Phoenix is feeling just a little bit smaller with the expansion of the Valley Metro light rail. The Northwest line now extends to 19th Ave./Dunlap Rd., which is expected to bring an additional 5,000 passengers each day (Valley Metro, 2016). This comes less than a year after the light rail expanded on the opposite end to downtown Mesa, an area that connects riders to many unique shops, restaurants, breweries and museums. Riders can now travel through downtown Mesa, to Tempe and Sky Harbor International Airport, then through downtown Phoenix and North Phoenix on the 26-mile line.
Downtown Phoenix is honing in on its artsy vibes, and many of the hotels in the area are updating the look and feel of their property to match. This summer, a new hotel opens -- the FOUND:RE. The theme of the hotel centers around modern and local art, which is fitting for its close proximity to the light rail, Hance Park and Roosevelt Row, Phoenix’s self-proclaimed arts district. There will be 105 guestrooms, an on-site gallery, meeting spaces and a new restaurant concept, Match Cuisine & Cocktails.
Spring break and summer vacation adventures await at Sheraton Wild Horse Pass Resort & Spa. The resort is offering the River Boat Adventures package for two or four people and includes complimentary breakfast each day at Ko’sin Restaurant or Link Café, plus one hour of fun in the sun. Guests can paddle board, kayak or take pedal boats through the crystal clear water in Gila River, or pedal on bikes alongside the water.
Celebrate 80 years of business with The Hermosa Inn. The hotel is set amidst lush gardens backed by Camelback Mountain, but was originally was the home and studio of Lon Megargee (the onsite restaurant’s namesake). They’re saying a big “thank you” to Lon and everyone that has stayed at the gorgeous hotel since its expansion into a guest ranch with an anniversary package. It includes overnight accommodations, sparkling wine upon arrival, an $80 dining credit in LON’s Restaurant, two tickets to the Phoenix Art Museum, an anniversary cocktail and enhanced turn-down service. The package is being offered through Aug. 31 for $371/night.
A destination resort and worldwide tourist attraction come together with the “Music to My Ears” package at Royal Palms Resort and Spa. The package includes two tickets to the Musical Instrument Museum (MIM), which is an interactive and renowned museum with over 15,000 instruments from 200 countries. Besides the tickets, guests receive a complimentary room upgrade, two “garden-to-glass” cocktails at Mix It Up Bar, daily breakfast for two, and a $10 donation to MIM will be made in your name. Be sure to experience T. Cook’s Passport Series, which features a four-course prix fixe menu inspired by different delicious culinary spots around the world. Try Spanish food in April and Portuguese food in May.
If laying poolside is your idea of summer fun, Hotel Valley Ho has you covered. Stop by for Happy Hour Fridays and enjoy local bands in the early evening, or Session Saturdays with DJ entertainment through the afternoon. Recover Sundays offer 25% off cabanas and your choice of eight delicious cocktails for $6 each. Before you head to the pool, be sure to make a stop at the famous Bloody Mary + Mimosa Bar at ZuZu.
Can’t make it Vegas? Don’t worry-the pools, nightlife, restaurants and gorgeous weather make Phoenix an excellent alternative. The W Scottsdale is offering the Vitamin W package to those hoping for a poolside getaway. It includes a tote bag with sunscreen and sunglasses, a pitcher of their signature cocktail, Vitamin W, and one of their wonderful rooms starting at $179/night. Or take advantage of their Get Away and Play with Cocktails + Parking package, which includes two welcome cocktails, daily parking and 20% off at Sushi Roku and W The Store, plus $20 off any Bliss Spa treatment over $100.
ARTS, CULTURE & ENTERTAINMENT
Summer is the best time to check out the museums in Phoenix. Stop by the Heard Museum on May 18 for the 39th annual International Museum Day, which celebrates the role museums play in society. Receive BOGO admission for the day and admire some of the museum’s current exhibits like Personal Journeys: American Indian Landscapes and The Third Dimension: Sculptural Stories in Stone and Bronze.
Kids can become a Junior Archaeologists at Pueblo Grande Museum by doing a simulated excavation of a Hohokam pit house on April 2. Other kids programming include their Drop-In Discoveries on April 23, an informational program about the archaeological work being done at the platform mound site, and discover what family-friendly adventures they have planned. Plus check out their current exhibit Desertscapes: Narrative Landscape Photography any day you stop in to explore the unique beauty of the desert and why it should be preserved.
