The Valley of the Sun is huge. Not LA huge, but man do we pack a lot of great stuff into our little chunk of land. There are great artists and thinkers sharing their work with us the First Friday of every month, making Roosevelt Row a hot spot. There are opinionated writers sharing stories with us through a free, available, small paper. There are chefs bringing food back to their roots, but refusing to mistake basic for boring and using the best local ingredients. Small businesses are thriving. People are on the hunt for things handmade and unique. This and so much more is happening in Phoenix, and because of it many young adults are choosing to embrace and love this happening hot culture instead of heading for places that are traditionally seen as cooler.

So here are a few of my favorite spots in Phoenix. Really, this is a very small list of all the places I love but if I put them all on the list I would have nothing else to write about! Explore the list, give me feedback in the comment section below, and hopefully it will inspire you to make your own!

To shop clothes

Goodwill! I told you I love bargains! Thrift shop finds make up the majority of my wardrobe.

Sadly, none of these fit me the day I found them but many of these items were once $20-40 and were priced from $4-7 when I found them. I even found a brand new pair of Birkenstocks for $4 once!

To shop gifts

If it’s a more casual gift I will always and forever check Changing Hands Bookstore. They recently celebrated 40 years of business, part of that celebration being a new store in Phoenix. They chose the Historic Beef Eaters building, giving them great bones to work off of and a large space to allow them to join forces with other local businesses. The store has a great vibe and even better people.

To many Phoenix natives, Beef Eaters is a very nostalgic. My mom ate there the night of her prom, and said pulling up to the new book store for the first time was such a fun reminder of her high school days.
The New Phoenix store is such a fun example of community coming together. The store’s funding primarily came from the community through IndieGoGo, an old Boarders donated their book shelves, and after opening many new clubs have been starting, Like Grandmas’ Club.

For a more special gift I love to pop in to Purple Lizard. They take a lot of inspiration from traditional Hispanic art and design which fills the little shop with a vibrant atmosphere. They carry lots of handmade funky jewelry, light, loose fitting linen clothes, and books and knick-knacks just for the kids.


That Lizard in their logo is so ingrained into my brain! Been coming to this shop since childhood
Walking through that orange screen door is one of my favorite parts of visiting. As soon as you walk through the door you’re surrounded by this relaxing, subtle, sweet smell.


Purple Lizard has always been so inspiring! So many bright colors and textures from floor to ceiling.

To grab lunch

J P McGurkee’s Sandwich Shop. I’ve been eating here since birth. Really great cold cut Italian meats, on the best toasted sesame seed bread. My favorite Sandwich is the Hero, but you can also never go wrong with a Super Sicilian. McGurkee’s has been family owned and operated for 41 years. They’re always there to welcome you in with a smile, it doesn’t take long for you to join the family!

Pizza is relatively new to the menu at McGurkees. I have yet to taste one since I can’t resist getting my beloved sandwich, but there is no doubt in my mind that they are just as delicious!
The interior is one of my favorite aspects of McGurkee’s. The walls are covered in old signs, news paper clippings, and art that give it a great rustic feel.

To go on a date

Windsor is, in my opinion, the best first date place. When I need comfort food, this is where I go. Their atmosphere is completely laid back with a great open air patio surrounded by plants in old metal cans and colorful ceramic pots. I always look forward to the Cheddar Fondue, complete with apples, Schriener’s Sausage, and homemade pretzels. You also can never go wrong with a Hamburger done Windsor Style. For dessert and a slight change of scenery, there is a homemade ice cream shop called Churn, right next door. I have many favorite flavors, like Banana and Cookies and Mint, but my number one favorite is Whiskey Toffee Almond. They only rarely bring out this flavor as it’s all gone almost as soon as it’s put out. If it’s there when you visit, you better get it while it lasts.


Excuse me while I take a creeper pic from the bushes, but check out this patio. I’ve only ever sat inside once here because being on the patio is so relaxing!


Churn has a great old timey feel. The walls are covered with old candies, like Abba Zabbas and Big Hunk, and goofy little toys like plastic army men and walking teeth.

To get a chai

One of my favorite Chai’s of all time used to be found in the Arcadia Neighborhood as Carmel’s Breakfast House. Sadly this lovely little shack is no more, BUT they are opening a new restaurant just down the street named Charlie Fine in the next few months. You can read about the new restaurant when you try to visit Carmel’s old page. Expect a full post all about Charlie Fine after they open!

Took this picture of Carmel’s a couple years back while house sitting for my aunt. I will miss this little building so much, but it will be a great adventure to try to new place along with all the new things they have to offer.

To enjoy the arts

Lit Lounge at the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art (SMoCA) is a really great experience. You’ll laugh, smile, sigh, and may even cry. They have great guest writers as well as fantastic local writers. Plus, the Curator of Performance and Literary Programs, Tania Katan, is just a real awesome lady. Check out all the other stuff she’s doing in our community and beyond!

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Lit Lounge primarily tries to bring attention to local writers, but they do love to have special guest who are more well known. Any of you seen Matilda? Remember the older girl who warns Matilda and Lavender not to hide from Ms. Truchbull or she’d wack them with the whip? She’s all grown up and doing more than just acting. Check out her work!





Published by Mollie Heiden

Mollie calls sunny Arizona her home. An ideal day for her would involve long walks, good food, learning something new, snuggles with her cat, making something with her hands, and more good food. Give her chai tea and she'll be your friend forever.

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