Friday, July 03, 2015


The majority of what everyone wanted me to know about Arizona is how HOT it is.  Like literally every person who wrote me to tell me about their state warned me of the hotness.  So I guess the first thing you should know about Arizona is it's HOT.

These tips about AZ come from natives of Arizona!  And y'all had a LOT of info for us!! Thank you! Please leave me tips and suggestions in the comments for everyone to refer back to!

#1 thing to do and see in Arizona is obviously the GRAND CANYON!


What to Do:
Red Rocks and an amazing view.  So many recommending visiting there and even said it was a must see!

Slide Rock State Park
Pink Jeep Tour

What to Eat:
To Eat: Café Jose (Their huevos rancheros are amazing!)


What to Do:
 Two hours north of phoenix and it makes you forget you're in arizona! it's got real weather (basically not just hot, hotter, and surface of the sun). tons of pine trees, and home to Northern Arizona University so it's a classic small college town. great mom and pop restaurants. tons of hiking, the Lowell observatory, and historic Route 66 runs right through it. 

The Lava Tubes
Havasupai Falls (you get there by hiking down from the Grand Canyon)


What to Do:
 Hike "A Mountain" 
- Visit University of Arizona's campus and see a basketball game!
- Tucson is famous for the "Gem Show" which happens once a year and people come from all over the world to buy gems
Sabino Canyon: Ride the tram, walk the paved road or hike off the beaten path. I recommend 7 falls (Bear Canyon Trail).

Mt Lemmon: A MUST if you're ever in Tucson!!!  All year round, Mount Lemon is anywhere from 20 to 25 degrees colder than Tucson. This is great in the summer. It even snows in the winter. A lot of families will go and play in the snow (which is a treat for Arizonan's.). You go from being surround by Palo Verde trees and Saguaro cactus to being in a pine tree oasis in just 30 minutes - you climb almost 10,000ft in that time. The views of the city on the way up are awesome and once you get to the top you have to stop in Summerhaven and look around. Don't forget to check out ski valley while you're up there. Also, go to the end of the road and have a picnic by the creek at Marshall Gulch. There are tons of options for camping and hiking as well.

If you go down to the Tucson area, Tombstone is a couple of hours further south and worth the trek.  It's definitely touristy, but the Birdcage Theater and OK Corral are really cool!  You definitely feel like you step back in time to the wild wild west!

Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum

Reid Park Zoo

Amazing resorts such as MirvalWestin La Paloma, Canyon Ranch  

What to Eat:
Amazing Mexican Restaurants: El Charro Cafe (the Chimichanga was invited here), Mi Nidito (the food is ah-mazing!) 

Beyond Bread - famous for sandwiches and the best bread in town hands down!
-Wildflower: a fancy upscale place in the Foothills with a beautiful patio
-Bison Witches - get it? "Bison Witches = Buy Sandwiches!" Another delicious sandwich shop, also famous for huge bowls of soup in delicious bread bowls.
Caruso's Italian restaurant - also on 4th Ave. Was a popular place with my parents. Another Tucson-only thing.

4th Avenue (this is not a restaurant but since the two places above are located on 4th Ave, you have to visit 4th Ave itself...preferably one of the 2 times a year the 4th Avenue Street Fair is happening...) Incidentally, mentioning the street fair is bringing back memories of a blue hip-pack (fanny pack) I bought there as a teenager, circa 1992 or so -- I thought I was the coolest thing ever! ha! There are hundreds of arts and crafts booths and various food vendors.

Eegee's - A Tucson original. They have sub sandwiches but their specialty is their 'Eegees drinks' which are frozen drinks. They have pina colada (my favorite), strawberry, lemon and a flavor of the month. The frozen drink is really think so if you like it more like a slush you can mix it with sprite, or even tea (teagees) ;) Their signature sandiwich is the Eegees grinder.

El Molinito - delicious Sonoran Mexican food. Casual dining. My favorite is the bean burrito, enchilada style. Also the cheese crisp with guacamole is a must. And sopapillas with honey for dessert. Yum!

Midway Molina - also Sonoran Mexican. Also with the cheese crisp with guacamole...shredded beef tacos, cheese enchiladas, bean burritos or chimichangas. Also give cinnamon horchata (mexican rice drink) a try.

