Story and Photos by Sarah Spigelman
Hmmm….an Arizona Foodie. We all know that New York is the greatest city on earth – anyone who is born or lives here will tell you that and defend our pizza and subway system to the death.
However…there are times when a little break from the hustle and bustle is necessary. When you want to spend less than $20 on a cocktail and long to see stars for just one night. When you want to look at foliage that isn’t in central park and eat Mexican food that is more than watered down guacamole made by a well-meaning Korean mama in her corner deli.
That’s the time to head to Arizona.
This Southwestern state has everything New Yorkers love – luxury, fantastic food, and endless shopping – with everything New Yorkers need – wide open spaces, plenty of sunshine, and incredible bang for the buck.
Foodie Arizona. Where to stay and what to do.
The two big destinations are Phoenix and Tucson. Phoenix offers metropolitan shopping, sprawling golf resorts, and close proximity to Sedona.
Tucson offers small town charm, authentic Mexican food, and world class spas.
Choose one of these towns and you will have a multitude of places to stay and activities to enjoy.
In Phoenix, you can’t do better than the Fairmont Princess Resort Scottsdale (editors note: while close to Phoenix, the Fairmont Princess Resort Scottsdale is actually in Scottsdale). This high end resort is Southwestern luxury at its finest. Gorgeous terra cotta buildings surrounding pristine grounds with multiple swimming pools, outdoor love-seats for relaxing with a good book, and fire pits perfect for evening cocktails. The rooms are breezy and elegant, large enough to house at least three people in the smallest option.
The Willow Stream Spa is hundreds of square feet of massage rooms, pedicure stations, relaxation pools, saunas, and steam rooms. Be sure to check out the rooftop pool, adult only and reserved exclusively for spa guests. There is a golf course and clubhouse, a kids program, and a plethora of dining options.
Michael Mina’s Bourbon Steak offers a modern take on a steakhouse, and don’t miss La Hacienda by Richard Sandoval. The guacamole with carnitas is everything your Jewish mother warned you against – porky, cheesy, and spicy. Needless to say, it is exceptional, as is the service at this resort.
The whole point of coming here is that you do so to relax. Once you park your car, there is no reason to leave the resort – there are small shops to explore, a hip happy hour at Bourbon Steak that attracts many of Scottsdale’s beautiful people, and endless places to soak up the sun.
If you do decide to leave, check out the nearby Kierland Commons for shopping and dining, or take a 3 hour drive to Sedona to see the region’s famous red rocks and check out the mysterious vortexes.
Regardless of what you decide to do, this is a one-stop-fits-all kind of trip. Ideal for families or bachelorette weekends, the Fairmont Princess Resort is Phoenix in a nutshell – luxury, cosmopolitan, and full service.
If you are more of a do it yourself kind of traveler, Tucson may be more your scene. Stay at the historic Arizona Inn. It was frequented by movie stars filming westerns at old ‘Tucson Studios in the 1930s.
The entire hotel is quaint and utterly luxurious – riots of bougainvillea wind up the individual rooms, each decorated personally and filled with old books. There is an outdoor table tennis area, a lap pool, and on summer nights, an ice cream social complimentary for guests at the hotel.
If you stay more than once, your preferences for room and newspaper are always remembered and you will be greeted by name. It’s hard not to feel like you have traveled through time at this luxurious yet totally laid back oasis.
When you’re ready to sup, head to the nearby Beyond Bread. This place makes some of the best sandwiches on the West Coast. All the bread is made fresh daily. Varieties range from jalapeno cheddar to focaccia. If you’re like me, it will be hard not to eat a loaf for lunch. Try to save room for the sandwiches. Made from freshly roasted turkey, rare roast beef, and local Arizona produce – these rock.
If you want a high end dinner, head to Janos, James Beard Award winner Janos Wilder’s acclaimed French-Sonoran restaurant.
The shopping in Tucson is best done downtown in the artists district. You can buy everything from hand painted dios de los muertos dolls to exquisite pottery. Also check out Canyon Ranch Spa for a day or even overnight – it is, after all, one of the world’s premiere spa destinations. If you feel the need to escape, take it easy – you are only an hour from Mexico. Just bring your passport, because you will definitely want to return to your comfy bed at the Arizona Inn and without it, you can’t.
Whether you go for full on resort luxury in Phoenix or low key relaxation in Tucson, your wallet won’t be too much lighter, but your mood certainly will be.
NYC is the greatest city on earth, but Phoenix and Tucson are a welcome break in the cold, expensive winter months.
Disclaimer: I stayed at the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess Resort on a media rate. The opinions are my own and unbiased.