Things To Do in Phoenix


Hike to a peak and take in the city from afar

Hike to a peak and take in the city from afar

Our travels are becoming more frequent because we are empty nesters. Our travels also take us to where our kids are and that allows us to experience where they are living. Taking a weekend to get away from from the cold and rain in Portland to sunny Phoenix is a no brainer. We couldn’t wait to ditch our raincoats for shorts. My daughter had lined up a few restaurants to try and some fun things to do right in Phoenix. I planned a day in Sedona hiking and playing. It was all set to be the perfect weekend.

Cheap Eats at Gadzooks

Wood fired enchiladas

Wood fired enchiladas

When we arrived our daughter took us to one of her favorite places to eat. Gadzooks is not only the most brilliant idea ever, it’s even an affordable place to grab a bite to eat. The serve wood fired enchiladas. Yep! It’s like Chipotle only better. You choose your shells, then your meats and sauce, they top it with cheese and they put it in the wood fire oven. After it’s heated and the cheese has melted you can top it with whatever you like. We chose Pico de gallo and a house made avocado jalapeno sauce. For $7 you get 2 enchiladas. (I did add an egg to mine, because I could) It’s fast, it’s great and it’s affordable. No wonder our collage aged daughter loves it so much.

Songbird Coffee & Tea

Enjoying a latte in this cute coffee shop.

Enjoying a latte in this cute coffee shop.

The next day we got up and went to a late breakfast at Songbird Coffee & Tea house. This place was incredibly charming. From the scrabble board menu to the eclectic decor, we loved the feel of this place. Not only is this a coffee shop, but they also serve waffles on the weekends. Not just any waffles, they serve Leige waffles, which are my favorite. One of her specials that day was Butternut Rosemary and it was amazing.  Another had a berry compote on it (sorry I can’t remember exactly what it was) and there was a pumpkin topped one. We ordered one of each just so we could try them all. YUM!

The coffee is amazing, the chai tea is some of the best I have had anywhere (sorry Portland) and the latte they made me was perfect( I can be high maintenance, but she nailed it.)

Wander Roosevelt Row

After you are done at Songbird walk next door to vintage store and from there you can wander down to the Roosevelt neighborhood where a whole street of homes have been turned into businesses. There are more vintage stores, book stores, coffee shops and even ice cream shops. Very charming area.

Hike in the City

hikes to do in phoenix

Not your typical hiking trail

hiking in phoenix

This was what most of the trail looked like, but it wasn’t as hard as it looks

hiking phoenix

The views of Phoenix were amazing.

That afternoon we decided to take a local hike. After deciding that Camelback might be too busy on the weekend we opted to try Piestewa Peak aka Squaw Peak. We didn’t do a ton of research. We just pulled into the 2nd parking lot we found. Saw a trail head and saw that it lead to the summit. It didn’t look at that high, so we went for it. Part way up we were like “that’s not the summit.” A little later we were looking way up asking, “Is that our trail?”  Well 1200ft and 1.2 miles later we finally found the summit and you are literally on the peak which is not large. The views were obviously amazing from up there. This hike is a lot of walking on rocks and lots of stairs to climb. When we got to the bottom we found something that was a little more descriptive and that’s when we discovered our hike was considered moderate/difficult. It’s didn’t seem that bad, but it was not easy by any means.

Dinner at Culinary Dropouts

Sweet Potato pasta with veggies.

Sweet Potato pasta with veggies.

Our evening meal took us to Culinary Dropouts. The name alone won us over. Once the food started coming out, we knew we would not be disappointed. The Burger was perfect. The perfect blend toppings yet letting you taste the great beef. The ribs were not only fall off the bone tender, but the seasoning on them was exceptional. I ordered the Sweet potato pasta and it was topped with mushrooms and brussels sprouts. She also suggested adding prosciutto because the saltiness was a good complement. This dish was fantastic. We also ordered the meatloaf, although I didn’t taste it, but I heard it was great too.

I should back up and say that our Charcuteri board was impressive. They have a list of meats, cheeses and snacks. They then hand you a list and you mark what you want on your plate. Every place needs to do this. Loved this idea.

Service at this place was beyond exceptional. They were out of something we ordered for our charcuteri plate so they sent out the manager to tell us the bad news. They then proceeded to help us fill that space with something good. And checked back later to make sure we were happy with our second choice. Exceptional service.

Spend a day in Sedona

Beautiful cactus among the red hills

Beautiful cactus among the red hills

Those red rocks!

Those red rocks!

We took a whole day to explore Sedona. We heard it can get really busy, especially in the fall because the temps are perfect. We took a Friday to hit the trails and avoid some of the crowds and I think for the most part it worked out perfectly. If you don’t want to hike there is plenty to do in Sedona with the shops and spas and such.

Chapel of the Holy Cross

The Chapel of the Holy Cross in Sedona, Arizona

The Chapel of the Holy Cross in Sedona, Arizona

This is a church that you can drive right up too. It was simply stunning with the church set up again the red rock. We parked at the bottom and walked to the top. There really isn’t a trail or path, so just watch for cars if you choose to do this. Otherwise drive to the top, they had parking attendants helping you park since it was such limited space.

Devils Bridge

The trail/road to Devils Bridge.

The trail/road to Devils Bridge.

Devils Bridge Trail

Hiking Devils Bridge

I had done my homework ahead of time and knew I wanted to try and do this hike. After stopping for a coffee and a snack and checking with the locals they all agreed it was the perfect hike for the day. The hike is 2 miles one way, unless you have a high clearance vehicle, then you can drive in an extra mile and make it just 2 miles total. I didn’t mind the extra walking since the area was so beautiful. This hike is a must do. It is a little freaky, I won’t lie, but so worth it. Even if you don’t choose to walk out on it. It’s a pretty easy hike with a bit of climbing stairs towards the end. I highly recommend this hike.

I couldn't get myself to go to the middle. Just too scary

I couldn’t get myself to go to the middle. Just too scary

Lucky for us our daughter lives in Phoenix so there will be many more visits with many more discoveries I’m sure.

What we Discovered:

  • Phoenix has some great places to dine. We are from Portland and we are spoiled with good food, but Phoenix did not disappoint.
  • Within an hour of Phoenix you are in some pretty spectacular areas, so take the time to leave town for an afternoon.
  • We used AirBnB and stayed in a perfect location to take in the city. We saw plenty of AirBnB options too. Don’t be afraid to try this service out if you haven’t already.
  • Sedona needs to be an overnight trip.
  • There are a plenty of hikes to do within the city limits all with great views of the city.
  • It’s not so bad in the fall. As a matter of fact it was perfect when we were there. Not sure I would do the city hikes in the spring or summer.


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