Where Hawks fans can party, eat and drink in Arizona
Here’s a rundown on concerts, football expos and other events around Phoenix for Seahawks fans headed to the Super Bowl, plus tips on where to restaurants, pubs and more.
Seattle Times features editor
Northwest travel guides
Whether you have a ticket for the big game or not, you’ll find plenty to see and do around Phoenix in the days before the Super Bowl. Fan fun and events will unfold in downtown Phoenix and two outlying areas, tony Scottsdale (about 20 miles northeast) and the sprawling suburban fringes of Glendale (10 miles northwest), where the Seahawks will play in the Super Bowl on Feb. 1.
Here’s what you can expect in all three locales, plus tips on where to eat, drink and — when you need a personal timeout — take a break.
Beginning Jan. 28, a dozen city blocks will be transformed into an outdoor fun zone, called Super Bowl Central (azsuperbowl.com/verizon-super-bowl-central). Live concerts by local and national artists — including headliners The Roots on Jan. 31 — are scheduled for one stage, while NFL alumni will appear and sign autographs on another.
Several TV shows and networks will broadcast live from the area (the “Today” show, NFL Network, MSNBC, CNN), and activities include ice skating, interactive exhibits and a rock-wall climbing attraction built to look like the Grand Canyon. Most everything within Super Bowl Central is free, except for the Grand Canyon Experience, which costs $5.
Nearby, GMC is sponsoring an expo called the NFL Experience, Jan. 24-Feb. 1, with games (e.g., kick a field goal through NFL uprights), displays of memorabilia, NFL-player autograph stations and a chance to view the Vince Lombardi Trophy (nfl.com/superbowl/49/events, $35 adults, $20 children). And the Arizona Science Center will have 200 items from the Pro Football Hall of Fame on display in a Jan. 24-May 3 show, “Gridiron Glory” (azscience.org/exhibits_activities, $11.95-$16.95).
How to get around
Super Bowl Central itself is easily walkable if you’re able-bodied. You could also consider using one of the hundreds of bicycles that Grid Bike Share makes available in the area for a small fee (gridbikes.com). Valley Metro, which operates light rail and bus routes throughout the region, is offering extended hours, enhanced service and — to help you avoid lines at ticket kiosks — multiday passes (valleymetrosb.com).
Where to eat and drink
Locals will point you toward Seamus McCaffrey’s, a centrally located Irish pub with a long menu (including Corned Beef and Cabbage and Irish Stew) and a decent selection of draft beers. At 18 W. Monroe St. (602-253-6081 or seamusmccaffreys.com).
With kids, head to one of the small, outdoor malls at either end of Super Bowl Central: Arizona Center (arizonacenter.com) at 400 E. Van Buren St., which has a number of reasonably priced eateries in a pleasant setting including My Big Fat Greek Restaurant and Canyon Café; or CityScape Phoenix (cityscapephoenix.com) at 1 E. Washington St., which offers just-gotta-eat fast food (Jimmy John’s, Chipotle and more) plus a few more upscale seasonal-food-and-craft-cocktail spots such as Blue Hound.
Arizona Center and CityScape offer your best take-five options as well (see above). Nestled next to Arizona Center is a parklike plaza, with palm-shaded pathways, ponds and benches where you can score a few minutes’ rest. At CityScape you’ll find chairs and tables, water features for kids to play in and an outdoor ice rink — a welcome curiosity in this desert city.
Also, while you’re downtown, visit with one of the orange-vested Downtown Phoenix Ambassadors at the information center at 101 N. First Ave. They offer friendly help with everything from making dinner reservations to jumping your car (602-495-1500 or downtownphoenix.com/ambassadors).
Scottsdale is ready to party for the big game, with nightly block parties (and more) now through Jan. 31 (biggameinscottsdale.com). And the Scottsdale Civic Center Park will host the 1st and Ten Kickoff Concert and Party — nights of rock, pop, hip-hop and more Jan 29-31 (1standTenKickOff.com).
