Phoenix, otherwise known as the Southwestern Capital of the U.S. is the 6th largest city and a rising metropolitan area. Phoenix and its surrounding suburbs like Tempe, Scottsdale, Chandler, and Gilbert is home to one of the largest universities in the country (Arizona State), The Salt River, and a booming food and entertainment industry. Furthermore, Arizona is by far my favorite place to getaway for a long weekend. The weather is amazing and there’s always a pool party to attend. Listed below are some of my favorite things to do in Arizona.
- Fox Restaurant Concepts: Although today there are 50+ Fox Restaurants nationwide, the company originated in Arizona with Sam Fox’s first ‘concept’, Wildflower. Today, the company calls themselves a Creative Culinary Community with an ever-evolving and growing lineup of unique restaurants. Fox Restaurant Concepts now litter the Valley of the Sun and each concept offers something different and for everyone. I’ll name a few but just know if you see or hear a restaurant is a ‘FRC’, you can expect fresh, quality ingredients, moderate prices, and an enjoyable experience for you and your taste buds.
- True Food Kitchen – menu based off Andrew Weil’s anti-inflammitory diet, great for lunch or dinner, perfect spot for the healthy eater or if you’re not looking to overindulge (locations in Phx & Scottsdale)
- Blanco – Mexican inspired menu with a modern touch. lunch or dinner. (Phx & Scottsdale locations)
- Zinburger – you guessed it, a solid wine selection & burgers made from quality sourced meat (Phoenix, Scottsdale, Gilbert locations)
- North Italia – just called “North” by the locals hosts amazing Italian dishes including pasta, (the Bolognese is a classic and tastes like it’s flown straight from the coast of Italy), pizza, wine and cocktails. (Phoenix, Scottsdale)
- Culinary Dropout – The cocktails offered on the menu are divine but if you prefer something off the menu, you can trust the bartenders will make any drink to your specification at ease. Culinary Dropout is a local favorite for drinks, American cuisine, and often times live music. Go for lunch, dinner or maybe just enjoy a seat at the bar for a happy hour drink and split the soft pretzels w/ provolone fondue or an antipasti platter. (Phoenix, Scottsdale, Tempe)
- The Henry – Open @ 6:30am – 10pm daily, The Henry is one of the only FRC’s to offer a breakfast menu. Great spot for brunch, lunch, or just a quick stop in for coffee. (one location – Phoenix)
- Flowerchild – ‘healthy food for a happy world’ is their tag line and those are the exact two things you’ll get when you step in for lunch or order as takeaway. Wraps, salads, and their GF mac & cheese are just a few notable items. Oh and don’t forget their house made lemonades and tea! (Phoenix x 3, Scottsdale)
Check out other concepts & locations here – https://www.foxrc.com/
- Postino: a local favorite with 6 locations throughout the valley (Phoenix, Scottsdale, Gilbert, Tempe), well-known for their $20 bottle & board (a bottle of wine and a large bruschetta board) deal on Monday’s and Tuesday’s after 8pm. But no worries if you’re not visiting on one of these days, Postino is always worth a visit. Again, you can expect quality ingredients and a great selection of wine. Their rotating soup selection is noteworthy as well.
- Farm & Craft: An “All I need is Food & Affection” quote paints the wall and you will find just that at F&C. Smaller plates with a fresh take on staple foods like flatbreads and sandwiches. Great for brunch, lunch, or dinner. Be sure order a kombucha cocktail with or without alcohol! Two locations – Scottsdale, Gilbert
- Chop Shop: did someone say juice bar? Chop shop was slightly ahead of its time when it opened its doors and offers a wide range of items including dairy alternatives and gluten free. Stop in for a juice and health(ier) pastry, a full breakfast, or lunch. Favorites include the Kale Ceaser Salad, Muscle Malt protein shake, and any of their fresh pressed juices. (7 locations throughout the Valley)
- Honorable Restaurant Mentions – The Mission (high end Mexican flair in Scottsdale, you will need a res), Luci’s Healthy Marketplace (Phoenix), OhSo (Dog Friendly Brunch, Phoenix & Gilbert).
Get Active –
Outdoor: with the hot season lasting for ~4 mos. in Phoenix, you’re left with a solid 8 months of outdoor activity. Home to several great mountains and hiking trails ranging from easy to difficult.
- Camelback Mountain – a favorite to locals and tourists alike. Great location with two different trail options. The Cholla trail is a tad easier and more family friendly while the Echo Canyon trail is shorter but much steeper. Better for the solo, experienced hiker. Centrally located between Scottsdale, Phoenix, and Tempe.
- South Mountain Preserve – Southern Phoenix near Chandler, South mountain offers several trails for hikers, bikers, and runners combined.
- Tom’s Thumb Peak – moderate trail, 3.5 miles, heavily trafficked depending on day of the week/time of the year but picturesque hike none the less.
Indoor: If you hit Arizona in the hot season you will likely have to take the activity indoors. But not to worry, again, Phoenix has something for everyone.
- The Madison Improvement Club: This trendy, boutique studio brought indoor cycling to the Valley and a sound system and light show that’s second to none. If loud music and cardio isn’t your thing they also have a state-of-the-art yoga studio on the other side of the 100-year-old renovated building. This 2 for 1 option is located in Phoenix but they also have a sister studio that’s cycling only in Downtown Tempe. You will likely need to book your class in advance!
- Bodi: Owned and operated by Nike Expert Trainer, Nikki Metzger and her husband Nick, this state of the art boutique studio offers two versions of an hour long class – SWEAT or STRENGTH. Both workouts are based around High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT). SWEAT offers 70% cardio and 30% strength while STRENGTH is just the opposite at 30% cardio and 70% strength. Other classes include stretching, boxing, and a free track workout once a week. Located in the heart of Old Town Scottsdale.
- Honorable Mentions: PureBarre, Hot Yoga University, The Body Lab, Camelback Crossfit
- Gilbert: Gilbert Farmer’s Market, Liberty Market, Bergie’s Coffee Roast House, San Tan Village (shopping)
- Chandler: San Tan Brewery, Bourbon Jacks Bar & Grill, The Brickyard, Perch Brewery, Snowtime (dessert), Pokitrition
- Scottsdale: Pattie’s First Ave Lounge, Sprinkles Cupcakes, The Mountauk, Scapegoat, Bevvy, Boondocks Patio & Grill, Geisha A Go Go (sushi), Sumomaya
Things I Brought to Arizona:
Favorite Crossfit: Nike Metcons, Sports Bra
Cactus Apparel: Cute Cactus Tank, Cactus Earrings