Gather your girlfriends and plan a getaway ASAP! Phoenix, Arizona is a quick 2.5 hour flight from Seattle and offers more activities now than ever. Think beyond the pool and air conditioned shopping (though there’s plenty of that!), and discover a region rich in agriculture, farm-to-table dining, horseback riding and an urban art crawl. With the namesake luxury resorts and spas, in addition to these uniquely surprising experiences, Phoenix is a destination not to be missed – especially this time of year.
My key to travel is the off-season. You will always find better rates, less crowds and the opportunity to do way more. That’s the goal, right? We only have so much time to enjoy our vacations – it makes sense to experience more and spend less, don’t you think?
And yes, I know – many people warned me of the heat during an Arizona spring/summer. I’ll be honest – I’m from Seattle – so 70 degrees is usually my tipping point…the heat did not bother me – in fact, after the winter we’ve had (which has lasted 8+ months) we could not get enough of those warm, beautiful rays and bright blue sky. It was good for the soul, I swear. The warmest day reached 112 degrees and with the prevalence of air conditioning, misters, and quick dips in the pool (and Lake Pleasant!) we were just fine. More than fine – we were in heaven.
So for this post, I’m sharing the itinerary my girlfriend’s and I followed for 5 days – detailing our favorite places to stay, play and dine in the ‘Soul of the American Southwest.’
Before I move on, something to note – the Phoenix Metropolitan Area is actually 14,600 square miles, which includes several cities and suburbs…so I will be sharing activities according to each city we visited to make your trip planning a breeze!
Our girl’s getaway began with a 7:30am flight out of Seattle (less than $200 roundtrip), arriving in Phoenix at 10am and renting a 2017 Jeep Compass from Thrifty…
We had lunch in Tempe at Tapacubo a poolside cantina, located in The Graduate Hotel right across from the ASU campus – known for their leaded and unleaded margaritas, handcrafted tacos with locally-sourced ingredients, and a fresh take on southwest street food.
Just 12 minutes from Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport – it’s the perfect spot for lunch (or dinner and drinks) before you kick off the rest of your vacation. OR stay and play at The Graduate Tempe, which is part of Graduate Hotels, a collection of throwback academia-inspired hotels in several University towns across the US.
Tempe is a vibrant college town, with a full event calendar, Broadway shows, water recreation on Tempe Town Lake, Sonoran Desert hikes and trails, along with inspired dining and a spirited nightlife. They also just launched a GRID Bike Share program, with 300 bikes, allowing locals and visitors alike an alternate way to explore the city. Tempe is a destination on its own, one I plan to continue on my next trip. You can find their current event calendar HERE!
After lunch we headed to our resort, Sheraton Grand at Wild Horse Pass, located in the city of Chandler, about 25 minutes from Tempe. We had a quick tour and then headed straight to the Aji Spa for a relaxing massage – something every girl’s getaway should include.
Aji, meaning ‘Sanctuary’ in the Pima language, offers the only authentic Native American spa menu in existence, with an Indigenous Collection of treatments and activities designed and practiced by Aji’s Pima and Maricopa Cultural Caretakers. I recommend the Matchut (classic full body massage), followed by a dip in their private spa pool…
When you book a service you have access to the full spa amenities, including the fitness center, relaxation rooms, showers, pool and Aji Spa Cafe. Menu favorites → the Smoked Salmon Salad with a Citrus Rejuvenation cocktail.
After a few hours at the spa, we officially checked into our room at the Sheraton Grand at Wild Horse Pass…
Our view was nothing short of spectacular – overlooking 3 additional pools, the Gila River (where they offer boat rentals), and a desert backdrop.
We relaxed on the balcony, enjoyed room service and margaritas, and dolled up for dinner (can I get an amen from the mamas?!). You don’t realize how desperately you need a break…until you get one, so my advice is to enjoy every ounce of it. You deserve this, my friends.
We stayed on the property for dinner – dining at Ko’sin, a fusion of Native American and Arizona comfort food. Serving local, fresh fare and craft cocktails, paired with a view of the Sierra Estrella Mountain Range – it’s definitely a gem in the city of Chandler!
The next morning we headed out on the Fresh Foodie Trail in Mesa, AZ (about a 2o minute drive from Wild Horse Pass), featuring 11 family farms, community gardens, u-pick produce, artisan shops, and an unforgettable experience, opening our eyes to a different side of Phoenix.
Our first stop was Joe’s Farm Grill at Agritopia for breakfast. It’s a classic American diner, converted from a ’60’s era homestead owned by the Johnston Family. They serve organic, farm-fresh ingredients – also featured on Food Network’s Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.
