The greater Phoenix area in Arizona is one of my favorite areas in the entire world. I visited twice this past year and already I am excited to go back and explore the state. Please adopt me, Arizona.
During my last two trips I got to experience a lot and wanted to put together a guide of my favorite things to do so you know what I loved. Of course there are tons of things to do in the area and I haven’t done them all (but one day I hope to), here are my current favorites!
Take a hot air balloon ride:
There will never be an eloquent way for me to describe the experience of riding in a hot air balloon, but let me just say, it is the most peaceful and gratifying feeling to be gracefully floating in the air above the world. To see the world from a perspective that seems terrifying and ends up being an epic peaceful adventure is one worth doing.
If you are looking for a great company that also does a champagne/sparkling cider toast and feeds you a breakfast afterwards, I highly recommend Hot Air Expeditions. The staff was extremely friendly and knowledgeable and the experience with the balloon was amazing,.
The town of Scottsdale to me is quaint, tree lined and has an amazing selection of shops. Whether you are looking for a bakery, art, boutique shopping – they have it.
Take the Fresh Foodie Trail in Mesa:
I love food – so naturally this was one of my favorite things to do. There was three stops on this tour and they were all different and equally delicious!
The first stop was at Jalapeno Bucks, B&B Citrus Farm. Dianne and her husband (the owners) KNOW their BBQ! This is a must visit place when in the Phoenix area. My favorite dish here was a PB&J Brisket sandwich – and I know what you are thinking “what in the world” TRUST ME – I CANNOT STOP TALKING ABOUT IT. The brisket is so perfectly tender and melts with the peanut butter and grape jelly. You can thank me later.
Another thing they offer is the citrus grove that dates back to 1915!! There is a shop that you can stop in and try their fruits and they are for sale. I tried 3 different citrus fruits and they were all delicious.
The second stop was Queen Creek Olive Mill. They actually have an olive farm here on site and harvest them to make olive oil and all kinds of other products. While I was there I walked around their shop to see all the amazing things they make with olive oil like soaps, shaving cream, candles, fun foods, and different types of flavored oils.
I tried a delicious charcuterie board they on their menu and a vanilla olive oil cupcake! The food was amazing and the staff is very knowledgeable and helpful to show you around.
The third and final stop was at Garage-East at Agritopia. This was a fun experience! I did some wine tastings along with another cheese board (which had fabulous cheese curds and sausages by the way). The wine was interesting as they make a breakfast wine (which was my favorite), they have bottled wine and there was a wine they had on tap that tasted similar to fruity pebbles cereal.
Check out the street art:
Phoenix is full of amazing street art throughout the city. It tends to be in clusters but I would recommend having a car for to see a lot of it.
Visit Taliesin West:
Built in the 1930’s by Frank Lloyd Wright and his apprentices, this architectural masterpiece is worth a visit. During the tour of Taliesin West you learn about why he built things a certain way, how you enter the rooms and the feelings you have about them, the furniture he designed, his life, and you also learn it is still a modern day school.
I don’t want to spoil the tour as it only lasts about 90 minutes – but it is definitely worth going to see.
Take in a day at the spa:
I think it is important to wind down and take some peaceful time for yourself when you travel. During my stay in Phoenix I went to Spa Avania at the Hyatt Regency Scottsdale Resort & Spa at Gainey Ranch. First off I want to say the property is absolutely beautiful! Definitely plan to arrive a little early or stay after to enjoy the spa, pools and grounds.
For my treatments I did a 30 minute Himalayan salt room and a 60 minute Swedish massage. I had never done a salt room before and I found it to be very interesting! You sit a in a room with the lights on (naked or with as little amount of clothes on as possible) and you can read, play on their ipads, whatever you want – and during the time yo are in there a salt is being pushed into the room. Your skin feels amazing when you leave and I felt like a new person. The 60 minute massage was a perfect was to complete my spa day at Avania.
Catch a desert sunset:
I actually caught 2 amazing sunsets in 4 days .. this is part of the reason I love the area. The desert landscape is my favorite in the world and paired with a sunset is just spectacular.
Visit the Heard Museum:
This was one of the most fascinating museums I have ever been to. Offering 11 exhibit galleries and home to American Indian Art, the Heard Museum is both inside and outside. They do offer tours (check times) but I prefer to take art in my own way by walking through, reading, and looking at the art to get my own feel for the artist.
I don’t like to overshare content from museums because I think you should visit the museum yourself to truly understand the artist and the pieces they have on display .. but, there was one piece that really stood out to me called “Indigenous Evolution” and it is a large scale fence of the evolution of how fences have been made.
Take a walking tour of Phoenix:
I loved this walking tour of the city – Jill who owns Phoenix Rising Tours is a wealth of knowledge about Phoenix and does such a lovely job explaining the history of the city and how it rose from ashes three times. I don’t want to giveaway anything but some of the cool stuff you will see on the tour is street art, an old speakeasy, learn some fun stuff about Marilyn Monroe, and some other cool stuff – but I don’t want to give it away! So book a tour with Jill – she is amazing.
The tour I did was about the history and last about 2 hours and is about 2 miles in distance – all flat.
These are my top 9 experiences in the Phoenix area! I cannot wait to go back and see more of the area.
*Disclaimer, I was hosted by the Phoenix Tourism Board – but as always, opinions are entirely my own.