Travel Tuesday: Phoenix, Arizona

Photo by Nicholas Corra

Photo by Nicholas Corra

In May, when I graduated from college, rather than buying me a present my parents took me on one of the most amazing trips I have ever been on.  In the past few years I became interested in going out west.  As my dad often says, there are so many beautiful sites to be seen right here in the United States, and a lot of them are one the west coast.  So we packed up and set out on a nine day adventure full of breathtaking views and some of God's most beautiful masterpieces starting in Phoenix, Arizona and ending in Denver, Colorado.  One blog post could never do each of the destinations justice, so I have decided to break them down one by one for you in a series called #TravelTuesday.  I'll fill you in on everything from which sites are worth the drive, which ones could stand to be skipped, and everything in between.

Destination #1 on the trip was Phoenix, Arizona.  The first word of advice I can give about traveling out west is pack for just about every season.  I know that seems overkill, but I am speaking from experience when i say the weather there is quite a bit different than it is here, and just as unpredictable.  The forecast called for mid 70's and low 80's in most of the places we visited, and Phoenix was the only place where the weather went according to plan.  It was more like 50's, 60's and low 70's the entire time we were traveling, which would have been dream weather, had I not packed mostly shorts and t-shirts.  

Strange weather aside, Phoenix was a very cool place to visit.  If street art, hip local restaurants, and one of the most beautiful botanical gardens I have ever seen appeal to you, then stick around for the details.  

Our first stop in Phoenix was breakfast after a three hour flight.  Before leaving for the trip, we followed various foodie accounts on Instagram to get an idea of places to keep an eye out for.  Our breakfast choice, Matt's Big Breakfast happened to be featured on not only one of those accounts, but also Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives on Food Network.  Since binge watching Triple D is a guilty pleasure of mine, I get a little giddy when I visit a spot featured on the show.  This local chain is known for fresh ingredients and unique recipes, making it one of the best breakfasts of the trip.

Mike's Big Breakfast

Mike's Big Breakfast

Once our bellies were full we headed out to explore the city a bit.  I don't have the exact locations of these murals and artwork, but they're the kind of thing you can't really miss driving down the street.  My favorite art from the day were these quilted palm trees lining a brightly colored storefront.  It was one of the most unique pieces of street art I have ever seen.  Just a little ways down from these trees was a mural consisting of various Dr. Seuss characters, another favorite of mine.  One other noteworthy mural was a compilation of paintings of David Bowie in various costumes and characters.  What made this so remarkable was the fact that it was done by a local teenager.  

Downtown Phoenix

Downtown Phoenix

Downtown Phoenix

Downtown Phoenix

After spending some time exploring street art, we checked out some of the architecture of downtown including St. Mary's Basilica and Rosson House in Heritage Square.  St. Mary's Basilica is the oldest Catholic Parish, over 100 years old, and the second oldest church in Phoenix.  The architecture is stunning and there is a garden next to the church featuring a fountain and huge shade trees.  Rosson House was the home of one of the founding families of Phoenix, Arizona that has been fully restored to represent the lives of that family.  Tours are only $9, $8 if you're a student, and offer a nice relief from the heat since the house is air-conditioned (very authentic to a house dating back to 1895, I know).  

St. Mary's Basilica

St. Mary's Basilica

Rosson House

Rosson House

In an effort to beat the heat for a little while longer, we took a tour of the Phoenix Art Museum.  I love to experience the art that every city has to offer, it's fun to see pieces I may have learned about in school and some I've never even heard of.  I had the chance to see an installation by Jennifer Steinkamp during our tour, an artist I did a presentation on during my freshman year of college.  I highly recommend watching some of her pieces on YouTube, they're beautifully done.  The museum had quite a few  3-D installations that I really enjoyed as well, like the one below.  

Phoenix Art Museum

Phoenix Art Museum

We decided to spend the evening at the Desert Botanical Gardens, which was a pretty beautiful decision if you ask me.  It was so interesting seeing all kinds of plants I had never seen in person before, it was a totally different type of foliage than I am used to.  I expected a lot of the landscapes to be brown because the climate is so different there, but I was very wrong about that.  It was very lush and green with colorful flowers everywhere.  We even saw this little guy, I've never seen a hummingbird sit this still before!

Desert Botanical Gardens

Desert Botanical Gardens

Desert Botanical Garden

Desert Botanical Garden

We ended our time in Phoenix with dinner at one of the most unique and slightly ironic places I have ever been to, Taco Guild Gastropub.  It's an authentic Mexican restaurant with a full bar located in an old church, hence the irony.  I have to say, they make one heck of a mojito and the tacos were some of the best street tacos I've had.  No wonder it's rated the #2 Mexican restaurant in the US.  I recommend the Guild Chicken and Urban Bean Coffee Braised Beef tacos if you decide to check it out.  Hey Guy Fieri, you should really check this place out too.

If you stuck around till the end of this ridiculously long post, then congrats, you can take on Phoenix with at least a little know-how.  I hope this has been helpful and interesting and if nothing else you enjoyed the photos.  As always, feel free to reach out in the comments or email me at emilyinspiredblog@gmail.com with any questions you may have!  Can't wait to share the next stop on our trip!

Desert Botanical Garden

Desert Botanical Garden