5 Reasons to Visit Phoenix, AZ
October 31, 2018
This past week I took my first trip to the desert with my beautiful friend Portia and I’ll tell you what, Phoenix left me wanting a second date! Referred to as “The Valley of the Sun,” Phoenix combines high-end shopping, a flourishing restaurant scene and resort life in the Sonoran Desert. Visitors will find stunning hotels, innovative restaurants, impressive cultural institutions, and natural beauty. Golf, spas, and Major League Baseball spring training are just some of the things to enjoy in Phoenix, AZ. With easy to access public transportation, multiple professional sports teams, internationally renowned museums and intimate music venues, there’s never a shortage of things to do in this city! Here are five reasons I think everyone should plan a trip to Phoenix:
#1) A Chance to Stay at the Hyatt Regency Scottsdale Resort & Spa at Gainey Ranch
The first reason you should visit Phoenix is the incredible resorts that are close to the city. I quickly fell in love with the Hyatt Regency Scottsdale Resort & Spa at Gainey Ranch. It was a resort in every sense of the word, the breathtaking 27-acre property features a spa, ten swimming pools, twenty fountains, 45 waterfalls, and a 3-story high-speed waterslide, eight on-site restaurants and bars, access to Gainey Ranch Golf Club, and the property is framed against the majestic McDowell Mountains. At Spa Avania, they offered hot stone massages, a salt room, mineral water therapy, a flavorful menu, and a selection of the world’s finest teas into an artful indoor-outdoor oasis. The Center Stage Bar is a great place to listen to music, meet people or watch a sporting event. I highly recommend enjoying the “Wine Me, Dine Me” culinary journey with Chef Juan. He will custom prepare a four-course menu for you complete with tequila and wine pairings. It is a wonderfully fun experience where you can see, smell and taste some of the things that make southwest cuisine so fun and delicious. The resort staff is outstanding and made our stay memorable.
#2) Hot Air Balloon Rides in the Sonoran Desert
I was mesmerized by the colorful hot air balloons dotting the Arizona skies. If you haven’t been on a hot air balloon ride in Phoenix, AZ, I highly recommend adding this to your bucket list. I recently had the chance to take to the skies for my first hot air balloon experience with Hot Air Expeditions in Phoenix, Arizona; and floating above the Sonoran Desert is hands down one of the coolest adventures I’ve ever had. Fun fact: Phoenix is home to the most flyable days per year for hot air balloons in the country. And don’t worry, hot air ballooning is one of the oldest forms of flight, and is also one of the safest! No matter how scared you may be of heights, you’re safe in a basket, so most of the fear goes away. While you are in the air, the views are absolutely spectacular. The Sonoran Desert and surrounding mountain ranges look even more breathtaking from above, when glancing over the top of a sturdy wicker basket. Hot air balloon rides are also very calm and peaceful, almost as if you are simply floating above the ground. Those with motion sickness aren’t usually impacted either, since you are flying with the wind speed and direction, so there is very little or no sense of motion. Our pilot, Mike English, was awesome! He was very knowledgeable of the area and we had a perfect takeoff and landing. After conquering the skies, we were treated to a gourmet breakfast — including bubbly — to celebrate our once-in-a-lifetime adventure. It included a vegetable quiche, croissant, apples, cheese, mimosas, and sparkling apple juice. It was the perfect ending to our adventure.
#3) An Opportunity to Visit the Desert Botanical Garden
I never imagined a desert being as beautiful as this botanical garden showed me it is. Think the desert is all dirt and tumbleweeds? Think again. The desert may seem like the last place you’d expect to find flora. Yet the Desert Botanical Garden is home to thousands of species of cacti, trees and flowers from all around the world. The Garden has more than 50,000 desert plants on display throughout five thematic trails that illustrate topics such as conservation, desert living, plants and people of the Sonoran Desert, and desert wildflowers. If you want to make sure that you don’t miss any important details, there are several docent-led tours offered that are included with your paid admission to the Garden. At the Garden, there is an Outdoor Patio Cafe and there are vending machines with beverages and snacks. There is also a full-service restaurant with both indoor and al fresco seating.
#4) Enjoy the Phoenix Food Scene
Phoenix is being reborn as “a foodie oasis in the Arizona desert”. With hundreds of restaurants serving cuisine from all over the world, Phoenix is a great destination for foodies. Downtown, especially around Roosevelt Row is now bristling with inviting bars, offbeat restaurants and a thriving arts scene. Arizona’s global cuisine allows diners to sip and sample the best of edible delights from around the world without ever leaving. The Valley of the Sun’s got a few brekkie spots worth hitting: Luci’s at the Orchard, Morning Glory Café, and Matt’s Big Breakfast. And while you are in town, make sure you grab lunch at The Churchill. The Churchill is home to ten small local businesses, mixing established operators with start-up entrepreneurs. At the heart of The Churchill is a 9,000 square foot courtyard intended for dining, drinking, socializing and learning. The restaurants included: Freak Brothers Pizza, Foxy Fruit Acai Bowls & Smoothies, Provecho, Breadwinner Knockout Sandwiches, and The Pobrecito Cocktails. I went to Provecho for lunch (I am a sucker for a taco) and it was amazing! I got the taco special and took out a carne asada taco, a brisket taco, and a shrimp taco. I also recommend the Limon con chia drink. It is served in a plastic bag with a straw out the top and it was really tasty and refreshing. We hit up ZuZu at Hotel Valley Ho for dinner and dessert and it did not disappoint! Starting every day at 2pm, you can stop by ZuZu for a delicious dessert concoction called the Show Stopper Shake. This is no ordinary milkshake because the onsite pastry chef, Audrey Enriquez, takes dessert to a whole new level with creative ingredients and the most Instagram-worthy milkshake I have ever seen! What’s even better is that Show Stopper Shake flavors change every month, so you can try a new and amazing creation on every trip. We enjoyed the State Fair “Show Stopper” Shake, featuring a vanilla Twinkie milkshake, strawberry sauce, funnel cake, a deep-fried cheesecake ball, popcorn ball, white-chocolate-covered Twinkie, cotton candy and taffy. By far the coolest dessert I have ever consumed.
#5) Spend a day at the spa at CIVANA Carefree
Relax. Unwind. Revive. Repeat. Arizona is, arguably, the spa resort capital of the United States. Premium spa services are abundant throughout the Valley of the Sun and neighboring desert communities. Locals and visitors often take cover in Phoenix’s world-class wellness resorts and spas. Massages and aromatherapy were both on my agenda during my trip. A quintessential Arizona spa experience awaits at CIVANA Carefree. The setting for CIVANA Carefree is magical. They encourage all to Seek Deeply, Travel Lightly, Live Fully. They will knead, stretch, scrub and buff your worries away. Book a massage or facial at the 22,000 square foot Spa CIVANA and spend the entire day taking advantage of the pool, group hikes, fitness classes, quiet gardens, and steam rooms. Guests can avail themselves of the amenities at the resort’s spa, including 29 Treatment areas, thermal pool, hot and cold walking circuit, cold plunge shower, Saunarium and a Watsu® pool. You’ll never want to leave this place. There are so many fun options to choose from but whatever you choose, you’ll leave feeling refreshed.