Locals Dish on What’s Hot in Phoenix

See what answers they gave about where to eat, live and play.

With no less than 320 days of sunshine a year, Phoenix is one of the hottest cities in the country — literally. This popular resort destination, visited by nearly half a million vacationers annually, is home to 1.5 million residents. With all that sunny weather, we wanted to find out where these locals are spending their time. Whether you’re considering relocating to Phoenix or just planning a vacation, these locals are dishing about the hottest restaurants, hikes and neighborhoods in the city.

Check out what they have to say.

1. What’s the best way to spend a day during the sweltering Phoenix heat?

One of the “coolest” places in town is the Phoenix Art Museum. Not only is it a lovely building with constantly changing and fascinating exhibits but they also keep the temperature nice and cool. Bring a sweater. — Candace Porth of Glenrosa Journeys

Either enjoying one of the many waterparks in the valley or enjoying a nice air-conditioned Diamondbacks game! — Mandy Malmgren of Mandy Living Life



2. Where is the best hiking trail in the area? What makes it your favorite?

We love the Wind Caves at Usery Mountain Regional Park and the Waterfall Trail at the White Tank Mountain Regional Park. The wind caves are awesome to rest at and get a cool breeze. It’s a three mile hike and great for all members of the family. — Michelle & Courtney of Fun on a Dime

I live in North Phoenix and love to hike the Deem Hills Trail System. There are short and long trails, it isn’t busy at all, and besides the great views, you’re guaranteed to see a lot of desert wildlife. My favorite time to hike there is in the spring when the wildflowers are blooming. — Valerie Earnest of Occasionally Crafty


3. What would you rather have tickets to see at Phoenix Symphony Hall: the Phoenix Symphony Orchestra, the Arizona Opera or the Ballet Arizona?

The Ballet Arizona is so beautiful! The movement, the music, the story … it’s all so very captivating! I’d recommend Ballet Arizona to anyone visiting Phoenix! — Kelly Loubet of Everyday Childhood

Our family has a deep and diverse appreciation for music so we would definitely opt for the Phoenix Symphony. With performances that celebrate the music of Beethoven and Brahm as well as the music from Star Wars and all your favorite super hero movies there is something for everyone to delight your senses and allow you to relive memorable moments. — Taryn Jeffries of Phoenix Bites

4. Where is the best Mexican food in the city?

Phoenix offers so many authentic Mexican food restaurants, but two of my favorites are Los Dos Molinos and Spotted Donkey Cantina at The Boulders Resort. Los Dos Molinos has the spiciest food in town, with a great native Mexican atmosphere. Oh, and the margaritas are out of this world good! The Spotted Donkey is located in North Scottsdale with a huge tequila list and an innovative menu. They were voted best Mexican food restaurant in the greater Phoenix area. — Melanie LaDue of Reasons to Skip the Housework

Carolina’s. Hands down. They are the real deal. — Lindsay Viker of Couture in the Suburbs

The Valley is busting at the seams with amazing Mexican restaurants, all of which feature specialties from different regions of Mexico. If you are looking for some serious heat to your dishes, Los Dos Molinas is where you want to be. The heat of their dishes rival that of the temperatures outside. — Taryn Jeffries of Phoenix Bites

5. How has downtown Phoenix developed since you’ve lived there?

It’s come a long way. I’m born and raised here in Phoenix. There has always been nooks and crannies of cool places to hang out, but in the last 10 years our downtown has really blossomed with so much arts, culture and community. From murals to food trucks to open-air markets — I love all of it! — Kathy Cano-Murillo of Crafty Chica

When I moved here, downtown Phoenix was a ghost town. The only reason we’d go there was for a Diamondbacks game. Now there are a lot more fun restaurants, events, of course games at the arena and ballpark, and now some art to enjoy. — Valerie Earnest of Occasionally Crafty

Downtown Phoenix seems to always be evolving. We’re constantly hearing from friends who have grown up here how much the area has changed and improved over the years. Having only moved here two years ago, we are always so grateful to be living in a city that is ready to erupt with creativity. — Robert & Christina of New Darlings

6. Arizona has so many distinct neighborhoods. What’s the best area for families to live?

The Arcadia district is the best neighborhood in Phoenix simply for location. There are 1950s homes that all have distinct personalities and everything is close by. This is a top pick for anyone! — Melanie LaDue of Reasons to Skip the Housework

