Phoenix Area Points of Interest

I always wanted to do my own insider list of points of interest around town.
If you're tired of taking visitors to Rawhide, Bank One Ballpark, Heritage Square,
and (gulp) Arizona Mills Mall, try these. I find these attractions more interesting.
They're also less well known even to locals. E-mail me if you know others!

Fire Station Front
Driving by this building you think you've found an old-fashioned fire station right out of a Norman Rockwell painting, complete with a big red truck and a dalmation. On second glance you see that the whole building is a front, a mural of eye-catching realism. It's the old Thunderbird Fire & Safety Equipment building. This shot was taken in March 2001. It looks like it's up for sale. (go south on 32nd st. from Baseline, East on Roeser about a quarter mile)

World's Largest Kachina
You'd be amazed how few Phoenicians know that they live so near the world's largest Kachina doll. This giant is 39 feet tall and looms over the entrance to the Tonto Hills community. To find it drive north on Scottsdale road until it ends in Cave Creek, then turn right (east) and drive six miles staying left, to the entrance of Tonto Hills. You can't miss it! More information.

World's Second Largest Sundial
Carefree is home to the world's second largest working sundial. I hear that the largest is in India somewhere. This is the largest in the Western Hemisphere anyway at 62 feet and it stands as a reminder that not everything in the world makes good sense. To find it, go all the way north on Scottsdale road until it ends and turn right. Then take quick right into a a small office and tourist area. The sundial is in the center of the street at the intersections of Easy Street, Sunshine Way, and Carefree Drive. More information.

Fifth Avenue Rose Garden
I came across this one night while out bar hopping. It's on Fifth Avenue in Scottsdale just west of Goldwater Blvd. It's a small rose garden filled with well-manicured rose bushes. I first saw it in January when it was in full bloom and I was floored. This shot from March is much less impressive and doesn't show the full size because so few flowers were in bloom. But trust me, at the right time of year take your sweetie here and you'll get all the honey you want!

Squaw Peak Potsway
The pots on the Squaw Peak parkway are just about as goofy as anything in this town. They line the noise abatement walls along the south end of the Squaw Peak freeway (these south of Glendale Ave.) The city got lots of heat for commisioning this 'art' for large amounts of taxpayer dollars. The entertainment value has since subsided as has the local's prank of adding toilets and shopping carts to the collection. But the history and tackiness go on.

Sunny Slope Rock Garden
Before they had the internet, people did all their weird artistic expression in hard cold physicality, in this case with rocks. There's this old house in Sunnyslope in a run-down neighborhood where you can see a man's life work. On my recent visit to get my own pictures I got run off by a toothless kurmudgeon and so I have to settle for these from a web site. It's worth a drive-by if you're in the area (I don't mean shooting, though that may be common there). Go north on Cave Creek road from where it meets Dunlap, turn east on Cinnabar and then a quick left (North) on 13th place. More information.

Mystery Castle
The story of Mystery Castle is one of bygone Phoenix, when folks could settle in a limitless desert and build more or less whatever they fancied without thought of city codes or neighbors' sensibilities. The 18-room, 8,000-square-foot castle was constructed by Boyce Luther Gulley between 1930 and 1945 to satisfy the fairytale fantasies of his young daughter, Mary Lou. She still lives there, conducting tours and recounting how her father filled the castle with antiques and, in the process of fulfilling her dream, regained his health. As befits a fairy fortress, the route to Mystery Castle is a little obscure. Two miles south of the intersection of Baseline Road and S. Central Avenue, turn east on Mineral Road--it will lead you to the castle entrance.--Andrew Means
More information.

Deer Valley Rock Art Center
Here you can see bunches of old petroglyphs (ancient rock drawings) up close. This little-known museum has a quarter mile trail into the Hedgepath Hills where piles of rocks contain well-preserved petroglyphs. The small indoor museum features a video and information about the rock drawings. You can find it about 5 mi. west of I-17 on Deer Valley Road. Admission is only $4. Similar petroglyphs can be found "in the wild" around town if you know where to look, particularly within South Mountain Park. More information.
Photos from my visit 3/28/01.

Largest Fountain
Fountain Hills is home to the world's largest water fountain. The centerpiece of the afluent Fountain Hills community northeast of Phoenix rises dramatically some 560 ft. into the air for 15 minutes at the top of every hour (unless the wind is over 12 mph). And every St. Patrick's Day, the plume is colored a brilliant green! To find it, go to Fountain Hills either by driving up the Beeline Hwy. 87 (north on County Club Rd. from Tempe/Mesa), or up to Shea and then about 12 miles east on Shea. From Shea turn North on Saguaro Blvd which is the first light west of where Shea meets 87 and drive a couple miles North to the park. Turn right at the light onto Panorama Blvd. and park along the street. To view the rainbow, park along Via Del Lago on the other side (south) of the park.
More information.
Photos from my visit 3/28/01.

Hole in the Rock
I love this spot because it's a great place to watch the sunset and it's so close and accessible that I can recommend it to anyone. Even if you have never hiked a mile or climbed on a rock before, there's nothing to be intimidated about. Bring the kids, dogs, and a bottle of good wine. If your great aunt Mildred is in town and you wish you could show her the sunset from the top of Camelback, this is a really practical alternative with a nice payoff. To find it, go North on Galvin Parkway from Van Buren (about 56th st. or so) and take the first right into the zoo and Papago park.
Photos from my visit 3/29/01.

Tovrea Castle
Tovrea Castle (pronounced toe-vray-uh) is one of Phoenix's most visible landmarks. It makes the list because it is either gaudy or is an achitectural wonder depending on who you ask, and because it's had such an interesting history. It was built by an eccentric, acquired by somewhat shady means by another eccentric, and recently bought by yet another eccentric, namely the city of Phoenix. It's currently being renovated as a visitor center. You can find it on the North side of Washington just across the street from the all nude 'Le Girls' and the Castle (adult) Boutique. At night the building is lit with Christmas lights so that it doesn't clash too badly with the neon of the strip club :)
More information.

Largest Inflatable Dam
Until it pops, Tempe's Town Lake has the world's largest inflatable Dam.
More information.

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