Our Trip to Arizona

If all you know of succulents and cacti is that they are easy, slow growing additions to a desk or a bedside, you are gravely unprepared for Arizona. Prickly pear, agave, and saguaro cacti line highways, grow wild in the desert, and are the foundation for many a home’s hardscaping. These, in combination with citrus trees and skyscraper-level palm trees, make for a vacation for the books.

Within an hour of arriving at Anne’s aunt and uncle’s house in Scottsdale, I nearly crashed my bike as I ogled the biggest barrel cactus I had ever seen. Little did I know this was just the beginning. Our trip was filled with time at the pool, delicious food, cool museums, Cubs spring training games, and a lot (A LOT) of plants. If you’re planning a trip to the Phoenix area, I cannot recommend the following enough. Some of these suggestions originally came from Sarah Rhodes (@arrowandapple) and Jayme Henderson (@hollyandflora). Thanks you two!

To-Dos in Arizona

Desert Botanical Garden | The Desert Botanical Garden is filled to the brim with native plants and wildlife, but it’s unlike any other botanical garden I’ve ever been to. Saguaro and organ pipe cacti reach 70 feet into the sky, and the agave will measure close to your wingspan. Be sure to carve out at least half a day here in order to walk all of the trails, eat at the relaxing restaurant, and browse the gift shop for plants. Oh, and don’t forget to go home with a few saguaro seeds from a volunteer. Mine are germinating, and if all goes well, they’ll grow 1-2 inches in the first year!

Phoenix Public Market | This open air market is definitely worth adding to your list. It’s open on Saturdays from 8a-1p, and is the perfect spot to meet local farmers, artisans, and bakers. One of our favorite booths was Radish, a fresh-pressed juice company with pretty amazing juice combinations.

Musical Instrument Museum | “Anyone with a love of music should be legally bound to make a pilgrimage to this museum, missing out on it would be a crime.” MIM hosts the largest collection of musical instruments in the world, and it is awe-inspiring to say the least. The exhibits are attainable for any visitor, and their headset technology allows you to hear all of the instruments they have on display. Is hearing them not enough, though? Visit the Experience Gallery for a chance to play a curated selection of instruments.

Changing Hands Bookstore | Do you like books? Do you like beer? Changing Hands is not only a bookstore, it’s home to First Draft Bar. Roam the aisles with a beer in hand, or sit and meet other bookworms over a drink. Changing Hands offers an excellent selection of new and used books. I almost lost Anne forever here.

Baseball games | Spring in Arizona wouldn’t be complete without a little baseball! The Cactus League is what brought Anne and her family down from Chicago in March. We went to a couple of Cubs games and enjoyed lounging on the outfield lawn.

To-Eats in Arizona

Vovomeena | Portuguese for “Grandma Meena,” this is a great place for breakfast or brunch. Cute decor, friendly staff, and good coffee.

Joyride Taco House | Just know that you probably won’t want to leave. Besides the jaw-droppingly good tacos, enjoy a prickly pear margarita on the patio and take in the hip and well-curated vibe. The veggie tacos were delicious.

FnB | The chef at FnB isn’t called the “veggie whisperer” for nothing. We ordered what felt like the better half of the menu and indulged in our dinner there for over two hours. Each plate had incredible depth and a unique combination of ingredients. We left asking ourselves, “Do you think they’d cater our wedding in rural Wisconsin?” It was that good.

Sweet Republic | Even if you think you don’t have enough room left for dessert, you’ll have enough room left for Sweet Republic. They’ve been featured in Bon Appetit, Food & Wine, and Time Magazine for good reason. I ordered the black sesame ice cream just to try something different, and was not disappointed. Their ice cream is all-natural, local, and homemade.

(Other spots that were recommended to us but our bellies were too full: Lux, Federal Pizza, St. Francis, Fame, Rollover Doughnuts, Nami, Ollie Vaughn’s Kitchen and Bakery, Short Leash Hot Dogs, Welcome Chicken and Donuts, Max’s Mukhaase, Angel’s Trumpet Ale House)

Clearly, a return trip is in order.


PS) Did you participate in the 30-Day “Reset” Challenge in March? How did it go? Leave a comment and share your experience–I’d love to hear what worked and didn’t work for you.

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7 thoughts on “Our Trip to Arizona

  1. I’m so happy y’all went to FnB! I would seriously fly out to AZ just to eat there again. I’m bookmarking this post for the next time we venture out to Phoenix and Scottsdale. I’ll have to visit the Phoenix Public Market – that sounds like just the place to stock up on cooking treats for the weekend.

    I also did pretty well on the 30-day reset challenge. Instead of just deleting all of my unwanted emails, I took the time to actually unsubscribe from them. Now, if I could just make it a priority to check them on time! 😉 Steve and I have also made an effort to take evening walks after work, AND we put our television down in the basement, so that more reading, game-playing, studying, crafting, or {insert any other productive or fun activity here that beats out tv for fun!} happens instead of zoning out. Thanks for the ideas!! I’m still implementing them this month.

    • I’m so glad the 30-day challenge treated you well! It was difficult to get to each one every day, so sometimes I did a few in a day to make up. Go you for putting your tv in the basement! That’s a great idea. 🙂

      • I did the very same thing – a few in a days make up for missing a couple along the way. I’m keeping the list beside my computer to remind me of a few I’d like to incorporate.

  2. I loved the contents of the 30-day challenge, but I’m not much for list-making. My friend Kelly Sue has done a thing called the Uberlist, where one sets a series of goals, tasks, and stretches for the year in a notebook and keeps track. She’s incredibly organized and actualized (not by nature, I don’t think, but by learned inclination), and so a 116-point list for 2016 is right up her alley. I find that kind of tasking makes me irritable, even if I’m the person who set the tasks. So my approach to the challenge was to, instead of doing one a day, was to see how many I could over the course of the month, just by being mindful of the list of tasks. The only goal I set was to try and remind myself of the broad swathe of goals, and to check back in halfway through the month so that I could refresh my memory of ones that had fallen by the wayside.

    That reminder didn’t happen, but I did deliberately accomplish eight of the goals (sometimes repeatedly: my plant is still alive) and accidentally accomplished an additional seven, by osmosis or simply by living in the spirit of Reset for the month. I knew I wasn’t going to do the last week: the planning for the next project. The timing was wrong for the project I wanted to mount, and it didn’t occur to me that I could substitute a different project until just now (I have a great project for the next two months, actually, that’s not the project I couldn’t do in April either).

    So I really enjoyed my spiritual twist on your challenge, trying to keep the goal of refreshing in mind for the whole month. It was fun. I expected it to be helpful, but I didn’t expect it to be fun.

    • Thanks for such great insight, Ben! I’m glad you were able to give the Reset month a try. It sounds like you captured the essence of it in your own way–and the benefits were recognizable. I, too, didn’t get to each daily challenge. I found that my hectic work schedule often got in the way. At first it annoyed me, but then I decided to resist it less and complete challenges where I could. It also helped knowing that others were trying the challenge alongside me!

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