Fun Ways to Experience Unique Phoenix Area Trivia

We have a uniquely interesting history in Arizona, and some of our best fascinating trivia is tied to buildings and statues we can still visit. We hope you enjoy discovering a bit more trivia about our intriguing history - and perhaps even get a chance to visit some of these unique pieces of our past!


Tovrea Castle


Tovrea Castle

This architectural oddity has an even quirkier history. Built in the late 1920s by Alessio Carraro, an Italian immigrant, it was supposed to be a resort hotel and the centerpiece of a wealthy, high-end subdivision. He and his son took architectural inspiration from their Italian homeland and built it in just under fourteen months.


The late 1920s, however, were not a good time to have built or invested in anything. The great stock market crash of 1929 sunk the Carraros’ plan, and they were forced to sell to meat magnate Edward Ambrose Tovrea, who turned the building into his private residence.


His time there, unfortunately, was short-lived. Mr. Tovrea passed away suddenly less than a year after having moved in. His widow, Della, was able to enjoy the property, living there for decades until her death in 1969.


Today, Tovrea Castle and its surrounding desert gardens are under the helm of the Tovrea Carraro Society. While public tours are available, they are rather difficult to come by because all tickets are done on a lottery basis. All tickets for the Fall 2022 season, for example, are completely sold out, so if you’re looking to go, you will have to wait until Spring 2023.


Stay up to date when tickets are available on the Tovrea Castle Tours website.


The Flying V Cabin


The Flying V Cabin

The Wild West portrayed in Hollywood is full of crazy stories and colorful characters. The real Wild West, however, was at times crazier than anything a Hollywood writer could have come up with. The Flying V Cabin is a remnant of such a crazy, wild, and REAL story of our state’s history: the Tewksbury – Graham Family Feud.


The feud, also known as the Pleasant Valley War, is considered to be the deadliest family feud in the nation’s history. What started off as a dispute between friends escalated into an all-out battle that sucked in other ranchers, bounty hunters, and Indian assassins. This mini-war lasted nearly six years, and by the end of it, nearly every male in both families was dead.


The Flying V Cabin was built by John Tewksbury Sr., the patriarch of the Tewksburys. Calling it a cabin is a little misleading, however; it’s more of a small fortress. Instead of windows, for example, there are small slots where rifle barrels can slide through. It was originally built in the Pleasant Valley, but now it’s located at the Pioneer Living Museum in Pioneer, Arizona.


Navajo Code Talkers Tribute


Navajo Code Talkers Tribute

One of the most important things in war is the ability to communicate with your troops and allies without the enemy knowing what you’re saying. The most effective way to do that is to develop a code to communicate.


One of the reasons the Germans lost WWII was because their coded communications machine, Enigma, was deciphered by the Allies. (This was wonderfully portrayed in the movie The Imitation Game.)


Luckily for the Americans in the Pacific theater of WWII, they had a way to communicate in code that the Japanese never broke – the Navajo language. The Navajo Code Talkers, as they were known, were a crucial component of the winning war effort. The Navajo’s native language, when used in code, proved too difficult for the Japanese, allowing the Americans to communicate effectively and securely.


Situated on the corner of Central Avenue and Thomas Road in midtown Phoenix, The Navajo Code Talkers Tribute statue is a fitting tribute to those brave Navajo men who helped the Allies win the war. Sculpted by Doug Hyde, he chose to portray the Code Talker using the Navajo’s ancient instrument of communication – the flute.


Longhorn Grill and Saloon


Longhorn Grill and Saloon

This is certainly an eating spot that you won’t soon forget. With its imposing giant longhorn skull as the entrance, the Longhorn Grill and Saloon definitely makes an impression.


The building has had a varied and mixed history. Built in the 1970s, the different businesses that have occupied this space include a clothing store, bait shop, roofing company, and a couple of different types of restaurants.


Located on South Nogales Highway in Amado, the current restaurant specializes in cast iron cooking and they usually have fun things happening every night of the week, like live music, karaoke, and trivia.


The Hall of Flame Firefighting Museum



This inspiring museum is dedicated to the men and women who keep us safe by fighting fires. There are several different types of exhibits, from a collection of firefighter helmets from all over the world to a hall full of a variety of firetrucks that goes back to the early 1800s! There’s also a children’s wing with many hands-on exhibits and learning materials.


The museum operates as a non-profit, and the donations received not only support the museum’s operations but families of firefighters who’ve fallen in the line of duty.


World Championship Hoop Dance Contest


Multiple Indigenous communities have practiced the art of hoop dancing in healing and religious ceremonies. Many tribes claim its creation, and one incredibly interesting origin story explains that it was used to explain the ways of animals, such as values they display like loyalty, kindness, and friendship.


Hoop dancing takes years for a dancer to master! Every February at the Heard Museum, an incredible competition brings together some of the best hoop dancers from all Native American and Canadian First Nation Tribes for a display of culture, talent, and athleticism.


Spanning over two days, the World Championship Hoop Dance Contest has several different categories and age groups, where dancers are judged on their creativity, showmanship, precision, and rhythm. Surrounding the competition are displays of Native American art as well as delicious Native American food.


Fry Bread House


You haven’t lived a full culinary experience if you haven’t tried fry bread, the supremely delicious, light, flaky Native American treat. And at Cecelia Miller’s Fry Bread House, you can enjoy it in a variety of different ways!


The origins of fry bread are not fully known and are a bit controversial. There are some Native American historians who believe they were made using the unhealthy rations of white flour and lard given to the Navajo people, while other historians credit its creation to Native Americans’ transition from traditional foods to commercially available options.


Regardless of its origins, there’s no denying that a fry bread taco stuffed with carnitas and a side of hominy stew is simply out of this world!


MacAlpine’s Fountain Soda


MacAlpine’s Fountain Soda

Take a trip back in time when you step through the doors at MacAlpine’s Diner & Soda Fountain. Fred MacAlpine bought the building in 1938, and from that date until 1991, Mr. MacAlpine and his family ran it as a pharmacy and soda fountain destination.


Nowadays, everything is still pretty much the same as it was way back then, except that instead of serving up medicine, you can order delicious burgers, fries, and other diner favorites. And, of course, you can sip on their famous malts, phosphates, egg creams, and other yummy drinks.


Unfortunately, this beloved piece of history is currently closed due to the passing of one of their founders. They are hopeful, however, to open back up soon and resume serving the Phoenix community they love.


Yayoi Kusama Firefly Infinity Mirror Room


Have you ever wondered what it would feel like to be in a dancing swarm of fireflies? Well, today is your lucky day, because an artist decided to recreate the experience, and Japanese artist, Yayoi Kusama’s permanent exhibition at the Phoenix Art Museum is called “You Who are Getting Obliterated in the Dancing Swarm of Fireflies”.


One of the most eccentric artists of the 1960s avant-garde movement, Kusama was famous for her large-scale projects meant to shock, awe, inspire, and provoke. What you will walk into with this exhibit is no exception.


A large room full of mirrors on all sides helps bounce the light from 250 dangling LED lights that alternate colors. It is quite the experience to behold!


 
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