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Special thanks to Tyler Brouse, Nolan Mera, and Noah Menaker for the recommendations.

It's claim to fame may be the Grand Canyon, but Arizona has many more adventures and experiences to enjoy!  Whether you're relaxing in a pool in Phoenix by day, partying in Scottsdale by night, and hitting up the many National Parks and Monuments in between, Arizona is guaranteed a good time. 

 

PHOENIX

Things to Do

Sedona: Known for its red rock outcroppings and sweeping canyons that create a beautiful backdrop for this vibrant small town, Sedona is paradise for the outdoor enthusiast. Many people make the two-hour drive north of Phoenix to enjoy one of the many hiking trails, the most famous and photographed of which is the Devil’s Bridge. If you don’t feel like getting your shoes dirty, you can opt for an off-road tour along the many dirt trails in a 4x4 vehicle and finish your day off with a cold beer at the Oak Creek Brewery right outside the center of town.

 

Camelback Mountain: A mountain resembling a prone camel located in Scottsdale, this mountain is not one to miss. There are two trails, Cholla and Echo Canyon, that lead you up to the 1420-foot summit, and neither are for the faint of heart. Making it to the summit will give you a spectacular 360-degree view of the entire Valley of the Sun and work up a serious appetite for a post-hike snack. Make sure to bring lots of water, as the Arizona sun can surprise you!

 

Desert Botanical Gardens: If you have a green thumb or enjoy learning about plants native to the area, these gardens are for you. The gardens are constantly offering different events, and host some of the nicest art exhibits to come through Arizona. Check the calendar to see what they are offering when you're in town!

 

Float the Salt River: Right outside of Phoenix lies the Tonto National Forest, which is accessible from the nearby suburb of Mesa. This beautiful park is full of cacti, desert foliage and is home to the Salt River, which winds its way down the landscape and creates the perfect excuse to spend your day outside in a bathing suit. The Salt River Tubing Company rents out tubes for $17 per person and transports you to and from the drop-off and pick-up sites for 4-5 hours of fun in the sun. The Salt River is BYOB, so make sure you pack plenty of snacks and beverages for your afternoon on the river.

 

 

Golf: Phoenix is well known in the golf world as a premier destination with pristine courses located throughout the valley. We recommend the Arizona Biltmore Golf Club, set along the grounds of Frank Lloyd Wright’s southwestern masterpiece, and promise you will leave in awe of the surrounding landscapes. Other more cost-friendly options include the Encanto Golf Course, located in central Phoenix, and considered to be one of the premier public urban golf courses in the country.

Art of Ice Cream Experience: A truly instagrammable exhibit, immerse yourself in eight different themed rooms!   

Places to Eat

Federal Pizza: Owned by the same company as Postino, Federal Pizza offers some of the best pizza in Phoenix. They also offer a pizza and bottle of wine deal for $20 Mondays and Tuesdays after 8 p.m.

Little Miss BBQ: No doubt the best barbeque in Arizona, you’ll need to arrive at this place early to enjoy the melt-in-your-mouth brisket that's made daily. Opening at 11 a.m., try to get there within the first two hours for this Texas-style barbeque staple.

 

La Grande Orange: A grocery/bakery/pizzeria all-in-one, LGO offers incredible meals with fresh ingredients daily. The English muffins are a fan-favorite, and the baked goods are fresh daily. Gluten free, vegetarian, and vegan friendly options available!

Olive & Ivy: If you're spending time in Scottsdale, you need to grab a meal here. Everything is made from scratch at this mediterranean restaurant, from their pasta to their pesto sauce. We recommend starting the meal with their hummus!

Postino WineCafe: With multiple locations around the area, Postino is a staple of the exciting food scene that Phoenix has to offer. Enjoy $5 glasses of wine or pitchers of beer  every day from open until 5 p.m. Get there after 8 p.m. on Monday and Tuesday for a $20 board of bruschetta and bottle of wine.

The Henry: An upscale eatery in the heart of the Arcadia area, The Henry is a great place to go out for a relaxing lunch or dinner. The Korean Style Skirt Steak is unbelievable, as are the Heirloom Quinoa Tacos. On weekends, experience views of Camelback Mountain while enjoying live music and the Bloody Mary bar.

Places to Drink

Bitter & Twisted Cocktail Parlour: An upscale cocktail joint nested in the former Arizona Prohibition Headquarters, stop here if you enjoy a fancy drink from time to time. Accompanied with small bites, this stylish stop is consistently given awards for its mixology.

