The temperature was already at 85 degrees at the terminal while I was walking through to get my rental car and head out to find a quick bite to eat. Fortunately, someone told me about the new Burger Theory joint close to the airport, so I was able to find it a few minutes away and find a seat quickly. Burger Theory was a nice spot to unwind and cool off before I was ready to brave the hot Arizona sun and boy, it felt hot to me. I made my way to my hotel for the next two days, I would be staying at the Holiday Inn in the Chandler district – a perfect  weekend getaway to Phoenix, Arizona. There’s so many cool things to do and see in Phoenix so lets get started.


Papago park Weekend getaway to Phoenix Arizona

What to see and do in Phoenix

Phoenix offers so many options for places to visit, including outdoor recreation, trendy neighborhoods to explore, fantastic dining venues many one of a kind attractions to explore around the city. This is definitely a city where you can  enjoy western culture, gorgeous desert landscapes and take part in an active adventure activity in the desert or up into the scenic mountain ranges surrounding Phoenix. For my weekend discovery visit around Phoenix, I concentrated on experiencing some of the best things to do in Phoenix including outdoor adventures, visiting some cultural treasure and art discoveries, and sampling some delicious Southwestern cuisine and popular street food of the region. There’s a ot of cool day trips to do from Phoenix and I also covered many of those easy to get to road trips.




Desert Botanical Garden Weekend getaway to Phoenix Arizona

Desert Botanical Garden

This gorgeous garden wows you right from the start of your visit into this arid entry garden, with an impressive glass sculpture resembling a huge cactus and created by famous glass sculptor Chihuly to blend into the desert environment. The cool thing about exploring the various desert themed gardens are the diversity of non-cactus, Mediterranean plants and succulents that can thrive so well in this harsh environment.

You enter a variety of garden rooms with themes incorporating the Sonoran landscape, a kitchen garden, herb garden and even a colorful butterfly garden. I enjoyed walking through these various gardens which also integrated wonderful western styled architecture done in vignettes as though you would enter someone’s home. Along your walk you find a lot of well-placed artwork, information displays and colorful walkway features that pique your curiosity on what may be ahead on the trails and continue despite the extreme heat outdoors. Fortunately there are many covered areas, shaded garden spots and resting areas with water fountains in case you get dehydrated which is very easy to do in this desert landscape.



Desert Botanical Garden Weekend getaway to Phoenix Arizona

Beautiful Chihuly glass entrance


Sculpture garden Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix Arizona

Sculpture and water features at the Desert Botanical garden in Phoenix



Papago Park in Phoenix Arizona

Phoenix Papago Park

I love that this area of Papago Park incorporates both the Botanical Garden, Zoo an many hiking and recreation areas of the Park. I visited one of the most popular spots in the park called the Hole in the Rock, where you climb through some Flintstone inspired natural red formations and boulders through an opening in this huge rock. Once you climb through, you get to see a panoramic view around the park and skyline to downtown Phoenix. The park is dotted with these impressive red rocks and formations that you can hike through extensive trails and explore some of the wonderful landscape on your own. I ended up extending my stay to explore more trails and then climbed up a strategic hill to watch the sunset over the downtown area.


Hole in the Rock at Papago Park in Phoenix Arizona

Checking out the Hole in the Rock at Papago Park



Afternoon hike at Papago Park in Phoenix Arizona

A late afternoon hike at Papago Park


Art galleries in Scottsdale Weekend getaway to Phoenix Arizona



Scottsdale and Old Town

A very close drive to Papago park is Scottsdale and I heard so much about the excellent art and food scene here so I planned an late afternoon visit to explore the area and find a cool dining spot for the evening. The Old Town area of Scottsday is where you will find where most of the diving, entertainment and a slew of fine art galleries located on E Main street. With a world class mix of traditional Southwestern themed galleries to more modern and other popular artwork for sale, Scottsdale draws in a lot of visitors who are interested in western art and other creative art mediums. It was fun to walk through many of the covered galleries and check out what each gallery would feature in terms of local or international sculpture, artwork, craftwork or  collectibles that are fore sale. Fortunately, I only traveled with a small hand carry so I wouldn’t be tempted with a bringing home a pricy souvenir.



Art galleries in Scottsdale Weekend getaway to Phoenix Arizona

Checking out the art gallery scene in Scottsdale



Art in Scottsdale Weekend getaway to Phoenix Arizona


Apache Trail at Apache Junction

I’ve heard so much about this historic trail just outside of the Phoenix metropolitan area and was pleasantly surprised by how much of the landscape, history and monuments have been well preserved or still in its natural condition. This was scenic road trip covers an area with many scenic vistas, desert terrain, man made reservoirs with stunning views and colorful villages tucked into hidden bends around the trail. You’ll be driving past mining communities, ghost towns and other unusual attractions with unusual names like “Superstition Mountain”.

