How to Visit Phoenix In Your 20’s
Let’s get right to the elephant in the room here. It doesn’t matter how beautiful the desert landscape of Phoenix is, the glorious amount of sun, or the endless amount of things to do. Phoenix has a reputation as being a retiree haven that doesn’t have a lot of appeal for anyone without a killer backswing. When my grandparents invited the family down to Phoenix to spend Christmas, it was currently -25 degrees celsius and I would have agreed to spend the holidays in a human-sized oven if it meant getting just a bit of heat. Obviously, I packed my bags and was there before they could realize how expensive my wine drinking habits are to facilitate. Once I was there, I was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed it! The city can be pretty overwhelming at first based on the sheer size and a freeway system that this simple Canuck was not made to understand. Like everywhere, you’ll get used to the layout eventually – or just do what I did and bring your parents to do all the driving. Love you mom and dad, good looking out!
This list is definitely not limited to us in our twenties. I am mentally about 97-years-old so I am definitely not ageist. Next time you find yourself in Phoenix for a family vacation, don’t submit to just hanging out by the pool the entire time. I did some really cool things on my last visit, and am already making plans for next time! Get out there and explore, you desert trailblazer.
1. Go Back To College
I know, I know. You already hate this. You’re supposed to be on vacation and this school nonsense is what I recommend? Trust me.
Arizona State is located in the Tempe area, meaning that Phoenix is home to tons of college events from students in and out of the state. I go to a smaller university in my hometown and never got to have the real “college experience” that they always show in chick flicks and Budweiser commercials. My short experience in Phoenix definitely gave me a taste of what I was missing (it includes a lot of hangovers).
I was lucky enough to be visiting during Fiesta Bowl, which is an absolute MUST if you are there around New Years! The atmosphere of the pre-game celebrations followed by 70,000 screaming fans packed into an arena was so electric that I wanted to transfer schools and subtly mentor an underdog team into state champions, Friday Night Lights style. It was that fun.
2. Road Trip It
Yes, this is an article about what to do in Phoenix, but with such a great location for a launching point, a road trip is kind of a must. We were tight for time so we did a short loop to Sedona and back, but it was amazing how many things we got to see on the way! Not only is the roadside scenery the epitome of the gorgeous desert that attracts tourists, but there are some really cool stops on the way. We did Jerome, which is an old ghost town turned tourist attraction. Even though it was pretty busy, it somehow still had this eerie charm about it, and seriously unbeatable viewpoints of the valley. While you’re there you have to buy a bottle of homemade hot sauce or salsa from Jerome Ghost Pepper Co. (I’m a woman obsessed), and eat at Haunted Hamburger. Tacky and totally awesome.
We were in Sedona just in time to see the gorgeous sunset and get ready for the long trek home. I wish we had factored in more time to explore, but I know I’ll be back!
We had committed to making it back to Phoenix before dark, so the next day was a little more pedal-to-the-medal. We had to narrow down our choice to one stop and I’m so glad we went with Petrified Forest National Park. You could absolutely spend an entire day here, as it’s basically just a giant loop of attractions and trailheads. The park also crosses through Route 66 and there’s a place to get your photo with the iconic road sign.
Like I said. it was a quick turnaround time, but with everything in such close proximity to the city, I feel like we really got to see a lot!
3. Get Artsy
This one is less of a recommendation and more of a to-do. I’m always the person who doesn’t hear about the party until it’s over, so I tend to miss a lot of cool things in the cities I visit. So obviously I did’t hear about the Roosevelt Row district until after the fact. The district is home to street art, markets, galleries and all of the hip things you’ll want your friends to know you did. Next time, Phoenix!
4. See The City’s Natural Sights
For those of you wanting to stay in the city limits, Phoenix has you set! There are tons of stops for hiking and desert scenery, like Camelback mountain. Our pick was South Mountain Park and dang was it sweet. The top of the mountain is the most popular spot for the city views and rustic rock buildings, but my favourite part was just driving around and gaping at the huge cacti. I made my dad pull over for about twenty different ones and I don’t even feel bad about it. A healthier human probably would have taken advantage of all of the different trails in the park, but we can’t all be winners. Either way, this spot is completely worth a visit.
5. Have An Early Retirement
Phoenix is talked about as a retirement hub as if that’s a bad thing. Guys, retirement is sweet! The city is set up to be as enjoyable as possible for the people who have spent their whole lives working and finally get the chance to relax and I was more than happy to mooch off of that. Sure, it may not be the most culturally-enriching experience you’ll have, but take advantage of the endless casinos, outlet malls, patio bars, and all of the other vices you might not get to enjoy in your every day life! According to my dedicated research it is extremely difficult to retire before thirty, so enjoy it while you can.
6. The Sports!
As you can tell by the headline, I don’t follow sports. I’m the one who gets kicked out of viewing parties for making fun of the clashing colours of the uniforms and asking “who’s winning the match?” That being said, I still believe that there is nothing more fun that going to a game live. The atmosphere is buzzing, the food is deep-fried, the beer is a-plenty and it is always a good time. Phoenix is home to the Diamondbacks, Cardinals, Suns and Coyotes, meaning that no matter when you visit, you probably have a pretty good shot at catching a game!
Bonus points for us Canadians- hockey is usually extremely cheap to take in here, so this may be the cheapest way to see your home team!
Considering the amount of things the city has to offer, this list is still pretty short. I know I’ll be spending more time in Phoenix and I already can’t wait to see some new things!
What is your guys’ favourite thing to do in Phoenix?