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A guide for the Cubs spring training tourist

A guide for the Cubs spring training tourist

Updated for some of the restaurants we visited since last spring.  I probably have forgotten a couple, so I will keep updating.  Updated recommendations are highlighted in the light gray you see here.

I have not been in Arizona a year yet and we actually just squeaked in for the last game of spring training last year. I know the area around here reasonably well, though I imagine this will be a growing, changing list over the years -- even weeks -- so check back before you go.  If you have any suggestions or additions, please add them in the comments section.

There are many places to go if you want to take a day (or three) trip such as the Grand Canyon, Sedona, or the Petrified Forest, but I am just focusing on things that are an hour or less from the ballpark.

5 Minute Drive/Walking Distance from the Park

Mesa isn't a particularly tourist friendly place, but things have improved since the days the Cubs played at Ho Ho Kam.  It is also now more in a centrally located area, with easy access to the 101 and the 202 highways.  There is also much more commercial development in the immediate area.

Wrigleyville West Sheraton

There's the Wrigleyville West Sheraton if you want to stay within walking distance of the ballpark.

  • The hotel has several swimming pools and if you have kids that are anything like my nieces and nephews, then swimming pools are a must have!

Eats and drinks at the Sheraton

  • Starbucks' Coffee
  • Stats Sports Bar and Grill:  reasonably priced lunch items, typical pub food fare (burgers, chicken sandwiches, etc.).  Tables or comfortable couches with large flat screen TVs for group gatherings.
  • Legend's Steakhouse: Have not eaten there yet, but it is close to the park and it's steak, so how can you go wrong?

Mesa Riverview Park

  • To the east of the hotel is Mesa Riverview Park.  The park contains paved well-lit pathways for short walks, a children's park that includes a climbing tower, some fishing (I am not a fisherman but when I asked one, he said there is trout), picnic areas and open grounds where kids play frisbee, soccer, football, etc.

Shopping/Restaurants/Movies

Shopping

There are two shopping centers that are within a mile from the ballpark.

To the east of Mesa Riverview Park, on Dobson and Rio Salado Boulevard, is the Mesa Riverview Shopping Center.  Some of the stores/attractions include..

  • Wal-Mart
  • Sports Authority
  • Home Depot
  • Cinemark Movie Theaters

Quick and cheap Eats

  • Chick Fil-A
  • McDonalds
  • Taco Bell
  • Panda Express
  • Carl's Jr.
  • Subway

Chain Restaurants

  • Chili's
  • Dave's BBQ

Pub/Craft Beer

  • The Brass Tap:  Tacos, sandwiches, flatbread, mini-pizza and an absolutely huge craft beer list.  This is a cozy little place with great beer and lots of flat screen TVs for sports fans.

To the west, just across the 101 highway on Rio Salado, there is the larger Tempe Marketplace.   Some of the major stores include...

  • Target
  • Total Wine and Liquor (the valley's version of Binny's.  Great wine, whiskey, and craft beer selection)
  • Best Buy
  • Barnes and Noble
  • Harkins Movie Theaters
  • Dave and Buster's

Quick Eats

  • Portillo's -- Especially if you are Chicagoan and are missing home.

Restaurants/Gastropub

  • The Keg (Steakhouse):  Went here once with my parents.  My dad is a steak and potatoes guy and he enjoyed it here.
  • The Thirsty Lion: (Gastropub) High quality pub food (great burgers), craft beer, and Cubs players have been known to frequent this place from time to time.