Make your summer music plans now. Tickets for the Musical Instrument Museum’s Summer 2016 Concert Series go on sale April 7, so make sure you have your spot saved. From May 12-Sept. 19, exciting performances by emerging and established artists, including The Django Festival All-Stars, Taj Mahal, and Stephanie Trick and Paolo Alderighi, will be featured in the series. The series is still a little ways off, so be sure to attend Experience India April 16-17 to celebrate East Indian music and culture. There will vibrant dance and colors, as well as hands-on activities and cultural talks.
The long history, upbeat music and spicy foods make Mexican culture incredibly unique and fun. Celebrate Mexico’s historic victory over the French Army in 1862 at the Cinco de Maya Phoenix Festival in the heart of downtown Phoenix. The two-day street festival on May 7-8 will have no shortage of live music, lucha libre, ballet folklorico, traditional food and drink, and plenty of fun for people of all backgrounds.
Music in the tranquility of the desert-where else can you experience that? The Desert Botanical Garden’s Concert Series continues every Friday and features some of Phoenix’s best artists in Blues, Latin and Jazz like The Sugar Thieves, Cinco de Moio, Big Nick and the Gila Monsters. Grab dinner at Gertrudes, the on-site restaurant, stroll through the Garden, and be serenaded by the featured artist and sounds of the Sonoran. If you can’t make it on a Friday, catch Bruce Munro: Sonoran Light before May 8, the exhibit’s closing day. Stroll through the Garden at night with hundreds of miles of unique light-based light installations designed by the British artist.
The kids will want you to mark your calendars for this one. The Legoland Discovery Center at Arizona Mills Mall is slated to open April 22, and is complete with a 4D Cinema, large scale models, Lego Building Center and plenty of room for birthday parties. The recently crowned Master Model Builder, Alecsander Posta, will be in attendance to inspire the little builders with his eye for aesthetics and innate ability to interact with children. Visit the 40,000 square-foot space when it opens at 10 a.m. every day of the week.
Cool down with something sweet at Schnepf Farms. Bring the entire family to their annual Peach Festival on May 14-22 for a full day of peachy fun! Between the hayrides, live music and carousel rides, enjoy peach pancakes, pie, cinnamon rolls, cookies, cobblers, and even peach arts and crafts. Or peruse the orchards through all of May and find the perfect peach, so you can try your hand at peach baking at home.
It’s a good time for jazz music lovers. The 5th Annual Phoenix International Jazz Day will be at CityScape in downtown Phoenix on April 30 from 4-10 p.m. The event celebrates jazz history and its ability to connect people around the globe, and will feature a variety of artists throughout the evening. If you can’t wait until the end of the month, check out CityScape on Tuesdays from 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m. for their weekly Jazz Concert Series.
Get all glammed up and make your way to the Symphony Hall for of night red carpet fun. The Phoenix Symphony will bring the drama of the silver screen to you for A Night at the Oscars on April 9-10, a show filled with music from Oscar-nominated and winning dramas, romances and Hollywood classics. To hear a classic that isn’t quite as fancy, be sure to see the Phoenix Symphony perform Star Wars: The Music on May 4 at Mesa Arts Center. May the fourth be with you.
After Mom enjoys a mimosa and brunch with the kids, let her slip away to VH Spa for Vitality + Health at Hotel Valley Ho for the 90-minute Mother’s Little Helper Facial. This treatment will bring out her natural shine while counteracting the effects of aging. Or she can completely distress in the 90-minute Spring Again Aromatherapy Massage, which features delightful notes of spring. Both treatments are $99 from May 1-8 and include a glass of wine or champagne.
There are plenty of relaxation opportunities, even if you don’t quite fit the “mother” title. Pair your new bathing suit and sandals with gorgeous nails, courtesy of VH Spa, with their 90-minute Cool Breeze Mani + Pedi special for just $75. Or, after a day in the sun, choose the 90-minute Recovery Sunday Spa Package for $99. Arrive a little early to your appointment at Hotel Valley Ho’s spa to enjoy the lounges, outdoor spa deck, and saunas with chromotherapy.
