Camille’s Guide to Phoenix

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Happy Valentine’s Day! But did you also know that today is the day we celebrate the birth of the state of Arizona? In it’s honor, I feel today is only appropriate to post all about this great state of mine with Camille’s Guide to Phoenix! 

People who are stuck in their homes due to freezing temperature and snowfall, I’m pouring one out for you here. I keep watching the news and looking at social media and at night I pray for safety and comfort for most of the country. This polar vortex of a year has been a tough one for so many! I actually feel a little guilty as I look at the Phoenix forecast- 76-88 degree highs all week long. It made me think how much I want to offer lodging to so many who are feeling cabin fever and really just need to escape.

And then in dawned on me, maybe I should tell everyone why a trip to Phoenix should be in your very near future! We have reverse seasons, so the nice time of year is when the rest of the country is freezing, and the time to not come is when things are nice everywhere else. It’s so hot here in the summer and by month 3 of not being able to go outdoors without a heat headache, there’s nothing like an escape to cooler places to rejuvenate the soul and get us through the last few months of heat. If you are feeling this way about the polar vortex/cold you should definitely head to our neck of the woods and enjoy a place where you can wear a t-shirt and jeans in the winter comfortably.

One of my favorite things to do when traveling is to read blogger’s guides to their city. There’s nothing like a local who enjoys their hometown to give you a digital guide of what to do and what to eat while you are there. So friends who desperately need a warm place, I’m going to offer Camille’s Guide to Phoenix for your pleasure.
First of all, Phoenix is a cheap place to come visit! There are many cheap flights to this area, hotels and cabins galore, and there’s many good eats and activities to enjoy. If you need a quick, cheap vacation this is definitely your place!

When to Come:

October through April are a great time to come- with January-March being prime time!

What to Eat:

With a wide variety or dishes any palate or level of health nut can find something here. Their banana foster french toast is one of the best of the best, but you can easily find delicious egg white omelets too! They serve breakfast all day but close at 3:05 (yes, they are that hipster) so you can grab an amazing breakfast most the day.
If you want a healthy option for breakfast you should swing by their Tempe or Scottsdale locations. Their Pina Kale-ada smoothie I adore, but all smoothies are great! They offer many options for low-carb, high protein breakfasts that are delicious!
Get there before opening, because people wait for hours for this place! They use the best ingredients for a hearty way to start your morning off. If you’re looking for classics done right, visit here!
If you love dessert for breakfast or savory crepes you just can’t go wrong here. My snobbiest foodie friends are regulars, and love all the crepes they’ve tried!
Follow them on Facebook or Instagram to find out where they are each day. This will be the best waffle you can eat, and the Red Wonder makes me salivate just typing this! The owner is the nicest person, with a huge passion for this, and if the waffles don’t make the experience excellent, she definitely will!
NCounter (open til 3:05)
Yes they made lunch too! I work in Downtown Tempe and have had weeks I’ve gone to lunch here most days. I am obsessed with their Original Chop salad. It’s delicious and the presentation is gorgeous! I’ve had almost every salad and honestly, they are all good. Their Netti Bomb sandwich is excellent, as is the Pecos Grille.
Once again, a breakfast repeat, but this one you could do all day! They specialize in health fast foods that use local ingredients. If you’re on a special diet of any kind this is a great place to visit. Their salads are awesome, and their protein bowls are house favorites. I’ve never gone to lunch with someone who hasn’t loved their order.
If you’re coming from Utah (or the few other places that have locations) you know this is a winner! If you aren’t, add it to your list. Their Pork Barbacoa salad is something I crave regularly. We love their cheap Taco Tuesday, burritos, and drink station with lots of fun options. Costa Vida is almost identical and many prefer that, but I like the tortillas freshly made before your eyes found at Cafe Rio better. But really, you can’t go wrong with either!
Once again, a Southwest chain. But if it’s new to you, do it! For $7.99 you can get two items from their soup, salad, and sandwich menu. You’ll also get bread and a chocolate covered strawberry- it’s a great deal! I haven’t had anything I haven’t liked there, but have a hard time turning down their tomato soup and Nuts About Berries salad. Jacob gets the Turkey Bacon Avocado with either of their Southwest flavored salads every time. They are in Mesa and in Phoenix, so it’s easy to find a location near fun places to visit.
Healthy, inexpensive, and delicious! Every single salad is excellent and the owners are some of the most charming people you’ll ever meet!
For a cheap, delicious, Southwest meal this is a great option! I love all of their tacos and love that they are all gluten-free so I can meet up with one of my favorite bloggers here when she’s in town. I also have a coworker who has left early to satiate a craving for their bean and cheese burrito, they are excellent! While in Arizona, make sure Mexican food happens no matter what you do, and this is a cheap place to do it!
If you’re here on a Friday hit up Downtown Phoenix and enjoy Food truck Friday every Friday from 11:00-1:30. There’s so many fun options and you can soak up the sun outside while you enjoy the picnic tables near the trucks.
And if you’re a happy hour fan…
I had a weekly “networking” night after many a MBA classes here, and as someone who isn’t a drinker I can honestly tell you the food is excellent! If you are a drinker, I have every other friend who is one swear by the brews. It’s a fun, casual, inexpensive atmosphere and great for a group!
Similar to Four Peaks, the drinking friends adore it, those who don’t love the food, and it is on the OpenTable’s Top 100 Restaurant Bars list too!
We had one of our 12 Months of Dates just to come to this famous place, so you can read the rave and hype HERE. You can also note that even NY fan Jimmy Falon recently called this “The Best Pizza in the Land” on Twitter.
Another must that locals can’t get enough of! It’s in the most hipster part of Phoenix, and everyone there is dressed to impress, but don’t let that intimidate you! Please get a pizza if you go, The Corn is our absolute favorite, but we love The Avocado too!
I said it at lunch, but really, you want to eat some Mexican food while in Phoenix- it’s the best of the best! This is one of our favorite places, and actually where we went on our very first date!
This is where we take all our out-of-towner friends. Italian cuisine meets the Southwest here, and their Alfredo the Dark, Southwest Salad, and Big Rig Pasta have our hearts! We could go weekly and never tire, it’s so good. The retro ambiance and music add charm as well. Also note, portions are HUGE so you can easily share one dish for 2 people. And save room for dessert because the Pizookies are incredible!
The salads/pizza/burgers/sandwiches/insert any food are all amazing! We’ve liked everything they offer. Also, their Red Velvet cake is made with beet juice- and it’s divine! P.S. go to the bathrooms here, they are themed and all different!

