This year my lovely girlfriend and I decided to take a quick trip together to enjoy a little fun in the sun. It was December in Calgary, and it was getting cold – so our timing was perfect. We hopped on WestJet’s website and began searching for flights to a slightly warmer destination that was still close enough for a weekend trip. It ended up being between Phoenix, Arizona or Palm Springs, California and we settled on Phoenix – partially because there was a hockey game that weekend and Lauren’s beloved Calgary Flames were playing.
Luckily for us we’re both organized travel planners (look for more on this in my travel tips section), but we’re also both pretty chill travellers so we made a few casual plans to get us going but nothing concrete. That way we were open to the unknown and could enjoy the spontaneous moments we encountered.
Depending on the trip, I will stay in a hostel, hotel or resort but lately I’m more apt to checking out Airbnb or VRBO to find a great place to stay. You have a little more choice in both location and price as well as other needs and wants, i.e.) like a pool, kitchen, or laundry to name a few. For me the deciding factor most often is location (and price).
Enough about logistics – lets get to the good stuff…PHOENIX!!! I have to admit, we had a freaking blast. I didn’t really know what to expect from Phoenix as I hadn’t really heard that much, and decided to go on the trip with little to no research. Nonetheless, Lauren and I had four nights and five days of good times. From wandering with our cameras, splurging on dinner, to impromptu pub crawls in Scottsdale – we did it all and would happily recommend it to others.
Here are my top things to do with 4 days in Phoenix, Arizona (in no particular order):
Eat, check out a sports event (even if you don’t like sports), take a walk down Roosevelt Row, relax for an afternoon at the Botanical Gardens and head to Old Town Scottsdale where you will be sure to drink, a lot.
Eating, the most important part of the trip, haha. Definitely find a great local brunch spot. Generally when I travel, I’m a big fan of getting breakfast included in your hotel for at least a couple of days, or if you have a kitchen, grabbing a few groceries to get your day started. It’s more cost effective and less time consuming. Plus it it gives you the opportunity to grab a great coffee to go at a local shop and get your day started a lot sooner. I suggest Royal Coffee Bar or Lola . Lauren and I did have a kitchen this time around but our groceries consisted of a giant bottle of Baileys and a bottle of Absolute Grapefruit (no thanks to duty-free), so we weren’t fooling anyone. We needed help, which we found in the form of Matt’s Big Breakfast.
This place is awesome, it’s like the quintessential American diner – just a little better. Lauren and I both got the five spot, the most basic and most delicious breakfast sandwich I may have ever had. Seriously, the roll was oh so fresh and soft and it contained two fried eggs, thick cut bacon, American cheese and riddled onions. I am still dreaming about this sandwich…
Outside of brunch i like to find a great casual lunch spot and a place to splurge on dinner and we did just that. For lunch we chose Ocotillo. I love the space, it is a beautifully combined indoor/outdoor space and a perfect setting for the locally influenced and seasonal American cuisine. Our food and service were great and I highly recommend this place on a beautiful sunny day.
There are so many great restaurants in Phoenix with new ones popping up, what seems like daily so dinner was a difficult choice, but we decided on Nobuo at Teeter House. I would definitely recommend this restaurant. It is housed in a tiny little bungalow in Heritage Square showing elevated, yet simple Japanese cuisine.
Well now that we have the eating part down pat – lets talk about sports. The truth is that I’m not a huge sports fan, but Lauren is; so when we had the chance to go check out a hockey game while we were there, we jumped at it (and if hockey isn’t your thing, there’s baseball and basketball too). The arena is a little outside the city in neighbouring Glendale, but you can go early and make a day of it at the Westgate Entertainment District. There are a few specialty stores if you feel like doing a little shopping and 20 or so bars/restaurants you can hang at before the game gets going.
Our favourite – Yard House, they have a pretty casual menu with really decent food, happy hour specials, good old fashion classic rock and 100+ beers on tap.
We filled up our next day wandering around and hitting up Roosevelt Row with our cameras and it was glorious. Here’s a few of my favourite snaps from this day:
Hands down one of my all time favourite things to do is walking around, capturing the heart and soul of the city.
After a busy few days we decided to head to the Botanical Gardens, because what better way to celebrate Arizona, then a gigantic cacti garden. But in truth, this place is incredible. It’s a beautiful place to wind down or nurse your hangover, just make sure to bring a lot of water as you are in the desert and it gets hot in there.
Last but not least it’s time to check out Old Town Scottsdale. This was probably the most random part of our trip, and maybe the most fun!!! We began the day walking around and getting to know the neighbourhood and we ended the day with a Santa Pub Crawl. One thing you should know about Phoenix in December – it’s like Christmas on steroids. Sooooo, when I said earlier that we (you) would be sure to drink a lot, well we did. So here are my top three dive bars to go for a cocktail or two (that I remember).
I hope you enjoy my first travel post and look forward to the next one.