An unusual name at the best of times, Surprise (Arizona) was christened as such by Flora Mae Statler who, in 1938, had commented ironically that she “would be surprised if the town ever amounted to much.” Well contrary to her lack of confidence, Surprise grew to a population of approximately 118,000 – as per 2010 – and became the sixth fastest expanding area in the whole of Arizona, now home to a 10,562 sq ft Aquatics Center together with a $5.5 million 20,000 sq ft regional library, and so much more!
Let’s see what other surprises the town might have in this list of the best things to do in Surprise!
1. Surprise Stadium
The Surprise Stadium is popular with locals for many reasons; it’s the spring training home of the Texas rangers and Kansas City Royals, and also home to the Arizona Fall League’s Surprise Saguaros. It was, at one time, also home of the Golden Baseball League’s Surprise Fightin’ Falcons who folded in 2005 after their only season, but nobody’s blaming the stadium for that! It is liked as well for its easy entrance and exit besides being a beautiful park. There is always a generous choice of food, from chicken grills to Mexican and Chinese. The practice areas are separate for each team too. When the AZ Diamondbacks or the Chicago Cubs are in town, try and pre book your tickets!
2. Pick your own breakfast fruit straight from the tree at Truman Ranch II
This could be breakfast with a difference – or any meal of your choice – because every weekend between December and March, Truman Ranch is open to one and all, as a place where you and your family can pick fruit of your own choice from any tree of your choice! All the farm’s fruit is pesticide free and there are hundreds of varieties to choose from, such as the generous variety of grapefruit to juice oranges, tangelo, lemons and more. The kids will have fun picking their own while the rest of the family enjoy mixing with other ranch visitors. You will probably even bump into Mr. Truman himself who loves to discuss the unique flavors of his many fruit varieties.
3. Digiplex Surprise IMAX
Cineplex with 3D & jumbo digital screens shows first-run films, sports events and opera productions, and is thought to be the best in the business (in Surprise) with its excellent sound system, comfortable seating, capable and friendly staff, and a food concession that offers everything from popcorn and chocolate to milkshakes. For better or worse (depends on which way you want to look at it) the latest releases are a little slower to get here, but that also means you won’t be experiencing a great rush with large crowds! For the kids in the family, watch out for fun events like the kids’ summer movie passes.
4. Surprise Aquatic Center
The Aquatic Center is an outdoor swimming area with pools, diving boards and slides as well as a zero depth area for the little ones, that is very well monitored. This is really a great place for kids to get out and play and let off steam and although popular and therefore always fairly busy, there are plenty of lifeguards on duty as well as courteous staff when you need. There are shaded bleachers to sit on so the family doesn’t have to sit in the constant sunshine! There is also a snack bar serving light meals and refreshments.
5. Paint and pot at the Mad Platter
For all the creatives in the family, treat yourselves by a visit to the Mad Platter, a family owned and operated paint your own pottery studio here in downtown Surprise.
This activity based pottery store & studio specializes in paint-your-own pottery classes & events, and is home to a huge variety of paints and products along with very friendly staff to help you decide where you think your talents might lie! The Mad Platter is a perfect venue for every age, and you’ll be encouraged to try your hand at whatever masterpiece you have in mind!
6. Tennis & Racquet Complex
The Surprise Tennis & Racquet Complex was awarded the 2008 USTA Outstanding Facility award and is a wonderful location for all tennis and racquet fans. It is home to 25 courts (17 of them lighted) and is open seven days a week. There are also two racquetball courts, free use of table tennis tables (including paddles and balls), all within a 2,500 seat arena. The complex is well known for featuring up and coming world tennis players as well as university level tournaments. Kids are very welcome too and there are even junior lessons available for the future John Mcenroe’s of the family!
7. Uptown Alley
Uptown Alley is a fun location for both family and friends and anyone who loves bowling! The venue has 40 lanes of state of the art bowling, a sports theater, billiards, laser tag, 80 video games, live entertainment and a clean and casual full service restaurant as well as two high energy bars, so something to please everyone, I think!
So, while some of the family is happily bowling, the kids can amuse themselves in the large game room close by that is home to the videos and games. A perfect time to be had for everyone!
8. Wildlife World Zoo Litchfield Park
A short drive away from Sunrise (just under 10 miles) will take you to the Litchfield Park Wildlife World Zoo, made up of 95 acres of 3000 fascinating animals, of which there are 600 different species! The zoo specializes in South American and African animals so is full of exotic animals including African Lions, Springbok, Ostrich, African Warthogs, Olive Baboons, Spotted Hyena and many more. And if that wasn’t enough to keep the kids amused, there is also Dragon World housing some Sail Fin Dragons, Gila Monsters, Green Anacondas, and Bearded Dragon. Ask yourselves; where else in the Phoenix area can you get your hand licked by a giraffe or hand feed a Lory Parrot? Remember to bring cash as the zoo does not take credit card payment.
9. Granite Falls Golf Club
This venue has always been a popular one, and is even more so since the golf club added the South Course in 2000. Why not drop by when you’re visiting Surprise to experience it yourself? This course has more than generous fairways within 10,000 square foot greens that are well liked by golfers of all levels. And if you don’t want to expose yourself to the midday heat, you can always play “Super Twilight”, which is set up for play after 3.00 pm when prices are reduced. The clean and well stocked snack bar offers a good choice of hot dogs and other snacks as well as beer, wine and soft drinks, at very reasonable prices.
10. Massage Envy Spa
For a real treat, drop into the Massage Envy Spa and let the experts iron out all your aches and pains, or simply indulge in an invigorating facial. The spa use Murad Healthy Skin facials which will give your skin a real boost and leave you looking and feeling refreshed and rested. If you’re interested in massage, discuss which one is right for you; for chronic pain relief you could opt for the Trigger Point Therapy which alleviates the source of pain. Other choices include Sports massages, Deep Tissue massage that targets knots, or a simple Swedish massage, which helps to increase oxygen levels in your blood, all part and parcel of your well being.
11. Indigo Tours AZ – Day Tours
While you’re here in this lovely area you and your family won’t want to miss any local attractions! Take an Indigo Tour day trip and see the areas you may have otherwise skipped. Your choices include visits to local museums, festivals, sporting events and lots more. Venture a little out of the area and discover the awesome Grand Canyon which includes touring the wonderful red rock of Oak Creek Canyon and Sedona, and a visit to a Navajo Trading Post. There is a generous choice of tours available so drop by and have a chat to organize an unforgettable family day out.
12. Pitchfork Farmers Market
A relatively new venue, this farmers market is guaranteed to please all lovers of fresh fruit and vegetables at reasonable prices! The instigator of this fabulous market is Ms. Shaw, who has brought together her culinary background in confectionary, pastry and Cajun and Creole cuisine in order to offer a marvelous variety of goodies for you to enjoy. Originally from Louisiana, Ms. Shaw wanted to bring the farmers market ‘vibe’ to Surprise, so expect plenty of goods with a difference, including health and wellbeing products, sweet treats, baked goods and lots more besides. Pitchfork Farmers Market will be open every Saturday from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.
13. The Irish Wolfhound Restaurant & Pub
If there is any Irish blood in the family – and even if there isn’t! – enjoy a few hours of Irish hospitality and convivial company at this Irish pub, together with a good pint, carefully served to you by the pub’s experienced and friendly staff. Enjoy the choice of their traditional Irish menu and, if you’re there on a Friday or Saturday evening, you’re in for a treat as the pub puts on a grand show of karaoke, or live music, offering anything and everything from rock and roll to blues to Celtic. You and your family or friends will certainly enjoy the “Craic”!