 

 Other Eats and Drink Nearby

Mesa

  • Los Dos Molinos is a small Mexican food restaurant with a New Mexico vibe that is casual and very affordable.  The food is made right there on the spot, so it is fresh.  It also means you might have to wait a bit longer than you might expect from a casual restuarant -- but it's worth it.  If you  want good Mexican food without big prices, this is a good place.  Some good beer here as well, including selections from Mexico, Spain (La Estrella) and a very good IPA from Santa Fe Brewery in New Mexico.
  • Republica Empanada: Empanadas are a Spanish/Latin American turnover pastry dish filled with savory deliciousness -- there are different varieties based on your taste.  My mom made these all the time, so I am picky and these are good.
  • Little Miss BBQ: Mesa isn't much for restaurants, especially fancy sit-down places, but if you like BBQ, this is the best we've tried so far.
  • In N' Out Burger: You'll find one in just about every city in the valley.  It's the west's signature fast food "gourmet" burger, much the way Five Guys would have that status out east.
  • Backyard Taco:  A little place on University Drive a few miles east of the ballpark.  Great tacos, the best down here in my opinion.  And they have Mexican Coke and Fanta -- which means real cane sugar.  It just tastes better that way.
  • Millie's Cafe: Nothing fancy -- you get your food served in styrofoam take out boxes, but this is very good Puerto Rican food.  More of a homemade/comfort style food than gourmet.  As a side note, this is Jacier Baez's faorite place and there are quite a few Cubs prospects who frequent here.
  • Zur Kate:  You wouldn't expect a German restaurant to be right in the middle of Mesa, but you walk in there and suddenly it feels like you're in Hamburg.  It's mostly typical German fare: Schnitzel, bratwurst, knockwurst, great beers, and even an accordion player.

  • Beaver's Choice:  We go from German food to Scandinavian, Polish, and Canadian food.  This is even more off the beaten path than Zur Kate, you have to go to the easter part of Mesa (and Mesa is very large from east to west, so it is a bit of a drive).  It was well worth it, though.  You can, of course, get Swedish Meatballs, Pierogi, a fish menu that includes a traditional Swedish dish called Laxpudding (which I did not try).  I had their signature dish, which is the schnitzel cordon bleu.  It was delicious.  Also great beers, many from Eastern Europe that I hadn't never seen or tried...yet.

Scottsdale

  • Citizen's Public House (American eclectic):  Excellent food with a comfortable atmosphere and knowledgeable service.  I recommend the short ribs and the pan seared scallops.  Our server was very knowledgeable when it came to wine. I gave a specific description of the kind of wine I wanted and he delivered exactly what I was looking for.
  • Olive and Ivy: California style Mediterranean cuisine.  We went early and so we had the happy hour menu.  The flat breads were very good.  I had the one with duck confit and blue cheese while my  wife had the chicken pesto.  Both were excellent.  $5 local brews (including one of my favorites, San Tan Devil's Pale Ale) and excellent desserts.  I really enjoyed the brown butter strata and the brown sugar bananas.  In case you are wondering how I can eat so much, we are part Spanish, so we share everything.  What really adds to the  experience is an outdoor seating lounge located right next to the scenic canal.
  • The Mission (Mexican): Have not been here (yet) but highly recommended by an opinion I trust.
  • Barrio Queen:  (Mexican):  A bit more on the trendy side but very good Mexican-American food.  The Cochinita Pibil -- which is a slow roasted (overnight) pork marinated in achiote and sour orange-- is excellent.
  • Malee's Thai Food: Not a lot of Thai food out there, but if you are in the mood, this is the best place in the valley.
  • Don and Charlie's (Steakhouse): I have not been here but it has been recommended to me by more than one transplanted Chicagoan/Cubs fan.  Sports-themed decor.
  • Chez Vous (French): Quaint cafe specializing in crepes, sandwiches, and salads.  A nice little find for us as the wife and I love crepes.

