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SPRING TRAINING

Sunny Valley attractions delight between Cactus League games

From hiking to museums to casinos, everything’s covered

Posted 2/21/24

Baseball is the main event when Cactus League diehards make their annual Valley visit. That’s what 15 Major League Baseball teams playing more than 200 games at 10 stadiums will do to the desert.

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SPRING TRAINING

Sunny Valley attractions delight between Cactus League games

From hiking to museums to casinos, everything’s covered

Posted

Baseball is the main event when Cactus League diehards make their annual Valley visit. That’s what 15 Major League Baseball teams playing more than 200 games at 10 stadiums will do to the desert.

Spring’s sparkling weather brings plenty of other adventures, too.

In between spring training games and workouts, and underneath an abundance of sunshine, the Valley has much to offer.

EVENTS

36th Annual Arizona Renaissance Festival. Saturdays, Sundays (and Presidents Day Monday) from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Feb. 3-March 31. The Festival is a medieval amusement park, a 16-stage theater, a 50-acre circus, an arts and crafts fair, a jousting tournament and a feast. 12601 E. US Highway 60, Gold Canyon.

Scottsdale Arabian Horse Show. Feb. 15-25. Since 1955 the Annual Scottsdale Arabian Horse Show has set the pace in the Arabian horse world. 16601 N. Pima Road, Scottsdale.

Downtown Chandler Fine Art & Wine Festival. Feb. 16-18. 125 juried fine artists along with paintings, bronzes, glass, stone, copper, clay sculptures, photography and jewelry. 3 S. Arizona Ave., Chandler.

The Chocolate Affaire. Feb. 17-18. Chocolatiers, confectioners, wine tasting and pairings, food demonstrations, live music and family-friendly interactive experiences. 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Glendale Civic Center, 5750 W. Glenn Drive.

Phoenix Scottish Games. March 1-3. Scotland returns to the Southwest with the 59th annual Phoenix Scottish Games to be held at new Gilbert Regional Park, 3005 E. Queen Creek Road, Gilbert.

Rock & Mineral Show. March 1-3. Apache Junction Rock & Gem Club is hosting its semi-annual Rock & Mineral Show. The outdoor show features more than 70 vendors from Arizona and nearby states selling precious gems, minerals, rocks, slabs and jewelry. Mesa Community College, 1401 S. Dobson Road.

Worldwide Women’s Film Festival. March 8-10. Event educates, supports, and empowers women in the collaborative endeavor of filmmaking while shining a light on women’s stories, stories by women, and other diverse experiences across all genders. Harkins Shea 14, 7354 E. Shea Blvd., Scottsdale.

Arizona State Card Show. March 15-17. The 7th annual event features hundreds of tables of sports cards, collectibles, memorabilia, gaming cards (Pokemon, Yu-Gi-Oh, Magic), coins, comics, Funko-Pops, and more. 1-8 p.m. Friday; 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Saturday; 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday. Phoenix Convention Center, 100 N. 3rd St., Phoenix.

Cave Creek Sculpture & Wine Festival. March 15-17. Juried festival hosts more than 100 nationally acclaimed, award-winning sculptors from throughout the country and abroad. Stagecoach Village, 7100 E. Cave Creek Road, Cave Creek.

29th Annual Spring Carefree Fine Art & Wine Festival. March 22-24. Curated selection of fine art, wine tasting, spirit sampling, ice cold microbrews, savory food, sweet treats and more. Downtown Carefree, 101 Easy St.

Luke Days. March 23-24. Luke Air Force Base trains 75% of the world’s F-35 pilots in the West Valley near Glendale and Litchfield Park. The free, two-day Luke Days Airshow showcases the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds demonstration team. 14185 Falcon St., Glendale.

Arizona Bike Week. April 3-7. With an expected attendance of 75,000 people, look for a music festival, plus daily happy hour parties, after hours parties, stunt shows, RV and campsite camping, charity rides, contests, bike shows, factory demo rides, and more. WestWorld of Scottsdale, 16601 N. Pima Road, Scottsdale.

 

OUTDOORS

South Mountain, Phoenix

The 14.3-mile National Trail is a recommended South Mountain hike. South Mountain is one of the largest municipal parks in the country at 16,000 acres. Also, hike east a few miles along the trail from Buena Vista Lookout to Fat Man’s Pass. A narrow natural tunnel arcs over the trail and makes a good turn-around point.

Camelback Mountain, Phoenix

The 1.2-mile Echo Canyon trail (or Summit Trail) ascends 1,264 feet to the top of Camelback Mountain. Experts advise to expect to use your hands just as much as you do your feet while clambering up this rocky path. But since Camelback is the highest mountain in the Phoenix area, its views make it all worthwhile. A slightly less steep route to the summit, is available via the Cholla Trail, at the east end of the mountain, which rises nearly the same number of vertical feet in 1.75 miles.

Lake Pleasant Regional Park, Peoria

Surrounded by the Sonoran desert, Lake Pleasant features more than 23,000 acres of water and unblemished desert landscape as one of the most scenic recreation areas in the Valley. Adventures to embark upon including kayaking, fishing, scuba diving, camping, stargazing and even scorpion hunting.

