So when I came to Phoenix 6 years ago, downtown had a few homeless guys pandering around, a few high rises, and a good pizzeria across the street from the diamond backs stadium. All of those are still there, but luckily downtown is growing, and continues to grow! It's really became a great part of the valley to hang out in (it's about time for a city of 4,000,000 people), and I hope it keeps it's artistic, unique, and diverse style, and doesn't get overcome by a ton of chain restaurants as it grows. So if you are visiting Phoenix, or maybe even live here and want to do a whole day downtown, here's my recommendation starting from bright and early:
From Sky Harbor if you are flying in:
Take the light rail to Roosevelt/Central Station, if you are coming by car there is ample parking in downtown, the Arizona Center validates parking if you buy anything, a Starbucks, a souvenir, an ice cream cone, you get the point.
- Start the day off at Matt's Big Breakfast on the northeast corner of 1st street and Garfield. Load up on some classic American breakfast or downtown Phoenix style dishes. Unknown if Matt will be there, actually I don't even know who Matt is, but the breakfast is good!
- For your next stop decide between culture or science... To learn about the native Americans of the southwest and a bit more about the history of Phoenix head to the Heard Museum. If Science is more your taste check out the Arizona Science Center, with constant changing exhibitions, this is my preferred choice.
- At some point you will cross N Central Avenue and Roosevelt and see the Release The Fear Sculpture. To my knowledge it is the only sculpture that size built out of used firearms. Take a quick pic and move on.
- Decide next between literature or music, you can peek your head into the independent publish Lawn Gnome Publishing, you may even be lucky enough to catch an open mic or poetry reading. If music is more your edge head to Revolver Records, this has to be one of the last record stores in the state as vinyl dies a slow death, so hop in before it's too late! If you are lucky you may catch some local musicians practicing on the patio out front.
- For lunch if you have time head to Heritage Square and get in line at Pizzeria Bianco. They make their own cheese, grow some of the vegetables, and it all at a very fair price for such a popular downtown restaurant, due to the wait, you will probably head to the wine bar next door which is converted from an old little house as a lot of places downtown are. The wait may only be 20 minutes but sometimes can be over two hours, so if it's too long don't worry, plenty of other dining options all around the area! Heritage Square also has some neat historic homes. It's only accessible on foot, so don't kill yourself looking for parking there.
- At some point you are going to pass this, Her Secret is Patience sculpture. It's probably the biggest sculpture in the state, it cost a lot of money, so take a pic to make the tax payers happy.
- If you are feeling it is time for a recharge head to Jobot Coffee on 5th Street. It's in an old house and has a nice piano there in what used to be the living room, you are welcome to play if you have the skills. The building is so old the bathroom still has a shower tub.
- Ok since, I am big on fitness as well, it would be a sin, not to give credit to the best gym in downtown Phoenix, if you have time to lift, go to Gold's Gym by City Scape. Call for day pass pricing.
- You can try to catch an independent flick at Film Bar. Besides a great bar and the usual movie popcorn, they also allow you to bring your own food in too! You don't have to sneak it in your shirt or pocketbook like the other movie theaters you go to!
- Catch a live music show or a beer at The Lost Leaf. They boast 150 beers available! Great date spot too. Great feel for the Seattle or San Fran types.
- For more of the LA/NYC feel, head to the roof top pool bar of the Palomar Hotel by City Scape. Plush lounge chairs, great drink menu, and great sky line views.
- Hopefully you are there on a first Friday and it's open at night, but if not earlier in the day make time for the Phoenix Art Museum, local and international artists, sometimes serving wine as well. Don't miss the fireflies exhibit on the top floor!
- Sports are more your thing? Check out Alice Cooperstown. Owned by Alice Cooper himself, this place is desolate on non-game nights, but packed on local team and big sporting event nights. Alice Cooper himself is often there.
- If you want a huge crowd and different styles of music, any weekend stop in The Crescent Ballroom. The food is okay, but the drinks and bands are great! They open the back patio which is huge on weekends, expect over 400 people on a big night here.
- As you walk all around you will catch little art galleries or studios, some may be open to the public, some may not be, you may catch an artist at work on a new piece, or be one of the first to check out a new exhibit, these places are ALL OVER Roosevelt and the downtown area, too many to mention!
- Or... you can make your own art at Brush Party. This new little spot is group art studio, paint with everyone or bring in your own idea and paint it, oh did I mention you get to BYOB too!!!
- Is it a boxing place? Is it a bar? Is it a club? Is it a gym? What the hell is The Duce? This place was once a busy warehouse that made crap, now it's a bit of everything. This is the only bar I know of in the world that sells antiques and has a boxing ring, which you are free to climb in on non boxing event nights! They have great food and an extremely unique drink menu. Some bigger name bands have played here and if you have any chance to catch one you like I highly recommend it!
|"You want to fight on the first date?"|
- If performing arts are more your cup of tea, check the schedule at The Orpheum Theater. Ballet, plays, performing arts, etc. Let me know how it is, because I've never been there!
- I have however been to the The Comerica Theater. Big bands play here, and it is a small venue! Great acoustics, probably my favorite place to catch a show in all of AZ, and all of the western USA really.
- Finish the night off... if you are not a partier anyway, at the top of the city... well sort of... The Compass Grill on top of the Hyatt is a rotating restaurant. It's a bit expensive to eat here, but it has a great reverse happy hour nightly if you just want to enjoy a drink and sit down at the restaurant slowly turns giving you a birds eye view of the whole valley.
- But... if it's a nice night, which it pretty much is every night here! You can also go to the outdoor roof deck at the Clarendon Hotel. They also do yoga classes here in the mornings, check for times!