Tempe

  • House of Tricks: I went here for lunch and had the chicken breast sandwich with goat cheese and fig jam, which was very good.  Can dine indoors in a cozy cottage setting or the beautiful patio area outdoors.  We chose the patio.  Relaxed atmosphere but want to go back here for after seeing the dinner fare and the extensive wine list -- not to mention a pretty good scotch selection as well.
  • Four Peaks Brewery: Good pub food, a little difficult to find as it is not on a main road -- and then difficult to find parking during peak hours, which is often parallel parking on the street.  Having lived most of my life in Chicago, however, parallel parking is in my DNA.
  • Culinary Dropout: Great food, craft beer, and good whiskey selection.  Bit of a hipster vibe -- very friendly staff.   It was a bit loud when we were there as there was a live band.
  • Perfect Pear -- Healthier eater/foodie/craft beer.  This place has good, hearty salads and unique sandwiches. Also a nice outdoor patio (most places in AZ have an outdoor area). There is also one in the Ahwautukee area of Phoenix.
  • Salut Kitchen and Bar (Mediteranean American):  Our favorite little place to go to grab a bite.  Close to our house, so close to the park as well.  Family owned, great drinks, including a very good scotch and beer selection.  Great burgers, pasta dishes, sandwiches such as the delicious Brie Hive (prosciutto and brie), Chicken Kebob.  Healthy menu options and a happy hour everyday where you get deals on appetizers, cocktails, and 1/2 price bottles of wine.

  • Rula Bula (Irish/eclectic) A restaurant near the university with traditional Irish food but also American eclectic as well.  I had the fish and chips and a good Irish beer.  They also have an excellent selection of Irish whisky, including the always delicious Middleton Rare.

  • Mellow Mushroom (Italian/Pizza):  Pizza place we stumbled on after a night out in Tempe late after the bars closed, so there were a lot of college students in there with this old geezer.  Good pizza menu.

Phoenix

  • Crudo (Eclectic):  More for the foodie/adventurous eater.  I am not  a foodie, but I am a try anything type eater and at Crudo's I had the Risotto in squid ink, which gave it a very briny flavor.  It made for an interesting experience and I did like it, but my wife had the brisket, which I enjoyed more.  Has a very trendy, urban feel -- felt like I was in New York or Chicago in there.
  • Beckett's Table (Eclectic American): This place has my favorite scotch selection of the restaurants I've been to so far.  They have the classics like Lagavulin and Oban, but also rarer selections like Springbank, a Campbelltown scotch that you rarely find outside of the giant liquor stores.  The food is good too, reasonably priced, and the service was excellent.
  • El Chullo (Peruvian): I love Peruvian food so this place is one of my favorites.  If you're in the mood for a pre-dinner cocktail, go with a Pisco Sour, which is the national drink of Peru.  The place is easy to miss, a small white building with very limited parking that we drove past once or twice.  But don't judge a book by it's cover, this is great food. Located on 7th avenue downtown near the Phoenix Art Museum, which is worth a visit as well.
  • Richardson's (Mexican):  Have not been but this was recommended to me by someone I trust.  New Mexican Food with some creative dishes.
  • St. Francis (eclectic American):  My cousin wanted to go here and we finally were able to make it.  It was well worth it.  The burgers are excellent and my wife had the Moroccan Meatballs, one of their signature dishes.  My cousin had the Pig Dip, which is wood-roasted pork loin, bacon, gruyere cheese...on a baguette with an au jus.  As for me, I had the French Onion burger.  We all loved our choices and as always, we shared our meals tapas-style.

Chandler

  • Shula's Steakhouse (American): My cousin took me here on my birthday and the steak and wine selection is excellent.

Craft Beer/Breweries

  • The Brass Tap (Mesa): See above-- small place with a huge craft beer selection.  Lots of local beers from AZ, NM, CO, CA, etc.
  • Four Peaks Brewery (Tempe): Recently bought out by Budweiser, so now its quasi-craft.  I actually like this place more for the good pub food than the beer, which is good, but I personally prefer the next two breweries...
  • San Tan Brewery (Chandler): I love the San Tan beers, especially the Devil's Pale Ale.  Good pub food.
  • AZ Wilderness Co. (Gilbert): The smallest of the breweries here, it is nonetheless excellent.  If you're a craft beer hipster, this is one you have to check out as they don't bottle their beers -- even locally.  You can buy them at the brewery by the growler.  My favorite is the Suit-and-(Tie)PA, which has some elements of a sour and an IPA.  Their beer selection can and does change over time.  Oh, and there is good pub food.  Love the burgers.
  • Desert Eagle Brewery (Mesa):  I have not been here yet, but check back before March and I will certainly update by then.

