Aaron Rice’s Phoenix
A world’s worth of recommended spots from our global community
words – aaron rice
location – phoenix, arizona
At boom saloon, we’re incredibly privileged to collaborate with a community of hundreds of talented creatives all around the world, stretching from Ecuador to Egypt, China to Canada, Austria to Angola. Our strong relations have afforded us a wealth of insider insights into the best places to visit, eat and stay, all around the world. Now, we want to share this information with you as we work with our community to map the world and share their best recommendations of how to enjoy destinations both near and far. Our version of a city guide, delivered interactively and in real time – curated for all to enjoy and presented as a savable Google Map for our members to save and bookmark a wealth of future adventures.
Phoenix – not only a bird rising from the ashes, but also a metropolitan safe haven marooned in the valleyed mountains of the Sonoran desert. Arizona’s capital bubbles with culture and boils with heat. Many may not wish to visit this sandy city, for fear of sunstroke or gun smoke, but others vehemently disagree – with Phoenix Sky Harbour making the top ten busiest airports in the US. Golfers frequent the sand duned courses sprinkled around the city, whilst Angelenos are rapidly populating the area, known for its fusion of Mexican and native backgrounds.
A word of warning: the locals flee during the Summer months for good reason, with temperatures having reached up to 50°C [122°F]. It’s advisable to visit Phoenix during the cooler seasons to take full advantage of the following local attractions in the city fittingly dubbed the Valley of the Sun.
01_First Friday Art Walk
This monthly ensemble event aptly takes place on the first Friday of every month. There is no better way to deep dive into the offerings of Phoenix than to take to the streets of downtown, where you’ll experience the city’s fusion culture in 360. All of your senses will be enlivened thanks to multiple blocks of street art and mouth watering scents wafting down the sidewalks. Local musicians entertain as you wander from art gallery to food truck, finding something new at every corner.
Brunch is a must when on a city-break, and Phoenix has no better than that on offer at this uniquely themed breakfast restaurant. The food is plentiful, with a range of brunch offerings available alongside alcoholic beverages – fitting for a location with a resident DJ creating an aural experience unlike any other. The vibes are unmatched here; expect a queue stretching around the corner.
A café style restaurant offering friendly faces and picture perfect dishes. Locals frequent this stylish establishment for its coffee, breakfasts, bakery options and bar. A great place to take a break and feel like a true Phoenician, where you’ll always find something to satisfy your cravings and treat your palate. Socialise with friends or sit solo and people watch; either way, The Henry will cater to your every need.
During the cooler months of the year, Phoenix residents take to the mountains dotted around the city for local hikes which transport you to the Sonoran desert landscape. It can be easy to forget what nature has to offer when taking a city trip, but getting to the base of somewhere like Camelback Mountain reminds you that Phoenix has plant life like no other. Tall cacti sprawl across the hillsides, whilst red rocks and dirt offer mazed pathways up the mountainside. Summiting the hiking trail gifts you unparalleled views of the city from above.
For such a diverse city, it’s tough to single out one music venue which encompasses the unique styles of this southwestern state. But Rustler’s Rooste should top everyone’s list, as a mountaintop saloon alive with live Country and Western music. Dine on a platter of all-you-can-eat ribs, with a view of the sun setting over the city skyline to one side and a cowboy dance floor to the other. Rustler’s Rooste offers somewhere you can spend your whole evening; but watch where you do-si-do, as rattlesnake is also on the menu.
This near 100 year old theatre was originally home to Vaudeville acts. Today, it serves as the heart of culture for the city, centrally located downtown. Operas, ballets, concerts and musicals grace the stage for locals and visitors alike to enjoy. The architecture alone provides a beautiful view from the city streets. The Orpheum is worth a special visit, and continues to provide a stage for the arts of Phoenix to thrive upon.
Phoenix’s unique stylised decor and architecture is inspired by sandy mountains, green cacti, traditional native culture and inherited Latino influences. The homewares on offer at Pruitt’s tend to nestle neatly within this Venn diagram, featuring goods and furnishings for a range of aesthetics. Remember your Arizona trip with a local memento from this family run business, which has been a Phoenix staple for over 70 years.
Those looking to spend some time wandering the shelves of a bookstore must drop by this independent Phoenix haunt. Changing Hands offers new and used books with the vision of building community. It’s easy to get lost in a good book, so commit to the cause and visit the First Draft Book Bar, conveniently located inside the bookstore itself. The bar has wine, beer and coffee on offer, with a selection of pastries to nibble alongside. A great excuse to take shelter from the sun and explore the words of some Phoenician authors.
Located a two hour drive southeast of Phoenix is the famed science research facility. Similar in optics to a large greenhouse, this structure has been named in legacy to the Earth – or ‘Biosphere 1,’ for all intents and purposes. The facility has an infamous history in relation to research, focused on developing our learnings on Earth and mankind’s plans to expand its reach beyond our home planet. Multiple biomes are housed within the windowed building, where plant life prevails. Worth a trip to see in person and learn about the science centre’s dramatic history.
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