Best of Downtown Tempe, Arizona

Tempe, Arizona is home to Arizona State University and located in the heart of the Valley of the Sun.  I am no stranger to Tempe, graduating from both high school and University. Many years later, I am back to walk down memory lane and explore my hometown. Tempe is no longer just a college town in the shadow of Phoenix and Scottsdale, this little town has grown up!  Offering an amazing variety of excellent independent restaurants, shops, and activities, Tempe is a wonderful blend of modern and hip fitting along the rich history of the town.Best of Downtown Tempe AZ

Visiting twice in the last two months, I have discovered some new and wonderful activities and am reminded of the spots that are better than ever.  Here are my recommendations for the Best of Downtown Tempe Activites, Shopping, and Dining. Continue reading “Best of Downtown Tempe, Arizona”

How Growing up in Phoenix Prepared Me for Living in Puerto Rico

We recently moved to the beautiful island of Puerto Rico.  I was a little nervous about the culture shock of leaving our hot, dry desert city and adjusting to small town, island life.  It sounds weird, but it turns out growing up in Phoenix has actually prepared me for living in Puerto Rico.  GrowingupPHX

Here are 10 ways growing up in Phoenix, Arizona prepared me for living in Puerto Rico:

Close connection to foreign countries. 

It is faster to drive to Mexico from Phoenix than any state in the US, Mexico is Arizona’s neighbor to the South.  Likewise, Puerto Rico’s closest neighbors are definitely not the US mainland (Hello Dominican Republic and British Virgin Islands)

Everyone is (a little) Bilingual

Anyone who grew up in Arizona speaks at least a little Spanish. I even attended a bilingual elementary school for English as Second Language (ESL program).  Everyone speaks a little English in Puerto Rico.  Many people are fully bilingual in both Arizona and Puerto Rico.   Admittedly, Arizona Spanglish is a different dialect that the Puerto Rican Spanish, but it is a good foundation to build upon.  Plus I was always really good at charades, so I can act out many difficult phrases.

There are more Snowbirds than Local Residents half the year

Winters in Phoenix are overrun by people from the Mid-west desperately trying to escape the cold and warm up.  Since arriving in January, we have seen the population dwindle as the snowbirds leave the island for summer.  I just cannot escape snowbirds!

Continue reading “How Growing up in Phoenix Prepared Me for Living in Puerto Rico”

South Mountain Park

Hiking is one of my favorite free activities in Phoenix.  Our desert valley is surrounded by mountains providing stunning views and wildlife.  South Mountain Park/Preserve in the heart of Phoenix is over 16,000 acres, approximately 20 times the size of New York’s Central Park, it is the largest municipal park in the country!  Now is the perfect time to Go Take a Hike!

South Mountain Park
South Mountain Park

South Mountain Park is easy access from anywhere in metro-Phoenix and offers trails for every level of athletic ability.  Horses, dogs, and mountain bikes are all welcome on the trails.

Desert Classic Trail
Desert Classic Trail

With nearly 60 miles of trails, I like to map out the hike before heading to a trail head.  Most trails are easily followed with metal signposts along the trail as a guide, and many of these were recently updated with trail name, QR code, elevation, and specific trail post information.  I always bring a hard copy trail map of the area I plan to be in.  A recent hike with friends was so beautiful we decided to add another couple miles to our hike, which was easily accomplished with a brief look at our trail map.south-mountain-park-map

 

 

There are at least 4 main parking lots, and many more parking areas near perimeter trail heads.2015_SM1There are excellent maps and detailed descriptions of trails provided by National Geographic at All Trails website.  Here is more information about the beautiful desert trails including petroglyphs and ruins.

Pima Canyon entrance from Guadalupe
Pima Canyon entrance from Guadalupe

Pima Canyon entrance is accessed from I-10 and Baseline road, just off of 48th street and Guadalupe.  This popular parking lot is usually packed with cars, and offers restrooms, water fountains, shaded benches, and areas for cooking/grilling.

Pima Canyon Gazebo
Pima Canyon Gazebo

 

Desert Foothills Parkway is a smaller parking lot located at the Southern tip of the park and offers shaded area, water fountains, and portable toilets.

Desert Foothills Parking and Gazebo
Desert Foothills Parking and Gazebo

 

 

Continue reading “South Mountain Park”

Orpheum Theater Phoenix

Orpheum Theater
Orpheum Theater

My favorite, and the most luxurious theater in Phoenix is the Orpheum Theater in downtown Phoenix.

Home to performances from the Phoenix Theater League, comedians, and high quality shows. Capacity is less than 1400 seats, which means there really are no bad seats.  Even mediocre views are easily avoided by skipping the last 10 rows lower level or last 5 rows on the balcony.Orpheum stage

Originally opened in 1929 in the Spanish Baroque architecture style, the 1997 restoration gave the theater amazing acoustics and modern lighting while keeping the Roaring 20’s class.  The theater itself is beautiful, with new details inside and out to be discovered during every visit.

Orpheum balcony seating from lower level
Orpheum lower level seating looking up to the balcony

The seat rows are a smidge close (not as much leg room as Phoenix Symphony Hall).  Seats on the interior aisle are a great option for taller people or anyone needing a little more room.

Orpheum lobbyBeverage bars serving wine, coffee, and light snacks are open before and during intermission for performances. The bathroom lines tend to be short and fast moving.  Every comfort is provided in the Orpheum.  The ground level lobby is small, venture downstairs to the lower level bar (not always open), large area for mingling, and restrooms.

Orpheum seating

Performances at the Orpheum are a great excuse for date night, family afternoon matinees, girls’ night out, and more.  Incorporate one of the nearby restaurants for the perfect dinner and a show event.

orpheum

The Book of Mormon Musical

The Book of Mormon musical is on tour and finally in Phoenix!

A comedy musical written by the South Park (Trey Parker and Matt Stone) guys in collaboration with the song-writer (Robert Lopez) responsible for Frozen’s “Let It Go”, the Book of Mormon musical is irreverent, campy, cheeky, and wildly entertaining with songs that are catchy as Hell!  Since opening in 2011, this show has won many awards and sat at the top of my Wish List for performances, it surpassed my expectations!Gammage_BOM

The story begins in the Missionary Training Center with the opening song “Hello” that was also the 2012 Tony Awards opening act.  After completing training, the missionaries receive their location and companion assignments for the next 2 years.  Our leading missionaries, (Elder Price and Elder Cunningham) are assigned to Africa, which prompts a heavy sprinkling of Lion King jokes and references throughout the performance. Continue reading “The Book of Mormon Musical”