Growing up, I never thought much about Phoenix or the western states. I always lived on the east coast or in the south. When Jimmy and I got together, I was exposed to Phoenix for the first time. Every February he heads out here for six weeks for Spring Training. I can still remember how gorgeous I thought all the mountains were the first time I came to visit.
The mountains are in the backdrop everywhere you go and the succulents complement them perfectly. I’m serious when I say I’m obsessed with cacti! I think they’re so intriguing! The hiking here is unbelievable and it’s pretty crazy how many amazing trails are within a 45 minute drive. Last year, I hiked probably 6 different trails with friends…we wanted to hit all the good ones! This year, we did a little less, but still hit up 2 trails we’ve never been on.
Camelback Mountain – This is the highest peak in the Phoenix area and I’d guess it’s the most popular mountain to hike. There’s two trails – the Echo and the Cholla trail. Both are really hard and will require all 4 limbs at some point. At times you feel like you’re rock climbing! It can get scary, but the views at the top are worth it.
Squaw Peak – There’s a lot of trails around Squaw Peak, but this year we hiked the Summit Trail for the first time. It was an awesome hike. This is the second highest peak in the area and it’s right in northern Phoenix! I really liked this trail, but be warned, it’s basically a stair climber the entire way. You won’t be on all 4’s at any point, but it gets really steep and it’s about a 1.5 mile hike up. I loved it for the butt workout
Pinnacle Peak – This is not a summit trail, but the views make it really enjoyable. It’s not very difficult but there is a lot of ups and downs. It’s also very well marked so it’s pretty much impossible to end up off-trail.
This is easily my favorite thing about Phoenix. The food here is amazing. Everything is so fresh and most restaurants are very healthy, offering organic and farm to table food. I could go on and on about so many restaurants, but I’ll leave it to my top 5.
Olive & Ivy – This is an upscale American restaurant right next to Scottsdale’s Fashion Square Mall. The scenery in this place is absolutely gorgeous from their huge open doors combining the patio and the indoor area, to their adorable string lights all over the patio. It’s the perfect date night spot! Definitely try the bread and pesto, and this short rib flatbread was unbelievable!
Flower Child – There’s quite a few Flower Child locations around the valley and this is the perfect spot for a really healthy, perfectly portioned meal. I ate here pretty frequently for lunch when I wanted something healthy. They serve all organic and locally sourced foods and their vegetable offerings are based on the Dirty Dozen list. It’s really as healthy as you can get and everything tastes SO GOOD!
Original ChopShop – Similar to Flower Child, this is a super healthy spot full of fresh foods and made-to-order juices and smoothies. The portions are a lot bigger than Flower Child, but this is good news when it comes to feeding Jimmy! It’s a great option for breakfast, lunch, or dinner, and you can feel great about eating anything on the menu.
The Mission – Unfortunately, we didn’t make it here this Spring Training, but this is no doubt one of the best restaurants in the area. There’s pretty much no way you’re getting a reservation unless you call weeks in advance (even on a week night!). It’s crazy, but it’s seriously that good. I remember having some sort of short rib appetizer last year that was unbelievable. It’s another great date night spot and worth the call in advance!
Presidio Cocina Mexicana – We found this gem completely by luck. It was two doors down from the condo we stayed at and it’s real, authentic mexican food. Everything is made by hand from all their salsas to their enchilada sauces, to their handmade tortillas. We ate here at least once a week and I’ll probably have withdrawals once we leave Phoenix. I can honestly recommend everything on their menu, but most notably, their fajitas. They’re the best fajitas I’ve ever had!
Did you really think I could make a travel guide without telling you the best shopping spots?! The shopping here is insane..every store you can imagine and the shopping centers are all so gorgeous!
Scottsdale Fashion Square – This is the main mall in the area and it’s HUGE! The Nordstrom is huge and has a really great selection, but they also have smaller stores like AllSaints and Free People. There’s also all of the higher end stores like Louis Vuitton in there. For a mid-shopping meal, you have to go to Shake Shack!
Scottsdale Quarter – I don’t know how, but I just discovered this place yesterday. It’s across the street from Kierland Commons, another notable shopping spot, and it has the best stores! They have a Nike, a Free People, a Kendra Scott (the only one in AZ I believe) and a Planet Blue! There’s tons more, but it’s really such a gorgeous shopping center lined with trees, string lights, and bougainvilleas. I shot some looks there for the blog yesterday and obviously I had to stop in a few stores before I left.
Last, but not least, if you’re in Phoenix during Spring Training, you should definitely try to catch a game! They’re really fun to watch and you can feel the excited energy of all the fans.
Let me know if any of you are planning a trip to Phoenix!! Or if you’ve been, let me know if I missed any of your favorites!