Ah, Phoenix. Where do I even begin? Phoenix will forever hold the most special place in our hearts. My husband was in his second year of Medical school, while I had freshly graduated from College, working my first job in Nebraska. He came home one evening from studying and informed me he had the opportunity to apply for his last two years of school working at a hospital in the heart of downtown Phoenix… all he needed to do was put his name in a lottery (as this was a pretty popular opportunity.) I was OVER THE MOON, and agreed immediately. I had wanted to get out of town (at least for a bit) since graduating, so this was good news all around.
Long story short, we won the lottery! (Literally and figuratively!) We were phoenix bound two months later. I started my career with UPS there, and Austin was thriving at school/ work in our neighborhood hospital. THINGS WERE GOOD. We had made several new friends, reconnected with a few old, and both really felt at home…. However, as the saying goes all good things must come to an end…. (or so it goes in the Medical School world.) After those fateful 2 years it was time for Austin to apply for residency or fellowship opportunities. We obviously tried very hard to make Phoenix our home, but unfortunately this wasn’t an opportunity for Austin’s specialty in the area.
After a grueling couple of months apart, with Austin flying all over the country for different interviews, and me living in limbo land, working on resumes, and secretly perusing opportunities within my company in all of the cities Austin was visiting, we finally got the news. We were headed for… NEW YORK CITY!! Which takes me to an entirely different post at a different time.
Thanks for being patient with my reminiscent, round about way of saying, “WE FREAKING LOVE PHOENIX.” Therefore, any time we get the opportunity to make our way back west we jump on it. Our little Bubba has been there twice in his short 19 months of life, and has many more return trips in his future. Not only is Phoenix a great place for adults to travel to, it is also as we have learned, a great place for kiddos as well! (at least in the winter, we haven’t made the trip with Jax during the 120 degree summer as of yet…)
I put together my TOP 5 things to do in Phoenix (with and without) your kiddos.
- Hike! This will forever be my number 1 “to do” when I am in town, simply because everywhere we have lived since hasn’t had the option available. There are several hikes to try out when you are in town.
- The best ADULT hikes include:
- Piestawa Peak (or as some call, Squaw Peak): The best way to describe this hike is a 2 hour stairstepper . Such a great workout!
- Camelback Mountain: Take note, there are two entrances to this mountain. Make sure to use Google as one is more of a walking hike, and one is more of a physical climb (using hand rails at some points even.) Both lead to the same peak with GORGEOUS views of the entire valley.
The best “Baby on Board” hikes:
- Pinnacle Peak: This is a great hike with beautiful views of Northern Scottsdale (and the insanely gorgeous homes that back up to the mountain.)
- Toms Thumb: This is one I have yet to try, but have heard from many that it is a lovely hike with gorgeous views, all while being very child friendly.
**My only strong suggestions before embarking on a hike with your little one (at least one under 4 is to get a carrier, we purchased this one and it worked great! Also, water. Lots of water!
- Phoenix Zoo: The Phoenix Zoo is situated right in the heart of central Phoenix, which makes it very accessible to visitors of Phoenix and all surrounding areas. There is currently a dinosaur exhibit, that i’ve heard is incredible. It will be available through April. What really excited me was being able to view the Zoo Lights that take place every year November- January. The Phoenix zoo lights up their entire grounds with millions of lights, a three-story Christmas tree, and lots of music, shows, and more!
- Scottsdale Princess: Now, I may be a bit biased here, as this is where my husband and I were married. However, during the holidays there really is nowhere more beautiful, festive, and family friendly. WARNING: the cost to park is steep– Don’t let it scare you off. We were told when we pulled up we would need to pay $85 to park. Which after a mild heart attack we were finally told that the price not only included parking but it also included wrist bands for all of us to participate in the various rides throughout the park. We were also told that if we ate on the premises, the parking fee went away entirely. This was a much better deal than we originally thought. Jax LOVED it. I would have gone back every single night after to see that smile on his face. There is a 3 story Christmas tree here as well, that plays music, and this was a huge hit for our Bub, he could have sat out here and danced all evening. The entire property is lit up in beautiful lights, which you can view by foot or by train. There is an ice skating rink for older kiddos, complete with a veranda for Mom and Dad to sip their cocktails by a fire while watching. There is a new addition to the property called “Smore’s Land” that included a ferris wheel, carousel, build-a-bear workshop, and campfires for s’more making. The whole thing is just adorable, and I couldn’t recommend it more for a night out with your kiddos! I even saw a few couples out for a holiday date night, it really is so much fun!
- Golf- I’m told (by my husband) that I would be remised if I didn’t include golf in a post covering Phoenix. I, however am not a golfer so needed to enlist my husband for the following courses and tips.
- Eagle Mountain and Weekopaw: Located in Fountain Hills. The desert and valley views on this course are breathtaking. Both courses are suitable for any level of golfer.
- TPC Scottsdale: Located in north Scottsdale (also at the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess) is known for hosting the Waste Management PGA tour event each year. My husband loves playing this course in December or January before the event, when the stands are all set up! Side note: $$$
- Troon North: Located in north Scottsdale, and is well known for hosting many professional golfers. This course boasts beautiful views and excellent desert feels. Be prepared to lose lots of golf balls, as this is a more advanced course.
- Shopping: There are many different types of shopping available to you in the entire Phoenix metro. Fashion Square Mall in the heart of Old Town Scottsdale has you covered on all spectrums of shopping- from Forever 21 to Louis Vuitton. With many incredible restaurants in walking distance, you could easily make a day of it. Kierland Commons is a great outdoor mall in north Scottsdale. There are many great stores, and also some incredible restaurants in the area. Lastly, I must mention the Phoenix Premium Outlets. I haven’t been here since I lived in the area, but this is a very nice and clean, outdoor mall that has excellent stores, and even more excellent deals!
Lastly, being the giant foodies that we are I feel inclined to write a quick TOP 5 on the restaurants you MUST try when in the area. Believe me, I could easily write a TOP 25 on this, so please let me know if you need any more suggestions!!
- Hillstone: if you’re in central Phoenix, and Houstons if you are in Scottsdale
- Local Bistro: Italian cuisine with a very modern vibe. Located in north Scottsdale
- Postinos: wine, tapas, the best bruschetta in town, and did I mention THE WINE?? (The perfect date night spot!)
- Ocean Club: If you’re in the mood for the absolute best seafood, steak, and wine, with a vibrant atmosphere, this is the place for you. Be prepared to spend some $$$.
- The Herb Box: This is a very vegetarian friendly spot, with two locations in Old Town, and north Scottsdale (DC Ranch.) Lots of healthy, and absolutely delicious options. My husband and I are both huge fans!!
These are just a FEW of our favorite things to do in this city. Please feel free to reach out with any questions you may have regarding your trip! Also, if I’m missing something please DM me and let me know, as I know we will be back soon!