Glendale, Arizona, is a residential community west of Phoenix located in the Northwest part of the Valley of the Sun. While not nearly as busy as its neighboring city, this suburban town still offers visitors plenty of things to do year-round. From touring the historic Cerreta Candy Factory to spending the day with your family relaxing in a public park, there's no shortage of fun to be had in Glendale, if you know where to look.
Known as Glendale's only mountain preserve, Thunderbird Park is located about a mile north of State Route Loop 101 on 59th Avenue. There are roughly 1,000 acres of the desert landscape to discover in Thunderbird Park, and major jogging trails and bike trails criss-cross through the region. However, one of the best ways to see the park in its entirety is to rent a horse and go for a ride on specially marked trails.
Formerly known as the Jobing.com Arena, the Gila River Arena is a multi-use stadium located adjacent to the Westgate Entertainment District of Glendale that is home to Arizona's National Hockey League team, the Arizona Coyotes. In addition to hosting home games for the Coyotes during the regular season from October through April, the arena also hosts a number of concerts and shows throughout the year and can seat up to 19,000 people for each performance. Former headliners for the venue include Cher, Panic! at the Disco, Celine Dion, Childish Gambino, Tool, Sam Smith, and Chance the Rapper. Be sure to check the official website for a full lineup of concerts, shows, and games coming to the Gila River Arena during your trip.
Home of the Arizona Cardinals, the Fiesta Bowl, the Bowl Championship Series, and many conventions and trade shows, the University of Phoenix Stadium is another great destination for sports and leisure year-round. The public can even take a guided tour of the stadium on non-game days. First opened in 2006 as Cardinals Stadium, the University of Phoenix Stadium features a retractable roof and real grass field, the first of its kind in America, and can seat over 72,000 people. Located within walking distance of the Westgate Entertainment District, the stadium is a great stop on a day touring the area's restaurants, bars, and shops.
Formerly known as the Westgate City Center, the Westgate Entertainment District is a shopping and amusement destination adjacent to both stadiums in Glendale. Although there are several stores in the district, it is more known for the restaurants, bars, charming scenery, and entertainment events that take place in venues around the area throughout the year, which include the Westgate Bike Night, Westgate Hot Rod Night, Westgate Wednesdays, and the Fireworks Fest for the Fourth of July. Other entertainment options include movie theaters, a free splash pad, and a variety of local shops.
Camelback Ranch opened in 2009 and is the official Spring Training grounds for both the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Chicago White Sox of Major League Baseball. It also serves as the home stadium for the Arizona Fall League, a Minor League Baseball circuit that takes place in the off-season. During the summer, you can also sign up to join the Adult Baseball Camp, which invites guests to suit up alongside the Los Angeles Dodgers for a week-long training camp led by professional players, coaches, and trainers.
Located along the Agua Fria River on the western border of Glendale, Camelback Ranch can seat up to 13,000 people. In addition, its 141-acre campus is also one of the biggest event destinations in the Phoenix area, which is available for private and corporate rental when Spring Training and the Fall League aren't taking place.
Founded in 1886 by Illinois native William Henry Barlett, Sahuaro Ranch is the oldest ranch in the Valley of the Sun. Listed in the National Register of Historic Places, Sahuaro Ranch is just north of downtown Glendale. The 17-acre property features 17 ranch buildings as well as a lush rose garden, which guests can tour year-round.
Free Historic Main House Tours take place every half hour on Fridays and Saturdays in June and July and on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays from September through May. While on the tour, guests will learn what Arizona ranch life was like for families living there from the late 1800s through the 1930s. Additionally, many special events are also held at the Sahuaro Ranch throughout the year, including the popular Antique Tractor and Engine Show each February.
Located in Historic Downtown Glendale, the Cerreta Candy Company is a family-owned candy factory and store that was the first of its kind to wrap soft candies and the first U.S. company to use cellophane rather than waxed paper for its products. Factory tours are offered Monday through Friday, twice per day, and take about 30 minutes to complete. During the tour, you'll see how this Glendale staple company creates its sweet confections, but even if you just stop by the shop, you'll still be able to see candy being made from the attached facility.
Now a national chain, Cabela's in Glendale is the only one of its kind in the state. Half retailer and half tourist attraction, Cabela's Glendale store comes complete with museum-quality animal displays, huge aquariums, and an indoor archery test area. While the primary purpose of Cabela's is shopping for sporting goods, especially hunting and fishing gear, wandering around this massive retailer is like taking a tour of the natural environment of the Valley of the Sun. Cabela's is located within walking distance of the Gila River Arena and about a mile from the University of Phoenix Stadium.
Although it's technically located just west of Glendale, the White Tank Mountain Regional Park is one of the best destinations for outdoor adventure in the city. Featuring about 21 miles of hiking and biking trails at all levels of difficulty, White Tank Mountain Park covers nearly 30,000 acres of desert and mountain landscape just outside Suprise, Arizona, and is the largest regional park in the country. One of the best trails for all ages, the Waterfall Trail, is a local favorite that leads to Petroglyph Plaza, where guests can look over cave-style drawings dating back between 500 and 900 CE that were left there by the Hohokam people that once inhabited the region.
Considered one of the best demonstration gardens in the state, the Glendale Xeriscape Botanical Garden has over 400 varieties of desert plants on about four acres of land attached to the Glendale Public Library. The walking paths of the garden are open every day and touring them is free of charge. You can also check out listening wands from the library to take a self-guided tour of the grounds. For an added treat, pack a picnic lunch and pick out a good book from the library to read while you soak in the nature of the garden.
First opened in 1993, the Arrowhead Towne Center is located in northern Glendale at 75th Avenue and Bell Road. This two-floor outdoor shopping mall features almost 200 retailers including name-brand department stores and national chains, as well as a food court, free WiFi, and a multi-room AMC Movie Theater. Open year-round, this luxury mall is a great place to spend the afternoon beating the Arizona heat.
Each February, thousands of chocolate lovers descend on Historic Downtown Glendale's Murphy Park for the annual Chocolate Affaire event, the sweetest in the area. Held just before Valentine's Day each year, this popular event features dozens of specialty chocolate vendors, demonstrations, and competitions accompanied by live music entertainment and kids' activities. Admission to the event is free, and many of the booths offer free samples of their products, but there are also numerous traditional food vendors on-site selling snacks and beverages throughout the festivities.
When the winter holidays roll around, Glendale likes to celebrate in a big way; the huge holiday lights display known as Glendale Glitters lasts for about two months. Taking place across Historic Downtown Glendale, this annual festival features over 1.5 million twinkling lights decorating the streets and buildings of the district. Special events for the festival include Enchanted Evening, which features family-oriented activities, rides, crafts, and entertainment, and the Balloon Glow and Block Party. Glendale Glitters kicks off on the Friday after Thanksgiving each year and runs through the second week of January. The holiday lights remain on from 5 to 10 p.m. each night of the event.