Before the interstate, Grand Avenue was the gateway to Los Angeles. Today, the diagonal roadway has morphed into the city’s most boho, free-spirited downtown district, with storefronts and commercial buildings filled with galleries, cafés, yoga studios and nightlife spots. We've rounded up the best things to do on Historic Grand Avenue, as well as places to grab a bite and a drink.
On Grand Avenue, no space is exempt from being a site for public art. That includes a strip on Grand Avenue and McKinley Street, where a multicolored sidewalk is shaded by trees covered in afghans and puffballs hang from the branches. If that didn't spark your interest, there's also plenty of murals around Historic Grand Avenue, such as the large homage to Prince near 15th and Grand avenues.
You'll also find an array of artist studios and mom-and-pop shops along Grand, where workspaces and storefronts collide. Hunt down records at Grand Avenue Records, sip on coffee and view local artwork at Belhaus and find some new plant babies at the Instagram-friendly Pueblo.
Each November, a portion of this iconic roadway is blocked off to make way for the Grand Avenue Festival. Presented by Grand Avenue Arts & Preservation, this daylong event celebrates local artists as well as small businesses while promoting recycling, sustainability, local creativity and culture. Pop in anywhere from Seventh Avenue and West Van Buren Street to 15th Avenue and West Roosevelt Street, and expect tours of historic sights, fashion shows, live music and local art exhibits.
Of course, with all these artistic endeavors occurring along Grand, the area is a must-stop spot for the monthly First Fridays Art Walk.
You will find no shortage of worthwhile eateries along Historic Grand Avenue, who take up space in many of the old industrial buildings. Bacanora, in the old Bragg's Pie Factory space, features all the fixings of Sonoran-style Mexican food, where pollo asado, grilled octopus and just about everything else on the menu is made on the mesquite wood-fired grill. Just a few steps away is Testal Mexican Kitchen, where you can experience the flavors of Chihuahua, Mexico, (as well as shop trinkets imported from the region).
El Charro Hipster Bar & Cafe pairs Mexican-inspired bar bites, coffee and cocktails with live music, art displays and live art. The chapulines (crickets) qualify as both an appetizer and art. Alternatively, Earth Plant Based Cuisine is the Aguiler family's way of sharing their passion for and commitment to re-creating vegan versions of Mexican favorites. Trans AM Cafe is the perfect spot to grab a sandwich (including vegan offerings) and brows local art for sales, too.
If you're looking for a quick bite after a night out, there's always Grand Avenue Pizza Company, known as one of the city's late night eateries. Or, if you need a sweet treat after dinner, stop by Novel Ice Cream — one of Greater Phoenix's best ice cream spots — where you can indulge in a decadent doughnut-ice cream sandwich.
If anyone asks you where to drink along Grand Avenue, chances are you'll hear Bikini Lounge is the place to go. One of Greater Phoenix's favorite dive bars, this tiki-themed, cash-only haunt has been around since 1947.
But if a dive bar isn't your scene, Grand Avenue Brewing Company's brewhouse is close by, with a fair share of craft beers and sour ales in the taproom.