Escape the gray and head to sunny Arizona. Nestled in the urban core of the Grand Canyon state discover the bustling city of Greater Phoenix boasting more than 300 days of sunshine annually. And there’s no better time than now to come play in this Sonoran playground.
Take a day to soak in the sun and explore the desert landscape. Exhilarate yourself and soar up, up and away in a hot air balloon. Float nearly 3,000 feet in the air amongst the picturesque desert landscape complete with cartoon-like cactus. If keeping your feet on the ground is more your tune, than hit the trails and hike to Dobbins Point — a lookout point atop the summit of South Mountain — offering sweeping views of the Valley of the Sun.
Discover an edgy arts scene in downtown Phoenix where alley activation projects come alive and street art is encouraged.
Do – Insider Tips
Local artist Lalo Cota paints vibrant Dia de los Muertes-style portraits along what’s known as Roosevelt Row. Embark on a history and highlights walking tour with Phoenix Rising Tours to learn about downtown Phoenix’s prominent art displays and historic building – plus discover a mini Hollywood walk of fame featuring gold stars for icons such as Marilyn Monroe. Or explore the Heard Museum’s rich history as one of Phoenix’s first cultural attraction presenting an extraordinary collection of American Indian people.
No vacation is complete without a restful retreat to lay your head. You can choose to crawl between 500-thread-count sheets at a Five Diamond resort such at The Phoenician or find your inner sophistication at a posh boutique property like FOUND:RE. In terms of style and character, aesthetic influences ranging from cowboy chic at the Hermosa Inn or The Wigwam to mid-century modernism at Hotel Valley Ho to the iconic Arizona Biltmore, a Frank Lloyd Wright inspired property. Get playful at one of these kid- friendly resorts such as the Arizona Grand Resort, Pointe Hilton Squaw Peak or Hyatt Regency Scottsdale Resort & Spa at Gainey Ranch.
Pamper yourself. Take a moment to wash away your worries and rejuvenate at one of the only authentic Native American spas, Aji Spa — located on the Gila River Indian Community at Sheraton Grand at Wild Horse Pass. Take a journey with Native American healer Belen Stoneman as she performs her signature treatment Thoacta – a combination of massage and Pima healing practices. Get a little quirky and silly while finding Namaste at goat yoga. Yes – you read that right. Goats and yoga! Get down on the farm for yoga poses surrounded by goat fashionistas dolled up in tutus and costumes.
Begin your exploration in the cultural roots of Phoenix’s earliest inhabitants: the ancient Hohokam civilization and American Indian tribes. Get up close to an excavated Hohokam village—an archaeological site more than 1,500 years old—at the Pueblo Grande Museum. Discover the diversity of Southwest American Indian culture at the acclaimed Heard Museum. In addition to displaying a rich history through narratives and artifact collections, the museum showcases native art from local communities.
See – Insider tips
Take a 90-minute walking history + arts tour of downtown Phoenix courtesy of Phoenix Rising Tours. The first Friday of the month, one of the largest art-walks in the U.S. happens along Roosevelt Row. The Desert Botanical Garden offers one of the world’s largest collections of desert plants featuring more than 50,000 plant displays
Spectator sports, golf
Come March, metro Phoenix is the center of the baseball universe thanks to Cactus League Spring Training. It’s baseball heaven as 15 MLB teams, including our own Seattle Mariners, compete in more than 220 games at ballparks throughout the area, with no two ballparks more than a 45 minute drive apart. Greater Phoenix is home to teams in all four major American sports leagues: The NFL’s Arizona Cardinals, NBA’s Phoenix Suns, MLB’s Arizona Diamondbacks and NHL’s Arizona Coyotes. Play golf where the pros play at TPC Scottsdale’s Stadium Course. The course is the site of the Waste Management Phoenix Open, the PGA Tour’s most attended event each year and home of the famously raucous 16th hole. Make a day out of it and play TPC Scottsdale’s Champions course, a memorable desert track in its own right, or explore the myriad other courses in Greater Phoenix.
Explore the desert
Ease into your desert adventure with some easy-to-moderate trails. Walk (or bike) around the red buttes at Papago Park. Get Instagram-worthy pics at the iconic Hole-in- the-Rock formation. Get panoramic views without scaling too high at Piestewa Peak’s Quartz Ridge trail, part of the Phoenix Mountains Preserve. See American Indian petroglyphs—ancient rock carvings—along myriad local trails. Kick up your feet and let someone else do the driving or rafting or flying the final day. The knowledgeable guides at local tour companies can allow you to experience the desert by jeep, Hummer, raft, hot-air balloon, Segway and more.
Passionate foodies will find udder delight noshing their way along the Fresh Foodie Trail in Mesa. Taste extra virgin olive oils infused with ingredients such as peaches, bacon and chili at Queen Creek Olive Mill. Pick peaches at Schnepf Farms. Or test your culinary skills during a cooking class at The Farm at South Mountain. Buzz-worthy restaurants are as plentiful in Greater Phoenix as cacti. There’s a true farm to fork movement that many award-winning chefs and James Beard nominees are embracing elevating Phoenix’s culinary scene.
Eat – Insider Tips
From veggie forward eats at Aaron Chamberlin’s Phoenix Public Market Café to gourmet tacos at CRUjiente to dining at one of the best Mexican restaurants in the Valley at Barrio Café. Try southern-inspired home cooking at Beckett’s Table where Chef Justin Beckett reinvents classic dishes. Or simply devour an OMFG salad – no, not what you think, it stands for “Original Mixed Feel-Good Salad – at one of Phoenix’s best restaurants, The Gladly.
Information provided by VisitPhoenix.com
IF YOU GO
Airline: Allegiant (Phoenix/Mesa)
Flight duration from Bellingham: About 3 hours (one way)
Flights offered: Year-round
PHOENIX FUN FACTS
- The Hohokam people originally inhabited what is now Greater Phoenix until about 1450 A.D. They created a canal system that is still in use today and you can visit archaeological ruins at Pueblo Grande Museum.
- Greater Phoenix is home to legendary architect Frank Lloyd Wright’s last piece of work, ASU Gammage, as well as Taliesin West (his winter home and school).