FMCA members will gather in the sunny Southwest to celebrate the association’s 95th International Convention.
By Peggy Jordan, Associate Editor
Phoenix rises from the Arizona desert in an unassuming way. Tall buildings are scarce; the highest has 40 floors. But what it lacks in height, it more than makes up for in breadth. Its suburban area is exponentially bigger than its downtown. One of those areas, southeast of Phoenix, is the city of Chandler.
- Phoenix Premium Outlets, off the same exit as the Wild Horse Pass Hotel & Casino. It boasts brand-name stores such as Ralph Lauren. www.premiumoutlets.com/outlet/phoenix/; (480) 639-1766.
- The Arizona Railway Museum, open only on Saturday and Sunday afternoons from noon to 4:00 p.m. It has free admission to its outside train car display area and a museum with smaller artifacts. A small fee is charged to tour the inside of the rail cars, which include original passenger cars and a caboose. For more info: www.azrymuseum.org; (480) 821-1108.
- The Chandler Museum at McCullough-Price House, which also has free admission and is open Tuesday-Saturday, 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. The pueblo-revival style home was built in the late 1930s. Inside, the museum displays, among other mementos, an example of a quirky Chandler tradition: a community Christmas tree made from tumbleweeds. Learn how and why it was invented! Info: www.chandlermuseum.org; (480) 782-2717.
- The Eddie Basha Collection’s fabulous paintings of cowboys, horses, Indians, and desert views; plus baskets, sculptures, and jewelry at the Zelma Basha Salmeri Gallery. Admission to this collection is free. See www.eddiebashacollection.com; (480) 895-5230. . Hours are Monday through Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Gilbert, Mesa, Phoenix
- Many species of birds can be seen on and around the seven ponds at 110-acre Riparian Preserve at Water Ranch. Wheelchairs and strollers can be used on the paved paths, and dogs are permitted on leash. Visit www.goo.gl/NyD5By; (480) 503-6234.
- Commemorative Air Force Airbase Arizona has beautifully restored World War II planes, several of which take on passengers. If you’ve ever wanted to fly in an old warbird, this is your chance. A museum is on-site as well. Info: www.azcaf.org; (480) 924-1940.
- See and hear one of the largest Wurlitzer pipe organs in the world at Organ Stop Pizza. The theater organ was built in the 1920s, has nearly 6,000 pipes, and is played by skilled musicians. Yes, they take requests! Group reservations are accepted for lunch and dinner. Info: www.organstoppizza.com; (480) 813-5700.
- Chicago Cubs and Oakland Athletics baseball. Mesa has two Cactus League (spring training) Major League Baseball stadiums, where you can watch the best players in the warmth (and lower ticket prices) of Arizona. Many more Cactus League stadiums are in Tempe, Scottsdale, Goodyear, and all around Phoenix; for a complete list, see www.cactusleague.com.
- The award-winning Musical Instrument Museum, north of downtown Phoenix, displays instruments from all over the world and lets visitors hear them, too. Besides exhibits, the museum has a concert hall for live performances, a café, and free parking. Info: www.mim.org; (480) 478-6000.
- It will be springtime at the Desert Botanical Garden when FMCA members are in town; so much the better to see a rainbow of colorful plants in their splendor. You may also see birds and butterflies at this outdoor collection. Info: www.dbg.org; (480) 941-1225.
- The Heard Museum’s amazing collection focuses on American Indians. Once you’ve seen all of the art and artifacts from days gone by, check out newer fine art made by American Indians from the 20th century to the present. Craft demonstrations, dances, and other events are offered, too; a schedule is listed on the museum website. A café and coffee shop are also on the grounds, and parking is free. Info: www.heard.org; (602) 252-8848.
- A few of the many other attractions in Phoenix include the Hall of Flame Fire Museum, the Phoenix Police Museum, and the Martin Auto Museum. Please check with the Phoenix travel bureau for more options.