Culture on the Mountain
A thriving cultural scene adds a richness and depth to a community and the South Mountain (SOMO) neighborhood is blessed to have several top cultural attractions nearby.
The Heard Museum
The Heard Museum is considered the world’s preeminent museum for advancing American Indian Art, and at just 10 minutes away it’s a must-see for SOMO residents. Since 1929 the museum has presented the story of the American Indian people through exhibitions, educational programming and special festivals, like the world championship hoop dance contest held in February. Enjoy southwest inspired cuisine at the Courtyard café, and pick up some art for your new home at the museum shop.
The Phoenix Art Museum
Located near the Heard Museum is the Phoenix Art Museum. The extensive museum has over 20,000 works of art in its permanent collection, in addition to a robust menu of touring exhibits. The museum has one of the country’s top fashion design collections with over 6,000 objects spanning nearly 500 years of fashion history. It also has a strong collection of American and Western American art. The museum offers a pay what you wish on Wednesdays from 3-7 p.m., and participates in downtown’s First Friday program.
The Mystery Castle
South Mountain’s most interesting attraction is hands-down The Mystery Castle. The whimsical castle was built by a doting Dad for his princess. Mary Lou Gully begged her father Boyce to build her a big, strong castle that wouldn’t wash away the way the sandcastles the two made together when she was growing up in Seattle did. Eventually Boyce moved to Arizona and built her a stone castle featuring 18 rooms, 13 fireplaces and tons of charming nooks and crannies. Unfortunately Boyce died before he ever got to see Mary Lou move into the castle when she was an adult. Mary Lou opened up her home and gave tours of it until she died in 2010. Today the tours carry on between October and May.
Performance Art Center
Since 2003, the Performance Art Center at South Mountain Community College has hosted top quality theater, music, dance and storytelling performances for the local community. The 43,000 square foot performance hall contains a 350-seat theater, 100-seat studio theater, 75-seat dance studio and outdoor amphitheater.
The Orpheum Theater in downtown Phoenix is a beautiful Baroque Revival building that has hosted entertainment for Phoenicians since 1929. Today it hosts Broadway shows and musical acts. There is a free historical tour of the theater available.
Arizona Science Center
The interactive, world-class Arizona Science Center is an ideal family-friendly attraction in downtown. The museum has a wide variety of experiential exhibits, as well as a planetarium, theater and a create center that encourages young Einsteins to explore, imagine and flex their creative muscle.
The Children’s Museum in downtown is also sure to spark kids’ interest in learning. The popular museum has numerous exhibits for children, as well as programming aimed at babies, toddlers and preschoolers. The museum is free during First Friday.