Surprise was little more than a gas station and few small houses in 1938 when founder, Homer Charles Ludden, a Glendale real estate developer and state legislator, subdivided the rural square mile parcel into low-cost home sites for the area's agricultural workers, naming it after his southeast Nebraska hometown. Today, it's a 74-square-mile city on the move.
Flanked by one of Arizona's largest mountain preserves, and situated in the saguaro-dotted Sonoran Desert on the northwestern edge of the Valley of the Sun, it's no "surprise" that Surprise was named Arizona's fastest growing city several times after the 2010 U.S. Census.
It is one of the ten most populous cities in Arizona.
Even the Kansas City Royals and Texas Rangers decided to take up residence here. The once-sleepy square mile farming community surprised just about everyone when it successfully courted the two teams away from their Florida training homes. The Cactus League Spring Training facility and stadium, along with a regional library, aquatic center, recreation center, and 57-acre passive park are the centerpieces of the square-mile-plus downtown development, putting Surprise well on it's way to becoming the playground of the West Valley. If you are driving to Surprise (public transportation options are slim to this area) here are some estimated driving times and mileages from other cities in Greater Phoenix.
Looking for a hotel room nearby? Here are some recommendations for hotels in the Surprise area.
- Looking for some cool and affordable summer fun? Surprise's 10,562-square-foot Aquatics Center takes swimming beyond the box. It includes a 4,700-square foot water play area with zero depth entry, eight-lane competitive pool, diving well with two one-meter boards, two slides, vortex whirlpool, classroom, concessions and more.
- You don't need a huge aquatic center, though, to make the little ones happy. The can have all the cool, summer fun they need at one of Surprise's splash pads.
- Hike or bike to a rare desert waterfall at White Tank Regional Park located on the western edge of Surprise. Waterfall Trail is a very popular and easy hike, suitable for the entire family.
- Hit the greens at one of Surprise's championship golf courses. Cimarron at Sun City Grand, was designed by Greg Nash.
- Play tennis, racquetball and table tennis at the Surprise Tennis and Racquet Complex. They have leagues as well as drop-in tennis. From time to time you can also catch professional exhibition tennis here.
- A one-stop-shop for family entertainment, Uptown Alley has bowling, laser tag and games, as well as a full service restaurant and night life opportunities for the adult crowd.
- Spend a day at Maricopa County's Northwest Regional Library. The $5.5 million, 20,000-square-foot library features a gift shop, and many public access flat screen computers and separate adult, teen and child areas with greenhouse reading rooms overlooking a five-acre lake.
- Enjoy Cactus League Baseball in Surprise! See the Kansas City Royals and Texas Rangers in action at their $48+million, 10,560-seat, multi-use stadium. Spring training baseball games are held during the month of March.
- In the fall, there's more baseball action when the Surprise Saguaros play exhibition Fall League Baseball at Surprise Stadium.
When the holidays roll around, think Surprise. No matter the temperatures, there's always plenty of snow at the City's annual Surprise Party in December, as well as fireworks and fanfare on the Fourth of July.
Enjoy your visit to Surprise, Arizona!