Usery Mountain Regional Park, Mesa

The 3.2-mile (round trip) Wind Cave Trail makes a great hike in the Pass Mountain. Although the “cave” is more of a shallow arch than a gaping, mysterious, bat-infested hole, sweeping views to the north and west make it worth a visit.

Boyce Thompson Arboretum, Superior

Opened to the public in 1929 located about 45 minutes east of Mesa, the Arboretum features nearly three miles of paths and trails winding through colorful gardens, woodlands and native riparian habitat.

McDowell Sonoran Conservancy, Scottsdale

The Preserve comprises more than 195 miles of trails across 30,580 total acres. Free guided hike and bike tours offered weekly.

Saguaro Lake

Set in the Sonoran Desert and rimmed with canyon walls, boat access camping available at the east end of the lake. According to Bass Master Magazine, the best time for trophy bass is February to mid-April. From Mesa, travel 27 miles north on State Hwy. 87 to Bush Highway/Forest Road (FR) 204 and turn right. Follow FR 204 for four miles to the lake.

Cave Creek Ranger District, Scottsdale

On Tonto National Forest, it is located in the farthest left hand corner of the forest and is notable for the water, hiking and horseback riding recreation. It consists of more than 570,000 acres of desert, semi-desert grassland, Chaparral, and Pinyon-Juniper types of vegetation.

Mesa Ranger District, Mesa

Located north and east of Apache Junction, the popular Lower Salt River and Canyon Lake are located on this district. Mesa Ranger District is notable for its popular water activities. The Salt River that cuts through the Mesa Ranger District is the home of Arizona’s famous Salt River Tubing.

 

ZOOS

Phoenix Zoo

Beginning in 1962 with Operation Oryx, one of the world’s most successful global wildlife conservation programs, the Zoo has become renowned for its contributions to conservation science. Today, more than 7,000 Arabian oryx exist worldwide, setting a precedent for subsequent Phoenix Zoo conservation initiatives involving Black-footed ferrets, Chiricahua leopard frogs, narrow-headed gartersnake, thick-billed parrots, Mexican wolves and others.

Wildlife World Zoo, Litchfield Park

Home to Arizona’s largest collection of exotic animals with more than 600 species. The Aquarium features over 75 indoor exhibits including stingrays guests can feed, penguins, otters and sharks plus rides, and a petting zoo.

 

WALKING AROUND

Old Town Scottsdale

Browse the Fifth Avenue shops, try on Native American jewelry in Historic Old Town or visit Scottsdale Fashion Square. Visit one of Old Town’s restaurants, check out the weekly Scottsdale ArtWalk, or hit the Entertainment District.

Historic Downtown Glendale

Old Towne’s brick-trimmed sidewalks and glowing gaslights lead the way to the eateries, antique shops and specialty stores.

Downtown Chandler

Eclectic shops, enticing restaurants, and events throughout the year. From fine art to popular breweries, including the Downtown Chandler Fine Art and Wine Festival, Feb. 16-18.

 

MUSEUMS

Arizona Museum of Natural History, Mesa

The only natural history museum in the greater Phoenix area, it exhibits the natural and cultural history of the Southwestern U.S.

Musical Instrument Museum, Phoenix

A museum that focuses on the kind of instruments played every day by people worldwide. MIM has a collection of more than 8,000 instruments from more than 200 countries with galleries that reflect the diversity and history of many world cultures.

Heard Museum, Phoenix

Dedicated to the advancement of American Indian art, the Heard presents the stories of American Indian people from a first-person perspective, as well as exhibitions that showcase the beauty and vitality of traditional and contemporary art.

Phoenix Art Museum

The Southwest’s largest art museum, presenting world-class art in the heart of downtown Phoenix. Exhibitions are shown alongside the museum’s collection of more than 19,000 objects of American, Asian, European, Latin American, Western American, modern and contemporary art, photography and fashion design.

Arizona Science Center, Phoenix

A hands-on learning journey with more than 300 hands-on exhibits, the Irene P. Flinn Giant Screen Theater, and a state-of-the-art Dorrance Planetarium.

Arizona Military Museum, Phoenix

Celebrating Arizona’s military history, the raw adobe building was constructed in 1936 as a Depression-era public works project. It served as a National Guard arsenal until World War II, when it was converted into a maintenance shop for German prisoners of war confined at a nearby POW camp.

Alwun House, Phoenix

Alwun House is a nonprofit volunteer-based arts organization located in downtown Phoenix’ historic Garfield neighborhood and has been exhibiting out of the ordinary performances pushing downtown’s cutting-edge since 1971.

 

CASINOS

Desert Diamond Casino West Valley, Glendale

With more than 75,000 square feet of gaming space, Desert Diamond Casino West Valley features slots, table games, a Poker Room, and a Bingo Hall. Plus, there are dining options, two bars, and a wine and spirits shop.

Casino Arizona, Scottsdale

Offers guests gaming, dining and entertainment.

Gila River Gaming

Gila River Gaming Enterprises features three casinos in the Phoenix metro area including Wild Horse Pass Hotel & Casino in Chandler, Lone Butte Casino in Chandler, and Vee Quiva Hotel & Casino in Laveen Village.