Travel Tips

Ask the Locals Travel Guide: Phoenix, Arizona

Locations in this article:  Phoenix, AZ Pittsburgh, PA Tucson, AZ

Phoenix Convention Center - Phoenix Arizona Travel GuideLast week, Peter found himself in the midst of breaking news while stranded in the UK; this week, he’s broadcasting from the state that’s making international headlines with a new immigration law: Arizona.

That’s right, his radio show is coming to us from the Arizona Biltmore in Phoenix.

Get the latest updates on the situation and find out what there is to see and do in this desert destination, as told by the locals.

Chef Todd Sicolo, Executive Chef, Arizona Biltmore

Phoenix has one of the trendiest culinary scenes I’ve been involved with. The organic, hormone-free movement is huge here, and there’s a surprising amount of local and indigenous ingredients grown here. When not eating at the Arizona Biltmore, some favorite dining spots around the Phoenix area include:

elements restaurant at the sanctuary camelback mountain resort & spaInside the upscale Sanctuary Camelback Mountain, elements restaurant features a seasonal, farm-fresh menu with an Asian flair set against the backdrop of the iconic mountain range.

Eddie’s House in nearby Scottsdale is owned and operated by Arizona celebrity chef and personality, Eddie Matney.  Named one of the most influential chefs in the Valley, Matney’s menu includes signature dishes like bacon-infused meatloaf, and an unexpected Asian/Italian combo of sesame tuna and Parmesan halibut.

A relative newcomer to Camelback Road is St. Francis, which was recently nominated for Best New Restaurant by the James Beard Foundation. Look for specialties made in its wood-fired brick oven, including the “brick-oven bread.”

Tommy V’s Osteria & Pizzeria - Phoenix RestaurantsFor local hangouts, head to Tommy V’s Osteria and Pizzeria, and or have a drink and some elevated tavern food at The Vig in its two Phoenix locations.

Like so many other restaurants in the area, the Arizona Biltmore relies on locally sourced ingredients, and it’s worth taking a trip out to see some of the standout farms. About three hours away is Black Mesa Ranch and Goat Cheese Dairy near the town of Snowflake, which produces high-quality artisan cheeses. Visitors can make an appointment or visit during an open -house day to learn first-hand about the operations, with an option for an overnight stay. Or, try a more in-depth experience with a three-day course in ranch life and cheese making, from $1,000 per person.

For more options, don’t miss Ask the Locals Travel Guide: Scottsdale, Arizona

Queen Creek Olive OilHave you ever associated olive groves with Arizona? It’s true, Queen Creek Olive Mill is located in a farming community about 35 miles southeast of Phoenix, and is the only working olive farm and mill in the state. The mill produces extra-virgin olive oil from nine varieties of olives, with tours and tastings available to the public.

Bill DeWalt, President and Director, Musical Instrument Museum

Coming from Pittsburgh, which has about 60 sunny days a year, versus 300 sunny days in Phoenix, there is a variety of outdoor activities to enjoy. Even when it’s 115 degrees, you can do those activities in the morning or evening and stay indoors in the afternoon.

The hiking in McDowell Sonoran Preserve is fantastic, particularly the Lost Dog Trail which is approachable from Scottsdale. The other popular hike is Camelback Mountain, but that can be quite a climb. The McDowell Mountains are more manageable and offer that great desert experience.

Phoenix’s Desert Botanical GardenIn a similar vein, the Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix is a wonderful place to bring out-of-towners, showcasing a variety of rare and endangered flora from the Sonoran desert.

The season is now over, but plenty of people come to the area to see spring training in action. It’s a great way to get outside and soak up the sun while watching Cactus League teams train for game season.

The opening of the Musical Instrument Museum marks a new must-see attraction for those looking to experience arts and culture. Other options include the Phoenix Symphony, which presents nearly 200 performances in the greater Phoenix area, and the Orpheum Theatre, which is a fantastic venue for smaller shows (and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places). And, if you’re looking for a great place to hear live jazz music, check out Remington’s Restaurant in the Scottsdale Plaza Resort.

Edited by Sarika Chawla for

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