A Tour of Phoenix

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.

Capital Building

The State Capital Building – Phoenix, Arizona

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.

War Memorials

War Memorials – Capital Building in the distance

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.

Papago Park

Papago Park located in Tempe, Arizona

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.

Hole in the Rock

Hole in the Rock – Papago Park

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.

Apache Trail

A drive along the Apache Trail provides beautiful scenery

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.

Superstition Mountain

great hiking at the Superstition Mountain

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.

Canyon Lake

Canyon Lake along the Apache Trail

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.

Apache Trail

Past the town of Tortilla Flat the Apache Trail gets rugged

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.

Apache Lake

Apache Lake

Apache Trail

The Apache Trail north of Apache Lake

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.

    Lake Pleasant

    Lake Pleasant – northwest of Phoenix

  • 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.

    Buffalo Chip Saloon

    Buffalo Chip Saloon, Cave Creek, AZ

  • 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. 

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58 thoughts on “A Tour of Phoenix

  1. Merry, Merry Christmas, Ingrid. You will get your presents eventually. Just slide your computer with this post to your husband’s way. Ahihihi. 😀 Lake Pleasant sure looks pleasant. And a Botanical Garden in Arizona sure has a dramatic setting like one would expect.

    • Thanks Rommel. We’re hitting the road tomorrow but we’ll be back in Phoenix in March and I think we’ll park at Lake Pleasant. I’d like to catch the Botanical Garden when I’m back in town and capture some of the unique flora. Hope you’ve been a good boy this year and Santa brings you plenty of gifts 🙂

  2. Thanks for all the local information. We’ll be heading to Phoenix/Sedona for a week in March. I can hardly wait to get my feet hiking into Lost Dutchman. The Botanical Garden in Phoenix is one of my favorites anywhere. These high falutin’ east coast gardens are more about lawns than anything else. Happy wandering life holidays.

  3. I have been to Phoenix many times over the past 10 – 15 years and have really only seen the airport. I would love to see more of Phoenix and plan to do that on the next trip. Great Post – Great Captures – thanks for sharing! Happy Holiday Week:)

    • haha….there is so much more to see than the airport. I’ve been pleasantly surprised with all the unique diversity Phoenix has to offer. Definitely worth a little exploration. Wishing you a wonderful holiday season 🙂

    • There is so much to see and do but yet on the other hand its also a great place to just sit and watch the sunset. Sending warm holiday greetings your way 🙂

  4. In the early 60’s, Hole in the Rock was my “front yard.” This was before the golf course, zoo, botanical gardens and all improvements. I lived off of 52 nd street…right up against undeveloped desert, and a short hike to all those pocked, red mountain nubs that separate Phoenix from Scottsdale. Rode horses, scooters, and bicycles…even had a little dune buggy; it was perfect for a kid back then. At least the Papago Peaks mountains are still there :))
    Box Canyon Mark

    • Ah, I see a pattern here with a love affair with bikes and red rocks. Sounds like great memories…..too bad its so developed now. You still have Moab and Ouray for a beautiful “front yard” 🙂

  5. Ingrid, wonderful tour of this area! There seems to be tons of things to do and see there. I hope Santa is feeling generous and brings you everything on your list. Merry Christmas!

    • Thanks Sheila…..ah, I think Santa is on a budget so I’ll be happy with the new hiking shoes. Hope you’re enjoying the beach. Have a Merry Christmas 🙂

  6. We had a very good friend who played the Honky Tonk piano at Cave Creek..a place called The Happy Toad, which has since been renamed…He was originally from Sandwich, IL and my mom and dad rented the Sandwich Roller Rink from his dad…Al may not remember the Sandwich Roller Rink…I don’t believe he roller skated, but our family lived on skates…Thanx for the Phoenix tour..so much to see and do around there!

    • I believe the “Happy Toad” is still there and yes Al did roller skate in Sandwich. Hope you’re enjoying Texas. Have a very Merry Christmas 🙂

    • Thank you Marsha. You have no idea how I found myself needing to edit this post down and once I finished I realized I left things out. Oh well, more material for another post. Stay warm in Ohio!

  7. Santa got us an Induction cook top and new induction compatible pans.

    1. The musical instrument museum (MIM). he MIM is a lot to take in but it’s interesting to see the many instruments of the world.

    2. Heard Museum. The Heard is a native cultures museum and is small.
    3. St. Mary’s Basilica.

    Also every Thursday night in Scottsdale there’s an art walk. All the galleries open up and some serve wine and you can walk through all of them.

  8. Good choices of places to see! We were also impressed with the huge fountain in Fountain Hills. When you are up that way, a trip up to Saguaro Lake is good too.

    • I’ve heard about the huge fountain…..something I may just have to check out in the future. Yes, I’ve been to Saguaro Lake and it is beautiful. One of these days, I hope to actually get out ON the water 🙂

      • We haven’t actually made it out on to the water on any of the lakes either, but some of my family have and they rave about it.
        The fountain comes on every hour on the hour, except if it is too windy. There is a beautiful park surrounding it and it is also set up for disc golfers. There is nothing more interesting than to watch the disc golfers trying to avoid hitting some of the walkers who don’t seem to realize what is going on…

  9. Thanks for the tip on the Chihuly exhibit! I adore Chihuly glass AND gardens and I am pleased to see that his exhibit runs through May…we will be in the Phoenix area in March. The entry fee is a little steep but to see two of my favorite things together may just make it worth while.

    Metamorphosis Lisa

    • I did hear there is one day a month that is a ‘free’ day. I just can’t remember….its something like the 3rd Thursday of the month and does not include the night display. Worth a phone call. We may return to Phx in March ourselves and I may just have to visit the garden then for the Chihuly exhibit.

    • We’re never at a loss of things to see and do around here. I’m sure you’ll have a fun stay. I look forward to some wonderful photography.

    • We have not been to the MIM. I can’t justify the fee since I’m not all that into instruments thus don’t have the appreciation. I’d rather see the Botanical Garden, that I have an appreciation for 🙂

  10. Thanks so much for this review of the Phoenix area wonderful info fits right into our plan to visit the area next year
    What format do you use to do your presentation that we read it’s great can you do it on an iPad ?
    Thanks so much happy travels Peter Maria

    • I just have a lap top that I use for everything – from my WordPress platform to my Kindle books. So I’m not sure how to answer your question about format….sorry.
      There’s so much to see and do around here that I feel I barely put a dent in it. I think you’ll enjoy a stay in Phoenix, there’s a little something for everyone 🙂

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