Group of bats flying in the nighttime sky

5 weird and unexpected Phoenix activities you probably haven’t tried

A longtime local takes us through the underground Phoenix activities you may not know about.

Phoenix is known for a lot of things: plentiful sunshine, the iconic saguaro cactus, glorious mountains, breathtaking hikes, amazing sunsets, delicious Mexican food, world-class golf courses, excellent shopping, and five-star resorts and spas — but that’s just scratching the surface. Phoenix has even more to discover, including this handful of totally unexpected activities you might not even know about that are perfect for your next date night, family outing, or weekend exploration. 

Stroll Through a Japanese Garden

Many visitors and locals alike have no idea that in the center of Phoenix lies an oasis called Rohoen. This traditional Japanese garden transports the essence of Japanese culture and philosophy to the Sonoran Desert — it was a joint project of the City of Phoenix with Sister City Himeji, Japan. This public garden spans 3.5 tranquil acres, featuring a 14-foot waterfall, a koi pond with more than 300 colorful fish, stone footbridges, lanterns, 1,500 hand-picked rocks, and more than 85 varieties of plants. 

It’s designed to be a space of meditation and contemplation. However, walk-in docent-led tours (free with admission) are available every Tuesday and Saturday at 11 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. Tea tours are available on select Tuesdays, where visitors can learn the basics of Chanoyu and Japanese casual tea and indulge in a tea tasting service in the Tea House. The garden hosts various cultural experiences throughout the year, such as an art and sake celebration, a bonsai and pottery exhibit, and origami workshops. 

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Eat Pizza While Listening to the World’s Largest Organ

Believe it or not, Phoenix is home to the “Mighty Wurlitzer,” the world’s largest and most valuable theater organ — it’s worth more than $6 million. Originally built for the Denver Theatre in 1927, where it was used until the early 1930s, it was relocated to Mesa more than 50 years ago. The 18,000-square-foot Organ Stop Pizza restaurant was designed specifically to enhance the Wurlitzer’s sound, with 46-foot ceilings providing unparalleled acoustics.  

Each night, the 6,000+ pipes, numerous percussions, and countless traps are masterfully played by world-class organists — patrons dine on pizza, pasta, a salad bar, mozzarella sticks, and hand-packed ice cream while listening to the thunderous sounds of the organ. Some popular songs include the Star Wars opening theme, The Flight of the Bumblebee, The Circle of Life from the Lion King, and even current pop chart-toppers. The organists take requests and happily cater to the roughly 300,000 annual dinner patrons. 

Tour a Nearly-100-Year-Old Castle

If you thought you’d have to travel all the way to Europe to see a castle, you’re in luck: Tovrea Castle at Carraro Heights is located on Van Buren Street, and it’s open for public tours. You’ve probably seen it from the Red Mountain Freeway or possibly while flying into Sky Harbor Airport — the four-story, 5,000-square-foot wedding cake-shaped building perched atop a hill is hard to miss. 

Built in 1928, Tovrea Castle is a Phoenix Point of Pride and is on the National Register of Historic Places. The docent-led tour winds through 44 acres, including the grounds and cactus gardens with over 500 species of flora and the main floor and basement of the castle (the site is not available to explore without a tour, and tours must be booked in advance through a lottery system). 

Take a Ride on a Pullman-Inspired Train Car

You probably know about the Grand Canyon Railway and the Verde Canyon Railroad, but did you know there’s a train car in Arcadia waiting for you to climb aboard? Century Grand on Indian School — which was named the best U.S. cocktail bar in 2023 — houses three turn-of-the-century cocktail bar concepts: New Orleans-inspired apothecary-style Grey Hen Rx, subterranean-themed UnderTow serving up tiki-style drinks, and Platform 18, which is designed to resemble a luxury railroad cabin from the 1920s. 

Immersive TV screens displayed throughout the train car show footage of passing landscapes (such as the Louisiana Bayou), so you feel as though you’re actually on a moving adventure as you sip craft cocktails with imaginative ingredients. Enjoy the 90-minute journey with 36 other “passengers” before your train pulls into the station — the conductor will let you know that’s your stop.  

