A kaleidoscope of multichromatic blossoms and emerald leaves bursts from the soil, blanketing 65 acres of desert landscape at Desert Botanical Garden. Diverse walkways flanked by more than 50,000 types of cacti, succulents, and wildflowers educate visitors on the importance of protecting the environment and not hugging every plant they see. In addition to the garden's more stationary organisms, some of which go home with local green thumbs during biannual plant sales, numerous avian and insect species make their homes amid the thriving greenery.
For all their ubiquity, chain restaurants seldom embody the same character and culture as their independently owned counterparts. That’s where Arizona Food Tours comes in. With their signature A Taste of Old Town Scottsdale tour, the company introduces visitors to the idiosyncrasies and food of the desert burg, from classic western grub to the local wine bars that pour cabernet and red zinfandel for diners and thirsty cacti.
Amid the smell of blooming hyacinths and the colorful ensigns of freshly emerged butterflies, one need only turn to Salt River Fields at Talking Stick for proof of an encroaching spring. As the spring-training grounds for both the Colorado Rockies and the Arizona Diamondbacks, the park—named as an homage to the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community—sports 12 baseball diamonds, giving fans ample opportunity to watch the action and practice voicing play-by-plays of groundskeepers mowing the adjacent fields. In addition to spring-training bouts, Salt River Fields also hosts numerous special events, such as arts festivals and charity sports events.
It’s an average day on the streets of Old Town Scottsdale, where cars and pedestrians amble along the scenic sites. Suddenly, a crazy-looking contraption emerges from an intersection with six passengers on either side pedaling in the open air. This vehicle, which is inspired by cycling apparatuses Europe, is Tour De Tavern’s pride and joy. Guided by an experienced driver, the passengers glide along at speeds of up to 8 miles per hour and take in the sites around them to the tunes coming from a built-in sound system with an iPod hook up. In addition to daily tours, the business caters to bachelor parties and corporate team-building events.
ProTenn International founder Alex Ramirez leads a highly decorated staff to provide a focused and personalized instructional environment where students can learn to play their best tennis. Since 1988, Alex and his team have developed a number of sectional, national, and international champions, including tour professionals Camila Giorgi and Liga Dekmeijere. Their coaches employ a results-oriented methodology that combines footwork, physical fitness, mental strategy, and competitive spirit.
Prior to each practice session, coach and pupil identify an objective for their time together, be it smoother groundstrokes or more choreographed victory dances. The two will then work to develop a workable plan of action that aims to help students achieve their desired results. Though instructors impart a number of tips and tricks for improvement, nothing replaces the tried-and-true methods of hard work and repetition, which locks ideal movements into muscle memory.
Though the name is new, the fundamentals remain unchanged at Octane Raceway. The roar of Honda GLX 270cc engines still rises to the rafters in a 113,000-square-foot indoor space as European Sodi RX7 go-karts reach speeds of up to 45 miles per hour on the same two quarter-mile tracks that won four Best Go Kart Racing awards from the Phoenix New Times' under their former name. After a short safety briefing and proving their eligibility with a valid driver’s license and hip-hop interpretation of the Rules of the Road, racers don a head sock, full face helmet, and optional driving suit before jumping into their appointed vehicle for a 14- to 16-lap race against up to nine opponents. Surrounding television screens display each driver’s finishing place, and best and average lap time, which also appear online.
In addition to playing arcade games, billiards, and practicing drive-by high-fives on a Segway performance course, off-track activities include watching ongoing races from more than 40 TV screens at the Trackside Bar and Grill.