Agritopia is a ‘certified organic farm designed to flourish in the urban setting…named the country’s leading ‘agri-hood’ by New York Times.’ It’s also a community unlike anything you’ve ever seen before – connected by Agritopia Loop, they’ve built a neighborhood on over 160 acres, including tree-lined streets (something unfamiliar in Phoenix!), 450 homes, a maker’s space, micro-winery, brewery, restaurants and a coffee shop. They’ve created a community to build relationships, to grow and theoretically live your entire life (with housing options for every age/family size, including retirement, assisted living and memory care).
When visiting Agritopia, there’s a surreal sense of magic – it’s pleasant, it’s clean and most all – inviting. It’s a beautiful asset to the city of Mesa, and something that is absolutely necessary on your next trip to Phoenix.
Our next stop on the Fresh Foodie Trail was Schnepf Farms, a fourth-generation working family farm which hosts seasonal events and festivals, along with an organic u-pick garden and orchard. They also just launched glamping in their collection of vintage airstream trailers on the 300-acre organic peach farm. You better believe I’m coming back!
Our last stop of the day was Queen Creek Olive Mill, which is ‘Arizona’s only family-owned and operated working olive mill and farm, where olives are grown and pressed for the production of high quality extra virgin olive oil.’ We enjoyed a Tuscan-inspired meal on the patio, feasting on their local and garden-sourced ingredients perfectly paired with a variety of their oils. It was the ultimate finale, showcasing the brilliant culinary side of Phoenix, Arizona.
Mesa, also known as ‘City Limitless,’ was named Best City for Outdoor Lovers (Money Magazine) with one of the Top 10 Coolest Parks (USA Today), and the Fresh Foodie Trail has been recognized as one of the Top 10 Food Drives (National Geographic). It’s an experience destination that is constantly evolving, creating a unique space within the state of Arizona. Check out their event calendar HERE!
After the tour, we returned to the Sheraton Grand at Wild Horse Pass to enjoy an afternoon by the pool…
Whether your goal is to bask in the sun, sip a few cocktails or take a ride down the waterslides (yes they have them!), Sheraton Grand easily accommodates any traveler – families, friends or couples. Something to note – we chatted with several locals who were on a staycation at the resort, raving about the location, amenities and price during the off-season. *Always chat with locals when you can – they speak the truth!
That evening we headed out for a girl’s night in downtown Gilbert, AZ (25 minute Uber drive from the resort). First stop was Zinburger, a wine and burger bar (genius, right?!). We ended up splitting a few of their burgers and enjoying their Cucumber Basil Mule, which came highly recommended (tried, tested, and highly approved!). For dinner I recommend Clint’s Almost Famous Veggie Burger with their Double Truffle Fries!
After dinner we walked a block down to Postino Wine Cafe for a bottle of Mercat Brut Rose (when on vacay, right?). We sat on the patio with the twinkling lights and cheers to the night ahead…
Last stop of the night – Dierks Bentley’s Whiskey Row, a modern country bar that’s also in Scottsdale, Tempe and Nashville. If you’re looking for a night out (which I recommend at least one during your trip), make a stop here. I promise you will love it – whether you’re looking to grab a cocktail, dance or just people watch – you will not be disappointed.
The next morning, a few of my girlfriend’s went on a morning horseback ride via the Koli Equestrian Center, located just down the road from the resort. On the guided ride they discovered a group of wild mustangs and captured this…
Koli offers group and private rides from beginner to advanced, along with a kids program ages 6+. The Gila River Indian Reservation has over 2400 acres of equestrian trails, offering generous views of the Southern Arizona landscape. You can find out more information and plan a ride HERE!
After a morning nap and final dip in the pool, we said our goodbyes to the Sheraton Grand at Wild Horse Pass…but with more of a ‘see ya later’ vibe since we plan on returning very soon with our families! It’s officially one of my favorite resorts.
Downtown Phoenix, AZ
Next destination → The Open Air Market in Downtown Phoenix, open Saturdays, 8am-12pm, May-September. Followed by lunch at the Phoenix Public Market Café, where you’ll find fresh ingredients, often sourced from the market next door. They serve breakfast 7am-3pm, along with a full lunch and dinner menu for dine in or take out. We sat on the patio and enjoyed an afternoon brunch. Order the Frittata!
And grab a Cartel Coffee to go – it’s an Arizona specialty.