Cubs/Chicago Sports Themed Bars

  • Mesa Drummer Bar and Grill (Mesa): By far the closest to the ballpark (about 3 miles) and near HoHo Kam as well.  More of a dive/local bar, but close to Sloan and a place Cubs fans are known to frequent after the game.  Burgers and beer.
  • Half Moon Grille (Phoenix):  We came here to be around Blackhawks fans when they clinched the 2015 Stanley Cup.  Energetic atmosphere -- though obviously that was in large part due to the game and many ex-Chicagoans and visitors.
  • Hob Nob Sports Grill (Chandler): This is where we went to see Game 7 and I have to say, the minute I walked in there I felt like I was home with all the Cubs hats as well as decor from all Chicago sports teams around the bar.  The people were incredibly friendly....I never hugged so many strangers in my life.

  • Jimmy's of Chicago (Gilbert): Recommended by a reader, but have not tried it yet.

Recommendation from Cubs players, personnel, and media

Rob Zastryzny, LHP, AA

  • Rehab Burger Therapy - "Peanut Butter and Jelly Burger at Rehab, (I know it sounds gross) and decent deep dish pizza and great spaghetti with garlic bread."

Shawon Dunston, Jr. , OF, A+

David Kaplan: ESPN Chicago, CSN Chicago

  • Don and Charlie's (Scottsdale): "The BBQ pork chops."
  • Kap also reminds us that a Lou Malnati's will be opening up here in Phoenix soon.

Jason Parks, Cubs Scout

  • Salty Sow (Scottsdale), "The Pork Belly Tacos are fantastic."

Anthony Iapoce, Rangers hitting coach and former Cubs minor league hitting instructor

Mike Ferrin, Diamondbacks Announcer (and native Chicagoan)

Bruce Miles, Daily Herald

  • "Vito's and their eggplan parmigiana. The Blue Adobe and their stacked enchiladas. Vito's at Lindsay and McKellips. Adobe on Country Club, both in Mesa."

Justin Steele, LHP (A)

  • When I first got out to Arizona my fav place was Ike's Sandwich Shop. It's right off of Alma School Rd. And my fav sandwich from there is the Matt Cain. Definitely think it's a must try. A different kind of sandwich shop."
  • "Mimi's Cafe is a great breakfast spot I like to go to.  A very tasty breakfast spot"

Bijan Rademacher, OF (AA)

  • "My favorite restaurant out there is the Persian room fine dining. I get the beef barg, it's a filet mignon seasoned with a side of rice. The steak melts in your mouth."

Ben Carhart, C/IF (A)

  • "I make sure every spring training I make it over to Oregano's (Mesa, Tempe, Scottsdale) and have the Chicken Parm."

John Baker: Baaseball Operations Assistant and backup catcher/emergency pitcher extraordinaire.

Hiking

Hiking and biking are a big part of Arizona outdoor life.  Assuming most of you aren't bringing your bikes (and if you do, you probably already know where to go anyway).

  • Camelback Mountain (Scottsdale): Recommended for more experienced hikers.  Echo Canyon is the more rigorous route and I am told there is some rock climbing involved, so be prepared.  Even many experienced hikers prefer the more manageable  Cholla Trail. Very nice area of Scottsdale.  Good day to go hiking and then eat at one of those great Scottsdale restaurants.
  • South Mountain:  A very large park in the southern part of Phoenix.  It is a bit of a ride, but located near the picturesque Ahwautukee area of Phoenix.  Lots of different trails for hikers of all levels.
  • Riparian Reserve (Gilbert) -- more of a nature walk.  More appropriate if you are a novice hiker and/or have children.  Starts off like just a park and the deeper you go, the more rural  it gets.
  • Lost Dutchman State Park/Superstition Mountains -- East of Mesa, it may take about an hour drive to get there but if you are a serious hiker this is probably where you want to go.  Lots of different trails with varying degrees of difficulty. Here are your options at Lost Dutchman and Superstition.

