I had never been to the southwest before, and had no idea what to expect from this whirlwind trip to Phoenix… let me sum up the trip for you in one word: Awesome! Phoenix was a great city with a laid back vibe. A city full of personality, beauty, sunshine, and delicious tacos. We were only there for a few days but managed to fit a lot of fun (and tacos!) into the trip. Read on for my travel diary and tips for how to spend a weekend in Phoenix.
Just on the outskirts of Phoenix, Camelback Mountain has 2 different hiking trails to choose from. We hiked the Cholla trail (the easier hike of the two) and it was the perfect balance between challenging workout and scenic stroll. We actually didn’t make it all the way to the top because it became more of a climb than a hike and I didn’t pack any serious footwear. Wear sunscreen and bring plenty of water for your 2-3 hour hike.
After our invigorating morning hike we hopped a ride to True Food Kitchen for lunch. This gorgeous spot was an instagram recommendation (thanks Hallee!) and it didn’t disappoint. The atmosphere was relaxing and they didn’t blink twice at our post-hike appearance which is always appreciated. The menu was full of healthy choices and farm fresh ingredients (I had the tacos with grass fed beef).
None of us had ever tried an escape room before, so on a whim we decided to check out Paniq Room. I won’t give away any spoilers but we chose the “kidnapped” experience and it was a blast. Ideal for a group of 4-6 people who are looking for a fun, highly interactive activity. Definitely something you’ll want to do before you hit the margaritas or you may never escape.
Next door to the gorgeous Hotel Palomar Phoenix was the best brunch spot I’ve hit up in a long time, The Breakfast Club. Their almond milk latte was hands down magically delicious. The food was equally great… I didn’t take any photos here because I was too busy pigging out 😉 I ordered the “whole hog” omelet and my only complaint was not being able to stuff more of it into my face.
Old Town Scottsdale:
Downtown Scottsdale was full of charm and had plenty of activities to keep us entertained… one could easily spend a whole day just in this area! There were plenty of charming boutiques, southwestern souvenir shops, and art galleries to browse through. We sll had fun roaming around being tourists, then Dan & I went for a pedicure at terés while our friends took a horse drawn carriage ride.
Lunch in the Sun:
For lunch we enjoyed tacos on the sunny patio of Salty Senorita while a perfect beachy soundtrack was piped through the speakers. The food was a little hit & miss but the the music and sunshine made the atmosphere a winner (go for the a la carte tacos, skip the bento box)!
We wrapped up the day with drinks & tapas at Hula’s Modern Tiki. Our friends shared a scorpion bowl (one of those giant cocktails that’s guaranteed to attract some attention from clear across the room!), and I opted for the more tame but equally yummy dark n stormy.
We chose to use Uber as our mode of transportation. It probably ended up costing us the same amount as renting a car, minus the hassle of finding our way around, looking for parking, and deciding on a designated driver. Uber rates in AZ were cheaper than Seattle and we never had to wait more than 5 minutes for a pickup, despite the fact that it was a busy week. Pro tip: ask your uber driver for local tips on fun places to go (and avoid).
Eating Clean In Phoenix:
Phoenix was a friendly place to eat if you have dietary restrictions or just want to eat clean. I eat gluten free (primarily paleo) and one of my travel companions is vegetarian. Neither one of us had any trouble asking for modifications, and the heavily southwest/Mexican influenced cuisine easily lends itself to healthy choices. When in doubt: eat tacos.
We received so many recommendations from locals that we didn’t even have time to do everything on our list! Golf is always a popular choice in Phoenix, as is Topgolf. I was sad we didn’t have time to check out the Desert Botanical Garden (if you’re staying in Arizona for longer, I would plan for a few days to explore the stunning Sedona Desert). As far as dining goes, we didn’t get a chance to try The Mission, Flower Child, or Olive & Ivy which were all highly recommended.