Watch thousands of bats take flight from a tunnel

Scorpions, rattlesnakes, and javelina are practically old news once you hear about the thousands of Mexican free-tailed bats that take flight every summer evening around dusk (they are nocturnal, so when they are done with their daytime nap, it’s time to forage for insects). At least five thousand of them live in a flood-control tunnel near 40th Street and Camelback Road, and it’s a surprisingly family-friendly experience to witness them exit in droves. 

The Arizona Game and Fish Department is involved in their conservation efforts, including educating the public on the importance of bats. The path to the tunnel alongside the canal near Chelsea’s Kitchen isn’t the easiest to find, so thankfully, there’s a location saved on Google Maps labeled “Phoenix Bat Cave.” 

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Singer on a stage in front of a full crowd

7 can’t-miss concerts coming to Atlanta this spring

Get your tickets now to these buzzy concerts and tours that are coming to the Atlanta area this season.

Atlanta has always been known for its vibrant music scene, and there’s no shortage of chart-topping artists and rising stars stopping here over the next few months. Whether you’re a fan of rock, hip-hop, indie, or even musical theater, our city has live shows for everyone this season. From iconic venues to intimate spaces, here are seven must-see concerts that promise to elevate your springtime experience.

André 3000 at Variety Playhouse

March 1, 2024

André 3000 is a beloved artist in Atlanta, known as one-half of the iconic group OutKast. He recently released his first solo album in 20 years, “New Blue Sun.” The wind-focused, instrumental album marks a new phase in André’s creative journey. You won’t want to miss this. FYI: No phones will be allowed during the show. Upon arrival, all phones will be secured in Yondr pouches and only unlocked at the event’s end.

Variety Playhouse, Tickets on sale now

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Sleater-Kinney at the Eastern

March 9, 2024

Sleater-Kinney, the American rock band consisting of Corin Tucker and Carrie Brownstein, released their 11th studio album, “Little Rope,” this past January. The album is inspired by the untimely passing of Brownstein’s mother and stepfather, who tragically lost their lives after a car accident while in Italy in 2022. After years of legendary collaboration, the duo sounds bigger and bolder than ever. See them in an intimate show at the Eastern this March.

The Eastern, Tickets on sale now

Nicki Minaj at State Farm Arena

March 20-21, 2024

If you missed Nicki Minaj when she was here in December 2023, you’re in luck. The female rapper with the most solo Top 10 albums in Billboard 200 history brings her world tour back to Atlanta to celebrate the release of her fifth studio album, “Pink Friday 2.” The new album, released in December, includes collaborations with Drake, Lil Wayne, J. Cole, Future, and many others. Catch one or both nights of her Atlanta stop at State Farm Arena in downtown Atlanta. 

State Farm Arena, Tickets on sale now

Offset at the Coca-Cola Roxy 

April 10, 2024

Atlanta-born rapper Offset will embark on his first solo tour this spring, concluding with a performance at the Coca-Cola Roxy. The tour is named after his sophomore album, “Set It Off,” which features several high-profile collabs, including Travis Scott, Cardi B, Future, and more. Don’t be surprised if a special guest or two drops by the Battery to join him on stage. 

The Coca-Cola Roxy, Tickets on sale now

SIX at the Fox Theatre

Apr 16-21, 2024

Award-winning Broadway musical SIX is coming to Atlanta in all its bedazzled glory this spring. The show presents a modern retelling of the lives of Henry VIII’s six wives in the form of a pop concert. They take the stage and remix five hundred years of historical heartbreak into a euphoric musical celebration of 21st-century girl power.

The Fox Theatre, Tickets on sale now

The Postal Service & Death Cab for Cutie at Ameris Bank Amphitheatre

April 23, 2024

If you’re feeling nostalgic, it happens to be the 20th anniversary of two of the best indie rock albums of the early 2000s — “Transatlanticism” by Death Cab for Cutie and “Give Up” by The Postal Service. The bands are coming back to Atlanta to perform their groundbreaking albums with a co-headlining tour that features frontman Ben Gibbard doing both sets. Slow Pulp is set to open the show. Head to Alpharetta to catch them live at Ameris Bank Amphitheatre.

