For me, “Haiku Hike” conjured images of a long-winded hiking trail ironically named after a very short type of poem by some sadistic professional hiker. (What can I say? My mind goes to dark places.)
Luckily for all of us, my imagination ran away from me on that one and the actual “Haiku Hike” was a short, sweet, and peaceful outdoor experience.
Sam and I invited our significant others and some friends to “do the Haiku Hike” one evening a couple weeks ago. (Trust me, Sam and I had to explain this invitation multiple times…. But I’ll happily do it again!) The Haiku Hike is essentially an outdoor poetry walk along Congress and Stone Avenue. The haiku were selected from hundreds of submissions from multiple countries and they are posted on signs in flower pots scattered around downtown Tucson.
The haiku hike was a pleasant way to end our day and walk off our dinner. We ended up making it our goal to find all of them and pick a favorite. (I apologize to anybody on the street that day who had to put up with my husband yelling that he’d “found one!”).
I’ve copy-pasted a screenshot of the “haiku hike map” from the DTP website so you can see where all the haiku are posted and I have deliberately only posted ONE photo in this post (my favorite of the haiku) so you can discover the rest for yourself!
All good traditions have to start somewhere… so take a walk downtown and support Tucson’s 2nd annual “Haiku Hike” if you’re looking for something different to do. The poems will be posted until June 1st.
Before the Haiku Hike I enjoyed a Congress Margarita (it was pleasantly spicy, mixed with green chile liqueur and jalapeño ) from Hotel Congress. It made an already warm evening walk a little extra toasty (in a good way).
My favorite haiku was written by Peter A. Sutcliffe. See if you can find it!
Next time you’re looking for a cute place to stay in Tucson, do yourself a favor and ditch the overdone resort for the uniquely restored and totally retro: Hotel McCoy.
One mile away from the best spots in Downtown Tucson
A FUN place to stay that won’t break the bank
I’d passed by the “Hotel McCoy” sign on I-10 many, many times without thinking much of the place. It appeared to be a refurbished hotel for travelers, conveniently located just off of the freeway.
So, when Sam suggested Hotel McCoy for our “staycation slumber party” I have to admit, I took a moment to check my memory… “wait, that one motel we’ve driven by so many times, that Hotel McCoy?”
I reserved judgment and packed my bag for a “slumber party” with Sam and her daughter. When Sam and I first drove onto the premises, we parked under the old-fashioned A-shaped entrance and the hotel staff came to our car window (a lot like a drive-thru actually) to check us in and give us our room key. All while we were in our car, they quickly explained how the pool service works (it’s awesome, you get to order from your phone and they take drinks to you while you’re in the pool!) and about their “Oatmeal Bar” that was available in the morning.
Just in the process of finding the parking spot closest to our room, Sam’s daughter commented on all of the murals that we passed by. We passed by a dozen just driving in the parking lot! Some of the murals were simply motivational quotes painted colorfully between windows and others were more elaborate portraits. (My favorite mural was that of the lady desert birds…. I really can’t explain the mural better than that). I’d learn later that Hotel McCoy has more than 50 murals on their property all painted by local artists.
Speaking more to their local flair, Hotel McCoy boasts many locally-sourced amenities and supports Tucson-businesses, including but not limited to their beer selection, their coffee, their bookstore, and even their doormats.
Sam and I did a bit of an “art walk” around the hotel, admiring the murals and taking photos next to our favorites. I probably took more photos at Hotel McCoy than I would have at any other hotel or chain-resort in Tucson. There was a lot to admire that I didn’t want to forget.
Ah, but I haven’t even told you about the room yet! You could easily tell that the items in our hotel room had been thoughtfully curated to live up to the hotel’s “retro but modern” vibe. The mini-fridge in the room was a shocking sky-blue and the desk looked like my dream workspace. The bunk-beds (yes- they have those) were comfortable and made me feel like I was a kid again.
When I asked Sam’s daughter (later) what she liked best about Hotel McCoy the bunk-beds were at the top of her list too.
We all made good use of the pool and the poolside service. While we were still in the pool, Sam was particularly proud of herself for figuring out how to order our drinks via email only to kick herself when she realized she’d accidentally used her work email to do that.
After lounging in the pool, Sam, her daughter, and I spent the bulk of that weekend at Hotel McCoy doing typical “slumber-party” things. We gorged on snacks that we had brought in with us, we watched movies, we ordered in food, and we painted our fingernails. Sam and I both offered to paint her daughter’s fingernails but that child insisted that she could do it better. (She really couldn’t).
It is rare for me to say this…. But Hotel McCoy surprised me. I really would recommend this “oasis” to both new-to-Tucson travelers and locals looking for a unique place to hang out. Case in point, I’m hoping to convince my coworkers to forgo our annual camping trip for a weekend at Hotel McCoy instead.
If you’re looking for a fun Tucson hotel at an extremely reasonable price PLEASE choose Hotel McCoy over your typical Holiday Inn-like options.
Hotel McCoy hosts awesome events like swim-up movies (projected on a big, inflatable screen), body-positive pool parties, and comedy nights. Hotel McCoy would also be an ideal spot for a 4th of July celebration (you’d have an amazing view of the A Mountain fireworks).
