If you're like us, chances are you'll be venturing up to Phoenix at some point around Christmas and New Year's to visit with family and friends.
And while you love your people, maybe you don't want to spend every second of your visit cooped up in the house.
You could make the Tucson-obligatory trip to IKEA or climb Camelback Mountain, but then what are you supposed to do with yourself?
It pains us to say this, because we love Tucson with the passion of 1,000 summery suns, but there are actually some fun, unique things to do in Phoenix. For reals.
Organ Stop Pizza
Organ Stop Pizza, 1149 E. Southern Ave. in Mesa, is home to the Mighty Wurlitzer, one of the largest pipe organs in the world. This thing is massive with nearly 6,000 pipes! Guests of the restaurant are entertained by an organist playing traditional and popular songs on a stage that moves.
Musical Instrument Museum
At the Musical Instrument Museum, 4725 E. Mayo Blvd. in Phoenix, you'll find more than 7,000 instruments from all over the world. But you're not just looking. Technology allows you to hear and see these instruments played in their country of origin, and the Experience Gallery allows you to try your own hand at an instrument or two. There are also interactive kids activities. Admission is $20 for adults, $15 for teens ages 13-19, $10 for kids 4-12 and free for kids 3 and under.
Amazon just opened a physical book store in Scottsdale. Amazon Books, 15059 N. Scottsdale Road, sells books, electronics, toys, games, smart home products and other popular buys from Amazon.com. The site says it selects books for the physical stores by looking at factors including its own customer ratings and popularity on the website Goodreads. Most of the books in the store have four stars or more. We cannot lie. We are intrigued.
Legoland Discovery Center Arizona
This indoor Lego playground at 5000 S. Arizona Mills Circle in Tempe has two rides, 10 Lego build and play zones and a 4D cinema. There is also a cool dinosaur-themed exhibit for the dino lover in your family. Buy your tickets online in advance, so you don't have to do more waiting than necessary. Tickets cost $17.95 online but may vary in price.
This interactive art exhibition in the Scottsdale Fashion Square claims that the artists of the current show "Elsewhere" will "prompt us to question our reality" with art that offers "glimpses into what else there can be." These art displays are both thought-provoking and Instagram-worthy, with rooms full of dangling lights or lined with mirrors. Tickets for Wonderspaces Arizona, 7014 E. Camelback Road, cost $24 for adults, $20 for seniors, students and military and $15 for kids ages 3-12.
Great Wolf Lodge Arizona
This national resort company just opened its first Arizona location this fall. Great Wolf Lodge Arizona, 7333 N. Pima Road in Scottsdale, is a resort with a mega water park inside, along with other activities including a ropes course. You'll have to stay the night to get access to the water park, but some other amenities are open to the public.
MacAlpine's Diner and Soda Fountain
Get a side of history with your fries and shake. In 1938, Fred MacAlpine purchased the pharmacy at this location and gave it his name, serving malts, ice cream sodas and shakes at the soda fountain, according to the restaurant website. Guests can pick songs from the juke box, shop for antiques and vintage goodies or order from the full service menu. The restaurant is at 2303 N. Seventh St. in Phoenix.
Our food writer Andi Berlin says this new cocktail bar in Phoenix has been getting a lot of buzz. Century Grand, 3626 E. Indian School Road, immerses visitors in a historic train station with three concepts. Century Grand serves drinks and food, dim-sum style. The Grey Hen is both a whiskey bottle shop and bar. And Platform 18 — which sounds amazing — invites customers to a cocktail bar that looks like the interior of a fancy train car, complete with window-like screens to document the journey. Reservations are recommended.
Spend a few hours under the sea at this aquarium at 9500 E. Via de Ventura, Scottsdale. You'll get to touch sting rays, watch penguins and descend through an underwater tunnel as sharks swim above you. Other experiences you can pay a little extra for include shark tours, penguin interactions and underwater ocean walking. Daily tickets to the aquarium cost around $37.95 for adults and $27.95 for children online.
This might be the sweetest way to spend an hour. Like Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory come to life, this pop up art exhibit transports you through a museum of candy creations, including a marshmallow pool you can play in and candy sculptures. Just look up Candytopia on Instagram. It's everywhere. While you can't eat the art displays themselves, you will get samples throughout. Candytopia, 15147 N. Scottsdale Road, is in Scottsdale until March. Tickets cost $28 for adults and $20 for kids ages 4-12.