Upscale Scottsdale also is all about good living. Accordingly, a free outdoor Fan Fest focuses on lifestyle events, such as cooking demonstrations and fashion shows, adjacent to Scottsdale Fashion Square mall beginning Jan. 26. An NFL Wives Fashion Show is slated for Jan. 30. And ESPN will broadcast live from the mall for the week leading up to the game (fanfestscottsdale.com).
How to get around
If you’re staying in or anywhere near Scottsdale, there are free trolleys that can take you most places. They circulate through Scottsdale’s most-frequented neighborhoods, including Old Town, the 5th Avenue shopping district, Paradise Valley resorts, Fashion Square and more (scottsdaleaz.gov/trolley).
Where to eat and drink
Several pubs in the Scottsdale area fashion themselves as Seahawks bars, but the most established is the Skeptical Chymist on North Pima Road. It has indoor/outdoor seating, multiple screens, good food and a broad selection of microbrews on tap (“Just like Seattle, people tell me,” says proprietor Trevor Kingston, a native of County Cork, Ireland). It’s also got a decibel gauge on the wall that hit 170 the day of the Seahawks miracle win against Green Bay.
Numerous events are scheduled for game week at the Chymist and its sister pub in Chandler, Ariz., Fibber Magees, including visits from the Sea Gals and Blue Thunder drum line, and a big outdoor game zone on Super Bowl Sunday. The Chymist is at 15688 N. Pima Road (480-609-8677 or skepticalchymist.com). It’s a must be seen to be believed 12th Nation outpost for any visiting Seahawks fan.
12th Men and Women will also find plenty of good company at The Wasted Grain, which — unlike the Skeptical Chymist — is within walking range of most of downtown Scottsdale (7295 E. Stetson Drive, 480-970-0500 or wastedgrain.com).
The miles-long Arizona Canal cuts through the center of Scottsdale, affording residents and visitors a lovely, long walking and jogging path. Along the way, a terraced plaza at East Sixth Avenue and Stetson Drive (in the 5th Avenue shopping district) offers public seating and cascading water, with several cafes and bars nearby; and the Soleri Bridge, which crosses the canal at Scottsdale Road, offers a glimpse of the legacy of one of the region’s most influential architects, Paolo Soleri.
This will be the epicenter of Super Bowl XLIX, when the Seahawks meet the New England Patriots at University of Phoenix Stadium on Feb. 1. at 4:30 p.m. Mountain time (3:30 p.m. Pacific).
Leading up to that will be a huge, three-day Super Fan Festival next to the stadium, Jan. 28-30, with mechanical bulls, a zip line, appearances by Hall of Famers and concerts by artists including Snoop Dogg, Imagine Dragons and Zac Brown Band. Expect to pay at least $100 daily to attend. stubhub.com/directv
On the better end of the affordability spectrum, the five-day Super Music Series free concert series begins Jan. 28 at Westgate Entertainment District, the commercial area that abuts the stadium. Los Lobos kicks things off on Wednesday; other acts include Chainsmokers, Eli Young Band, Dramarama, Naked Eyes and Kianna Martinez. For details, see westgateaz.com/supermusic.
How to get around
The area surrounding University of Phoenix Stadium typifies American mall-sprawl. Many people will drive there; officials estimate the trip from Phoenix, which customarily takes 20 or 30 minutes, could take closer to two hours on game day. An alternative is Valley Metro’s expanded bus service, which might reduce stress if not time in traffic.
Where to eat and drink
Glendale’s Westgate Entertainment District boasts about 20 eateries. Don’t expect epicurean miracles: It’s a mall. The upside is there’s a restaurant for any craving, from Mexican to Japanese to pizza to burgers, barbecue and beyond. Find a complete list at westgateaz.com/dine/dining-guide.
If you have time and transportation, and prefer a less corporatized eating experience, consider heading five miles east to the heart of Glendale, with its attractive historic areas. A long list of Glendale restaurants is at visitglendale.com/dine.
Looking for a contemplative moment near the stadium in the week before the Super Bowl? Good luck with that. But you might find entertainment of a different sort at a football-related Associated Press photo exhibit called “Super Moments, Superstars, Super Game” at Gallery Glendale at Westgate. Or if you really need a break, pop into the AMC Westgate 20 movie theater to catch up on your Oscar viewing.
Lynn Jacobson, email@example.com