It depends on what you are looking for. Great family areas are Gilbert, Surprise, Verrado and Vistancia. — Michelle & Courtney of Fun on a Dime

The Arcadia/Uptown area has a long history for being a fabulous neighborhood for families; the schools in the district are some of the best in the state. I may be slightly biased as that is where I grew up, however, the reputation has been well sustained throughout the years since I lived there. — Taryn Jeffries of Phoenix Bites

7. What is your favorite park in Phoenix?

Sahuaro Ranch Park — it’s a large park that used to be a ranch and is now a historic site in Arizona. In addition to being a great park with lots of grass, play areas and ramadas you can also tour the house and some of the buildings on site. — Mandy Malmgren of Mandy Living Life

Papago Park is not only home to the Phoenix Zoo and the Desert Botanical Garden, both great destinations in themselves, but it encompasses 1,200 acres of hiking and biking trails, picnic areas and other recreational activities. One of everyone’s favorite places to take out-of-town guests is “Hole in the Rock,” where an easy climb will provide you with a beautiful panoramic view of the Valley of the Sun. — Candace Porth of Glenrosa Journeys


8. What is the best nightlife destination in Phoenix? Why?

My favorite destination is Bitter & Twisted. I can’t get enough of their unique cocktails and swanky vibes. The fact that it’s a small, intimate place is right up my alley. You can catch me there on the weekend with a small group of friends trying out new concoctions like the L.I.T. Up Long Island Iced Tea or Sucker Punch cocktail. — Lindsay Viker of Couture in the Suburbs

There are too many places to choose from. I really dig the Crescent Ballroom because they always have my favorite touring bands perform there. I also like that PAZ Cantina has had outdoor local music lately! — Kathy Cano-Murillo of Crafty Chica

9. Is it possible to have a healthy garden in Arizona? Do you have one?

Absolutely! I grow a healthy, vegetable-producing garden all year long. The key is understanding your growing zone. Here in Phoenix we have our biggest growing season during the fall and winter because the weather is mild. I always recommend starting with a small 4×4 raised bed and get a feel for gardening in the desert. — Tiffany Davis of Imperfectly Happy

The best things to plant in Phoenix are: sugar snap peas, green beans, radishes, tomatoes, herbs, peppers, onions and carrots. You’ll also see a lot of petunias, impatients, zinnias and marigolds. — Melanie LaDue of Reasons To Skip the Housework

10. What is your favorite resort in the area for a day of golf?

As a golfer myself, I can tell you that there is no shortage of places to golf in Phoenix! But our favorite resort to golf at in the Phoenix area would probably be the Sheraton at Wild Horse Pass. It has two great golf courses and they’re always in immaculate condition. There are amazing views to take in and a fabulous spa! — Kelly Loubet of Everyday Childhood

While not a golfer, it’s not hard to miss the chatter about JW Marriott Desert Ridge’s Wildfire Golf Club. The Club offers two courses: the Faldo Championship Course and the Palmer Signature Course. The Faldo course plays up to 6,846 yards while the Palmer course (designed by Mr. Palmer himself) plays up to 7,145 yards. Both courses offer a variety of challenges and scenic experiences. — Taryn Jeffries of Phoenix Bites


11. Which neighborhood of Phoenix do you think is the most up-and-coming?

The Arcadia neighborhood in Phoenix is definitely the place to be. It is in a great part of town, featuring some of the best coffee shops and restaurants. La Grande Orange is a great place to check out. With a pizzeria, bakery and grocery all in one, it’s one of our favorite places to frequent. We love the homes in this area as well. We’ll often drive by just to see the beautiful array of orange and lemon trees that occupy so many yards. It’s one of the more charming areas in the valley. — Robert & Christina of New Darlings

Since I live in Central City (known to us locals as CenPho), that is the area that I think is the most up-and-coming. Older homes are generally either well-maintained or renovated and there seems to be much pride of ownership and a strong sense of community. The housing prices are still cheaper than in many other parts of the Valley but are steadily increasing. There are a lot of younger people moving in but it is still very diverse. The best dining and entertainment options are in CenPho as well as convenience to the airport and freeways. — Candace Porth of Glenrosa Journeys




If you want to learn about some financing options, or if you’re looking to get pre-qualified, contact Parker Turk at Sun American Mortgage Company: 602-616-3774.



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