Having never visited the southwest region of the United States before, I was quite giddy about seeing that part of the country and getting away on a much-needed vacation. I have to say I was very uneducated about what the region had to offer and what an amazing and gorgeous place Phoenix was. Not only were the views and scenic vistas stunning, but the food and dining scene was top notch. I enjoyed some of the best meals of my life here. Additionally, the people were lovely and friendly and couldn’t wait to tell us all about the area. If you want a unique trip in a beautiful setting with top notch food–Phoenix, Arizona is your next destination.
This was truly an oasis in the desert. The rooms were spacious, comfortable, and clean. We had a large balcony attached to our space–which we couldn’t take advantage of lest we wished to melt. The sprawling green space with strategically spaced cacti led down to the various family and adult pools and Jacuzzis. There was even a slide that was surprisingly fast and very fun. This was not a slide for wimps! Note that we adults thoroughly enjoyed the pools and activities, but it was also a very family-friendly spot. It would be a great spot to bring those kiddos. The dining and spa were top notch as well. Do not leave without getting a spa treatment and spending the day in the mineral pool. 7500 East Doubletree Ranch Road, Scottsdale, AZ
We loved the convenience and the accessibility of this downtown hotel. Complete with a full kitchen–not that we cooked–it would be a perfect place for those adventurous souls who know what to do with pots and pans. On the same block there were a comedy club, two trendy bars, juice bar, and sushi spot. It was incredibly convenient. 132 South Central Ave., Phoenix, AZ
Our brunching desires were met and exceeded at The Henry. To say it is Instagrammable is an understatement. We loved everything from the decor, to the energy and vibe, to the tile at this Arizona hot spot. The food was unbelievable and the service was wonderful. Our lovely waiter, Issac, was a gem and made our experience that much lovelier. The salted caramel sticky bun, chicken fried chicken, and green smoothie were fan favorites. Pro tip: brunch in style and look cute. You will want to take pictures. Read the review here. 4455 E. Camelback Road Phoenix, AZ
We loved everything about Windsor from the tasty and hearty dishes to the adorable outdoor patio space. Our waitress was efficient and nice which is always appreciated. They offer $5 pitchers of beer which plenty of our fellow brunchers were taking advantage of that day. You must order the cinnamon bun and beignets–we said so. Read our full brunch review here. 5223 N Central Ave, Phoenix, AZ
We enjoyed this lively breakfast spot in Gilbert, Arizona. With a deep connection to local farmers and suppliers, the chefs cook up creative, craft cuisine. I loved my breakfast burrito, while Cori Sue loved her chorizo hash. The pancakes were yummy and the coffee and tea hit the spot. 230 N. Gilbert Rd., Gilbert, AZ
Phoenix Public Market
This adorable hot spot in downtown Phoenix was perfect for hearty breakfast sammies, pastries, and coffee. I loved my scrambled eggs, avocado, and bacon on a toasty bun while Cori Sue enjoyed her chorizo hash. The pastries were incredible. We especially loved the cowboy cookie and the peach pop tart–this is a must-order. Read our review here. 14 E Pierce St, Phoenix, AZ
The Glady was named one of Phoenix’s best new restaurants the year it opened–a difficult feat. Chef Bernie Kantak, who has received a nod from the James Beard house, offers a menu featuring well-traveled comfort food among a stylish bar boasting a world-class craft beverage program. We had the most enjoyable and satisfying experience at dinner. We were well taken care of and we had some of the most incredible dishes. The fresh tuna with brown sugar and caper spread sounded fishy–but it was hands down one of the best dishes we’ve ever eaten. Somehow the flavors blended perfectly and we found ourselves licking the plate wanting more. The Nutella dessert was also a must order–it was out of this world. 2201 E Camelback Rd, Phoenix, AZ
We loved this elevated taco joint in Scottsdale. The margaritas were perfectly blended and the service was lovely. The chef takes pride in his work and you can taste the love. We devoured the elote and yellow tomato gazpacho. The short rib crunchy taco was our favorite taco of the night. Check out the menu beforehand and catch some of their amazing happy hours and specials. CRUjiente, 3961 E Camelback Road, Phoenix, AZ
SWB at the Hyatt Regency Scottsdale
We had a lovely experience at a wine dinner spent at the chef’s counter at the Hyatt Regency. The night started off with some tequila followed by two wines and a dessert port. We loved our veggie-centric salads and enjoyed hearing more about the food scene from the wonderful chef. Our lamb was perfectly cooked and seasoned. We both devoured our desserts–a flourless chocolate brownie. It was quite possibly the best dessert we’ve ever had–bravo. 7500 East Doubletree Ranch Road, Scottsdale, AZ