After driving along a fun two lane road and passing through the small village of Tortilla Flats, the paved road becomes a packed red dirt road slowly crawling through rough graveled roads all the way to Roosevelt lake. It’s worth continuing as long as you can on the drive because the scenery is truly breathtaking. I enjoyed the fact that once you get past the popular Canyon lake reservoir, there are few visitors traveling through this remote area and you practically have all this amazing landscape for yourself to explore. This can be a 1/2 day to full day trip depending if you want to take the slow drive all the way to Roosevelt lake and back or around until you hit some paved roadways.


Apache trail in Phoenix Arizona

Views at Canyon Lake reservoir


Apache trail in Phoenix Arizona

Desert landscape on the Apache Trail


Solitary Mountain Apache trail in Phoenix Arizona

Driving through Superstition Mountain on the Apache Trail



My dining options around Phoenix

Burger Theory at the Holiday Inn, Phoenix airport
Burger Theory
After landing at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport, I was hungry and looking for something close-by and fast but also local and cool. Enter Burger Theory on 44th street which is one of Holiday Inn’s new eateries. I loved the huge bar area surrounding with large TV screens featuring a variety of sporting programs. It was an easy choice to sit up at the bar and check out what local craft beers are on tap and I sampled my first pumpkin infused beers and some other local Heifeweisen from local brewer Four Peaks. It’s fun to custom order your own hamburger, but I picked a meaty 1/3 beef with large chunks of portabello mushroom and devoured it while downing the pumpkin brew.
Burger Theory at the Holiday Inn, Phoenix airport
Bisquits cafe Weekend getaway to Phoenix Arizona
This breakfast/brunch place has a few branch locations in Phoenix and I went close to my hotel in the Chandler district and boy this is a tasty meal. It seems like breakfast here is served with extra large portions. I ordered a scrambled egg dish with three meats and hash browns; I couldn’t finish it because you also get huge pancakes that are also jumbo sized. Fortunately I had a big appetite that morning, but still couldn’t finish my meal with the pancake addition.
Salty Senorita Scottsdale Weekend getaway to Phoenix Arizona
This popular Mexican bar/restaurant in Scottsdale offers indoor or outdoor dining in their large patio spilling into the street. I quickly went up the bar and checked out their extensive beverage and food menu. Of course you have to try any of their popular margaritas here and I tried something new and delicious called Louboutin, Espolon silver tequila with a shot of elderflower liquor – very smooth and subtle for a margarita! I ordered a trio of really delicious tacos: shrimp, braised short ribs and carne asada which I also devoured in some quick and easy bites.
Salty Senorita Scottsdale Weekend getaway to Phoenix Arizona

Accommodations at the Holiday Inn, Chandler


Holiday Inn, Chandler Arizona

The hotel location in Chandler was perfect for exploring the southern parts of the city and my all day visit to the Apache trail at Apache Junction which is a very short and scenic drive Southeast of the city. The beautiful and modern Holiday Inn, Ocatillo Road features the Southwestern Hacienda style in a comfortable and modern style. Check in was very quick with the front desk giving me a quick overview of the features around the hotel lobby and other public areas, I appreciated the genuine and friendly service and quickly made it to my room to unload my belongings.
Pool area at Holiday Inn, Chandler Arizona
Bedroom features
The standard bedroom and baths at the Holiday Inn, Chandler are really large with an inviting living room section along with a big desk area for work. I was given a room on the fourth floor which had lovely views down to the pool area and the surrounding landscape around Ocatillo Road which is suburban and upscale. Beds are really plush and comfortable, with fluffy pillows.
Standard bedroom at Holiday Inn, Chandler Arizona
A nice section for fridge, bar and microwave service
Bar service section at Holiday Inn, Chandler Arizona
Bathroom features
The bathrooms are nicely appointed with comfortable space and a large vanity to spread out your personal belongings. I like the Holiday Inn toiletries offered in a nicely scented citrus/coconut combination for the bath products and there are plenty of hand and bath towels in the bathrooms as well.
Bathroom area at Holiday Inn, Chandler Arizona

Overall Experience at the Holiday Inn Chandler

I loved my stay at the Holiday Inn and visit to the Chandler area, it was perfect for my visit to the Apache trail and within a short drive to downtown and other areas in the Metropolitan area of Phoenix. You also have plenty of options on freeways to use to get around the different regions of the city. Service is friendly prompt and helpful when you have any special needs or questions.
Beautiful cactus blooms Weekend getaway to Phoenix Arizona

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