Just down the road you’ll find Roosevelt Row, a walkable creative district featuring murals, galleries, boutiques and live music. Here’s just a peak at my favorites…
On our way out of town, we stopped by Lola Coffee Bar – because we heard the aesthetic (and coffee!) were not to be missed! Being from Seattle, we’re always on the hunt for a really good cup of joe (we’re connoisseurs ya’ll!) and it passed the test. Make a stop when you’re in downtown Phoenix!
Litchfield Park, AZ
That afternoon we checked into The Wigwam, located in Litchfield Park (a 30 minute drive from Downtown Phoenix). ‘Designated as a “Historic Hotel of America,” The Wigwam is an iconic Arizona landmark (just celebrated 87 years!), AAA Four-Diamond property and a member of Preferred Hotel’s Lifestyle Collection. It has an estate-like setting, spanning over 440 acres, featuring 331 casita-style guest rooms, including 72 suites, crafted from distinctive adobe architecture.’
‘The Wigwam also offers 54 holes of championship golf, a 26,000-square-foot Elizabeth Arden Red Door Spa, four pools, and five restaurants and bars.’ It’s the epitome of luxurious comfort. The gorgeous ambiance resembles old hollywood glamour paired with a modern twist. You feel like you’re in your dream home…in fact I mentioned several times how realistic it would be to actually live there. It feels nothing like a hotel – it’s a community of gracious staff, delicious food, and acres of play space.
We spent the afternoon enjoying the pool, live dj and beautiful sunshine…which happens nearly 300 days a year in Phoenix!! (Seattle gets approx. 150 days)
For dinner we stayed on property and enjoyed a farm-to-table experience at Litchfield’s, Wigwam’s signature restaurant. I recommend the Scottish Salmon paired with one of their featured cocktails! After dinner, you can enjoy live music at the Wigwam Bar, a European-style community courtyard just a few steps away. It’s popular for both guests and locals alike!
The next morning we returned to The Wigwam Bar, which opens at 6am for Breakfast – we loved the breakfast burritos!
And then off on another adventure…
We spent the remainder of the morning boating on Lake Pleasant in Peoria, AZ (a 45 minute drive from the resort). Thanks to Pleasant Harbor Boat Rentals we enjoyed a 24ft. pontoon boat ride (with a driver!) along the 10,000 acres of pristine water, surrounded by the Sonoran Desert.
Lake Pleasant Regional Park spans 23,662 acres, offering a variety of outdoor activities – camping, fishing, swimming, hiking, scuba diving, kayaking, and boating. It’s the perfect adventure oasis – somewhat unexpected in the land of desert.
The City of Peoria is also the home of spring training for the San Diego Padres and Seattle Mariners, who share the Peoria Sports Complex. Peoria has been recognized by Money Magazine as one of the Top 100 Places to live. And I can definitely see why. Another trip down the pipeline with the kiddos, as it’s an obvious family-friendly destination! You can find out more HERE!
After boating we enjoyed lunch at the Waterfront Bar & Grille overlooking Lake Pleasant. I recommend one of their signature salads and a grapefruit margarita! And the location doesn’t get much better – it’s right in the marina at Scorpion Bay…just a few steps from the boat rentals.
Once we returned to the resort, we headed straight to The Elizabeth Arden Red Door Spa for an afternoon massage.
It’s a beautiful space that pairs well to the Wigwam, offering high-end signature treatments – well-deserved on any girl’s getaway. I recommend the Red Door Signature Massage followed by a few minutes in their steam room.
For dinner, we ventured across the street to the Old Pueblo Cafe and Pub, offering Sonoran-style mexican food, in a casual setting with a climate-controlled patio. It was the perfect close to a warm and beautiful day.
Our trip finally came to a close after four fascinating days of exploring the vast region of Phoenix, Arizona. The cities, the people, the adventures left incredible impressions – and a new vision of the Southwest. It’s not what I had imagined – there is so much more to their community, culture and lifestyle that is inviting year-round. Which brings me to this → the time to travel to Phoenix is NOW. Take advantage of the (majorly) reduced rates on accommodations, activities and restaurant specials. The locals know this is the season to enjoy everything Phoenix has to offer (not during tourist-heavy months!). Take their advice (and mine!) and plan a trip ASAP. Utilize your resources and check out the travel bureaus – they have TONS of itinerary tips and ideas and are more than willing to help you along the way. You can find all of the cities I visited and their respected contacts linked below:
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Cheers to a Girl’s Getaway!
*Photos edited by Jasmine Klein Photography
Disclosure: I was graciously hosted by Visit Phoenix and their partners in exchange for this post. The opinions expressed here represent my own, which I take great pride in providing pure honesty…because I’m OBSESSED with sharing the Good!