So you've got tickets to the Super Bowl (lucky you), but what about the rest of the weekend when you're looking for fun things to do in Phoenix? Don't worry, I've got you covered. This is going to be the best weekend of your life. Not only do you get to see Katy Perry potentially diss Taylor Swift during the halftime show (I love them both, but this girl cannot look away from a catfight) and watch the Patriots throw around some hopefully inflated balls (it never gets old), you also get to check out the awesomeness that is Phoenix, Arizona.
In case you haven't noticed, desert landscapes are kind of insanely cool, so bring along your DSLR. Also, bring along your appetite, because when it comes to eating rich, southern grub, Phoenix is the place to do it. And when you're so full you feel like you've put on 10 million extra pounds, you can take a nature-filled hike to one of the most scenic spots in town. After that? Well, grab a book (and drink) at the local independent bookstore before catching up on some sleep and doing it all over again. Yeah, I've totally planned your trip for you... you're welcome.
1. Eat at Beckett's Table
Beckett, as in Chef Justin Beckett. Order up a stack of short ribs, bacon cheddar biscuits, and some "cream less" creamed corn at one of the most popular (and most delicious) restaurants in the Phoenix area. The food at Beckett's Table is sophisticated, but the environment is family-friendly, making it a win/win for everybody looking to have some of the best comfort food in town.
2. Visit the Desert Botanical Gardens
Phoenix's Desert Botanical Gardens are a must if you're visiting the city. Open year round and filled with desert-thriving plants, art exhibits, and if you're lucky, a garden concert, you could literally spend hours exploring this place. With winter killing almost every plant in sight in the cooler climates of America, a trip to this cacti-filled and succulent-engulfed landscape is a pleasant chance to enjoy some nature.
3. Pick up a book at Changing Hands Bookstore
When Changing Hands Bookstore decided to add a new location in Phoenix, it was some of the greatest news of the century for locals. That's because Changing Hands Bookstore is not only an ultra-cool independent bookstore, but it's also a bar. That's right, you can pound a beer while reading whatever your heart desires. Bookworms, is there anything better? This second-hand shop has a gigantic selection and reasonable prices. Oh, and did I mention this place was rated one of the best independent bookstores in America last year?
4. Catch some live music at The Culinary Dropout
Catch some gastro-pub fare and a show at The Culinary Dropout, where you can find all kinds of musical acts depending on what night you go. With two-thirds of its menu dedicated to beer, wine, and cocktails, we think it's pretty safe to say there will definitely be something here to your liking when it comes time for Happy Hour.
5. Hike Camelback Mountain
6. Grab a drink (and then go work out) at The Duce
That's right, you read me right. The Duce is not only one of the coolest bars in the Phoenix area, but it's also one of the most multifunctional. For $10, you can try out a boxing, tabata, or yoga class in the facility. And as if things couldn't get any better, The Duce's "1915 Chicago Soda Fountain" bar offers pie in a jar, spiked shakes, and mini malted cupcakes.
7. Check out Heard Museum
Every big city has its museum worth visiting, and Heard Museum is Phoenix's. Filled with local finds and desert-related artifacts, this museum is one of the more colorful in the country with strong basket, beadwork, poetry, jewelry, and textile collections. Its art exhibits are constantly changing, so there's always something new to see when you're in town.
8. Spend a day at the Phoenix Zoo
Before you start to say that you can go to a zoo anywhere, the Phoenix Zoo is actually the largest privately owned, non-profit zoo in the entire United States, which totally makes it worth a visit no matter how many zoos you have visited over the years. Home to more than 1,400 animals, this zoo has a wide collection of creatures from all over the world, including endangered and threatened species.
9. Grab some ice cream at Churn
You can't go to Phoenix and not go to Churn — it would be the biggest mistake of your life. Churn has some of the richest ice cream you will ever taste, and its pretzel cone is to die for. Nothing is made with preservatives, and everything is made onsite, so you know you're getting the real deal. With flavors that range from Vietnamese Coffee to Peaches n' Honey to Dr. Pepper, there's no way you're ever going to get sick of this place. Make it a destination every time you come to Phoenix.