If you come on your birthday you can get $10 off showing your license, so there’s that. Plus The Food Network has featured this burger joint as one of the best around. Local ingredients and a quaint environment in Gilbert make this a great date spot as well as large party/family dining location.

I can only speak to their sandwiches, salads, and cucumber lemonade, but they are famous for bruschetta! It’s definitely a thing to go get drinks and bruschetta, but all their food I’ve heard rave reviews about.
I love whole food, and I love when it’s done remarkably well! This is an easy place to go for allergy problems, diet restrictions, etc. and still please a picky palate. I get the Chicken Chopped salad every time, Jacob always tries something new, and we both walk away happy every time!
P.S. You can’t go wrong with any of the Fox Restaurants

Amazing ingredients plus the best fry sauce you’ll ever try make this a life-changing burger experience. If it wasn’t so far from where we live, we’d go weekly!

White Chocolate Grill 
Definitely save room for dessert- the White Chocolate Brownie is to die for- but the food is also delicious and amazing! I’d hit this place up if you’re in North Scottsdale after a trip to the Musical Instrument Museum. Their ribs are the best of the best, and the crepes and salmon are so divine!


You can find this Beverly Hills phenomenon in Scottsdale! Yes $3.50 is a lot for a cupcake, but I promise you won’t regret it once you have a delicious black and white in hand!

Choose your fresh baked cookie flavor(s), your favorite ice cream flavor, and enjoy the most amazing ice cream sandwich of your life!

We have to cool off in the summer, so the frozen yogurt places are abundant, and this one is our favorite!
If not Zoyo, Yogurtland. They have tons of flavors and locations, it really is hard to find something you’ll love!
Their story is amazing- two girls who left Wall Street to make ice cream. They use the best ingredients for organic, fresh, amazing ice cream. I’ve had a lot in my life, and seriously, have never had better! Plus the unique flavors and seasonal rotation make this a fun place to come any time of year.
The best cupcake and vegan peanut butter cookie I’ve ever had!

Things to Do:

Rent a Bike
Enjoy being outside and take a stroll around our very bike-friendly communities. Most streets have a large bike lane, Tempe Beach Park and Papago Park have bike paths, and there are rentals all over! We did a tandem from The Bike Cellar in Tempe for a date, and it is one of our favorites!
Tempe Town Lake is a beautiful place, particularly after sunset! It’s inexpensive, relaxing, and very romantic!
15 teams, a different hot dog for each, and perfect weather make March and Spring Training the perfect time to leave the snow behind!

Walk Around Tempe Town Lake
Yes, we have a lake! It’s particularly pretty at night, and a free, romantic thing to do outdoors.

Visit Arizona State University
Modern “green” buildings, a diverse student body, and it’s the largest university in the country make it a fun walk and a great place to people watch.