 

Culinary Dropout / The Yard: Nestled in Tempe, the home of Arizona State University, this indoor/outdoor area is perfect for a late afternoon get-together leading up to a big night out. With games like corn hole, foosball, and ping-pong, The Yard is one of the best places to play while you drink.

 

RnR Gastropub: A younger crowd normally populates this Old Town Scottsdale spot known for weekend bottomless mimosas. Not a mimosa person? No worries, they also offer bottomless Bloody Mary’s.

 

The Duce: A 1928 warehouse turned restaurant bar, this unique location is equipped with a boxing ring, yoga area, and plenty of games to play while you enjoy revitalizing drinks. With the freshest ingredients, don’t miss out on the Basil Gimlet!

 

Four Peaks Brewing Company: One of the better-known breweries in Arizona, you won’t find a beer here that you don’t want to bring home with you. The Raj is an IPA worth telling your friends about, and if you are here around Halloween, don’t leave without trying the Pumpkin Porter!

 

O.H.S.O.: With many locations, O.H.S.O. is a dog-friendly indoor/outdoor nano-brewery that has a stunning outdoor area with views of Camelback Mountain (Arcadia location). In addition to a great brunch, make sure to try the O.H.S.O. Brite!

Places to Stay

The Clarendon Hotel: Located right outside the heart of bustling downtown Phoenix, the Clarendon is a revamped mid-century modern hotel that has the charm of the 1960s with all the modern amenities of today. The highlight of the hotel is its central, and beautifully appointed, pool lined with lounges and cabanas that provide a cool respite from the Arizona sun. As night falls, the rooftop deck is a fantastic place to join friends for drinks and watch the sun set on Camelback Mountain.

 

Hotel Valley Ho: The Valley Ho is one of the Scottsdale’s most iconic hotels, located centrally within the Old Town district and a quick walk to some of the best local restaurants, bars and art galleries. Built in 1956, it exudes mid-century flair with a touch of luxury and wonderful service. The large pool is known for its lively day parties and is the perfect place to enjoy some fun in the sun before heading out for a night of drinking and dancing at the nearby bars and nightclubs.

 

JW Marriott Scottsdale Camelback Inn: If you are looking to escape to a relaxing desert retreat all while being close to the restaurants and attractions of Phoenix, look no further than this beautiful resort nestled into the foothills of Paradise Valley. With an array of beautifully appointment southwestern-themed private rooms, suites and villas, the JW Marriott has something for every group and the pools and tennis courts located around the resort have sweeping mountain-desert views. All this only a few minutes away from Old Town, central Phoenix and downtown Tempe.

 

Airbnb: Depending on what neighborhood you are looking to stay in during your visit to Phoenix, Airbnb has a collection of properties throughout the Valley that provide great options for all travelers depending on your taste and budget.

Transportation

Arizona is not well-known for its public transportation, so you will likely need to rely on Uber/Lyft or rent a car. However, there is the light rail, which runs from Mesa (east valley), through Tempe and Central Phoenix, to North Phoenix.

Arizona

Horseshoe Bend

Sedona

Grand Canyon

Antelope Canyon

Sedona

 

OUTDOOR ACTVITIES

Things to Do

National Parks: Arizona  is home to 3 National Parks: the Petrified Forest, Saguaro, and the Grand Canyon (For more info on the Grand Canyon, head here).

Lake Powell is an amazing place for families, kayakers, water sports lovers, and relaxers to enjoy. You can explore the red canyons that are filled with water, and take a break from the heat during the day. 

Antelope Canyon: Possibly made famous from computer screen backgrounds, but just as amazing in person. Make sure you book your tours early! We recommend the first or last sessions of the day to beat the heat and get amazing photos. 

Horseshoe Bend: The mile hike to this beauty is worth doing at sunrise, sunset, and any other point of the day. Also a key tip - go stargazing at night. For this and Antelope Canyon, we recommend staying in Page Arizona. 

National Monuments fill Arizona (there's over 20) - most of these involving fields of cacti and ancient cliff dwellings. They hold a tremendous amount of history! Just to name a few, Montezuma Castle, Organ Pipe Cactus, and Tonto are great to visit.

Havasu Falls: Part of the grand canyon, you've probably heard of this amazing place after it blew up in popularity after a YouTube video went viral. This place has amazing turquoise water and stunning waterfalls that will need #nofilter. Getting to this place isn't easy - it requires a hard to get permit, a minimum 12 mile hike just to your campsite and a lengthy car trip. But don't worry, the Travelogue has you covered - click here for our full writeup on this amazing place!

Mooney Falls at Havasupai Indian Reservation

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