HOW TO PLAN THE BEST TRIP TO PHOENIX, ARIZONA

How to Plan the Best Trip to Phoenix, Arizona

Phoenix, also known as the Valley of the Sun, provides sunshine almost every day of the year. And while it has remained on the list of must-visit cities in the U.S., something has shifted as of late. The city is gaining visitor momentum with its up-and-coming arts scene, gastronomic greatness, and its stunning desert and mountain scenery. If you’re intrigued, here’s how to plan the best trip to Phoenix, Arizona.

When to Go to Phoenix, Arizona

Phoenix offers extreme temperatures ranging from 100 degrees Fahrenheit, or about 40 degrees Celsius, in the summer months to freezing in the winter. So it’s best to go in the in-between months in spring and fall to enjoy the Valley of the Sun at its best. When you’re ready to plan your trip, check out this Phoenix hotel planning guide to book the perfect hotel for your needs.

Soak in the Culture and Gastronomy

Capitol Building Phoenix, Arizona

Image via Flickr by Gage Skidmore

Culturally, Phoenix can really stand out with its many museums, theaters, music venues, opera, and symphony. Some of the state’s best museums lie here and feature a number of themes. I recommend The Heard Museum, the Arizona Science Center, the Phoenix Art Museum, and the Museum of Musical Instruments. You can also take a stroll through Bentley Projects, a downtown warehouse district full of art galleries.

Dining Phoenix, Arizona

Image via Flickr by Alan Light

After fueling with the complimentary breakfast at your hotel, feel free to work up an appetite during the day to give way to delicious food. Given the proximity to Mexico, you’ll find outstanding south-of-the-border inspired cuisine.

At the Phoenix Ranch Market, you’ll find freshly made tortillas, refreshing aguas frescas, and mouth-watering tres leches cake. Phoenix also has other international flavours, including French, Korean, and other Latin American cuisines.

Stay Cool

Pool Phoenix, Arizona

Image via Flickr by mirage1210

As mentioned, Phoenix can get pretty hot, but there are several ways to stay cool. Many hotels have pools where you can soak, refresh, and lounge with the family. You can also take them to the several water parks around the city. If water isn’t your thing, you’ll find air conditioning across buildings in Phoenix. So feel free to satisfy your shopping needs at the many malls and chic boutiques.

Witness Stunning Natural Beauty

Hiking Camelback Mountain Phoenix, Arizona

Image via Flickr by ThreeIfByBike

Possibly one of Phoenix’s best feature is its majestic desert landscape with breathtaking sunsets and plenty of outdoor activities. Nature enthusiasts will enjoy hiking and biking up Camelback Mountain, where you can view the city from above. If you want to bring your furry friend on your hiking adventure, there are many pet-friendly hotels in Phoenix, too.

There are also many green areas around the city, like the South Mountain and Squaw Pearl parks. You can also go horseback riding through the splendor of the desert and enjoy the vast array of colours during sunset.

Now you have all the best tips for arts and culture, gastronomy, staying cool, and outdoor adventure to visit Phoenix, Arizona. Do you have any other tips or recommendations?

(Featured image via Flickr by midiman)

Originally published by Mani at A New Life Wandering on 3 April, 2017

Enjoying the Diversity of Charlotte

Written in cooperation with Hotel Planner.

For many, when they hear the mention of Charlotte, North Carolina, the first thing that comes to mind is NASCAR. Long the hub of the racing industry, Charlotte boasts the amazing NASCAR Hall of Fame museum along with Charlotte Motor Speedway.

However, this landlocked city has much more to offer than merely car racing. From family fun to civil war history and bountiful gardens, Charlotte has so much to offer. And with a huge selection of lodging choices at your fingertips, booking a vacation has never been easier.

Family Fun in the Sun

What can be more fun than a day spent at an amusement park that also doubles as a water park? Carolina Harbor Waterpark is part of the 398-acre Carowinds amusement park, hugging the border of North and South Carolina. Enjoy fun for the entire family as you ride the rides, wander the grounds, and then cool off in a variety of different water park features that range from kiddie wading pools to tidal waves for the big kid in all of us.

image via Flickr by jamesnaruke

Exploring the Past

Civil War history ranks high among things of interest for travelers to the south. This tumultuous period in our country’s history continues to intrigue. Charlotte offers up one very unique addition to the mix in the Levine Museum. This colorful, interactive museum focuses on the history of the south post-Civil War, both in general and specific to Charlotte and the Carolina Piedmont region.