Desert Botanical Gardens 
If you want to see how beautiful the desert can be you should definitely hit up the Desert Botanical Gardens. You’ll see the most beautiful plants the desert has to offer, as well as holiday exhibits, sculptures, and often live music.
Go for a Hike
Believe it or not, we have mountains! Any city you stay in you can find a hike within a 20 minute drive. We love Camelback in the middle of the valley, it has an amazing view where you can see most the valley!
It’s kind of what Arizona is known for! Make sure to schedule some t-time if you or your significant other is a golfer.
Not a golfer? That’s ok, I’m not either. I’ll gladly leave my husband who is behind to hit up the AMAZING shopping in Phoenix! There are outlets in Anthem, Glendale, and Chandler with amazing stores and deals. The Scottsdale Fashion Square has every upscale and not-so-upscale store known to man. Last Chance has all the returned goods Nordstrom shoppers bring back, and you can find things for about 1/10th of the normal price! I used to save all my money while attending college in Utah because I knew I could get 10 items for every one I’d get there. Prices are amazing, selection is awesome, and we are very spoiled in this neck of the woods!
If you can make it work, come the first week of the month and enjoy a ton of free stuff on First Friday! The Science Museum, Art Museum, Children’s Museum, and the art walk are all excellent and totally free this night!
Watch Iron Man/Marathons in Action
There’s something about very competitive athletes that remind you of the unconquerable human spirit! The Iron Man happens in November, P.F. Chang’s Marathon in January, and The Phoenix Marathon is the first weekend in March. There are a ton of vendors, giveaways, and and entertainment surrounding these events that take place outdoors while most the country is shoveling snow.
See a Play
Gammage hosts many touring companies, namely Broadway plays and Las Vegas shows. There are also some great local theaters including Hale Centre Theatre, Hergerber Theater, Mesa Arts Center, and Scottsdale Center for the Arts. They each offer a lot of local charm without compromising quality.

Take a Cooking Class
Being neighbors with California and Mexico in addition to an amazing growing season has its perks, and we get some of the most amazing produce at some of the cheapest prices in the country. You could visit a farmer’s market and cook, or you could experience that same benefit from a cooking class. Sweet Basil is our favorite, but there are several others- feel free to Google it, you’re bound to find one!

Musical Instrument Museum
It’s truly one of a kind and a place you can spend half a day looking at the history of music and innovation of instruments throughout history. There’s also plenty of pop paraphernalia from modern artists, a cafe, and a concert hall that hosts many shows, big and small!

The Scottsdale Art Walk
Downtown Scottsdale is hipster central in AZ. Old Town encompasses Main Street and Scottsdale Road area, and you can walk around most shops on Thursday night to see unique art, Western influences, and enjoy a very cool atmosphere with lots of good restaurants and a hoppin’ bar scene (if that’s your thing)! If you need some food swing into one of our favorite Thai places, Malee’s! The Sugar Bowl is also a fun, quirky place on the walk.

Take a BYOB Painting Class
We’ve been to Art of Merlot many times, but there are lots in the area! Check out Groupon for great deals, and be sure to grab bubbly for one of the coolest nights of your life!

If You’re Willing to Drive a Little…

Make a week out of your trip and hit up one of our favorite getaway spots just a few hours outside of Phoenix:

Bisbee, AZ
The old wild West was born here, and Tombstone is only 20 minutes out. You’ll see history, can take a ghost tour, and enjoy the current artistic community here. Check out our posts HERE.

Sedona, AZ
The mountains and redrock combine for one of the most breathtakingly beautiful places on Earth! Enjoy hiking, jeep tours, spa treatments, art galleries, and the best Mexican food around at Elote. Check out our posts HERE.

Flagstaff, AZ
You can ski/snowboard here, enjoy the mountains, and get a taste of another climate. It’s also not far from the Grand Canyon, a few hours of driving will get you to the overview to see one of the world’s wonders. Check out our posts HERE.

So what are you waiting for! Come to my state, and feel free to ask me any questions you may have! This guide to Phoenix is updated occasionally so come back often!

If you are a Phoenix reader, did I miss anything? Feel free to add any other favorites in the comments below so that YOU can be a guide!

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  1. Miss Riss says:

    LOVE this!!! I've lived here my whole life and haven't heard of some of these places! I NEED to figure out where that waffle truck will be this weekend, I see it on SO many bloggers posts!! Thanks for putting this together!

  2. You definitely should hunt down the truck! Their Instagram and Facebook feeds always let you know what's going on 🙂

  3. Sierra @ Oh, Just Living the Dream says:

    Looks like I need to head down to Phoenix..ya know…to live. Utah winters suck. Ha

  4. You totally should- you won't regret it!

  5. Thanks for the great post! My husband and I moved to Tempe in December. I'm looking forward to checking some of these places out, yum!

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