 

Miscellaneous

 

  • Taliesen West -- Frank Lloyd Wright's Arizona home:  If you are a fan of architecture or just like to hear great stories about the self-proclaimed world's greatest architect, this is worth the trip.  One of Wright's great examples of how he blended in architecture with the surrounding environment.
  • Tempe Beach Park - A man made beach with some area for fishing, beach volleyball, paddle boats, or just hanging out and getting some sun.  But you really don't come to the valley for the beaches -- this will pale even in comparison to Chicago's beaches, but if you get the urge and you have kids who enjoy the beach, this is as close as it gets.  A nice of view of growing downtown Tempe.  There is also some hiking at a nearby small hill near the old mill for which the area is named.
  • Mill Ave (Tempe)Close to Arizona State University  campus.  It's a nice little walk that also includes some nice little stores as well, including an old musty bookstore that is one of my favorites.  Nice to grab a quick bite to eat, grab a beer or do some shopping.  Bit of a younger crowd in the evening.
  • Casino: I am not a gambler but I have been to the Wild Horse Pass at Gila River Casinos (just south of Ahwautukee) --- and I had fun, though I spent most of my time with my friend learning about the horses over a scotch.  Closer to the park, there is the Talking Stick Resort, which is in Scottsdale, roughly 6 miles north of Sloan.
  • Artes Imports (Mesa) is a very interesting furniture, accessories, and garden decor place.  My wife fell in love with it and we will certainly be back again,  You can buy anything from big dining room tables to small decorative items that make great gifts..  Much of it is hand made in Spanish Colonial, Mexican, and Western styles and many of the items can be custom made.  They are also fans of Cubs Den, so mention me and the blog and you'll get a 10% discount!
  • Desert Botanical Garden: A Sonoran Desert paradise. The valley's most visited site.

  • Heard Museum: The best Native American museum in the world.
  • Musical Instrument Museum

  • Hall of Flame (Fireman's Museum
  • Commemorative Air Force Museum

 

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  • We did our first Mesa Spring Training this past spring with our baseball obsessed 9 and 6 year olds and had a blast. The Mesa ballpark is gorgeous and super family friendly. Mesa / Phoenix are not really "walkable" cities by any stretch of the imagination, so be prepared to drive. We were also surprised by how many good houses were available on AirBNB, and seemingly every house in that area has a home pool. Can't recommend Spring Training enough, and the Mesa Park is actually more family friendly than Wrigley by a long ways.

    Thanks for putting this together John!

  • In reply to Ryno2Grace:

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  • Sure would like to get out there one of these Springs. Sounds like there is something for everyone there.

  • John, great list. This will be our 5th year going.
    We will be there March 8th - 13th.
    Our go to's are:
    1. In n out Burger
    2. Portillos
    3. Mastro's City Hall. Awesome steakhouse
    4. Don and Charlie's. Amazing sports memorabilia. Packs them in.
    5. Chelsea Kitchen. Great patio. Great brunch
    6. Olive and Ivt. Great patio. Great brunch
    7. Pomo Cucina. Great patio. Great eye-talian
    8. The Botanical Gardens are also a great place to check out.
    9. We stay at the Faifield Inn in Mesa. Lots of Cubs fans. Near a mall, in n out burger and Starbucks. It's about a 15 minute easy drive to Sloan.
    Email me at sgp9968870@yahoo if you care to meet up with my wife and I while we are there.

  • In reply to Third Generation:

    Ahh, the old In and Out...how could I forget?

    We can definitely meet up at some point. We'll keep in touch.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    In and Out Burger comes in places 1-5... By a distance putting the trendy places like Five Guys to shame.

    Always fresh always great service.

    The other tip would be to buy your tickets early. Especially last year tickets for some Cubs home games were only available on reselling sites like StubHub. So once you decide to go get your tickets as soon as you can.

  • In reply to Hustlelikereed:

    I like 5 Guys too, actually. They're both very good in different ways.

