It’s that time of year again—it’s often too hot to wear sweaters during the day time, but too cold to walk around in shorts as the sun starts to set. With the temperature starting to drop and the air beginning to cool, Arizona weather has begun to fluctuate with the changing seasons.
Searching for indoor havens to keep yourself entertained without breaking a sweat or your bank? Here’s a list of some of the best places to check out for indoor group activities in Phoenix.
Alcatraz Escape Games
1290 N. Scottsdale Road #103, Tempe
Hours: Monday to Friday, 3:30 p.m. to 10:15 p.m. | Saturday, 12:30 p.m. to 10:15 p.m. | Sunday, 12:30 p.m. to 8:45 p.m.
Cost: $35-42 per person
Not far from Papago Park in Tempe is Alcatraz Escape Games. Accompanied with Axe Throwing, Alcatraz Escape offers a variety of escape room experiences for date nights, group outings, or team building exercises. Before heading in, guests are encouraged to take a look at the various options offered to get an idea of what to expect from the puzzle solving, riddle working, and mind-boggling mystery within each room.
The escape rooms include an ancient Egyptian mystery “Secrets of the Pharaohs,” the thrilling prison room “The Row,” the fretful “Zombie Panic,” and the one my roommates and I completed, “Wizard Hysteria.” Under a 60-minute countdown, the four of us were immersed within a fantasy world while confined to a room full of puzzles, riddles, potions, creatures, and clues. Our task was to find items we needed to be released from the room.
After using magic, magnets, secret doors, lock-and-keys, and the Standard Book of Spells, my friends and I were able to escape with only 12 minutes remaining. Overall, if you’re searching for an enticing, fast-paced adventure that will force you and your friends to use your imagination, intelligence, and deep-rooted fantasy pop culture knowledge, Alcatraz Escape Games is one of the many keys to unlocking indoor entertainment.
Painting With A Twist
219 E Baseline Road, Suite H3, Tempe
Hours: Monday to Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. | Saturday, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Cost: starting at $35 per person
Within the Mill Towne Center beside delicious food selections is the Painting With A Twist studio in Tempe. Since its surge in popularity, Painting With A Twist has opened its doors to crowds of eager artists for classes on the weekends and pop-in paintings without reservations from Monday to Friday between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. When guests walk in, they’re encouraged to choose from selections of canvases that range from an 11×14 white canvas for $35, a white 16×20 canvas for $38, a decorative asymmetrical shiplap canvas for $45, and several others in different shapes, textures, lengths, and sizes.
After selecting a canvas, painters then select from the Paint With A Twist catalog which painting they want to try their hand. The workers then get you set up with a plate of paint dollops, an apron, brushes, and water cups. While alcohol is not provided before 4 p.m. at the Tempe location and is limited to beer and wine products only, there are several nearby restaurants for guests to quickly BYOB.
Painting With A Twist can be fun among family and friends, or even with the strangers you meet while attempting to get in touch with your inner artist. Drinking and painting may not be for everyone, but even just learning painting techniques and reintroducing yourself to being a kid with colors can be rejuvenating in itself. And if you’re not the most artistic person, don’t worry. Painting With A Twist offers late night group classes, so be sure to reserve a spot online.
Imagine 3D Mini Golf
9180 E. Talking Stick Way #F7, Scottsdale
Hours: Monday to Thursday, 2 p.m. to 9 p.m. | Friday, 2 p.m. to 10 p.m. | Saturday, 12 p.m. to 10 p.m. | Sunday, 12 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Cost: $11.95 with some discounts available
Just off the highway inside the Pavilions at Talking Stick Shopping Center is Imagine 3D Mini Golf. Imagine is a dark indoor mini golf course illuminated by painted glow-in-the-dark murals along the numbered holes. Players are encouraged to take a pair of 3D glasses to create an even trippier experience during their rounds. Once guests grab their putters, their glowing colorful golf balls, and their optional score sheet if they’re feeling competitive, they’re free to start making their way through the glowing maze.
The course takes you through various environments. It begins at a dark castle lit up by a painted dragon with glowing flames spraying out of its mouth as players are surrounded by bricks and knight armor. The courses vary in difficulty as players advance toward a neon, blacklight-lit forest with obstacles like leaves, flowers, and hills, and a moonlit beach with intricately painted unicorns.
