I started writing a post about how life threw lemons at me and how I made my lemonade out of it. But I just realized that instead of being whiny about the whole ordeal, I can make a fun post out of it. Oh don’t you worry, the whiny, nauseating details will definitely be in the next post! To sum it up, I will be moving from my beloved Phoenix, Arizona for good. I am relocating to Huntsville, Alabama (I know, right?!). Well, before making the big move, I thought I’d write about all the things I have loved doing in Phoenix/Tempe area. So here goes a list of things to do in Phoenix if you are anything like me.
- The main cuisine in Arizona would be Mexican. I love Mexican food and you will be sure to find a Mexican restaurant around every corner. There a couple of places that I go to religiously every week: Mi Pueblo’s and Chino Bandido’s in Phoenix. Chino Bandido’s, as the name suggests is a fusion between Chinese and Mexican. While you are in the Valley, be sure to check out Los Sombreros. I love the vegetarian options here and my friends tell me that they have the best pork.
- Phoenix also has a wide variety of Indian restaurants, my favorite being Chennai Chettinad in North Phoenix. The buffet here is totally worth the money and it suits Indian and Non-Indian palettes alike (I don’t know if my friends lie to me, but they always seem to enjoy it). Chandler also has numerous Indian restaurants considering the number of Indians that reside there: Woodlands, Aachi, Shalimar. I love the Indo-Chinese chain Inchin’s Bamboo Gardens and never tire of their Chinese-Bhel.
- Next on my list would be Thai and Italian alike. The best Thai restaurant would definitely have to be Soi 4 in Scottsdale, with a wide range of vegetarian options. In Italian, would be Avanti on Thomas Road with homemade lasagna and the best tiramisu ever.
During school, I frequented Tempe Marketplace, since it was the closest option for me. But the valley has numerous shopping centers with unique, upscale architecture. A few on your list if you ever visit Phoenix should be: Scottsdale Fashion Square, The Shops at Norterra, Chandler Fashion Center and Biltmore Fashion park (many restaurants and specialty food here). There are a few premium outlet malls like Arizona Mills, Outlets at Anthem and Phoenix Premium Outlets that have exceptional brands from Old Navy to Armani. Can you believe Huntsville has no Zara store? My heart broke when I found out.
I hate hiking because I am so clumsy and I trip over myself on flat ground all the time. I cannot even begin to explain what I go through while hiking with no sense of balance and direction whatsoever. But I have hiked and the view at the end is usually amazing(makes all the bruises and concussions worth it). Camelback is the most popular among the hiking nerds. It has a few trails that go around the hump of the camel, Cholla trail(easier of the two) and Echo Canyon Trail. South Mountain has many trails with different levels of difficulty. I have tried the Mormon Trail and that was one of the easiest ones.
I cannot describe in words the beauty of Arizona and all that it encompasses. You have to be here to appreciate the sheer exquisite backdrops while driving around the city and outside. There are many road trips you could indulge in while in Phoenix because everything seems so close and all the drives are enchanting. Here’s a list of places you could drive to within a few hours and not feel like you have wasted time on travelling.
- Sedona, Flagstaff and Grand Canyon: One of a kind places that are a must visit. The change in scenery while driving through each of these is inexplicably picturesque. Within two hours from Phoenix, you are surrounded be red rocks in various formations with a deep sense of beauty engulfing it. In the winters, the red rocks covered in snow are a sight to see. Within an hour from here, you are deep into coniferous trees and wilderness. It no more feels like the dry Arizona you are used to. An hour or two from here lies one of the greatest wonders of the world, The Grand Canyon, which is every bit as grand as the name suggests.
- Page and Monument Valley: Four hours away from Phoenix, captivating with its ethereal beauty, lies Page which is home to Antelope Canyon, Horseshoe bend and Lake Powell, none of which can be described merely with words. Monument Valley, which so frequently appears in movies, extends to Utah and the valley lies within the range of the Navajo Nation Reservation. The trip would require two full days but is worth every minute that you spend there.
- Tuscon: Tuscon is pretty much like Phoenix. One of the main attractions here is Mt Lemmon which is a host to skiers during winters. Tuscon is surrounded by caverns, rich in minerals and history like the Kartchner Caverns and Colossal Cave. While you are here, you might want to check out Biosphere 2, an initiative by UoA that mimics earth’s vegetation based on self sustenance, something like in the movie Interstellar where they try to build a self sustained atmosphere for humans to reside.
- Lakes: ASU’s favorite spring break destination Is Lake Havasu which houses all the crazy spring break parties by a lake joining the Colorado River. The lake in itself is beautiful and worth a visit. There are other lakes like the Saguaro Lake, Lake Pleasant and Roosevelt lake that offer boat rides through all the magnificent canyons around the lakes.
- Las Vegas: Yes, yes, yes! Vegas is just about 4 hours away and who wouldn’t want to go there every weekend right?
- San Diego: Five hours of driving will take you to a land that has the one thing Phoenix is missing, beach !
- Los Angeles: I would give LA a minimum of 6 hours of drive, but why would that stop anyone from going to the land of Angels?!
ASU is known as the biggest party school in America so that gives you a rough idea of the nightlife around. Mill Avenue is every college-goer’s favorite on Friday nights. The whole street has so many nightclubs that you never fall short of a place to hangout at. Old Town Scottsdale has all the upscale places like Mint and Maya which have dress codes and long lines. Devil’s Advocate in Tempe on Thursday nights has the biggest crowd ever because of its happy hour Thursdays. We always have a blast when we go out because the crowd here never gets boring!
Arizona has the darkest sky in America and is every amateur astronomer’s dream destination. Some of the best astro photos are from the observatories in Arizona, Lowell in Flagstaff and Kitt Peak Observatory in Tuscon. Oh, how I’ll miss the wonderful view every time I lift my head up.
Writing this post did tear me up a little and also made me hungry and thirsty. If you ever have a chance to visit Phoenix, do not pass it off and if you have a chance to never leave, DON’T! I am taking solace in the thought that I will always have a home to come back to. So many memories, so many friends, so much left unexplored!
Stay Beautiful Arizona!