    I am trying to focus on what to do when not at the game, but maybe I will add that little tip in somewhere in the beginning. The Cubs will sell out a lot -- if not all-- of ST games.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Thanks. It's a great write up.

    No matter how many times I go to Spring Training there's sways something new to find. Now I'll have a few more places I need to look up.

    It may be worth a small write up on the other stadia that the Cubs play at as well.

    I love the Angels stadium - I think it's in Tempe.

  • In reply to Third Generation:

    If you like Buffets try the ones at the Casinos off the 101 just north of the 202 the first one is a little cheaper than the second one but they are both great at least for Lunch.

  • John have you checked out the Mesa flea market?

  • In reply to Turtle:

    I have not. Where is that?

  • fb_avatar

    John,

    This took a lot of time. Thank you for really showing us a guide to Mesa. See you at Portillos!

  • In reply to Ironman McGinnity:

    See you there!

  • John put together an excellent list, and after spending several months here each of the past three winters, we also have one which we have developed for our visitors. I'd be happy to email anybody a copy.

    In particular, I'd like to mention three world-class museums that are found in Phoenix...

    1) Desert Botanical Garden (dbg.org). A Sonoran Desert paradise. Our most visited site.

    2) Heard Museum (heard.org). The best Native American museum in the world.

    3) Musical Instrument Museum (mim.org). Created by the founder of Target, it is one of the top 5 museums I have ever seen. Unique, the most similar museum in my experience is the Musical Instrument Museum in Munich. I've made three visits so far and still haven't seen everything.

    Also, if you are into photography, this area is a paradise. Two excellent guides:

    amazon.com/Photographing-Southwest-2--Arizona-2nd-Ed/dp/0916189139/ref=sr_1_5?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1421283102&sr=1-5&keywords=laurent+martres

    amazon.com/Arizona-Highways-Photography-Guide-Collection/dp/1932082840/ref=sr_1_10?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1421283260&sr=1-10&keywords=arizona+highwa

    "NEARBY" ATTRACTIONS (Note-Travel to the North can run into weather issues; Sedona and Tucson should be OK)
    Canyon de Chelly National Monument / 311 miles (nps.gov/cach/index.htm)
    Grand Canyon National Park / 242 miles (nps.gov/grca/index.htm)
    Hopi Mesas / 249 miles (tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g28924-i139-k5602222-TR_A_Visit_to_the_Hopi_Mesas-Arizona.html)
    Old Oraibi (en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oraibi,_Arizona)
    Navajo Country / 301 miles (tripadvisor.com/Attractions-g31409-Activities-Window_Rock_Arizona.html)
    Monument Valley (navajonationparks.org/htm/monumentvalley.htm)
    Petrified Forest National Park / Painted Desert / 205 miles (nps.gov/pefo/index.htm)
    Sedona / 129 miles (visitsedona.com)
    Tucson / 107 miles (tripadvisor.com/Attractions-g60950-Activities-Tucson_Arizona.html)

    and much, much more....

  • In reply to wthomson:

    Don't know if this site will accept this, but my email is wthomson at umich.edu.

  • In reply to wthomson:

    Thanks, Bill. Those are all places we hope to visit soon.

  • fb_avatar

    I used to go to Mesa all the time. My grandfather who was also a huge Cubs fan retired there. But I haven't been in about 10 years. I always enjoyed it there. But I would like to see the new stadium eventually. If any of you can go, you should it is fun.

  • I also had some great recommendations on some "hole-in-the-wall" Mexican restaurants, but not sure if that is appropriate for tourists -- some parts of Mesa (and pretty much any city in AZ, that you don't want to get lost in).

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Blue Adobe Grill. Also check out roaring fork in Scottsdale. Great patio and happy hour venue.

  • In reply to cubsfan:

    Thanks cubsfan!

  • In reply to cubsfan:

    I second the Blue Adobe. I also forgot to mention the best-named beer ever -- "Kiltlifter" from Four Peaks. In addition to the name, the beer's also pretty good!