Following this fantasy part of the course, players go through an underwater oasis, a radioactive spill, and an out-of-this world alien experience toward the last hole. Beside the end of the course is a series of arcade games to check out after playing a game. Even though I ended up losing my game of mini golf to my friends, we still had an amazing time inside the trippy experience.
Jade & Clover
3939 E. Campbell Ave, Suite 130, Phoenix
Hours: Monday to Sunday, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Cost: $5-10 for cacti and succulents | $8-90 for ceramic pots
Tucked within the snazzy suburbs of central Phoenix is the Jade & Clover Plant Bar. Yes, you read that right—a plant bar where people can pick and choose from $5-10 cacti, aloes, jade plants, and many more succulent plants to place inside of a pot, bowl, or container to create your very own personal terrarium.
Covered from wall-to-wall with colorful art, dangling house plants, and sparkling decor, Jade & Clover is the perfect place to bring your friends and family for an indoor day of learning about the native flora of the Arizona desert. From repotting and decorating mini terrariums with crystals, rocks, and sand, to shopping their special vegetation enriching tools and materials to grow some of your own plants at home, the shop is a green oasis within the desert.
Beside the shelves of clay pots of various shapes, sizes, depths, and color are the various succulent plants, individual decorations like shells, mini-mirror balls, and pressed flowers, and a plethora of rainbow-colored sands to fill the terrariums. Open for reserving private parties in the back and walk-ins at the communal Terrarium Bar at the front, Jade & Clover is a welcoming space to sit and enjoy the beauty of the outdoors from inside.
Phoenix Rock Gym
1353 E. University Drive, Tempe
Hours: Monday to Friday, 3 p.m. to 10 p.m. | Saturday to Sunday, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Cost: $15 per day pass, $5 for gear rental
At Phoenix Rock Gym, you can learn to either boulder or climb while tethered by a rope up any of their 30-foot walls. Experienced and inexperienced climbers of all ages are welcome, so long as you fill out a waiver, watch a quick video, and get a bit of hands-on walkthroughs with the workers first.
If you’re afraid of heights—like I am—I wouldn’t recommend attempting to follow the marked paths up to the very top of the faux-rock walls. However, if you’re looking for a challenge, there are various difficulty levels marked throughout the gym by colored tape, cracks, faces, tugging handles, and jagged rocks protruding from the walls.
For a $15 day pass and $5 each for gear rental, we were fixed with shoes, a harness, and a carabiner. Following orientation, we had a guide talk us through step-by-step how to climb up and bring your partner down. After trial and error, rock climbing was easy enough to get the hang of—just as long as I didn’t go past a certain point and look down. Once you get used to the feeling of free-falling and the uncomfortable harness against your thighs, indoor rock climbing at places like the Phoenix Rock Gym is certainly worth the rush—both physically and from the AC.
Pip Coffee and Clay
2617 N. 24th St., Phoenix
Hours: Monday to Friday, 7:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. | Saturday, 8:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. | Sunday, 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Cost: $55 per person
Looking to get your hands dirty throwing down? There’s no need to go outside when you can book a wheeling session at Pip Coffee and Clay. For $55 a person, guests can take a Beginner Wheeling class and learn from one of the barista/potters on how to throw, sculpt, sponge, and create beautiful potted pieces at the Pip Studio.
Upon entering the building’s cafe, guests are able to drink, eat, mingle, and browse ceramic crafts along the shelves of the lobby. My friend and I grabbed a bagel and an iced chai before heading down the hall toward the studio. Inside, there are a limited number of seats to be reserved, so be sure to book online since the spots can go quickly. Our instructor had us grab our aprons before taking a seat at our wheels, where we proceeded to watch and listen as our instructor took us through the process.
After watching our instructor, we started the process on our own with our teacher giving us tips and pointers along the way. We went through a few mishaps, but ultimately learned how to center our clay, open it, and pull up walls to create our clay dishes. In our two and a half hour class, we were able to complete two pieces and set them off to dry. Before we left the studio, we made sure to select which color glaze we wanted for our pieces and were reminded to come back in three weeks to pick them up. All in all, getting our hands dirty while getting to stay indoors was well worth the time and price at Pip Coffee and Clay.
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