Zinburger (Also in Scottsdale, Phx and Gilbert) Oh my, not cheap but best $10 burger to ever have crossed my lips.

Oregano's - (also in Gilbert, Mesa, Phx, Flagstaff & Scottsdale) Amazing pizza -- if you like thick crust you've got to try the pan pizza! If you like the "pizookie" from BJs, Oreganos has one that is 10 times better!


What To Do:

 The Desert Botanical Gardens
The House of Flame (a fire fighting museum )
Casa Grande (Hohokam Indian ruins)
Pueblo Grande (also Hohokam Indian ruins which has a terrific children's area)
picnicking in Papago Park
The Heard Museum
The Musical Instrument Museum
The Phoenix Science Center.
 Phoenix Children's Museum
-Phoenix Zoo (amazing zoo! Because of our weather the PHX Zoo opens at 6am in the summer time, to avoid the heat! It also has a splash pad)
-pretty much every mall/shopping center (Phoenix, Scottsdale, Chandler,Tempe, Ahwatukee) has a splash pad since it's so hot here, so anyone who goes out should bring swimwear/swim diapers/sunscreen for kiddos! ALWAYS have sandals for kids and yourselves, our pavement can be hot enough to cause 3rd degree burns.


LOVE this practical advise from Gretchen Schultz:
*if you're a visitor, do not leave any makeup, crayons, etc "the car. It will melt and be ruined! If you have little ones, most moms (myself included) leave ice packs on our kids' car seat buckles to avoid burns/start the car a couple of minutes before you put your kiddo in- for babes that still rear
face, spritz their little face with a spray bottle- if you're renting a car, make sure it has rear AC vents.
-School starts VERY early here (I'm a teacher), so any out of towners will be lucky to visit in the end of July/August since school is in session! 

Where to Eat:
-Taco Guild (local, in downtown PHX, it's a restored Catholic Church, unbelievable Mexican food)
TeePee's (favorite of the Bush family)
Cafe Luna


What to Do:
Incredible shopping (is what everyone mentioned)
Butterfly Wonderland (Scottsdale)
McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park

Where to Eat:
The Sugar Bowl - an old soda fountain in Downtown Scottsdale decked out in pink booths and everything. They have the BEST shakes and malts and good burgers and tuna melts too!

"Pizzaria Bianco" - an amazingly delicious pizza parlor with 2 locations now in the valley. Chris, the founder, won the James Beard Award for Best Chef in 2003, and the NY Times dubbed Pizzeria Bianco as "the best pizza in the nation", not just once, but twice. it's been featured in multiple shows on Food Network and been awarded some top prizes in the food industry. plus - it's just super yummy.

Jalapeño Inferno: a great Mexican restaurant basically at the corner of Scottsdale Road and Pinnacle Peak in Scottsdale. They have amazing flour tortilla chips and their tacos Barbacoa are delicious!  They have my favorite margarita anywhere, a blended mango margarita. For dessert their flan is amazing and so is their huge cookie with ice cream (picture a BJs pizookie).


What to Do:
Arizona State University (beautiful campus)
Gammage Auditorium (designed by Frank Lloyd Wright)

If you like Mexican food, you must try Tia Rosa's in Gilbert Arizona
I must do is the Dolly Steamboat. Seeing a lake in the middle of the desert is pretty amazing, and the views are beautiful. Near there are all kinds of museums and restaurants and even a ghost town. Check out http://apachetrailattractions....
The Rustler's Roost restaurant is a favorite too:
And, if you like southern food, we have Lolo's Chicken and Waffles.  http://loloschickenandwaffles....
The Polar Express in Williams, AZ is fantastic.

Canyon de Chelly - up on the Navajo reservation - BEAUTIFUL, there's a short hike down to the bottom of the canyon - lots of history, too. We've had friends tell us that they liked it even more than the Grand Canyon. :)

For the Grand Canyon:
you can hike to the bottom WORTH IT amazing.
and then stay, be fed and have hot showers at Phantom ranch
This decreases the pack weight on your back and makes the hike more doable
reservations book up FAST 9mo to a year but well worth !

A few blog posts about Arizona from a reader:

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