Arizona’s capital is brimming with hip spots to explore.

Outdoor bar in Phoenix, Arizona

Thomas J. Story

“There is definitely a buzz in Phoenix right now,” says Lauren Danuser, owner of the city’s expertly curated Local Nomad boutique. “You can feel the growth and expansion happening everywhere, being propelled by creatives, many of whom either grew up here and found their way back, or by transplants who have discovered Phoenix to be a land of opportunity.”

A new generation is making its mark on Phoenix, “leading with heart” and “bringing something new to the table,” as Danuser says. That hasn’t always been the case. Pueblo plant shop owner Michael Lanier, who grew up in the nearby Verde Valley, points to a line in the hit 2017 drama Big Little Lies. One of the characters asks his wife to accompany him to Phoenix, before laughing and saying, “I know that’s the least romantic thing I’ve ever said.” 

“Phoenix felt like it was a flyover place to golf in, or where your grandparents went to retire to a sea of beige and stucco,” Lanier quips. “That trope feels outdated, because the entire city has this vibrancy and unique vibe to it that feels really fresh and alive.”

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A “rush of younger people” are now “bent on creating a city they can take pride in,” Lanier adds. 

“We’re no longer a one-horse town,” concurs Blaise Faber, co-owner of Valentine restaurant, which has been shaking up the local food and drink scene with inventive offerings. “It’s humbling to be included with the new guard of movers and shakers helping shape the next wave of Southwest cuisine.” 

Long story short? There are plenty of spots to explore on your next trip to Phoenix. Here are just a few standouts:

Bacanora

Bacanora meat dish
Dish from Bacanora

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A James Beard finalist for one of the best new restaurants in the country, this Sonoran outpost from chef Rene Andrade backs up every bit of the hype. Savor rib-eye cooked over the open-fire mesquite wood grill or try a couple shots of bacanora, the agave spirit from which the restaurant gets its name.

Local Nomad

Local Nomad shop in Phoenix, Arizona
Local Nomad

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To say owner Lauren Danuser (center) curates a thoughtful collection of wares in this boutique is an understatement. We could spend all day perusing the loose-leaf teas, soft throws, array of handcrafted ceramics, and more.

The Dinersaur

Dinersaur restaurant in Phoenix, Arizona
The Dinersaur

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Known around town for vanilla custard “churrovers” and “breadosaurus” pastries shaped like—you guessed it—dinosaurs, baker Olivia Girard churns out all the sweet treats you could dream up at this new outpost. Get there early as daily confections are first-come, first-served!

Pueblo

Pueblo plant shop in Phoenix, Arizona
Pueblo

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Founder Michael Lanier and resident landscape architect Coby Bruckner just finished building a pair of courtyard greenhouses and lounge seating so anyone can work in the garden during coffee hours when Caffio Espresso, which operates out of a restored Piaggio Ape cart, is slinging lattes under string lights.

Valentine

Pasta dish at Valentine restaurant in Phoenix, Arizona
Valentine

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This restaurant (plus coffee shop, bakery, and weekend bar) bills itself as “new Arizona cuisine,” and the menu backs up that self-assessment: You can savor elote pasta or down-to-earth treats like Sonoran wheat croissants. We recommend toasting with a Cactus Martini.


Where to Stay

No matter your style, there’s a hotel for you in the Phoenix area.

If you care about Instagram:

Rise: Colorful, patterned wallpapers anchor the rooms at this hip Phoenix hotel with a pool and rooftop bar.

Rise Hotel room and exterior
Rise

Thomas J. Story

If you’re a bit nostalgic:

Hotel Valley Ho: Bing Crosby and Zsa Zsa Gabor frequented this retro hotel that recently got a facelift.

Hotel Valley Ho room and pool
Hotel Valley Ho

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If you want to spend your time golfing:

Mountain Shadows Resort Scottsdale: Play 18 holes or take a dip in the pool in view of Camelback Mountain.

Mountain Shadows Resort Scottsdale - hotel room and golf course
Mountain Shadows Resort Scottsdale

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