The west suburb of Glendale is exploding. For decades now, we’ve visited my in-laws who retired to Arizona, just west of Phoenix. It used to be that the west side was the sleepier side, a cowboy and cactus country sprinkled with retirement communities. Not anymore, Phoenix has spread its wings east to west.

By Sarah Miller

Freelance Writer


Distant photo showing the sports and entertainment buildings with mountains in the backgroundThat expansion is most evident in Glendale. Tourism ballooned when Cardinal Stadium, part of the National Football League, was built in 2006.  From there, we saw Westgate Entertainment District pop up with shopping, entertainment, and restaurants. Places like Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville and a western-themed spot where you could ride a mechanical bull and dine on BBQ catered to tourists. Those are all gone now, like the setting sun in the west. That doesn’t mean Glendale is snoozing, far from it.

Man bent down playing pickleballWhat’s Next? Barbie, Pickleball, and Music

Glendale is preparing for a colossal 2024. Hot new attractions that capitalize on pop culture and travel trends are poised to rise this year. Let’s lift the lid on what Glendale has planned, and what you might want to add to your upcoming travel plans.

Life-size Barbie Beach House on the beach


Mattel Adventure Park

Outside of the Mattel Adventure Park during sunsetImagine all your favorite iconic Mattel toys–Barbie, Hot Wheels, and more– morphed into a larger-than-life adventure. That’s the inspiration behind the nine-acre Mattel Adventure Park™ set to open in Glendale, Arizona, in 2024 (date yet to be announced). The park will be just south of State Farm Stadium, the place for football and the annual Fiesta Bowl.

“Construction is underway and substantial progress has been made on what will give fans of all ages a day of thrills and nostalgia,” says Julie Freeland, Senior Director of Global Location Based Entertainment at Mattel. “We’re especially excited for families to experience the Hot Wheels Bone Shaker rollercoaster – a dream come true for any Hot Wheels fan.”

Very close up image of people enjoying riding the new Boneshaker roller coaster

Hot Wheels Bone Shaker™ The Ultimate Ride, plus a second Hot Wheels coaster, Hot Wheels Twin Mill™ Racer, will bring loops and dips for thrill seekers. Of course, milder rides are waiting for fans of Thomas & Friends: World of Sodor™. Those who always dreamed of their own Barbie dream house are in luck too. Step inside a life-size Barbie Beach House™.  Enter the Barbie Dream Closet Experience™which uses hologram technology. Add in Mattel game-themed mini golf and a host of other attractions, and this park promises to be a toy-packed adventure. Park attractions are outdoors and indoors, so air-conditioning can keep things active during those hot days.


VAI Resort

Rising from the Arizona desert is a mirage. An exotic Caribbean-blue water beach stretches around a 60-acre resort oasis in Glendale, Arizona. Is it just a mirage? It’s real. Currently under construction, VAI Resort is slated to open in late 2024. VAI is modern, mammoth in size, and has a Vegas meets Miami-style luxury vibe.

The towering, sprawling structure will house 1,100 luxury suites and guest rooms. And that’s just the start, an amphitheater is expected to bring world-renowned musical artists. Construction of a 360-degree concert stage is underway, a boon to nightlife and dancing. The resort will be in the heart of all the action including proximity to Mattel Adventure Park.

Chicken N Pickle

Just opened in August 2023 is Chicken N Pickle. This new Glendale, Arizona, location is part of a chain of restaurants that “serves up” food and pickleball. This too is part of the Westgate Entertainment District, right next door to the movie theater. Diners and pickle players can find ample space to congregate for friendly competition or some laid-back lawn games.

Wood-fired rotisserie chicken, burgers and brews, plus you guessed it–fried pickles– are just a few of the chef-driven choices. Like most Valley of the Sun restaurants, visitors can savor sunshine, shade, or air-conditioning. Between all the centrally-located entertainment, you can easily spend an extended weekend or longer just exploring Glendale.

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