Let luxury bloom at The Spa at Talking Stick Resort. They’re offering a whole host of deals to welcome the season and encourage relaxation and renewal. The Luxury of Lavender Massage is a true escape for the senses and finishes with a warm hand and foot scrub. The Complexion Essential focuses on repair, prevention and anti-aging, but is designed for all skin types. To smooth away the skin-dulling effects of winter weather, the Brilliant Body Polish is a must. Slip on your sandals with confidence after you do the Spring Time 20, which is a manicure and pedicure for 10 fingers and 10 toes. All of these springtime treatments are under $130 and being offered through May 31.
If total relaxation is your goal, Hyatt Regency Scottsdale Resort & Spa at Gainey Ranch will take care of you during your stay. Their Spa Package includes daily breakfast and a $150 credit for each day at Spa Avania. Get glammed up with a manicure, pedicure or blowout, or completely pamper yourself with the Sacred Nature Facial, Avania Body Polish, Desert Essence Body Wrap or Focus Therapeutic Massage. They also offer Spa Pairings, which are multiple services tailored to your specific needs, and Couple’s Offerings, for relaxation next to your loved one.
Joya Spa at Omni Scottsdale Resort & Spa at Montelucia has named April “Stress Awareness Month.” Try any of the following services that will de-stress your mind and body at a discounted rate. They are offering guests the Arnica and Hot Towel Massage, which combines a muscle release massage with essential oils. Or try the Hammam Experience, which allows guests to lounge in their soothing aromatherapy warming room and heated seats that address your body’s pressure points. The Cure Facial detoxifies and restores, and Anti-Fatigue Stone Pedicure includes an aromatic foot soak and warm neck wrap.
“Spring Back to Life” with a 60 or 90-minute massage at The Running Water Spa at Scottsdale Camelback Resort. It involves long gliding strokes to loosen tight muscles and increase circulation. They use warm towels and a peppermint-infused aromatherapy sugar scrub on your feet, followed by hydrating foot cream, a deep foot massage and scalp massage. They’re also offering a couples massage for just $175 and “Relax and Renew” for $125, which includes a 45-minute massage and 45-minute facial or body wrap.
Incorporate ingredients and other elements unique to the desert at Sonoran Spa at the Four Seasons Resort Scottsdale at Troon North. Now offering guests a $175 daily spa credit and 25% off spa services, all on top of their already luxurious accommodations. The spa has treatments like the Pinnacle Facial, named after Pinnacle Peak, the Jojoba and Prickly Pear Polish, Golfers’ Massage, and Sticks and Stones Massage, which pair perfectly with the resort’s surroundings-the Sonoran Desert.
One of the focal points of downtown Phoenix, the Phoenix Convention Center, is welcoming a new Executive Chef that’s been recognized as one of the nation’s best chefs by Money magazine. Chef Masood Shirmohammadi brings a diverse background from Chicago where he worked in fine dining at high-end hotels and, most recently, the Art Institute of Chicago. Chef Masood says that his experience on his aunt’s farm as a child is what gave him the desire to prepare fresh foods with a beautiful presentation.
If you’ve ever visited Phoenix, you’ve likely heard of Pizzeria Bianco and its chef Chris Bianco. The James Beard Award-winning chef is expanding his craft with a new concept opening April 12. Tratto will be a casual Italian eatery located in Central Phoenix’s Town & Country Shopping Center. Diners can expect handmade pastas with locally grown durum wheat, as well as meat and vegetable entrees inspired by what’s available seasonally and locally. Tratto is joining Pane Bianco and Bar Bianco, the acclaimed chef’s other ventures.
The Scotch Library at The Westin Kierland Resort & Spa has created a culinary journey that carries guests from the Highlands of Scotland to the lush desert of Arizona. They launched “The Ultimate Serve,” a one-of-a-kind tasting of Glenfiddich’s finest Scotch whiskies perfectly paired with Arizona-inspired bites. This very special experience, guided by the Scotch Library’s knowledgeable Scotch Ambassadors, is offered in an ambience of relaxed comfort and conversation surrounded by a library comprised of more than 200 Scotch whiskies as well as art and writings that celebrate the essence of Arizona. With The Ultimate Serve, guests are treated to four Glenfiddich whiskies masterfully paired with a selection of sweet and savory offerings specially created for the experience by Executive Chef Christopher Masco.
Attention foodies: The dates for Arizona Restaurant Week have been announced. Diners can get outside of their own neighborhood and try a wide array of flavors from the best restaurants in town from May 20-29. Indulge in a three-course prix fixe menu for $33 or $44 at a number restaurants spread throughout Greater Phoenix.
