Since my last three posts focused on places to park our RV’s in and around the Phoenix area, I thought I’d share some things to see and do while visiting, The Valley of the Sun.
Center valley – downtown Phoenix: Since Phoenix is the capitol city of Arizona, you’ll find the state capital building and legislator buildings downtown. Although the Capital building itself is not on the grandeur level of other state capital buildings, the beautiful park setting and war memorials make up for the simplistic architecture.
Papago Park is located in Tempe just north of Arizona State University. Here you’ll find the Desert Botanical Garden which is a great way to familiarize oneself with the plants of the desert southwest. The Garden usually hosts a special venue or exhibition at different times of the year. During a previous visit, they had a special Avery housing thousands of Monarch butterflies.
Currently the Botanical Garden is adorned with vibrant glass art created by famous Artist Dale Chihuly. Chihuly is credited with revolutionizing the Studio Glass movement and elevating the perception of the glass medium from craft to fine art. Sorry folks, no photos from me on this exhibit, as I took a pass on a visit to the garden this season.
Not interested in the garden? How about a quick hike up to “Hole in the Rock”, located just around the corner from the Botanical Garden in Papago Park. This is a favorite spot amongst locals to watch the sunset over the city. Nearby “Hole in the Rock” is the “Tomb of Governor George Wiley Paul Hunt”. The Tomb is interesting – a mini pyramid, but the view from this vantage point is pretty awesome. It overlooks Papago Park and the Phoenix Zoo.
East valley – near the town of Apache Junction is the Superstition Mountain and Lost Dutchman State Park. I would put this on any “must see” list. As we drive north on Highway 88, aka the Apache Trail, Our first stop is on the right at the Superstition Mountain Museum. Just a short distance further up the road on the left is the Goldfield Ghost Town. This old gold mining town is a fun little stop to stroll around and get a sense of life in the 1800’s.
As we continue north on the Apache Trail, the Lost Dutchman State Park is on the right and offers some of our favorite hiking trails. You can access these trails from the Day Use area or from the campground. The state park is a fee use area. Rangers and volunteers are more than eager to share their passion for this one of a kind place. The Apache Trail is a scenic drive with lots of photographic opportunities. We like to take our time and enjoy the scenery. A stop at the shores of Canyon Lake is always lovely. We’ve even thought about renting a kayak for a few hours but just haven’t had the chance thus far.
After Canyon Lake is the town of Tortilla Flat, population of 6. You’ll find a great little restaurant with a super fun décor and yummy burgers. Even if you won’t be dining, do step inside and check it out and be sure to peek into the lady’s room for the comedic painted stall doors. The general store also serves up some of the best homemade ice cream around.
Should you continue the journey past the town of Tortilla Flat, be forewarned this is a gravel road with drop offs and not for the faint of heart. The road will lead past Apache Lake and eventually end at Roosevelt Lake. It’s a long, all day excursion.
In an attempt to not make this blog post ridiculously long, allow me to quickly add some other things to see and do in and around Phoenix……..
- Baseball – In Spring AND Fall you’ll find plenty of major league baseball teams in training. There’s plenty of games to keep the sports enthusiast duly entertained.
- Enjoy architecture? Visit Taliesin West
- If music is your thing; The MIM…..Musical Instrument Museum
- Meandering around old town Scottsdale is always a fun pastime.
- Lake Pleasant – Lunch at Dillon’s Restaurant Scorpion Bay Marina on the floating pier/dock.
- Retail shopping…..the list is endless and since I live in 250 square feet I refrain from frequenting these establishments…..wink, wink….”I know I can squeeze another pair of shoes in here somewhere, but let’s not tell Al” 😉
- For true western fun – on a FRIDAY evening, visit the western town of Cave Creek and have dinner at the Buffalo Chip Saloon…..watch live bull riding and mutton busting.
- AND for a truly unique dining experience that you just HAVE TO try at least once…..the Organ Stop Pizza. We enjoy the food but it really is an ‘experience’.
This is just a short list of things to see and do in The Valley of the Sun, and reason enough why RVer’s and non-RVer’s alike choose to call Phoenix home for the winter.