Pielage
A vintage sign offers tours of Tovrea Castle.
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, Amy Silverman presents the next 10 items on the list.

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