Bitter & Twisted Cocktail Parlour
Cori Sue and I had the best drinks of our lives at Bitter & Twisted. For real–all other alcohol is now inferior. Our lovely bartender, Brian, made the experience even better. Somehow, Brian just got us. Cori Sue told him she liked champagne cocktails and Brian whipped up the two most perfect beverages Cori Sue has ever tasted. I greatly enjoyed my two beverages–I recommend the Slap n’ Tickle. With over one hundred drink choices, it’s a tough call on what to order. Our advice is to let the bartenders takeover and put your faith in them–they know what they’re doing. Don’t leave without ordering the ramen burger, sichuan chicken, brisket tacos, or rice rocket salad. And ask for Brian–we miss you, Brian! 11 W. Jefferson St. Phoenix, AZ
We had a world class dining experience at The Gladly. The drinks were no exception. Cori Sue stuck to wine which she thoroughly enjoyed paired with her oysters and short rib. I opted for a Mezcal drink and margarita on a special ice cube–let me explain. The Glady makes their own specially filtered ice in two hundred pound blocks which are then hand cut to personal sized blocks. At the table, we had our own demonstration of how they compress the ice into a perfect sphere. Soon after the demonstration started, we had a perfect crystal clear ice ball. Add in some booze and I was a very happy camper. 2201 E Camelback Rd, Phoenix, AZ
This cute and eclectic shop was not far from downtown Phoenix. They had plenty of cactus-inspired pieces and interesting finds. Bunky is a cute place to bop around and spend the afternoon enjoying a much needed air conditioning break. 1437 N 1st St., Phoenix, AZ
Changing Hands and First Draft
Head here if you want to grab some airplane reading material and stay for a drink at the attached bar. They have some great local artwork and funky knickknacks. We spied some gold pineapple book ends–we know you’re booking your flight now. 300 W Camelback Road, Phoenix, AZ
Fashion Square Scottsdale
We found some funky shops and boutiques along the way while enjoying the hot southwestern weather. We enjoyed the Mexican influences and southern flare. A great place to find eclectic pieces or stock up on touristy trinkets to take home.
Desert Botanical Garden
This isn’t your average botanical garden. It feels like you’re in the middle of the desert but with public restrooms–a win-win for everyone. This is a gorgeous space that lets you see the gorgeous landscape of Arizona in its full glory. Only a twenty minute drive from downtown Phoenix, this is definitely worth a morning here. Pro tip–get there early to beat the heat! Also, look cute, you’ll want to take pictures. 1201 N Galvin Parkway, Phoenix, AZ
Yes, it’s what you think. A yoga class with goats jumping around you and on top of you. It was magical. To make the class even better, the goats were dressed up as sharks because of Shark Week. We loved this experience and recommend it for anyone looking to have a good time and needs a new Instagram post. To be honest, there was not a lot of yoga–but what yoga we did do was great. Sarah, who was also our paddle boarding instructor, led the class and did a fantastic job organizing the goats and the humans. The majority of the class is spent taking photos and lining and circling up to have the goats run across your backs or bellies. It’s a good time. 26601 S. Val Vista Dr., Gilbert, AZ
Paddle Boarding with Desert Paddle Boards
We had a blast with Sarah of Desert Paddle Boards. Her personality and stories kept us entertained and well informed while paddling along the gorgeous Salt River. We saw wild ponies and cows while on our tour. Lucky for us, Sarah can paddle and take pictures at the same time. 1548 S. Seton St., Mesa, Arizona
Pink Jeep Tour in Sedona
This was an incredible experience that we highly recommend. Not only did we get some awesome photos–of us and the views–but it was fun and highly informative about Arizona and Sedona in general. The guides are friendly and entertaining and will answer all of your questions about the gorgeous region. The pink Jeeps make it that much more fun and whimsical and provide for a stunning contrast against the red rocks of Sedona. **We would like to take this opportunity to apologize to our tour guide, Doc, for taking so many photos and embarrassing ourselves. You were a good sport!
The spa at the Hyatt Regency was a world class exceptional experience. We loved our treatments–I got a Hydrafacial and Cori Sue had a massage. We both loved our technicians and were very much at peace. We also enjoyed the Himalayan Salt Room which is supposed to aid a myriad of health concerns from asthma to eczema to better sleep. We suggest carving out a solid couple of hours here because we will want to take advantage of the Jacuzzi, mineral pool, and steam rooms and saunas. 7500 E Doubletree Ranch Road, Scottsdale, AZ.
Thanks to Visit Phoenix for partnering on this post!