FOR THE FOODIES
If Arizona has one thing to offer, it’s amazing food. (Because what else are you supposed to do in 110 degree heat?;) We’ve listed our favorite restaurants in the valley below, but with how many there are, I’m positive we left out some notable ones. Let us know who else we forgot to mention in the comments!
La Grande Orange Pizzeria : Make sure you go for dinner so you can get their pizza! Share the Roasted Corn (seasonal) and a Gladiator pizza with a friend— and make sure to get the chips + pimento dip appetizer. If you’re into vegetables, get the kale salad beforehand, but then go next door for gelato afterwards! If you bring your kids, take advantage of the outdoor picnic table and stroll through the cute surrounding neighborhoods after dinner.
Cibo: The most charming Pizza spot in PHX. Best to visit when the weather is good and you can eat outside under the lights. Some people say they like it better than Pizzeria Bianco, but we’ll let you be the judge of that.
Pizzeria Bianco: Voted the best pizza in the UNITED STATES, you can’t really come to Arizona and not try it. If you bring your kids, hit the Arizona Science Center next door afterwards, or the PHX Children’s Museum is close by as well.
HopDoddy: Fast-casual burger bar with yummy shakes (caramel and sea salt!) and really good burgers. This spot isn’t special to Arizona, but it’s a great place for big groups and/or kids if you’re staying with family.
ChopShop: A quick salad/juice bar stop to chase down all the hamburgers and pizza. Our favorite is the BBQ steak salad with corn nuts. There are a couple locations, but the one right by Scottsdale Mall tastes the best after a long day of shopping. ;)
Liberty Market: This is a Gilbert favorite, and you’ll likely find our family here most Friday nights. Our go-to is any of the pizzas, the farmer sandwich (my favorite vegetarian option!), or the chopped kale salad. Afterwards get a salt-river bar and a slice of death ray chocolate cake. (Order that with a scoop of ice cream and side of caramel sauce if you’re feeling crazy.) This place feels like a second home to our girls, and they love running through the nearby splash pad after eating dinner on the patio.
Gadzooks: This is a super quick and casual enchilada joint— but it’s one we never miss when we’re in the area. The first time I went there I was overwhelmed with the options, so I’m putting down my perfected enchilada order for those who either a) go there or b) ever happen to be gifting me my favorite enchiladas. ;) If you’re not into enchiladas, get the Festival Chicken Tacos. Or go crazy and get both.
1/2 corn +1/2 flour tortillas, 1/2 tomatillo chicken and 1/2 green chili cornbread filling, covered in mild green sauce, both cheeses, then cotija, pico, sour cream, jalapeño ranch, and a side of mashed potatoes. (Throw a fried egg on it if you’re into that!)
Barrio Queen: Another delicious Mexican option with locations in PHX, Scottsdale, and Gilbert. The chicken chorizo tacos and tableside guacamole is a good place to start on the menu.
Worth Takeaway: This is in downtown Mesa if you’re ever cruising through— come get any of the sandwiches and top it off with the very best banana pudding— better than Magnolias Bakery! (I said it!) Close to our favorite Mesa Children’s Museum or the newly remodeled Pioneer Park.
Other spots worth trying: Richardsons, Carolinas, Matt’s Big Breakfast, Joes BBQ, Chelsea’s Kitchen, Chino Bandido, The Henry, Flower Child, Herb Box, Diego Pops, Joes Farm Grill, and our very favorite that started in Arizona, Pita Jungle.
FOR THE OUTDOORSY
If you’re visiting anywhere from late October - early May, this list applies to you. If you’re visiting between late May - early October-- just cancel your trip, skip this portion, and jump ahead.
Wind Caves: I grew up going on this hike regularly, so maybe it’s just nostalgic, but this is a great hike for small kids at Usery Mountain. Other great places for young ones would be Hieroglyphics Trail, Tonto Natural Bridge, Slide Rock, or Papago Park.
If no one in your family is into hiking, but you want to take advantage of being outside, check out Riverview Park, Tempe Town Lake, Scottsdale Railroad Park, Schnepf Farms, the Desert Botanical Garden, or the PHX Zoo. If you're up for a short but worth-it road trip.. head to Payson, Flagstaff, or Sedona for the day for cooler weather and lots to do.
FOR THE INDOORSY
If you’re here in the Summer with your kids, have no fear! There’s plenty to do inside.
FOR THE SHOPPERS
Along with good food in AZ, we’ve got some great shopping. If you’re towing your kids along, I’ve included places with nearby kid-friendly stops to break up the day.
Scottsdale Fashion Square: If you’re a shopper, you could spend all day here. If you’re packing a stroller, break up the time with a stop at Shake Shack, Build-a-bear, or the children’s play area, conveniently located by Wetzels Pretzels. ;)
SanTan Village Mall: By far the most family-centered, this is an outdoor mall surrounded by a playground, splash pad, and lots of kid-friendly stores and restaurants within. If you’re looking for more to do with the kids, there’s a nearby TopGolf, movie theatre, Main Event, or Discovery Park down the street.
PLACES TO STAY
There’s a ton of amazing resorts you can stay at while you’re here, with amazing pools and swanky rooms, but if you’re looking for a more affordable spot, be sure to peruse AirBNB. (And we're a little biased, but if you're wanting a place in the East Valley-- check out our friends rentals The Palm house and The Park Haus!)
And that's a wrap, enjoy your AZ visit! If you follow this list, chances are you'll bump into us while you're here! High five if you do?