Step beneath the domed, packed-mud ceiling of a traditional Navajo family dwelling. Weave a Yavapi burden basket. Explore a secluded garden filled with bronze sculptures of women in prayer. By immersing visitors in Native American artifacts and artworks, the Heard Museum's exhibits strive to illuminate the cultural legacy of Arizona’s indigenous peoples. The collections emphasize first-person accounts of Native cultures, not only through artwork, but also in interviews with Native Americans, portraits by Navajo photographers, and monthly lectures. In addition to showcasing historical artifacts, the Heard Museum exhibits contemporary American Indian artwork. Like a ballerina trapped on a carousel, exhibits rotate often, and have included collections of Native American bolo ties, Hopi pottery, and 20th-century paintings depicting Native ceremony. Passing on cultural traditions to future generations, the staff educates children with tours, and brings Native American presentations and curricula to area schools.
It's hard to say which is more distinctive: the karts zipping around Octane Raceway or the track itself. During each lap on the 1/3-mile course, drivers zoom through an indoor area, then weave around an outdoor section that's covered by a permanent steel canopy, making for a hybrid experience rarely found in American go-kart tracks not owned by bored supervillains.
An equally rare find in the U.S. is the raceway's fleet of 32 Sodi RTX karts, all imported from France, whose electric motors give off zero emissions while reaching speeds of up to 45 miles per hour. Drivers who can stay in control at these top speeds are in for success: the winner of each race is determined not by who finishes a given number of laps first, but by who puts up the fastest single lap time, a result that's posted both at the track and online for posterity.
Races take place in a 65,000-square-foot space that doubles as a gathering place for parties and corporate events for up to 500 attendees. In addition to racing, the raceway is also home to off-track activities that include shooting pool in the billiards room, scaling a 21-foot rock-climbing wall, and melting burgers and pizza into rocket fuel at the Trackside Bar and Grill.
At Casey's SportsWorld, the owners stripped down the ice from an outdoor hockey rink, replaced it with multipurpose, artificial turf, and retained the oval's lights and bleachers to create an outdoor arena that hosts games of soccer, flag football, kickball, and monthly dodge-ball tournaments. Casey's baseball and softball batting cages differ from most in that players can swing for a 200-foot home-run fence while batting from one of three slow-pitch softball cages or seven baseball cages, which sling pitches as fast as 80 miles per hour and feature an arm-style mechanism that emulates human pitchers or talented robots with soup-ladle arms.
Designed to honor a legendary species named the Marsh-wiggle, Casey's SportsWorld's mini-golf course boasts its own brand of folklore. As guests attempt to sink testy putts or manipulate their opponents' scorecard, they can speculate about the origin of the Volkswagen Beetle that is half-embedded into the ground, which denizens of Casey's SportsWorld believe squished the last remaining Marsh-wiggle.
A flurry of paintballs whiz through the air, splattering their targets with brightly colored pigment. Players at Westworld Paintball Adventures explore either indoor or outdoor fields, where they can unleash a paintball-pelting fury, rain or shine. At Splatter Ranch’s outdoor enclave, paintballers find cover in gullies or clusters of shrubbery as majestic cacti stand guard a safe distance away. The field and on-site pro shop spread across 20 acres of terrain, which is peppered with a few buildings where players can duck into or play Rochambeau for decoy duty.
At the indoor arena, Xtreme Pursuit, players kick up clouds of dirt as they chase each other around a 33,000-square-foot facility and take shelter in bunkers and buildings amid specialized lighting, a sound system, and fog machines. The facility is air-conditioned and open year-round, with a pro shop supplying equipment to players.
Though a pilot mans each of Hot Air Expeditions balloon flights, the excursions are really guided by Mother Nature. The colorful balloons simply follow the wind, hovering above the cacti and coyote that call the Sonoran desert home before gently climbing breezes to give passengers a full view of the surrounding mountains and lakes. Groups can take morning flights year-round or afternoon flights from November through March, both of which offer spectacular photo opportunities, as well as time-sensitive challenges to any still-life painters on board.
The mutable nature of the flights mean they last anywhere from 45–90 minutes, after which, passengers will enjoy sparkling beverages and catered snacks, such as pastries. Each guest is awarded an official flight certificate as a memento of their aerial journey before boarding a courtesy van that returns them to the launch point. Though the actual flights last up to 90 minutes, groups should allow up to four hours for the entire trip.