If You’re Visiting Arizona, Don’t Miss These Places


Living in beautiful Arizona, we seemVisiting AZ to get a boom of visitors this time of year who are escaping the snow and seeking the sun. Or, perhaps you are in town visiting Arizona in January for the Super Bowl, Barrett-Jackson, or the Waste Management Phoenix Open and are looking for great places to visit AND eat at!

Having a preschooler and a new baby myself, I know it can be difficult to find places that meet the needs of visitors of various ages. When planning a day out, I’m looking for a place that gives you that “Arizona” feel, great food, and something for everyone.  Here are my favorite spots.

5. The Fairmont Princess Resort, La HaciendaLa Hacienda

Have you seen their Christmas at the Princess festival? As one of our contributors wrote about last week in their Santas in Scottsdale post, there are thousands of lights, a HUGE tree, train and carousel rides, ice skating, visits with Santa, Menorah lighting, festive foods and shopping. You couldn’t ask for a more festive location! You pay for parking, but if you decide to eat at one of their restaurants, parking is FREE. La Hacienda was perfect for a special evening out with the extended relatives.

PicMonkey Collage4. The Desert Botanical Gardens, Gertrude’s

Need to walk off the extra slice of pie? The Desert Botanical Gardens is a perfect spot! Great trails, views of the Papago Mountains and a chance to get up close to native plants and wildlife. Our favorite trail is the Sonoran Desert Loop, where my little guy loves to explore replicas of native homes. If you get hungry, Gertrude’s is a great restaurant right at the entrance, and you can meet people there who didn’t pay admission to the Garden. Ask to sit outside with a view of the cactus and mountains. We love the donuts and sauces on the dessert menu.

3. The Heard Museum, Courtyard CafePicMonkey Collage Heard

Love art? History? Culture? Crafts? A hands-on kids center? The Heard Museum has it all. With changing exhibits several times a year, you are bound to see something new. Last winter we went to Holidays at the Heard the day after Christmas and saw Native American dancers, musicians and crafters. It was perfect for our group of 12, post-Christmas! Try the Dream Catcher salad and Prickly Pear Lemonade at the Courtyard Cafe…YUMM!

2. Cave Creek, El EncantoIMG_1772

Half of the fun of El Encanto is getting there. Leave home early, with plenty of light. Drive north on Scottsdale Road up to Cave Creek, and enjoy a stunning view of the Desert Foothills Scenic Drive. Right in the center of Cave Creek is El Encanto, an authentic Mexican restaurant loaded with unique food and a festive culture. Bring your loose change with you so you can buy duck food for the kiddos while you wait for a table. The kids love to hang out by the pond watching the swans, turtles, fish and ducks scramble for the food. Ever tried mole sauce? According to my husband, the Enchiladas de Pollo con Mole are to die for. (He gets it every time!) I like to try something different, but my new favorite are the shrimp tacos. Last time we went we watched a Flamenco dancer and musician right from our table.

1. Pinnacle Peak PatioPicMonkey Collage Pinnacle Peak

One of the first things guests from out of town ask to see when they come to visit us in Arizona are COWBOYS! Pinnacle Peak Patio is kid friendly and filled with entertainment: live bands, dancing, and a case with real live snakes for the kids to watch. The Wrangler steak is grilled to perfection, and the half rack of ribs is worth writing home about. If you decide to order light, the chicken salad will fill you up and you will have plenty to take home for lunch tomorrow. Put on your cowboy boots, hat, and jeans and you are ready to enjoy the evening. Wear a tie (one from the donation pile) and you can take the fun up a notch. 😉

Bonus: Don’t forget, the Scottsdale Library has FREE Cultural Passes available for The Heard Museum, the Desert Botanical Gardens, and many more spots!

Let us know if you have any other favorite spots to take your visitors to!