Rising in the Valley of the Sun

Known for its top-notch resorts, desert gardens and award-winning golf courses, Phoenix Arizona is a natural R&R destination, and the perfect place to find some peace for your body, mind and soul.

In around 1AD, the Hohokam people first settled in what is Phoenix today. In their time in the area, they had created and utilized a canal system which allowed agriculture to blossom. Around 1450, these native peoples mysteriously disappeared from the land. By the time the first European explores arrived in the early 16th century, the area was occupied by the O’odham and Sobaipuri tribes. In 1867, Phoenix was settled by Americans, however, it wasn’t incorporated as the City of Phoenix until 1881. Phoenix really took off as an agriculture hub when Teddy Roosevelt ordered the Salt River to be dammed in 1905 producing an oasis in the desert.

mountains in phoenix

Phoenix, Arizona, on the rocks !

From that time, its’ economy depended on the “Five C’s”: cotton, citrus, cattle, climate and copper. Today, Phoenix is Arizona’s largest city. With a hot, desert climate, you should choose your time to visit wisely, especially if you do not like extreme heat. To experience the milder side of the state’s weather, I recommend planning your visit between November and April. Defined by its people and surrounded by nature, the energy of Phoenix is mesmerizing bringing a sense of wonder to all who visit.

There are so many things to see, do and learn in Phoenix, Here are my top recommendations:

  • Papago Park – There are many major attractions in Phoenix, and this 1200 acre park of Phoenix and the neighboring city of Tempe is home to many of them! The Desert Botanical Garden, the Hall of Flame Museum, Hole in the Rock and Hunt’s Tomb, the resting place of George W. P. Hunt, Arizona’s first governor are some of the most popular places to visit but you can also golf, bike and hike around the vicinity.
  • Roosevelt Row – An artist’s utopia, this area is lined with some of the cities coolest street art and complete with unique art galleries, the patios of restaurants and bars and fun boutiques. There are also many cafés to grab a coffee and perhaps some breakfast to start your day.
  • Old Town Scottsdale – Located about a 20 minute drive East of Phoenix, Scottsdale is full of fun things to do. Some of the most popular attractions include The Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art and Pinnacle Peak. You can also spend the day shopping around the town’s fashion square and enjoy a bite at one of its many contemporary restaurants.

Downtown Scottsdale all dolled up!

  • Museums – The city’s love for art doesn’t end there! In the Phoenix Art Museum you can see works from all around the world, or, if you’d rather create your own art, make your way to the Mesa Art Centre where you can make pottery. For a deeper look at the historical significance of this pottery style, the Heard Museum exhibits the art and culture of the Native American peoples of the Southwest.

Here’s a Pro-Tip: If you are in Phoenix on the first Friday of the month, you can stop by the city’s First Friday art walk in the downtown area. Artists and vendors of all different types take over the streets displaying their crafts.

  • Montezuma Castle National Monument – Although not a traditional castle or related to Montezuma, the Aztec emperor, this is one of the most historical places in Arizona. These well-preserved dwellings were built by the Sinagua people between 1100 and 1425 AD. It is about a 2 hour drive from Phoenix, so plan to spend a good portion of the day and enjoy the ride!

The Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport is the main airport of Phoenix and only 4.8 km (3 miles) east of downtown. You can make your way there via bus route 44, the PHX SkyTrain, taxi or ride-shares. The drive is conveniently only about 10 minutes to the city centre. There are many ways to navigate the city including The Metro Rail which runs from through downtown Phoenix and Eastward into Tempe and Mesa. You can also taxi and ride shares around the city and surrounding areas.

With so many nice places to say in Phoenix, it can be hard to choose one. Camelback Mountain is an iconic landmark in Phoenix and the Sanctuary Camelback Mountain Resort and Spa is situated right atop the mountain. It offers some of the most magical views of the valley. If you’d prefer your view to be of the legendary Camelback Mountain, The Biltmore, inspired by Frank Lloyd Wright, is one of the most historic hotels in Phoenix. It was opened in 1929 and has welcomed guests such as Marilyn Monroe ever since. With an award-winning spa, it makes for the perfect R&R destination.


I like it here so much, I wish they’d Biltmore!

Kimpton Hotel Palomar is more connected, located in a prime downtown location while The Camby Hotel has some of the best classily modern accommodation phoenix has on offer. With an awesome rooftop bar, the Claredon Hotel and Spa is another one of my favorite places to relax and enjoy a cool drink under the Arizona sun.

All that relaxing in the sun can sure build up an appetite, so when you’re ready for a bite, Hana Japanese Eatery is one of my favorite places to dine on fresh and beautifully plated food, especially the sushi. For a taste of TexasLittle Miss BBQ offers cooked-to-perfection ribs that fall right off the bone while Durant’s, located in the city center is an old-school steakhouse and has been serving up magic for about 70 years.


Phoenix has the best Mexican food outside of Mexico!

If something a little lighter would suit your fancy, Green New American Vegetarian, located next to the vegan pastry spot, Nami, is the place to go! For some of the best Mexican in town, Otro Café and La Santisima are a top pick with their modernized classics.

Arizona sightseeing isn’t limited to the tours and hikes, check out Lustre Rooftop Bar for a great spot to sit back and enjoy a craft drink while overlooking some of the valley’s most lovely sights. Bar Smith is another open atmosphere space to enjoy a drink, although it is unlikely that you will be sitting!

nightlife Arizona

Sun in the sky and sun in my glass!

DJs keep the dance floor populated all night long! For live music and events, Valley Bar is always up to something fun. Located inside the former Arizona Prohibition Headquarters, Bitter & Twisted offers award winning cocktails and a delicious bar bites menu. They do have limited space, so be prepared for their “first come first serve” policy. CityScape, located in the heart of downtown, is an exciting hub full of life to get a real taste of the city’s downtown vibe.

Phoenix has some amazing shopping spots. The Hive is one of my favorites for vintage fashion and goods, while Scottsdale offers a swankier experience. Quirky boutiques line the streets all over the town, so make sure to take time to explore and support local artists and boutiques.

With the heat of the southwest combined with so many opportunities to reconnect to yourself, Phoenix will leave you feeling like you’re reborn from fire!




Isabella’s Checklist

What to see: Desert Botanical Gardens, Roosevelt Row (

Where to stay: The Biltmore, Kimpton Hotel Palomar, The Camby (,,

Where to eat: Durant’s, Otro Cafe (, )

Where to party: Lustre Rooftop Bar, Valley Bar (,

What to buy: The Hive, Explore Scottsdale!

Fun in the Arizona Sun!
Isabella’s Checklist

What to see: Desert Botanical Gardens, Roosevelt Row (

Where to stay: The Biltmore, Kimpton Hotel Palomar, The Camby (,,

Where to eat: Durant’s, Otro Cafe (, )

Where to party: Lustre Rooftop Bar, Valley Bar (,

What to buy: The Hive, Explore Scottsdale!

Fun in the Arizona Sun!

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