White clouds are scattered throughout a bright blue afternoon sky over an interstate and desert landscape, with a highway sign that reads, 'Arizona: The Grand Canyon State Welcomes You.

Race Weekend Guide: What to do near ISM Raceway

White clouds are scattered throughout a bright blue afternoon sky over an interstate and desert landscape, with a highway sign that reads, 'Arizona: The Grand Canyon State Welcomes You.

Race Weekend Guide: What to do near ISM Raceway

If you’re heading to the Phoenix area to catch a race at ISM Raceway, make the most of your trip and visit these local favorites in Avondale and Goodyear.

If you’re heading to the Phoenix area (including the charming towns of Avondale and Goodyear) to experience a NASCAR race at ISM Raceway, you can look forward to an array of local activities outside of the track to add to your getaway. Get ready for gorgeous views of mountains and desert landscape, tasty local eateries, a bustling antique mall, and of course some air-conditioned indoor escapes where you can cool off. Get to know the areas that surround ISM Raceway the way locals do with this guide to some of the top spots in this desert escape.

ISM Raceway is filled with racecars, fans, and drivers on a bright afternoon in 2011

ISM Raceway

Let’s start with the main attraction of your upcoming trip – ISM Raceway. As the ISM Raceway website states, this epic track “has been a part of the motorsports scene since 1964. From its genesis as an open-wheel destination through its present-day status as a stock car haven, the one-mile desert oval has built a reputation both on the way it challenges drivers and as a memory maker for all who step across its threshold.” If you’re visiting on the weekend of November 11, 2018, experience the intensity of the playoffs – NASCAR style – at the Cup Series Semi-Final Playoff Race. Be prepared for fun and thrills at this celebrated raceway located around the beautiful Estrella Mountains on the outskirts of Avondale, Arizona. Consider spending the night by camping near ZOOMTOWN, and if you’re looking for a great place to listen to music while having a drink or snack near the track, head to the Speed Cantina.

Take a lap at Estrella Mountain Regional Park

Take advantage of the beautiful scenery just outside of the racetrack by setting aside some time to explore Estrella Mountain Regional Park. This park boasts 20,000 acres of pristine desert, mountains and a large wetland. It’s the perfect place to start your day off with a nice hike, bike, or horseback ride and includes 33 miles of trails for your convenience. But trails aren’t the only thing you’ll find in this park — you can also explore 65 acres of picnic area, baseball fields, a golf course, and a fishing-friendly river, to name a few. Looking for a relatively breezy and short hike? Locals recommend the 2.4-mile Baseline Trail. The park is open 365 days a year, and its hours are 6 AM to 8 PM Sunday – Thursday and 6 AM to 10 PM on Fridays and Saturdays.

A plate topped with two breakfast croissants sits next to a cup of coffee with a side of honey on a bright morning.

Fuel up at Enroute Coffee and Tea House

If you enjoy a well-brewed cup of coffee and an assortment of delicious baked goods with a serving of top-notch hospitality, then you have to stop by Enroute Coffee and Tea House in the sweet small town of Goodyear, Arizona. This small business is owned and operated by a local Goodyear couple and was created out of their desire to serve their local community with a relaxing and inviting space (with an excellent menu of coffee and tea beverages, as well as amazing baked goods). Whether you choose to spend some time relaxing in this café while admiring the art or playing a board game with friends, or you only have time for an order to-go, it will definitely be worth your time. Order one of the local favorites: a large coconut cold brew with a buttery peach scone.

Cool off indoors at Harkins Theatres Estrella Falls 16

After your morning of hiking and early afternoon stop at a coffee shop, it can be wise to spend the warmest hours of the day safe indoors at a favorite local movie theater. Take your family and friends (or just yourself) to see an afternoon matinee at Harkins Theatres Estrellas Falls 16, a movie theatre that draws crowds from both Goodyear and Avondale for its well-run and maintained facilities. If you’re looking for more than just your regular movie snacks of popcorn and candy, you can enjoy menu items like hummus, fries, cheese and salami plates, and more, as well as a variety of beverages.

Enjoy authentic fare at Manny’s Mexican Restaurant

Locals and visitors alike all have the same thing to say about Manny’s Mexican Restaurant: at Manny’s, you’re family. This restaurant has been family owned and operated since 2004 and has since received great local recognition like the title of “Best Tacos” by Readers Choice awards, so when you visit, get ready for the perfect dining experience: a combination of at-home feelings and incredibly authentic Mexican flavors. People flock to this place for the enchiladas, carnitas, and jalapeno poppers, but anything you order is sure to hit the spot.

A mother mallard duck and her two ducklings swim across a man-made lake on a warm, golden evening.

Stretch your legs at Avondale Friendship Park

Whether you’re traveling with kids (or you’re just a kid at heart), it’s always nice to stop by a local park and get in a quick exercise session. Avondale Friendship Park is the perfect place for an early evening stroll through paths near the playground and picnic areas, and the small manmade lake in this area is a great spot to fish, feed the ducks, or just watch the sunset. If you do happen to have younger ones in tow, they’ll love getting to run around the newly added Splashpad, an area with designated fountains and low-water areas for kids to cool off and play.

Browse one-of-a-kind items at Brass Armadillo Antique Mall

If you’re the kind of person who likes to fill your home with unique items found in places across the nation, or you just enjoy an occasional hour or two spent browsing through collections from yesteryear, you’ll love Brass Armadillo Antique Mall in Goodyear. This mall is one of the largest of its kind in the state of Arizona, which means you will be sure to find nostalgic treasures galore. Prepare yourself for what feels like an endless collection of repurposed items and architectural salvage, and keep your eyes peeled for that perfect find. Who knows, you may even find some vintage racing memorabilia to take home with you.

Enjoy old-fashioned sweets at the Avondale Mister Softee

Speaking of nostalgia, did you know that the classic red and white Mister Softee ice cream truck originated in the year 1956, and has been serving the Phoenix area since 1960? Fifty-eight years of serving fresh, never prepackaged soft-serve ice cream is something to be celebrated — and what better way to celebrate than experiencing those classic flavors firsthand? Treat yourself to a delicious ice cream delight at the Mister Softee Avondale location, and don’t be fooled into thinking that ice cream cones are the only thing on the menu. You’ll also have the options of ice cream sundaes, soda floats, banana boats, and milkshakes — all with the same, high-quality recipes that began over 50 years ago.

We hope this guide has you inspired to expand your ISM race weekend itinerary with an array of local attractions and activities in the surrounding areas of Avondale and Goodyear. If you’re looking for even more things to do in the Phoenix area, check out this guide to the Penske Racing Museum in Scottsdale.