Phoenix has become one of the hottest (sometimes quite literally) food cities in the USA. It might not get the press of Portland, Austin, Chicago or NYC - but this trendy city has everything they offer and more. To spend the perfect day downtown, start your morning off with a lunch at the mid-century chic restaurant, Joyride Tacos.
Joyride offers up Mexican inspired food with modern twists. The dishes are all casual classics at a price point that makes it easy to order everything off the menu. My favourite has to be their Mexican street corn and a cold horchata to cool off in the afternoon Phoenix heat.
There's no denying that the design of the restaurant isn't a huge reason for its popularity. The mid-century time period has become so popular as of late, and this place feels like the heart of the movement.
After finishing up your meal, head over to Frances to walk off all those tacos. Frances boutique features hipster styled clothing, shoes, hand crafted accessories, and unique gifts. They always have something totally different that catches my eye. Plus, Arizonan themed items that you can't get anywhere else.
If the heat is getting you down, head over to Lola's Coffee. Lola's offers up some of the best brews in the city with one of the most comfortable atmospheres. A hodgepodge of furniture makes the cafe feel like your grandmother's basement run by some of the best chefs and baristas in the valley. They serve up daily specials as well as daily helpings of hand-roasted coffee.
The back patio is a sanctuary in the middle of downtown where you can sit with your favourite book or laptops and get some much needed "work" done.
Across the street from Lolas is a rose garden selling different varieties of roses from all over the world. Roses grow so well in the heat. They seem to flourish against the never ending sunlight. The caring and knowledgeable staff and will help you choose the right piece for your garden. Despite being snow birds, my parents still take great care and this little flower shop always has a new variety to add to the yard. But, even if you're not in the market for flowers, wandering around this little sanctuary is a delight for the senses.
Next, head over to 7th Avenue to wander along "The Melrose District". Phoenix isn't a pedestrian city. It's mostly built for vehicles. But Melrose is one of those rare blocks where you can park your car and stroll for hours. Along Melrose, you'll find the city's best vintage shops, cafes, restaurants and bars. They also have a few rental bike stations where you grab a bike to cruise up and down at your leisure. It's super useful if you're planning on attempting to hit up a lot of stores but don't want to keep going back and forth to your car.
Retro Ranch is my favourite shop on the strip. The small but wildly eclectic store has everything a vintage lover could ever want. The left side of the shop is dedicated to vivid, antique clothing, lovingly categorized into colours for easy shopping.
On the right side of the store, you can find housewares and furniture from every decade. Walking around it feels more like walking through a museum than a store.
Before heading further down the street, make a stop at Copper Star Coffee. Copper Star serves up some of the best-iced coffee you'll find downtown. With a relaxed atmosphere, friendly waitstaff and a variety of food items to enjoy, there is something for everybody. Their Lavender Chai is my favourite on a hot day.
Melrose is also iconic for having a rotation selection of murals artists and graffiti is painted all across this area - turning it into a living gallery.
At the end of the street, you'll find Zinnias At Melrose. Zinnias is like a mini mall for antiques and collectables. Inside are dozens of different vendors located inside one building. Each one specializing in their own thing, their own styles or own time period. There are expensive items as well as super affordable ones so no matter what your price point, you can find it here.
The old run down laundromat that still stands on Melrose and is one of the most photographed places on the strip - a must-stop location for a great instgram.
If you're looking a bite to eat after all that shopping, there is no better place to spend an evening than at Cibo Pizzareia.
Cibo is set in a restored 1913 bungalow. Inside you'll find refurbished hardwood floors, exposed brick, stained glass windows and a cosy fireplace. Outside you can sit under enormous trees with twinkle lights which create a soft, romantic atmosphere all night long. Their wood fired artisanal pizzas and fresh house made pasta are just right and no matter what you order you can't go wrong.
To finish off the night, head to MELT. Melt is one of the Valley's best ice cream shops. Serving some of the most inventive flavours inside Chinese take away contains they're even topped with a fortune cookie! This place is as hipster as it gets. But with ice creams like, "Captain Crunch", "Cherry Pistachio" and "Mangonada sorbet" you can't help but come by and sample a few flavours on their cheery picnic benches. The perfect end to the perfect day.
Here is the map for anyone interested in hitting up these locations >>