Sip, taste and do some good for the community. The Original Taste, Phoenix’s most festive fundraiser, is back for its 35th year on April 23 at Scottsdale Waterfront. This dress-to-impress event features more than 40 of the best local restaurants, wine from around the world, select craft beers, premium cocktails and live entertainment. Sit back and enjoy the fun knowing that the event has raised over $4 million in the past five years, and recently committed $500,000 to support Phoenix Children’s Hospital’s new Emergency Department and Trauma Center.
Not one, but TWO Phoenix restaurants made the cut by OpenTable for their annual list, “100 Hottest Restaurants in America in 2016.” SumoMaya Mexican-Asian Kitchen and Culinary Dropout at The Yard in Tempe beat more than five million restaurants for the spots, which they earned for their inventive and delicious recipes.
Moms deserve a lot more than just brunch, but it’s not a bad place to start. Celebrate Mother’s Day on May 8 at Hotel Valley Ho with an array of seasonal foods, like the Smoked Salmon Benedict, and their famous Bloody Mary + Mimosa Bar. Or let her sleep in and try ZuZu’s seasonal dinner menu, which includes Cod with Lump Crab and Farro and yummy desserts like White Chocolate Banana Cream Pie.
Thanks to two successful Super Bowls and the College Football Playoff National Championship being held in Phoenix, the growing city has been asked to host the 2017 NCAA Final Four. The Local Organizing Committee has named Debbie Johnson, Director of the Arizona Office of Tourism, and Dan Lewis, President and CEO of Native Insight, as co-chairs of its volunteer board. They will use their expertise to provide leadership and oversight in organizing the event, which is set for April 1 and 3 next year at University of Phoenix Stadium.
Cactus League Spring Training has come to a close, but that means the Arizona Diamondbacks are officially beginning their season. To learn about the D-Back’s history and “America’s Favorite Pastime” as a whole, visit the Phoenix Art Museum for The Ultimate Collection: Iconic Baseball Cards from the Diamondbacks Collection. Visit the special exhibit through April 24 to see 16 of the top 20 ranked sports trading cards in the entire world, along with an additional 25 highly-valued and prized baseball and trading cards.
Chase Field, considered by many to be among the most fan-friendly and affordable ballparks in the country, introduces more additions to the ballpark to enhance the fan experienced. Offerings include the new PetSmart Patio – an air conditioned dog park --and new food and merchandise options.New food items include the Chili Verde Mac Dog, Fried Bread Pudding Bites, and an Arizona Farms Grilled Cheese Cart among others. Looking for a Latin-inspired baseball experience than visit La Terraza where fans can enjoy live music, authentic regional food and specialized décor.
Visit the course that Travel + Leisure Golf Magazine named “Best Resort Course in the Southwest” and get a great deal while you’re at it. JW Marriott Desert Ridge Resort & Spa is offering the “Unlimited Golf Experience” package for $389/night, which will offer golf fun and relaxation throughout your stay. It includes the breakfast buffet at Stonegrill Restaurant each morning, unlimited golf on the Palmer or Faldo golf courses (golf cart with GPS included), unlimited use of practice golf facilities, Advanced Tee Times, golf club bag storage and 20% off in the resort golf, spa and tennis retail shops.
Think you’re pretty smart? Team up in groups of ten or less for CityScape Scavenger Fun Run and put yourself to the test. Using your wit, teamwork and mapping skills, make your way through the city to find thousands of dollars in prizes and have a blast while doing so. Awards for best costume, family team and social media post will be given at the four-hour race on April 16.
Commemorate one of Arizona’s heroes, support a good cause and have a great time at Pat’s Run on April 23. Run or walk 4.2 miles through downtown Tempe, which in honor of Pat Tillman’s jersey number while playing for ASU’s football team, and celebrate the life of the man who gave up his football dreams to serve his country. Proceeds benefit the Pat Tillman Foundation, which invests in military veterans and their spouses through academic scholarships.
If you consider yourself a football fan, rugby should be right up your alley! The biggest local rugby event gathered 5,000 fans last year, and is expected to bring even more this year to The Fiesta Bowl Rugby and Balloon Classic sponsored by Mercedes-Benz. Watch the showdown between Arizona State University’s rugby team and Mexico’s national rugby team on April 23 at Scottsdale Stadium. After the game, stick around for GLOW, a one-night-only nightclub experience featuring unique hot air balloons.