Phoenix is such a fun and diverse city. It feels cosmopolitan and yet a short drive outside the city and you are back in the middle of the desert with huge cacti surrounded by incredible rock formations.
I’d say Phoenix really got me with so many breathtaking natural wonders that I haven’t seen anywhere else.
The food scene here is also pretty versatile – from traditional cowboy fare of enormous steaks and beans to Mexican flair, and to fabulous food trucks that pop up around every corner.
Lost Dutchman State Park
This place is more of a fun drive to Tortilla Flats than anything else. There is a Superstition Mountain Museum and a western themed park/town, where you can glimpse how people lived during the early frontier days. This place has an extremely touristy feel to it, so we skipped it completely.
If you like that kind of stuff – it has a movie set kind of vibe – I definitely recommend to stop by.
Drive all the way to the end of Apache Trail and you’ll arrive at Tortilla Flats. Another little western themed area to get refreshments at the local restaurant and chat with the locals. This place is a popular hang out spot for bikers, who will be more than happy to share a story or two.
Stop by scenic and picturesque Canyon Lake, where you can embark on a nature cruise with Dolly Steamboat. They also do dinner and star gazing cruises.
There is a campground here at the Canyon Lake, but to me the value just wasn’t there. Sure, you have a spot right by the water, but for water and electric hookup for your RV, they charge about $80 a night. No sewage and they have a very few porta potties and one set of showers.
There was also a restaurant at this location, but it was closed when we were there.
Boyce Thomson Arboretum
Lush, 323-acre, 1920s-era state park & arboretum with botanical garden trails, flora and fauna.
I would highly recommend a stop at this stunning arboretum/botanical garden. There is so much to see and explore around here.
We came here quite late in the day and we rushed a bit to see most of the place, which was a shame. Definitely arrive ear
ly in the day to soak up all the beauty and tranquility of this place.
Also bring enough water, as it gets hot around here. There are plenty of shaded spots and benches to sit, relax and ponder all around the arboretum. Pack a lunch.
Price: $15 per person
Just minutes from downtown Phoenix, Papago Park offers a large variety of hiking and an assortment of recreational facilities. Comprised primarily of sandstone, the range is known for its massive buttes that rise and fall throughout the park. The trails that run through the area are generally easy to hike.
Papago Park also houses the Phoenix Zoo and Desert Botanical Garden, both of which are incredibly overpriced and to me, personally, overhyped. I honestly don’t see a reason why a ZOO should cost $25 per adult and $17 per child. The same goes for the botanical garden – not even in the most popular and highly visited places in Europe do they charge these kinds of prices.
You could say, well, you don’t have to pay that and you would be right – we did not.
There is plenty of stunning natural beauty around Papago Park without spending $100 for two people on a walk around a ZOO and a plant garden.
On top of beautiful scenery, there is a large pond, fishing lagoon, golf course, baseball complex, and a museum dedicated to firefighting and firefighters, which depends on you if that’s your cup of tea or not.
Silver Star Theater
Phoenix and Arizona in whole loves dinner theaters. We were fortunate to be in Phoenix during the holiday season and we visited the Silver Star theater to watch a performance of A Christmas Carol and it was absolutely fantastic.
The food was delicious, the service fabulous, and the production of the show was first rate.