Updated: Oct 17, 2019
If you are visiting Phoenix or you've lived there your entire life, these are 9 things that you've gotta do!
Must-Do Thing #1: Hump Camelback Mountain
Yes, what's a list of things to do in Phoenix without include hiking Camelback Mountain? At 2,707 feet it's one of the tallest points in the entire area. If you love hiking, you need to add Camelback Mountain to your bucket list of accomplishments.
Recently, my brother and I hiked the Cholla Trail, which is the easier of the two trails leading up to the peak (yes, I still want to try the Echo Canyon Trail, which is the harder of the two trails). I told my brother it was the "easier of the two, but they are both tough", it's funny how you can learn quickly about someone's listening skills because he threw up three times during the hike and then asked me, "I thought you said this was easy!". I then told him it was the "easier of the two hard trails"
If you want a nice reference to how to plan this hike, I suggest you visit The Hiking Guy's excellent blog post about planning your hike on the Cholla Trail here.
Must-Do Thing #2: Shop at Fry's Marketplace (there's a bar inside!)
Yes, you read that right. There's a freaking bar inside a grocery store and if you thought that idea was a great idea, check this out. You can have stuff cooked for you while you enjoy a nice glass of Sauvignon Blanc or an iced cold IPA at the bar. So in other words, if you see some chicken breast or cuts of beef and wanted it cooked for you, you can do ask them to do it and they'll bring it to you at the bar in a to-go container.
Fry's is cavernous. Everything is very clean and organized. You can find anything from clothes, to pet food to your groceries. Since it's Arizona you know about the heat, luckily there was a big, covered parking garage at the Peoria location so stay there and enjoy yourself! Oh yeah, there is no relation to Fry's Electronics.
Must-Do Thing #3: Celebrate a birthday dinner at Litchfield's
Litchfield's (named after Goodyear Tire & Rubber Executive, Paul W. Litchfield) is a farm-to-table restaurant located inside the Wig Wam Resort. As soon as you step onto the property you just feel "South West" oozing out of the exterior and interior designs. The restaurant which is one of my favorite places in the country to enjoy a nice steak dinner has an open pecan-wood fired kitchen and fantastic service. I recently celebrated my 40th birthday there and had a very memorable time. They will even serve you a nice slice of birthday cake!
Must-Do Thing #4: Go to a Spring Training baseball game
If you are a baseball fan, then going to a Spring Training in Florida or Arizona should be on your bucket-list. Half of the teams practice for two months in Arizona and are spread out all over the area.
I was able to check out the Peoria Sports Complex (which is the Spring Training home to the Seattle Mariners and San Diego Padres) and I really enjoyed the small-stadium feel, but with a Major League experience. You'll see a ton of mom and pop food trucks which offers many varieties of food and drinks than the standard stadium food. Don't be surprised to find foot long hot dogs, craft beers, deep-fried cheeseburgers, old fashioned lemonade and gyros!
Last, but not least, you have a really good chance to run into current and former Major League Baseball players. I was able to meet and take a photo with legendary Oakland A's players, Vida Blue and Blue Moon Odom.
Must-Do Thing #5: Enjoy a nitro cold brew coffee at Driftwood Coffee
Driftwood Coffee is a brand-new craft coffee shop located in downtown/old town Peoria. It used to be an old dilapidated building, but has transformed in a very bright and welcoming white coffee shop on the corner of West Jefferson Avenue and 83rd Avenue.
As you walk inside you'll notice minimalism on full-display. The tables and chairs invite you to bust out your laptop to get some work done while enjoying their Nitro Cold Brew. This coffee packs a turbo-charged punch much like a Vietnamese coffee does, but with much better taste. Stop by and check them out and while you're at it, purchase one of their soft t-shirts!
Must-Do Thing #6: Hike the White Tank Mountains
The White Tank Mountains have a multitude of various hiking and biking trails spread out across the entire regional park. It's best to start early in the day, like at sunrise as with most places in Arizona because once that sun rises, it will add an additional challenge to your hike. You'll notice a library at this park, which is kind of odd, but kind of cool to check out. There's also a small cafe and gift shop inside the premises and small signs detailing the types of plants and wildlife that live in the area.
Must-Do Thing #7: Grab a couple pints at Goldwater Brewery
If you enjoy craft beers, you're gonna love Goldwater Brewery, which is named after the area's rich history (it's also located on the corner of Scottsdale Road and Goldwater Boulevard). It's not a very big brewery and tap house, but once you're inside you'll enjoy a wide variety of award-winning beers. My favorite was the Hop Chowda New England IPA. I've never had a hazy IPA before. It looks like a hefeweizen, but it's not a wheat beer, it's an India Pale Ale and salivatory one at that! Oh yeah, if you love popcorn, make sure you grab some of it from the popcorn maker. They add some jalapeno to it, which adds a nice kick.
Must-Do Thing #8: Take your kids to the largest butterfly conservatory in the United States at Butterfly Wonderland
My dad took me and my wife to Butterfly Wonderland in Scottsdale and it was worth it. If you have a military I.D card make sure you ask for the military discount because you'll save a few bucks. This place is well staffed and very organized. Don't be surprised if you see teachers taking their class on a field trip here. You'll learn about the major countries that spawn a variety of butterflies, how they turn from caterpillar to chrysalis and watch them hatch! The best part about it is walking amongst many butterflies. If you want some to land on you, wear bright colored clothing, then take a selfie to show your friends.
Must-Do Thing #9: Grab some comfort food at Wild Horse West
Sometimes you're in the mood for the simple things in life. Something simple like a fat cheeseburger! If that's in your lane, then you should stop by Wild Horse West. Their slogan of, "Where the burgers are the best" does justify their delicious burgers. You can sit inside out back in their patio, just make sure you don't bring your gun on the premises.
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