Phoenix, one of the largest metro areas in the USA is also known as the "Valley of the Sun" due to its warm weather Desert Botanicaland sunny days.
Before you enter the city center you will encounter the usual American urban sprawl but with desert landscaping, a lot of cactus trees, and stark black hills.
If you love the hot-dry desert climate, then you will enjoy living in or visiting Phoenix. A lot of people do, and that is why it is one of the fastest-growing cities in the country.
Phoenix is well-known for high-end spa resorts, Jack Nicklaus–designed golf courses, and vibrant nightclubs.
If that is what you are looking for, then have fun, but we really enjoyed the Desert Botanical Garden, Phoenix Zoo, and Camelback Mountain.
Things to Do and See
Desert Botanical Garden
The 140-acre botanical garden on the outskirts of Phoenix has more than 50,000 plants, one-third of which are native, including 379 rare species, threatened or endangered.
The butterfly pavilion is a recent addition to the gardens. In 2017, the Pavillion reopened the 3,200 square-foot open-air structure, featuring lush garden plantings, a water feature, thousands of live butterflies, engaging programming, and state-of-the-art nursery space.
The gardens are laid out as several unique exhibits with loop trails connecting them, allowing easy access, even for strollers and wheelchairs.
Walking through those trails, I explored the desert wildflowers, Sonoran desert plants, and a hummingbird garden.
While admiring the plants, I couldn’t miss the surreal landscape outside the gardens with red rocks and hills.
During my visit, I was surprised at how tall some cacti can get and how colorful desert plants can be.
And the collection is not limited to Arizona plants. You can also find species from Australia, Baja, California, and South America.
After exploring the plants and the butterflies, you can enjoy a meal at Gertrude’s or browse the selections and the gift shop.
You can't miss the lonely "Camelback Mountain", a 20-minutes drive outside of Phoenix.
Well, it is more like a hill than a mountain, but it has nice hiking trails and a great view of the city from the top.
The mountain's name is derived from its shape, which resembles the hump and head of a kneeling camel.
It is a popular recreation destination for hiking and rock climbing. Two of the trails will take you up 1420-feet to the summit for a 360-degree view of the city.
Papago Park is a large park in between Phoneix and Tempe and is a hilly desert park covering 1496 acres.
Papago Park is notable for its many distinctive geological formations and its wide variety of desert plants, including the giant saguaro cactus.
Within the park, you can find the Desert Botanical Garden, the Phoenix Zoo, picnic areas, several small lakes, hiking trails, bicycle paths, a fire museum, Hunt's Tomb (pyramidal tomb of Arizona's first governor, George W. P. Hunt), baseball and softball fields, picnic ramadas, and a small lake.
You also enjoy a game of Gold at the park's Rolling Hills Golf Course.
For dinner, don't miss a great dining experience at Bobby Q's, a Steak and BBQ restaurant.
The place cuts and smokes their own meats on-site and meals are delicious and plentiful.
During our visit, we ordered the Baby Back Ribs, Top Sirloin, and the Perfect Hamburger. They were all delicious.
Our dessert was the Pecan Cheese Cake - a delightful end to our meal.
Anhelo is an upscale restaurant in downtown Phonix offering Fusion American cuisine.
From the moment you are seated, you can tell that you are up for an elegant experience.
It starts with the decor, the lighting, and the music - continues with exceptional wines or inventive cocktails - and ends with a delicious meal and dessert.
For starters, we enjoys the warm rolls and we ordered the Beets & Yogurt and Ricotta Dumplings.
For the main course, we tried the Short Ribs and King Salmon. Both we excellent
For a comprehensive dining guide visit Eater.com.
Blanco Cocina and Cantina
I love Mexican cuisine, and Blanco’s is a great place to taste Sonoran-style Mexican food. It is in downtown Phoenix, a short walk from major attractions like Arizona Science Center, Civic Center, Chase Field, and major hotels.
The service was excellent, and the waiters were friendly and attentive. We started our meal with a generous helping of chips and salsa.
We ordered Carne Asada Enchilada, Crunchy Taco Salad, Braised Chicken Bowl, and Machaca Chimichanga. They all were tasty and filling, and we had a lot of leftovers for later.
And, of course, you can’t have a Mexican meal without margaritas.
We ended our meal with Chocolate Teramasu and Carmel Flan, a fantastic end to our delicious meal.
If you are in downtown Phoenix, a visit to this restaurant is a must.
123 E Washington St, Phoenix, AZ 85004