My third solo trip I headed to Phoenix, AZ! If you’re looking for a solo destination, I recommend this one. Read on as I recap my time and recommend some things for you to do!
Where to Stay in Phoenix
In terms of accommodation, I recommend either a hotel or airbnb – whichever is your preference. I stayed in a hotel in Phoenix my first night then an apartment for the following 3 nights. For the apartment, I used the Marrtiott version of airbnb called Homes and Villas – https://homes-and-villas.marriott.com/. I found a great place for an affordable price so I recommend checking that out.
Here is the link to the apartment I stayed in – 1 Bd in Scottsdale, AZ
For location – this is all up to what you want to do. I really enjoyed the Scottsdale area where I did most of my activities. The first day I stayed near the airport at DoubleTree Suites by Hilton, which is between Tempe and Scottsdale. This area has more outdoor activities like hikes and the Botanical Gardens. Another location people choose to stay in is Downtown Phoenix – I didn’t visit downtown at all though so I can’t speak to that area.
How to Get Around
This was my first solo trip where I didn’t rent a car which isn’t a huge deal if you plan ahead properly. So here are my tips for how to best get around solo without a car rental:
- Stay in a place that is walkable and or has easy public transportation (ex. Downtown Phoenix or Old Town Scottsdale).
- Plan out your activities ahead of time so you know when and where you need public transportation or an uber.
- If staying in a hotel, ask about airport shuttles – they are typically complimentary with your stay and will save you money from an uber or taxi ride.
- Note: Phoenix does have a good public transportation system called the Metro Valley. You can build your schedule off where you need to go and check routes and times on their site here – https://www.valleymetro.org/maps-schedules.
Once you’ve determined what area you want to explore it’s time to build your itinerary! Here is everything I did on my 3 day trip to Arizona:
Day 1 – Hit the Ground Running
11:30am – 1pm | Arrive and Get Lunch
I got to my hotel around 11:45am and was STARVING. Since it wouldn’t be too wise to Uber somewhere just to get a quick bite, I decided to Doordash Mexican food. I ordered from Speedy Street Tacos – I got 3 chicken tacos, Spanish rice & beans and chips & guac 10/10!!! Once I freshened up from being on a plane, I headed off to my first excursion of the day – Botanical Gardens.
2pm – 4pm Desert Botanical Gardens
Location: 1201 N Galvin Pkwy, Phoenix, AZ 85008
Website for Tickets: https://dbg.org/
Hours: 8am – 4pm | 5:30pm-9pm They close at 4 and re-open for Luminaria
Price: Adults $30-40 | Youth $15-19
Okay here’s the truth about the gardens…..when I went there were about 3 main areas closed off which took sooo much away from my experience – so much so that it was not worth the $35 I paid. So I advise calling ahead of time to check that all areas are open before spending the money to go. If everything is open? Then 100% buy your ticket and explore the magic of the Botanical Gardens.
4pm – 6pm Papago Park & Hole in the Rock
Location: 625 N Galvin Pkwy, Phoenix, AZ 85008
This was a highlight of my trip. Hole in the Rock is a super cool geological formation that has a gorgeous view from the top. It is in the same area as Papago Park so you can see both at once. The Hole in the Rock is at the top a short hike (very short don’t worry) and it is so cool up there. After making it to the top, taking some pictures and resting in the shade, I headed down to the lake at Papago Park for sunset. The views? IMMACULATE! Especially at sunset. Highly recommend going around that time.
7-8pm Dinner in the Area
Brix Kitchen & Cocktails
Location: 320 N 44th St, Phoenix, AZ 85008 (inside the DoubleTree Suites Hotel)
I headed back to my hotel to shower and take myself out to dinner. For convenience, I ate at the hotel restaurant – Brix Kitchen & Cocktails. Now typically, I don’t eat at hotel restaurants because they are always super pricey – but hey I wanted to treat myself. I ordered the salmon with green beans & brown rice coupled with a beautifully made lemon drop martini.
Day 2 – All about the Arts
My second day was all about treating my inner creativity. I began my day with a massage then headed to multiple art museums and stores.
9am – 10am Get a Massage!
Location: MAA Wellness Center 3146 E. Wier St, Phoenix
I used Groupon to find a place for a massage and I ran across a nice deal with MAA Wellness Center. It was located about 10 minutes from my hotel which was great. I got a 1 hour swedish massage for only $62! It is definitely the best way to start your day. The rest of the day 2 activities are all within walking distance of each other (no more than 15 min walk).
