Attractions in the Phoenix area
Desert Botanical Garden
This gorgeous garden spans 140 acres and is located in Papago Park, just north of Tempe Town Lake and near the Phoenix Zoo. If features over 21,000 plants and is definitely worth a visit.
Old Town Scottsdale / Civic Center
Old Town Scottsdale has a ton of smaller shops ranging from artwork and crafts to cowboy hats and cacti. Directly east of the shopping area is Scottsdale Civic Center, which includes a park and several unique spots to relax and take photos.
Tempe Town Lake
Tempe Town Lake is a man-made lake in the heart of the desert municipality. An easy walk from Mill Ave shopping and restaurants, come here to enjoy the view, visit Tempe Center for the Arts, or rent a kayak and explore the lake first-hand.
South Mountain Park
South Mountain is the largest municipal park in the country, and is home to miles upon miles of trails up + over + around the various ridgelines that make up its peaks. The most popular trailheads are located at Echo Canyon on the east side, as well as various trails off the main entrance in South Central Phoenix.
If you’re up for a challenge, Piestewa is essentially a very tall set of stairs that lead to an amazing 360 degree view of the Phoenix area.
Camelback is one of the more iconic sights in the Valley of the Sun. It’s also one of the most frequented sets of trails. Be cautious, however! This is a grueling hike with many large rocks to navigate as you make your way up (and back down).
Visit Lost Dutchman State Park to explore the area where we got our engagement photos taken. It’s a bit of a drive over on the east side, but worth it if you have the time and want to explore the desert a bit. If you’re feeling really adventurous, you can hike up Siphon Draw to the top of Flatiron, where you’ll tower over the East Valley from a distance.
If you want cheap Mexican food, go to Filiberto’s (also quite good in its own fast food way). If you’re looking for consistently good and authentic Mexican food, look no further! Pro tip: get the family tacos plate and split it between two of you. It’s a decent amount of food, and won’t completely break the bank.
It may sound weird, but get the guacamole with pomegranate seeds.
This place is relatively new, and has quickly become a favorite of ours. Fantastic carne asada tacos + tortas, and a fun cocktail program! Brought to you in part by Chris Bianco (see Bianco’s, below, for great pizza!).
This is probably the most unassuming spot in all of Phoenix. Located in a residential neighborhood, the building is rather dumpy. But don’t judge a book by its cover. These folks make the BEST tortillas in The Valley, and their machaca is on point. Recommendation: get a machaca quesadilla, and drench it in hot sauce. Thank me later.
Cornish Pasty Co
Little Miss BBQ
There’s only one option when it comes to BBQ in Phoenix. People stop here with their luggage on the way to the airport, because word has gotten around. Try the brisket!
A favorite late night spot, Welcome Diner serves up amazing fried chicken, biscuits, and brussels sprouts. Need a drink? Their Hurricane is also pretty solid.
Coffee / Breakfast
Probably the most successful local coffee roaster, Cartel is sure to satisfy your caffeine cravings. They don’t have much for food, but it’s a good place to stop by if you’re looking to relax for a bit with a dirty chai or cold brew.
Phoenix Public Market Cafe / Tempe Public Market
This place has my favorite breakfast burrito around, and that’s saying something. Because I love breakfast burritos! They also have some other really good options as well as some great cold brew coffee. – Josh