Visit the Valley of the Sun
*This travel feature originally appeared in our Winter 2018 Ranch House Journal. Never miss another article, subscribe to the magazine here.
By Meg Drake
Whether you’re visiting the city for fun or you’re traveling to Arizona’s state capital for the 2018 National Cattlemen’s Beef Association Convention, Phoenix is the perfect escape from winter’s freezing temperatures.
It’s been a while since I’ve traveled to the sunny city (since Kansas State played Oregon in the 2012 Fiesta Bowl, to be exact), so I decided to ask our Ranch House team and Facebook followers for some help. Overall, here are the most frequently listed must-sees and must-dos in Phoenix and the surrounding area.
With an average annual temp of 75 degrees, Phoenix is the perfect place to participate in outdoor activities. From hiking and golfing to exploring downtown Scottsdale, the town has something for every outdoor enthusiast to enjoy.
If you’re into hiking, Camelback Mountain is a popular destination for tourists and locals. Atop the mountain, situated between Phoenix, Scottsdale and Paradise Valley, hikers can experience amazing views and beautiful scenery. The park has two hiking trails, Echo Canyon and Cholla, both of which are ranked as difficult. So if you’re planning on hiking the mountain, their website indicates it’s important to make sure you’re adequately prepared. To learn more, visit climbcamelback.com.
Phoenix is also home to many beautiful public golf courses. The most popular being Troon North Golf Club, TPC Scottsdale and Wickenburg Ranch Golf and Social Club. If you’d like to stay close to the city rather than travel for a game of golf, TPC Scottsdale is your best bet.
The Desert Botanical Garden is also listed as a popular sightseeing destination. What better place to view the world’s finest collection of arid plants than Arizona? The garden is home to over 50,000 different desert plants that can be observed along five themed trails. You can also find concerts, special events and seasonal exhibits scheduled throughout the year. Visit dbg.org to see what special events are happening during your stay.
GRAB SOME GRUB
Along with plenty of outdoor activities, Phoenix also has a plethora of delicious dining opportunities. While you’re in town, be sure to try these restaurant suggestions…
Stockyards Steakhouse: Since 1947 the Stockyards Restaurant has been providing delicious beefy eats to the Phoenix area. In the early 2000’s the restaurant was revitalized and restored. Because of its role in Arizona’s cattle industry and its architectural style, the venue was recently added to the City of Phoenix Historical Register.
The Breadfruit & Rum Bar: If you’re into Jamaican-styled entrees coupled with daring rum cocktails, then the award-winning Breadfruit & Rum Bar is a must-try! Quite different from your typical steak and potatoes type joint, the restaurant specializes in serving up delicious seafood melodies. They also offer over 150 different premium rums and fine cigars to further add to your overall dining experience.
Rustler’s Rooste Steakhouse: Built in an old mine shaft, the Rustler’s Rooste Steakhouse is known for entertainment and delicious eats. The restaurant offers guests the finest steaks, ribs, chicken and seafood. Plus, while dining, you can enjoy live music and beautiful views of the entire city.
The Salt Cellar Restaurant: Another excellent location for delicious seafood, the Salt Cellar is Arizona’s only underground restaurant. Known for always having an available selection of whole Maine lobster, the restaurant serves a wide array of seafood along with black Angus steaks and various chicken choices.
Los Olivos Mexican Patio: Centered around family, homemade ingredients and a relaxing and intimate dining experience, Los Olivos Mexican Patio has been serving authentic Sonoran cuisine to guests for over 70 years. Located in Scottsdale, the family-owned and -operated establishment continues their tradition of good food, excellent service and a warm and friendly atmosphere.
DO A LITTLE SHOPPING
Old Town Scottsdale is a favorite among Phoenix visitors. The area is lined with beautiful shops and art galleries that contain southwest-inspired items like turquoise jewelry, American Indian artwork and Mexican-influenced clothing. Aside from shopping, Old Town Scottsdale is also alive and well in the nightlife and fine dining departments.
Up for a really unique shopping experience? If you answered yes, then check out the Melrose Shopping District while you’re in town. This area is described as one of the city’s best places to purchase unique, vintage items. The district features many independently-owned boutiques and specialty shops.
Phoenix is home to many historical sites, monuments and museums. Heritage Square, Heard Museum and the Western Spirit Museum are among the most popular.
Did you know Phoenix has a vibrant Victorian past that dates back to the late 1800’s? Neither did I, which is why Heritage Square is now on my “must-see” list. Located within the original townsite of the city, the area is a reflection of what Phoenix looked like in its earliest beginnings. The Rosson House Museum is listed as the main attraction in this area.
But, maybe art is more your thing. The Heard Museum, internationally recognized, is dedicated to featuring American Indian art. The museum collaborates with American Indian artists and tribal communities to help tell their stories from a first-person perspective. Visiting the museum allows you an exclusive look into the lives of the American Indian people, especially those from the southwest regions of North America.
Last but not least on the culture map is the Western Spirit Museum. Located in Scottsdale, the museum has been described as one of the nation’s best Western museums. Immerse yourself in the culture and learn more about individuals and events that shaped the Western United States, and bordering Canadian provinces and Mexican states.