Ameris Bank Amphitheatre at Encore Park, Tickets on sale now

Shaky Knees Music Festival

May 3-5, 2024

The Shaky Knees Music Festival offers a weekend music lineup of over 60 indie rock bands, including Arcade Fire, Foo Fighters, Weezer, The Offspring, Young the Giant, Portugal the Man, The Revivalists, and All Them Witches. Plan on grabbing a bite from the festival’s many food trucks, serving everything from classic southern BBQ to vegan corn dogs. Set against the backdrop of Central Park in Old Fourth Ward, you can dance to your favorite bands while soaking in the breathtaking views of the city skyline. It’s the perfect way to spend a spring weekend in ATL.

Central Park, Tickets on sale now

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A table filled with vibrant drinks

Where to find the absolute best margaritas in Dallas – Fort Worth

In honor of National Margarita Day, we help Texans find top-shelf options across DFW. From award-winning classics to innovative concoctions, dive into the best margaritas in Dallas.

In the heart of Dallas, margaritas are the drink of choice. Whether you prefer the lively atmosphere of Gloria’s Latin Cuisine or the innovative blends at El Bolero Cocina Mexicana, Dallas has a diverse and vibrant margarita scene that will captivate your senses. Here’s where to indulge.

Las Palmas Tex-Mex 

2708 Routh St, Dallas, Texas 75201

Located at the heart of Uptown Dallas, Las Palmas Tex-Mex offers a relaxed atmosphere and delicious cocktails. The LP Spicy Margarita, a blend of blanco tequila, jalapeno, dry curacao, lime, and agave, provides a tantalizing kick that perfectly complements the restaurant’s flavorful cuisine. Whether you are unwinding on the patio or socializing at the bar, Las Palmas guarantees a memorable dining experience filled with warmth, hospitality, and some of the best margs in the Uptown neighborhood.

Gloria’s Latin Cuisine

Multiple locations

This beloved micro-chain restaurant has locations across Texas, including Dallas, Fort Worth, Austin, Houston, and San Antonio. And while Gloria’s is known for its lively atmosphere and delicious complimentary black bean dip, it’s the strong margaritas that put this place on the map. The award-winning margarita, made with 100% Agave Monte Alban Reposado Tequila and Gran Gala Orange Liqueur, is a stand-out choice that delivers a refreshing burst of flavors with every sip. If you’re in the mood for something a bit fruitier, try the mango or strawberry margaritas for a playful surge of sweetness. 

Mi Cocina

Multiple locations 

Mi Cocina, founded in Dallas in 1991, is an essential destination for Tex-Mex dining in DFW. When talking about the best margaritas in Dallas, it would be unfair not to mention the Mambo Taxi. This frozen margarita is blended with Sauza Silver tequila, lime juice, and house-made sangria with pinot noir, brandy, and fruit juice. However, be warned that you should not drink more than two. (Trust us.)

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E Bar Tex-Mex 

1901 N Haskell Ave, Dallas, TX 75204

E Bar Tex-Mex is known for its comfortable neighborhood vibe and delicious margaritas. The top-shelf margarita, made with reposado tequila, Grand Marnier, and house-made sweet and sour, is a definite crowd-pleaser. We also recommend the Mexican martini made with tequila, fresh lime juice, Grand Marnier, and olives (for garnish). While the margaritas are excellent on their own, they can be used to wash down a wide range of delicious Tex-Mex dishes.

Mariano’s Hacienda Ranch

Multiple locations 

No discussion of margaritas in Dallas can be considered complete without mentioning Mariano’s Hacienda Ranch. This beloved institution is known for pioneering the frozen margarita machine in 1971. (True story that the frozen margarita was invented in Dallas!) The Original Frozen is a classic and a must-try, but those seeking something with more kick should opt for The Mariano, made with Don Julio reposado, fresh lime, and Cointreau. 

El Bolero Cocina Mexicana 

1201 Oak Lawn Ave #160, Dallas, TX 75207

Embark on a journey of flavor and flair at El Bolero Cocina Mexicana, located in the Design District. This restaurant is known for its inventive margaritas that cater to every palate. You can try the bold Oilman Margarita, which features activated charcoal and a gold salt rim, or go for something a bit sweeter, like the cotton candy or red dragon fruit margaritas. Bonus: House margaritas are $8 on Mondays.

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