January 18 - 21, 2019
How I Got There
I took a short direct flight on United Airlines from San Francisco.
Where I Stayed
I originally planned to stay at The Camby, which is a part of the Marriott Autograph Collection. However, after my experience staying in the middle of no where in Raleigh, I decided to find a place closer to the center of the city.
I stayed at the Renaissance hotel downtown. It was a lovely hotel right in the heart of the city. It had a great bar and restaurant in the lobby and the room was massive. It was easy to get to all the places that I wanted to go from here.
How I Got Around
Phoenix has a surprisingly impressive public transportation system which includes both buses and light rail. Who knew that it was possible to have a light rail that actually takes you to the airport? (I'm looking at you Austin).
The rail is one long line that stretches from northern Phoenix all the way to Mesa. It has regular service every day and there are plans to expand the rail system in the future. The best part is that you can get a day pass for $4.00 at any station and ride the rail and buses for 24 hours.
If you need to get to a place that is not on the rail line, the bus system along with Lyft, Uber, and Taxis are a viable option. Phoenix also has something that has taken many cities by storm lately. Scooters. I finally gave in and tried it out. I must admit that scooters are a pretty convenient way to get around town.
What I Did
I arrived late on Friday and didn't have time to do anything except for check in to the hotel and start to make plans for the rest of the long weekend. It was a brisk winter evening. My previous visit was in the middle of July and I remember drowning in the humidity the moment I got off of the plane. Note to future travelers, visit Phoenix in the winter.
On Saturday, I started the day by visiting the Hall of Flame. This is a massive museum honoring firefighters. They have a ton of artifacts, memorabilia, and a warehouse full of fire trucks from all generations. Next, I rode a scooter (for the first time) to the Arizona Heritage Center which was a very cool museum showcasing the history of Arizona. After that I took another scooter ride to the Desert Botanical Garden. I had a lavish meal at Gertrude's before exploring all the various species of cacti. Next, I took the light rail to First Draft Book Bar, a very interesting concept of a bar that is also a book store, and ended the evening by indulging in a burger and shake from The Counter.
On Sunday, I walked down the Japanese Friendship garden and fed the Koi fish. Afterwards I stumbled upon a music, art, and food festival at the Phoenix Art Museum. It was a really awesome event. They had bands from all genres playing all day, delicious food and coffee, and of course the regular collection at the museum itself. It was probably the most fun I've ever had at an art museum.
On Monday, I went to the Heard Museum in the morning and walked around the State Capitol in the afternoon. Although the building was closed, I was really inspired by the dozen or so massive war memorials that surrounded the capitol. I ended the day on a plane back to San Francisco. On my way back to my apartment I was met with a giant billboard advertising Arizona and claiming that "Businesses aren't the only thing we scale".
What Was The Fuss
I loved Phoenix. It was such a cool town with art, culture, history, food, and music. The surrounding mountains were breathtaking, the cacti were friendly, and it was amazing to think that one of the largest cities in the United States is somehow in the middle of a desert.