full disclosure: I was invited to visit Phoenix and received complimentary lodging, meals and entertainment. All opinion is my own.
As one who has a bad case of wanderlust there’s always a list of destinations I’m dying to visit and I must admit Phoenix wasn’t on it. This Arizona metropolis just a few hours to the east always seemed a bit…boring. I figured if an opportunity came up, sure, I’d go but it wasn’t a must see. Well, an opportunity did come up, I went and now I know my opinion of Phoenix was completely wrong. Far from boring Phoenix is a city filled with historic buildings, hip restaurants and fascinating museums and during my time there I barely scratched its surface. I can’t wait to return.
On a recent Friday morning my mom and I hit the 10 freeway and hauled it to Arizona. We made it to town by noon, just in time for lunch at Nook Kitchen in the heart of downtown. Nook is located at the Hilton Garden Inn but it’s no ordinary hotel restaurant. It’s actually one of the area’s hippest eateries and recently expanded into this second location. And the Hilton Garden Inn is no ordinary hotel. Recently opened in a completely restored Art Deco era bank building it’s absolutely stunning.
At Nook Kitchen we enjoyed a light lunch with a sampling of the Poutine and Frisee and Radicchio Salads.
Both dishes were fresh and full of flavor and offered a tasty introduction to area’s dining scene.
Soon after lunch we headed to the nearby Phoenix Police Museum for a private tour. I must admit my main desire to visit the museum was based on it’s location. It’s housed in the former city hall and police department – a stunningly beautiful Art Deco building.
The museum itself is small space located on the ground floor and houses a comprehensive look at the history of the Phoenix PD. It’s staff consists of retired members of the police force and our guide, Robert, is a former officer. He has a true passion for the history of his city and it shone as he showed us around the exhibits.
In our tour we learned of the complete history of the force from the wild west to the modern day. Did you know that Miranda rights originated in Phoenix? I certainly didn’t. At the museum is an entire exhibit devoted to the historic court case that brought about this monumental change in police work. Robert was an excellent guide and my mom and I were both impressed with the museum’s collection. It’s not a place on everyone’s radar but it really is worth visiting.
After our visit it was time to leave downtown and check into our lodgings at The Wigwam in the nearby town of Litchfield Park. Located adjacent to the city of Goodyear both towns are named after that famous tire company. In the early 20th century Paul Litchfield was the CEO of Goodyear and he had a problem. The Egyptian cotton necessary to the production of the tires was increasingly harder to source. Looking for an alternative he decided the Arizona desert would be ideal to grow the necessary cotton. Thus began Goodyear’s long association with the area and the neighboring towns names after himself and the company.
In fact, The Wigwam began as a retreat for Goodyear employees. In the late 1920’s it opened to the public and existed for many years as a dude ranch. Today, it’s a world class resort with a spa, three golf courses, a fine dining restaurant and many other amenities.
Designed in the pueblo style it’s home to several historic structures and is designated as a Historic Hotel of America by the National Trust. It offers standard hotel rooms and bungalows and we were lucky enough to stay in the latter.
It was beautiful room and my mom and I could not believe our good fortune. There was a living room, a kitchenette, a bedroom with two queen beds, a large bathroom and our own patio. It was absolutely wonderful and I only wish the weather were cooler so I could have taken advantage of the fireplace.
Our bungalow was conveniently located near the onsite restaurant, Litchfield’s, where we attended one of the Summer Wine Series dinners. Throughout the season a series of four course meals are paired with a selection of wines. At our dinner the featured wine was Bennet Lane from Napa and the winemakers were on hand to tell us about the offerings. The chef, Jason Paterno, then created a multi course meal specifically with the wines in mind and it made for a deliciously ambitious dining experience.
It was a beautiful introduction to what Phoenix has to offer and the perfect ending to our first night in town.
The next morning we headed out bright and early to check out the Uptown Farmer’s Market. Voted one of the best farmer’s markets in the country I knew it was a must see.
Was it ever. Filled with booth after booth offering fresh produce, artisan food products and handmade items it was a real insight into the treasures the area has to offer. My mom and I were in heaven as we wandered the booths and sampled products. With so many items available we couldn’t help but shop and I came home with strawberry rhubarb jam, a trio of hot sauces, a peach drink mixer and a few chocolate chip cookies. Of course, I had to indulge when I was there and had a delicious peach prickly pear popsicle.
From the market we headed to the Musical Instrument Museum, consistently listed as a Phoenix must see. I had my doubts (how interesting could it be?) be they were soon shattered when I stepped inside.
Room upon room was filled with every instrument imaginable. Grouped by continent the displays feature items from every country in the world. You wear a headseat while you wander around and as you approach each display you can hear the instruments being played. It was an amazingly magical place that we spent hours browsing.
Among the various ethnic instruments were also pieces owned by famous musicians like Roy Orbison, Elvis and Ella Fitzgerald.
As a huge Ella fan I loved seeing her dress and musical arrangements. My mom and I both loved the museum and agreed we’d love to visit again.
As it was well past lunch time when we finished we headed to Scottsdale to try a new spot I had seen online. The Hole in the Rock is located in the newly restored Papago Inn – a fabulous midcentury hotel.
The restaurant continues the theme and it’s an absolutely fantastic sight to see. After a few carnitas tacos we headed back to The Wigwam as I had a date at the spa.
Ever since my visit to Simply Massage I’ve realized that a massage is a necessary indulgence for me. At The Wigwam is located the Elizabeth Arden Red Door Spa which offers a range of services including facials, manicures and pedicures and massages. I had a full body massage and it was wonderful. The spa is beautifully appointed and nestled in my warm robe and sipping on some cucumber water I felt in the lap of luxury. My masseuse, Raelle, was so kind and friendly and she did an amazing job. When I left I was totally relaxed and felt fantastic.
For our last meal in town we went to the onsite restaurant, Litchfield’s. A beautiful space they offer a full men of farm to table offerings. They also have a full bar and I indulged in the house made prickly pear margarita.
A multi course meal followed capped by a delicious trio of molten chocolate doughnuts.
The next morning we woke up bright and early to hit the road but I had one more stop before we left.
The Wigwam is home to am amazing pool and I knew I wanted to go for a swim but never seemed to have the time. Luckily, due to the heat, it opens at 6am and I set my alarm just so I could squeeze a few laps in. It was totally worth it as I had the entire pool to myself.
In just a couple of days Phoenix worked its way into my heart. With it’s amazing history, fantastic museums and luxurious accommodations it’s now earned a permanent spot on my must visit list.