  • John, you mentioning Camel Back Mountain, Superstitious Mountain and South Mountain sure makes me miss the times I'd fly to Phoenix to stay with my cousin for two weeks in March. She has moved back to Alabama, so I don't get to go there anymore, but we'd take in a Cubs ST game every year, which would be one of the highlights of my trips there. My last visit there was in 2012, so I never got to see a game at Sloan Park.

  • In reply to Alabama Cubs Fan:

    Sometimes I can't believe I live in a place where there are mountains and palm trees :)

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Chicago, it ain't!

  • In reply to wthomson:

    Very different. Miss my Chicago sometimes, but I can dig it here.

  • Thank you for putting this together! I'm taking my oldest son to spring training this year (he'll be 5), so this is really helpful.

  • In reply to Jared Wyllys:

    Excellent. Hope to see you guys there. Let me know the dates and maybe we can meet up somewhere. I will try to keep updating this and if I hear anything good for kids, I will let add it on.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Absolutely. I need to sit down and look at dates, but when I know for sure when we'll be there, I'll let you know.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I recommend the Hall of Flame (Fireman's Museum), on the way to the Desert Botanical Gardens. We took our 4-year old grandson, and he had a grand time climbing on the trucks and trying on the firefighting suits. Another good place is Arizona Mills Mall (Tempe), where they have an aquarium, a train, a huge game place, and a soon-to-open Legoland, plus regular mall stores. For outdoor fun, there's Kiwanis Park in Tempe, and Desert Breeze Park (Chandler), which has outdoor rides, a big lagoon, etc. Lots of kid's birthday parties are held here. Plus, next door to Sloan Park is an area dog shelter--I've not yet gone in, but I have a soft spot for dog shelters.

  • In reply to wthomson:

    Forgot top mention that the historical fire trucks (not for kids' climbing) are interesting for adults as well.

  • fb_avatar

    okbeen twice tospring training in the last 5 years - hopefully going again this year.

    In oldtown Scottsdale - the - "rusty spur saloon" has music every night -small setting - mostly country music and some blues worth checking out. On main street in old town scottsdale which is also worth checking out.

    For good food and even better "scenery" is My Big Fat Greek Restarant on Mill St in Tempe. Its solid greek food like you would find on halsted and jackson in chicago with the hottest / cutest ASU wait staff ever - making you wish you were 21 again. Nice out door seating.

    great 1/2 day trip - wheather you are a biker or not hwy 88 which is due east - Its called Apache trail /junction - very cool road 1/2 hour from old ho ho kam park - the road heads up into national forest service area with a big man made lake - there is a great bar with live music in the winter and spring only they close at easter - i want to say its called the road house - or something like that - its about a 1/2 hour after hwy 88 starts worth the trip great music and people watching.

    john check it out if you havent yet.

  • In reply to deport soriano com:

    I actually have taken that drive. Very scenic. At one point we looked up on one of the cliffs and saw what seemed like about a dozen vultures hanging out. Kind of ominous.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to John Arguello:

    John, they were just waitng for the demise if the Cardinals this year.

  • In reply to Jonathan Friedman:

    Haha!

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Not to worry, John--those were just Cardinal fans.

  • In reply to deport soriano com:

    I visited the Phoenix Area for the first time this summer. We spent a couple of weeks visiting area tourist things...Some additional things that I enjoyed visiting.

    Saguaro National Park & Arizona-Sonoma Desert Museum - Being from the east coast, we don't see deserts and cactus too much...interesting.

    Glen Canyon National Monument - Have an a hour or two, like to do a little climbing. Ancient cliff dwellings are pretty interesting.

    Heading to the Grand Canyon and have a little more time. Upper Antelope Canyon (Page, AZ) is extremely impressive. My whole family loved it...even better than the Grand Canyon. It is a slot canyon, which you take about an hour tour walking through. Very colorful.

    Tombstone - For the old west lovers. Boot Hill Cemetery, the OK Corral. It is a tourist trap, but still interesting.

