25 Must-Do’s in the Phoenix Metro Area
6. Enjoy a leisurely bike ride around the Scottsdale Greenbelt
Unfortunately, Phoenix does not offer much in the way of non-mountain biking trails. Luckily, the one paved path which exists, the Scottsdale Greenbelt, is a pretty scenic course. This hidden gem is a gorgeous way for non hikers to enjoy the mountain views. Due to the completely flat terrain, the path is perfect for biking, jogging, or even walking the dog. The 11 mile course is surprisingly green in most areas as it passes beautiful parks, golf courses, and lakes, with plenty of beautiful desert plant life along the way. I love this path, and you will too after several hikes in the desert. Although the Sonoran desert is beautiful, after many hikes, you begin to crave a change in scenery!
7. Treat yourself to breakfast at Scramble
Scramble is hand’s down the best breakfast choice in the Phoenix area, with 2 convenient locations. No matter what else I try, I find myself coming back here time and time again. Whether it’s the great patio, the cheap pricing, the delicious drip coffee, or the focus on using fresh ingredients, Scramble is my choice pre-hike. Those with food allergies will be happy to know that they accommodate guests with food allergies with plenty of dairy and gluten free choices.
8. Enjoy a specialty coffee at a local roaster
Although Phoenix has its’ share of chain coffee shops, you’ll find a few great independent shops scattered about. Peixoto in Chandler and Cartel both serve up some tasty drinks in eclectic surroundings. So bypass the Starbucks and Dunkin’ Donuts in favor of something original and delicious!
9. Check out Old Town Scottsdale
With art galleries, shopping, lively restaurants and bars, and ongoing events such as a weekly farmers market and popular Thursday night art walk, there is always something going on at Old Town Scottsdale. The charming old western vibe makes it all the more interesting. Must-sees include the Fiesta Bowl Museum dedicated to college football memorabilia and the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art. The best part of all is that you can still stroll around even when it’s super hot out as there are so many places to duck in and out of to escape for a bit of cool air!
10. Challenge yourself to a trek up Pinnacle Peak
At Scottsdale’s Pinnacle Peak Park, you will have the opportunity to challenge yourself to a cardio blasting climb up to the summit of Pinnacle Peak. The trek is about 1.75 miles each way with a total elevation gain of 1300ft, and thus, your legs will be feeling it before you even turn around. In fact, my legs were shaking from all the climbing! Besides getting in an insane lower body workout, the hike rewards with some of the most gorgeous views of any hike in the region. Set out early in the morning to avoid crowds and intense daytime heat.
11. Enjoy beautiful cacti loaded trails at Usery Mountain Park
Another fabulous hiking area to check out is Usery Mountain Park in Mesa. If you are interested in seeing lots of cacti, then Usery Mountain is the perfect choice. Tons of tall Saguaro and various other desert plant species line every trail. Fantastic mountain views surround you in every direction. Over 29 miles of trail exist at Usery, from the super easy to super advanced. The Merkle Trail is a nice starter trail for just about anyone. One of the nicest aspects of Usery is their lineup of ongoing events, including incredible guided night hikes where you will be on the lookout for nocturnal animals. Plus, nothing beats star gazing in the desert!
12. Enjoy the area’s fantastic outdoor malls
Phoenix has no shortage of wonderful outdoor malls. Tempe and Desert Ridge Marketplace are both lively evening gathering places with live music & ongoing events, fun restaurants with outdoor patios, a Dave and Busters, a nice theater, and lots of shopping. If you have nothing else to do, you can always stroll around one of these malls and find something to do! Both areas are beautifully landscaped with tall palm trees and relaxing fountains. Additionally, Bitmore Fashion Park is a nice upscale open air mall, while Phoenix Premium Outlets is the place to go if you are after the best deals. All are great choices for wandering around and enjoying the cool desert nights.