Editor’s Note: SportsCenter reporter Pedro Gomez @pedrogomezESPN has lived in the Phoenix area since 1997. With a deep knowledge of the area, Gomez offers visitors to his region some tips for things to do beyond the big game on Sunday. “This truly is an area with a new generation of people coming in droves every year,” said Gomez, a native of Miami. “There’s a reason so many sporting events and athletes love to call the Valley home; it’s a spectacular area only underscored by the number of big-ticket events that love returning to the metro Phoenix area.
Here are a few of my favorite things (and some not at the top of my list but still worth mentioning) about our state and the Valley of the Sun.”
Pedro’s best golf course:
“Maricopa County is known for having more golf courses than any other county in the country and with good reason. We get about seven inches of rain per calendar year, making this one of the most arid places in the U.S., which, of course, means more time on the golf course. This is kind of a trick question, because if you drive about five minutes, chances are you will run into a pretty good course. But if you have to pick one, it would be the TPC Scottsdale. Of course, it will be impossible to simply walk out and play this week because of the Waste Management Phoenix Open taking place at the same time. Unless, of course, you have a PGA Tour Card.”
Pedro’s choice for a long drive:
“The famous line from the Eagles song, ‘Take It Easy,’ is one of Arizona’s most iconic lyrics. Winslow is about a 3-1/2-hour drive from Phoenix. Head straight up I-17 then east on I-40 and take Exit 257 and head a few miles north and you, too, can be ‘standin’ on a corner in Winslow, Arizona’. Winslow is on the original and historic Route 66. Be sure to be on the lookout for any girls in flatbed Fords who might be slowin’ down to take a look at you!”
— Kelly (@KLSouth) January 23, 2015
Pedro’s choice for a short drive:
“If you have a few hours, head straight up I-17 about 100 miles and take Exit 298. Then head west about 15 miles and you’re right in the vortex known as Sedona. The red rocks that surround this area are right out of the cartoons with the Roadrunner and the Coyote. Many who have visited have spoken of the mysterious energy that abounds in Sedona. The Native Americans openly speak of Sedona’s powers and many who have visited are certain they’ve felt the presence. It’s a fabulous half-day trip.”
Pedro’s souvenir suggestion:
“It may seem like a cliché, but a small cactus in your home in the winter will always make you remember the time you came to the Valley and actually wore shorts outside in January. It should bring a warm smile to your face every time you see it and requires very little maintenance.
“Additionally, if you want to see some of the famed Saguaro cacti (like the one above), the Desert Botanical Garden near the Papago Buttes certainly has more than its share. If you can take a short drive, head to the Beeline Highway in east Scottsdale. It’s a fantastic highway that heads north to Payson and is filled with Saguaros, almost to the point that it seems unreal. But you have to get out of town about an hour to see the area overflowing with Saguaros.”
Check back tomorrow for four more recommendations from Pedro.