  • In reply to deport soriano com:

    There are a lot of co-eds here. My Ann Arbor (also has co-eds) doctor took his son here an an ASU visit, and he said the he had to keep pushing his son's eyeballs back into his head. Good thing he was a doctor!

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    Check out the Air Museum in Mesa too.

  • In reply to rvt13:

    We've driven by that many times. Will have to stop some time.

  • Yes, this was recommended to me last spring and was an affordable and well spent 2 hours

  • John, Northside, and all the other writers, plus all of you who comment on the articles Cubs Den puts on, I want to thank you for providing me a local bar where I can listen to friends talk about a shared passion. We moved to Rhode Island a few years ago but everyday I pull up this site and I feel like I'm at the old Graces Pub. So thank you and John with his resent move I'm sure feels the same.
    But back to the purpose of this article, if your going to AZ for spring break check out the Super Stistion

  • In reply to jbrantt:

    You're welcome. Got some more suggestions on Cubs friendly bars, so I will try to add soon.

  • Mountains near Mesa. You can hike up 4,000 ft and they have great horseback camping trips.

  • I'm actually thinking of visiting spring training this year with my brother. We live in Florida right now and it would be a pretty exciting thing for us during our spring break. This list was exactly what the doctor ordered.

  • John,
    A couple more places to add to your list:
    1. Los Olivos in old town Scottsdale w/i walking distance from Scottsdale Stadium. Authentic Mexican food.
    2. Sugar Bowl in old town Scottsdale. Good food, and great ice cream creations.
    3. The Phoenix Zoo
    4. Most, if not all, spring training teams are within an hour's drive.

  • In reply to AZBOB:

    Thanks AZBob. I will probably go back and update this and re-post when pitchers and catchers report.

  • Those looking for Chicago Style pizza, look no further than Salerno's (from Berwyn) located in Gilbert. Great pizza and lots of Chicago people anytime you go there.

  • As a recent AZ transplant, the hardest thing to find out here is good pizza. While the Salerno's recommendation is solid, Spinatos is by far the closest thing I've found to a Chicago quality pizza. There is a location near Tempe market place. Thin crust only, but homemade Italian sausage and a sauce that reminds me of home. Highly recommended if you haven't tried it yet.

  • John,
    How about a counter to spring training again? we must be at about 50 days or so.

  • John,
    Cubs fan here on vacation for the rest of this week. I invite you to stop by Artes Imports 303 S. Alma School Rd in Mesa. Would love to talk some Cubs baseball with you. I have a Mesquite Cutting Board with Turquoise inlay:
    http://artesimports.com/product_information.asp?product=1454

    as a gift for you. I love reading your blog and appreciate all your hard work to provide great Cubs coverage.
    Thanks for all you do!!

  • In reply to Crippler:

    Thanks, Crippler.

    I will try to stop by this week. Thursday most likely day I would have available.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Fantastic! Looking forward to meeting you.

  • A friend introduced me to Don & Charlie's (been there twice now) and yes, it's quite good, and a real memorabilia-fest. If it's nice out there is patio seating as well.

    And the Musical Instrument Museum is spectacular. The same friend introduced me to that on my December work trip.

    I'll be going back for another project in Scottsdale in late March, though I don't know if I'll make it to Sloan Park. I hope to, some day, though with these being work trips most of my time is not my own.

  • Nice going John, now I have cabin fever.

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    Cubs have just signed former Braves starter, Williams Perez.

    Hes a ground ball pitcher and former solid prospect in his minor league days.

    He will serve as AAA depth, but for my money I am banking on Williams Perez making the biggest impact between the 3 muskateers of him, Butler, and Casey Kelly.

  • John, Thanks for the write up. It's just what I'm looking for. It's going to be my first Spring Training and I was able to get tickets to an away game in Goodyear against the Reds at night and then a day game against the Diamondbacks at Talking Stick the next day. I can't wait!

  • Royal to sign Jason Hammel

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    Looking for cheap World Series collectibles in Arizona I got my stuff for Free Agent sports at half the price of the Team store

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