Summer is in full swing and sometimes it can feel impossible to find anything to do. Not even find something to do but find the energy to go outside in the sweltering heat. Still there are some pretty cool things to do and places to try out. I’m not one for water parks or even floating on the river (been there done that) so these are some fun places to hang out this summer.
The Hotel Valley Ho has always been one of my favorite places in Scottsdale. It has been open since 1956 and designed by a Frank Lloyd Wright student, Edward L. Varney. It quickly became known as a fashionable hot spot of the valley and a favorite of celebrities and sports stars. In 1973 it was purchased by the Ramada hotel chain and its vintage design was deemed “out of date” and covered. In the early 2000’s it was purchased again and restored to its chic, mid-century modern look where it has remained ever since. Throughout its years it has expanded to include a high-rise with new guest rooms and condos and the American restaurant, Cafe ZuZu. It has even been called one of the “best preserved mid-century modern hotels in the country.”
Full disclosure: it’s been incredibly nice here the past couple weeks. Unless you count yesterday being about 96 degrees which is more of an outlier. Regardless, that means we are spending a ton of time outdoors lately. Phoenix in the spring has an influx of snowbirds avoiding the frigid temperatures of their home state in favor of pool days, baseball games, and hiking. While it might be my biggest driving annoyance (just because it’s sunny doesn’t mean we drive differently!), I figured I would share more of my favorite places to visit in the Phoenix metro area.
I’ve previously shared some of my favorite places to go (City Guide: Phoenix) but this time I tried to recommend places with more outdoor spaces to enjoy the brilliant weather. It’s only a matter of time before just the thought of stepping outside burns the bottom of my feet. So whether it’s enjoying a nice meal on the patio or taking in a baseball game these are some of the best places to check out and enjoy some time outside.
5223 N. Central Ave, Phoenix
Churn is an ice cream parlor with a vintage feel that sells ice cream, sweets, and even little toys. Their selection of vintage sweets and delicious ice cream make it the perfect place to take in a little afternoon treat. They have pretzel cones, cake cones, and even the classic waffle cone to fill up with delectable ice cream flavors and toppings. Choose a sundae, cone, or eat the ice cream all on its own. It’s just that good. My favorite are the ice cream sandwiches that are made to order from a variety of cookie and ice cream combinations. They are gigantic and quite possible one of the best cookies I’ve ever tasted. They also know that sweet cravings often happen at night and are open until 10pm!
Spring Training Baseball
One perk of living in Arizona is the plethora of baseball games to choose on the daily. Plenty of teams come to train here so it’s a given to check out a game. Be the envy of everyone you know by spending the day outside, on the lawn, having a hot dog and beer while enjoying some baseball. There are plenty of stadiums and teams to choose from and many games cost as little as $13 dollars for a lawn seat. I personally choose the Dodgers who play out of Glendale or will settle for the Diamondbacks in Scottsdale (they offer complementary sunscreen!). There’s only a few weeks left so if you haven’t gone, go now!
308 N. 2nd Ave, Phoenix
Crescent Ballroom is one of the best places to take in live music in the Valley. It’s a former garage which offers free music frequently or indie bands for a low price. They have specialty nights like the upcoming 80s dance party or the Drake vs Kanye hip hop nights. There’s always something going on so check their calendar. Not into taking in some live music? Enjoy some great Tex-Mex food on their new second floor patio. It looks like a great place to take in a sunset while having some of the best nachos ever made. I wish they still served up a cold PBR, but I love Crescent Ballroom just the same.
5144 N. Central Ave, Phoenix
There are many new Postino locations across the Valley, but this one is conveniently located across the street from Churn. Yes, you can take in a lovely meal on the patio and then head over for some ice cream. Postino offers a great selection of wine and Italian food in a really relaxed, comfortable setting. There’s great music and decor plus the food is outstanding. it’s one of my all time favorite places to go. I usually eat a sandwich and the side salad is incredibly tasty so I have no doubt their other salads are just as good. Don’t skip on the bruschetta and always try the seasonal offering when making your choices. Postino is the perfect excuse to eat all. the. bread. No seriously just trust me. Do it.
12621 N. Frank Lloyd Wright Blvd, Scottsdale
NERD ALERT: I love Taliesin West and Frank Lloyd Wright and after listening to a 99% Invisible podcast episode on Usonia I just knew I would have to recommend this.
If you don’t know, Taliesin West was the winter home of Frank Lloyd Wright and the headquarters of the Taliesin Fellowship. It now is home of the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation and School of Architecture. There are tons of tours depending on your interest level in the project. There’s a new Private Collection tour featuring tons of items from Frank Lloyd Wright’s vaults or you can take the Panorama tour which highlights the link between outside and inside. Enthusiasts can take the Behind the Scenes tour and romantics can take the Night Lights which looks amazing. The Foundation offers tours of the gardens and grounds for those who enjoy the outdoors much more than myself. The structure is built with the iconic Frank Lloyd Wright organic architecture forming deep connections with the desert surrounding it. It was handcrafted and maintained by Wright loyalists who believed in the Wright style. Its gorgeous and I love it. It’s well worth the money even just the generic tour.
My goal over the past couple years has been to get out and explore the city I live in. Seems like a pretty simple task, but it wasn’t at first. Thankfully, I have two super great friends that frequently like to try out new places and things so they are never short on ideas. I realize there are actually a lot of really cool places especially in the Downtown area which is changing its reputation. It’s becoming a really awesome hub for cool places to go and things to see. There’s live music everywhere from the arena to the smaller venues on the outskirts of the city. The lightrail and petty cabs make getting around even easier. One of the coolest things are the small sub-sections (or rows) that have taken older homes and turned them into restaurants and cool places to hang out.
If you’re visiting or live here and just want something fun to check out, these are a few of my favorite places in the Phoenix area.
Where to get Coffee: DeSoto Central Market [Website]
915 N. Central Ave, Phoenix
DeSoto Central Market is coffee shop, bar, meeting place, market, and contains multiple places to catch a bite to eat. It feels similar to the Grand Central Market in Los Angeles except less congested and with fewer vendors. Located in the 90 year DeSoto building, the 1930s era building has been remodeled to include group seating inside and outside, a dog-friendly patio, and space for games. They pride themselves on using fresh local ingredients in their food and drinks. DeSoto offers a variety of events and classes monthly including yoga and the third Wednesday of every month is Speakeasy night!