Where To Stay, What To Eat, and More
Phoenix is famous for receiving around 300 days of sunshine per year, making this vibrant desert city something of an adventure playground. The Valley of the Sun has it all: Warm desert breezes, swaying palms, southwestern cuisine, and endless shopping. We’ve highlighted our favorite spots to help you get the most out of your Phoenix trip.
Where to Stay
Best Location: Kimpton Hotel Palomar Phoenix
Not only is the Kimpton Hotel Palomar Phoenix ideal for its central location in Arizona’s capital, but also for its trendy atmosphere. Rooms are garbed in contemporary décor (think bold patterns and bright colors) with glass walk-in showers. Guests will also be quick to praise the hotel’s diverse amenities, such as the complimentary bikes, the in-room yoga mats, and the gratis use of EOS Fitness (located adjacent to the hotel).
Best for Couples: The Camby, Autograph Collection
Modern and quirky are two words to describe The Camby. It’s a dynamic fusion of the professional and playful. Expect Aztec prints, funky furniture, and turquoise accents in rooms, as well as marble and copper featured throughout. The Camby calls itself, “Southwestern chic” with breathtaking views of iconic Camelback Mountain, plus Arizona’s 5 C’s (copper, cattle, cotton, citrus, and climate) form a fun theme that is apparent throughout the property.
Best for Families: Sheraton Grand at Wild Horse Pass
In a land of legends, where wild horses still roam free, you can indulge in a luxury resort experience at this desert oasis. The Sheraton Grand at Wild Horse Pass is located on the Gila River Indian Community. This unique destination resort features custom-designed, culturally themed guestrooms reflecting the traditions of the Pima and Maricopa people. In addition, the resort has 36 holes of golf, a spa offering Native American treatments, onsite horseback adventures, and River Adventure Boat Rentals on the Gila River.
Best Minimalist: The Nest Tiny House at the Garden
Experience minimal living in a bright, stylish, modern tiny house on wheels with an artsy and homey vibe. Be inspired by space-saving solutions and original art and sip coffee while gazing out the wall of windows. Get cozy in the spacious loft and relax on the memory foam mattress and luxury linens. Located in Uptown Phoenix, local restaurants and coffee shops are right around the corner.
Where to Eat
There are a lot of fun things to do in Phoenix, and eating in the many varied restaurants is one of them! Phoenix is a food lover’s paradise with lots of restaurants to choose from and a tremendous diversity of the kinds of foods available. If it’s a type of food, there’s a good chance you can find it.
The Farm at South Mountain offers a nearby escape from the city with canopies of pecan trees and an organic-style garden. Rich in history, this agrotourism destination invites you to explore this retreat. Quiessence cooks with locally sourced produce and meat creating a refined hand-crafted menu. Sourcing from the on-site garden, Quiessence’s weekly menu is curated with freshly harvested vegetables, edible flowers, eggs, and herbs. Diners have the option of selecting a four, five, or six-course meal.
Kai is a Native American-owned and operated restaurant. Renowned for incorporating the essence of the Pima and Maricopa people into the menu and restaurant décor, Kai, the Pima word for “seed,” treats guests to a contemporary approach to Native American cuisine in a rich yet relaxing atmosphere. Each menu has a different watercolor painting about which the waiter tells the legend behind it. The walls have weavings hung on them with plaques that describe their history. Menu items rotate depending on seasonal produce grown on the Native American Reservation. A few highlighted items include escargot, wild mushrooms, and caramel goat cheese served with native “toast” and truffle cream, lemon and black garlic butter; and grilled tenderloin of tribal buffalo with smoked corn puree, cholla buds, chorizo, scarlet runner bean chili, and saguaro blossom syrup.
What to Do
There are so many fun things to do in Phoenix, from seeing the interesting and unique architecture and learning about the beauty of the desert, to hiking the many mountains in and around the city and enjoying the resorts and spas. While winter is one of the most popular times for visitors, travelers can find fun all year round.
Break a sweat on a Sonoran Desert hike
The park contains a large variety of plants and animals that call the lower Sonoran Desert home. Along with the most popular feature of the park, the Wind Cave Trail, water seeps from the roof of the alcove to support the hanging gardens of Rock Daisy. The Wind Cave is formed at the boundary between the volcanic tuff and granite on Pass Mountain. Breathtaking views from this 2,840-foot elevation are offered to all visitors.
Find your Zen at Goat Yoga
Sarah Williams, owner of Desert Paddleboards has paired up with a neighboring farm to combine two of her most loved activities – yoga and goats. Whether you are in warrior pose, downward dog, or simply meditating, these lovable goats help motivate and challenge you to be your best. During the guided yoga class, these gentle, sweet, and loving animals roam the fields and are placed by the instructor on guests that are in specific poses. Arizona Goat Yoga is said to clear the mind and offers a chance to release endorphins from exercise and increase oxytocin with pet therapy.
Get Pretty High on a Sunrise Hot Air Balloon Ride
Your journey with Hot Air Expeditions begins with viewing the inflation of the balloon, where you will get a glimpse of how large the balloons are as they come to life! From there, your pilot whisks you away in the basket for your approximate one-hour flight. During the journey, you will enjoy floating at different elevations, from up to 5,000 feet in the air for a gorgeous overhead view of the Sonoran Desert, to within feet of the desert floor. You will catch a glimpse of local wildlife, plant life, and landmarks. It is common to see jackrabbits, quail, coyotes, and even javelina. Upon landing, you’ll toast to the adventure with flutes of chilled champagne and gourmet cuisine, complete with tables and linens — truly, a toast to the perfect day.
Explore the Churchill
The Churchill, a 14,000-square-foot micro marketplace built out of old shipping containers, is a gathering space for the community with dining options and boutique shops. The center holds a monthly fundraiser and requires tenants to complete four community service hours a month.
Experience Nature on Horseback
The Koli (Kol-he) Equestrian Center spans more than 2,400 acres nestled in the heart of the Wild Horse Pass on the Gila River Indian Community. It is truly an adventure back in time, offering a horseback experience while learning the spiritual culture of the Pima & Maricopa People. Soak up views of three mountain ranges and desert landscapes. Catch a glimpse of the native wildlife which may include sightings of wild Mustangs.
Relax and Experience an Ho’ishp (Sacred Prickly Pear Body Treatment) by a Native American Healer
This signature Native American spa treatment can only be given by a Native American healer at Aji Spa. Cactus-infused ingredients and traditional Native American herbal remedies are incorporated throughout the experience. The journey begins in a therapeutic steam capsule with an application of sacred prickly pear red clay. The unique combination of steam and nourishing antioxidants helps detoxify the body and tone the skin. The spa treatment continues with a revitalizing 50-minute full body massage with prickly pear & aloe oil to rehydrate the skin. This beneficial moisture is sealed in with a final application of aloe and prickly pear gel to leave the skin feeling silky smooth. The experience concludes with a soothing cup of prickly pear tea.
Stop and Smell the Flowers … Literally
The Desert Botanical Garden is the largest botanical garden in the Southwest, featuring 55,000 plants from across the world. It is home to unique Sonoran Desert plants. The plants are on display throughout five thematic trails that illustrate topics such as conservation, desert living, plants and people of the Sonoran Desert, and desert wildflowers.