Get out Into Nature

Set on the banks of Lake Wylie, the 380-acre Daniel Stowe Botanical Gardens are a delight. The spectacular gardens feature multiple fountains and a glass conservatory. With miles of trails to wander, you can take your time to look at each unique section of the property, such as the Four Seasons, the Cottage, or the Scroll garden. A grand finale might be the 8000 square foot orchid conservatory, which is the only glass house in North Carolina.

image via Flickr by erh7777

A Modern Touch

When you’re done with the great outdoors and exploring the past, head to the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art. This delightful museum, only the second in the country designed by Swiss architect Mario Botta, is housed in a building as impressive as the artwork that it contains. The collection includes works by all the important artists of the mid-20th century, including Miro, Picasso, and Warhol. It is a breathtaking example of the power of art.

Discovery

Young and old alike will be thrilled to check out the Discovery Place Museum and IMAX. This science and technology museum offers up an interactive, hands-on approach to learning. With several locations and over 70 years of encouraging learning, Discovery Place is a fantastic option for the whole family.

Overall, the Charlotte area offers up everything you look for in a vacation: hotel options, great food, southern hospitality, and sightseeing that includes everything listed here and more. Outdoor activities abound, including hiking and white water rafting. Plus, in the end, you can always check out the NASCAR scene!

San Francisco Revisited: Five Spots You Never Knew Existed

Written in cooperation with Hotel Planner.

The city of San Francisco is by no means undiscovered territory. One of the most loved and visited cities in the nation, the City by the Bay is a perennial favorite. Everyone is aware of major attractions like Alcatraz Island, Embarcadero Wharf, San Francisco’s sourdough, and Lombard Street’s famous curves, but here are five of my favorite little-known sites that you shouldn’t miss on your next visit.

Visit the South Pacific

Image via Flickr by Doug Letterman

Recreate the exoticism of the South Pacific with a visit to the Tonga Room. Fans of Jimmy Buffett will recognize the name, but others may have missed this explosion of bamboo, seashells, and tiki figurines. During World War II, tiki bars opened all across the country, with San Francisco jumping on the trend relatively early. While it’s now considered a bit kitschy, the Tonga Lounge, which opened in the luxurious Fairmont hotel in 1945, was once the place to be seen. Even today, the pool in the center of the restaurant, where the band plays, is a unique feature.

Sleep Like Royalty

When you visit the Tonga Room in the Fairmont Hotel, ask to take a peek at the hotel’s luxurious penthouse suite. Spanning a staggering 6,000 square feet and costing a whopping $18,000 per night, this suite has housed the likes of Prince Charles, Mick Jagger, and Alfred Hitchcock. It features a two-story library, a cornucopia of design styles, and a dining table that seats 60. One of its main claims to fame is the secret passageway that John F. Kennedy supposedly used to allow Marilyn Monroe to enter.

Step into the Sunset District

Image via Flickr by Ed Bierman

Located in the quiet and relatively undiscovered Sunset District, the 163 mosaic-tiled steps are worth the effort to climb. Completed over the course of two years, the gorgeous steps lead to beautiful views of the city. They also pave the way to the neighboring Green Hairstreak corridor, along with the beautiful succulents and native habitat designed to sustain the local butterfly population.

Slide in the Park

Image via Flickr by jdeeringdavis

The Seward Street Slides are a perfect example of community activism and protecting green spaces. In the 1960s, this area was slated for development, prompting local residents got together to protest with an epic bulldozer-defying sit-in. After nearly a decade of protests, the community won their lot back and turned it into a city park, which opened in the early 1970s. A local teenager designed the Seward Street Slides to encourage enjoyment of the park by young and old. Bring your own cardboard along for this unique experience.

Remember the Dearly Departed

In San Francisco, the most interesting cemetery revolves around furry family members. When military families resided at the Presidio, this cemetery was created as a final resting place for their beloved pets. Tombstones show that the array of species includes dogs, cats, goldfish, birds, and even lizards. Local development nearly caused the demise of the pet cemetery in 2009, but community activists managed to save it from complete destruction. It’s a fitting tribute to beloved pets.

San Francisco will always draw visitors to explore its most popular tourist attractions. Next time you visit, take a minute to head to these lesser-known gems.