1pm – 2pm Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art
Location: 7374 E 2nd St, Scottsdale, AZ 85251
Hours: 11AM – 5PM (closed on Mon & Tues)
Price: $10 for non members | $7 for students
I was so in love with this museum. They have an amazing collection of art to look at. I especially enjoyed the Skyspace outdoor installation! Very cool to look at. This museum is a must see when visiting Phoenix. After the museum I walked into Old Town Scottsdale to find some lunch.
2pm – 3pm Hula’s Modern Tiki
Location: 7213 E 1st Ave, Scottsdale, AZ 85251
Hours: 11am – 10pm
Imma tell you right now, you HAVE to eat here. The food was SO good. I got the coconut shrimp rolls, crispy fish bites and a Hula Mai Tai. Very yummy. I wanted to eat the entire menu OMG.
3pm – 4pm Walk around Old Town Scottsdale
Location: Same area as Hula’s Modern Tiki
Old Town Scottsdale is a cute area filled with local antique shops, boutiques, souvenir stores, coffee and ice cream shops too. You could spend a few hours here window shopping or actually shopping. Looked like a good place to buy authentic Native American art & jewelry or nice leather cowboy boots!
4pm – 4:35pm Immersive Van Gogh Exhibit
Location: 4301 North Scottsdale Road, Scottsdale, AZ, 85251
Price: $60 – NOT WORTH IT
Ok so…truth? I did not think the money was worth the hype. You pay that much just to sit uncomfortably on the floor to watch the immersive movie play which lasts 35 min – and that’s it. No other activities or anything. I did some research and found out that different locations have different immersive rooms and activities that would def be worth the money. I recommend looking up the immersive exhibit in your city to see what they include before buying tickets.
5pm – 7pm Wonderspaces
Location: 7014 E Camelback Rd #584, Scottsdale, AZ 85251
Hours: noon – 9pm
Price: Adults* $25 | Children $15 *students with ID get a discount!
I LOVED this exhibit. It was so fun and filled with many talented artists. The best part was this installation where the artist built robots to do LIVE portraits!! It was a first come first serve interactive exhibit so of course I waited 30 minutes to do it. This is by artist Patrick Tresset and you can read about the installation here.
Day 3 – Relax & Rejuvinate
My last day I was EXHAUSTED, so truthfully I ended up staying in my apartment writing blog posts and binging Vampire Diaries. However – I did have an itinerary of things to do so I will share:
9am – 10am Breakfast at U.S Egg American Cookery
Location: 3238 N Scottsdale Rd, Scottsdale, AZ 85251
Hours: 6:30AM – 2:30PM
Ok so I did get breakfast from here (I got it to go) and I enjoyed it! I would give it a 9/10 which if pretty high as breakfast is my favorite meal of the day so your food has to be BOMB. I got a skillet which legit fed me for 2-3 days. (Note that I was in AZ for 5 days but 3 were during the weekend – when I explored – and the other 2 I was working 9-5 and didn’t actually go anywhere).
Noon – 1:30PM Japanese Friendship Garden
Location: 1125 N. Third Ave., Phoenix
Hours: 9am – 4pm (Closed Mondays)
Price: Adults $10 | Students $7 (First Friday of the month is voluntary donation admission)
This will be the first place I check out when I go back to visit Phoenix. It is a beautiful Japanese garden that gives tranquility. I wanted to go here to see the exhibits there, read a book by the lake, and meditate. I bet you could spend a few hours here just existing in nature and getting aligned with your spirit. It’s located in downtown Phoenix so there are many transit ways to get there. Be sure to visit their website to see what kind of cultural events they have going on at the garden.
2PM – 3:30PM Lunch Time at FEZ
Location: 105 W Portland St, Phoenix, AZ 85003
Hours: 11AM – 1:30PM , 430PM – 10PM | Sunday 10AM – 9PM
4PM – 6PM Tour Taliesin West
Location: 12621 N Frank Lloyd Wright Blvd, Scottsdale, AZ 85259
Hours: 10AM – 4:15pm
Price: $26 – $50 (depending on which tour)
The activities listed above I didn’t get to check out, but they are on my wish list and I hope you get a chance to visit! Arizona is a beautiful state and there’s so much more to explore there. Looking forward to going back to see all that I missed. Hopefully this itinerary helps you out on your own trip!