Also, Lucy and I agreed it would be a perfect “home base” for a night out in downtown Tucson. Imagine it… bring 3 of your favorite friends, reserve the bunk bed room, take a very short/cheap Uber ride to downtown and enjoy a carefree, fun-filled evening.
What a relaxing oasis indeed! We’d recommend planning your visit around breakfast or lunch to enjoy a meal at Edna’s Eatery.
What we ate: the Arizona Orange Smoothie and the Avocado Toast.
Our Plant Scavenger Hunt Challenge for you: Try to find… The “scaredy cat” plant,… the plant that smells exactly like curry,… the plant that was used by Native Americans to weave baskets,… and the oldest tree in the Gardens!
We pulled into the Tucson Botanical Gardens parking lot bright and early on a Sunday morning. I was immediately filled with excitement and anticipation, even the wildflowers in the parking lot were gorgeous… a sign of what was about to come.
Another sign of what was about to come, my daughter freaking out over a bee. (She was stung by a wasp about a year ago and has never emotionally recovered… just about any flying insect sets off a threat level red.) I began to worry this might be a LONG morning.
We walked in the entrance, scanned the digital tickets we had bought, and got right to exploring. Lucy and I both noticed the almost immediate feeling of relaxation that washed over our bodies as we walked further into the gardens. We daydreamt that the gardens were our yard, what a life that would be! We passed patios surrounded by blooming flowers, cacti, and succulents.
That’s when we saw it, the cactus car… in all its bright yellow, Volkswagen-y, cactus-stuffed glory. I was infatuated… I am a self-professed cactus lover. Put a cactus on just about anything and I WILL want to buy it. (As you can probably imagine that made my trip to the gift shop a little tricky.) We continued walking down a path lined with all different kinds of cacti. My personal favorite, the saguaros, stood tall and majestic, contrasting perfectly against the solid blue sky.
At this point we decided to make a pit stop for breakfast. Edna’s eatery just opened a few weeks ago and is an exciting addition to the Tucson Botanical Gardens. The breakfast menu featured a few fresh (and fittingly garden inspired) drinks and dishes. We decided to go with smoothies and avocado toast (both of which were delicious). They also offer a lunch menu, we noticed it had a little more in the way of options and those options sounded very tasty. Edna’s eatery is run by Westward Look Resort. The chefs from the resort’s restaurant take turns rotating into Edna’s Eatery at the Gardens. (We thought that sounded like a fun job perk.) We took the remainder of our smoothies to go so we could enjoy them while we finished exploring the Gardens.
The Botanical Gardens include so many great attractions, I almost don’t know where to begin. Some of our adult favorites were the herb garden, flower draped gazebos, and plants of the Tohono O’odham path. The Gardens do a good job incorporating fun things for children as well. Each time my daughter was starting to get restless we would come upon something new that would capture her attention and imagination. Some of her favorites were the motion-activated tiny train/village, the butterfly enclosure, and the word garden (where she spent 20 minutes creating rock poems).
We found a plant called a “Scaredy Cat”… I let my daughter know that must be her spirit plant seeing as she continued to fearfully point out every bee within a 10 meter radius . We sniffed a plant that smells EXACTLY like curry (it was crazy). We stumbled across the “prehistoric plants” section and brushed against plants that lived alongside dinosaurs. The section even included a life-like dinosaur statue.
We admired the creosote bush, and I learned that if you rub its leaves between your fingers it smells like soap. This bush is also what causes that distinct desert smell when it rains (mmm, I love that smell). And don’t forget about the gift shop. I could have done some serious damage there, they sell a TON of cute merchandise!
This was the perfect way to spend a morning enjoying the ideal weather and company of a good friend. Lucy and I had a seriously great time. There are so many hidden gems scattered throughout the Tucson Botanical Gardens, we highly recommend you go explore and find some of your own!
Edna’s Eatery is kind of a big deal for me seeing how as long as I’ve visited the Tucson Botanical Gardens, there’s never been a restaurant open on site. I am more delighted still because the food was light but DELICIOUS and I was able to walk around the Gardens with a fragrant smoothie in hand. What a dream!
I love hanging out with Sam’s daughter! I too was a little worried she might not be entertained by the trip, but it is safe to say she had just as much fun as we did. And she definitely worked harder than I did on her poems in the Word Garden.
The entire walk around the Tucson Botanical Gardens was such a relaxing experience. I’m coming back with a sketchbook!
Disclaimer: there are definitely more than six excellent breweries in this city BUT if I had to pick MY favorites, here are my top six and here’s why…
1912 Brewing Co. :
I fondly think of this brewery as “my first favorite” brewery in Tucson in that it was the one on this list that I was first introduced to and have always felt at home at. 1912 Brewing Co. has something on their menu for everyone and the place makes me -paradoxically- both feel like I’m away from the busyness of the city while also (conveniently) feeling like I’m not too far from home. The place is located just off of I-10, making it a great pit stop after a trip out of Tucson or on the way into the city. The green chile pork tamales on the menu are a fairly well-kept secret I enjoy often with a pint. My favorite beer on the menu: the Forbes IPA, aptly named for the street name this steadfast brewery is located on.
Pueblo Vida is located in the middle of downtown Tucson which is great for when you want a good beer after frequenting one of the many restaurant options in that area. Their centralized location isn’t all this place has going for them though. Their beer menu is transporting. The friendly atmosphere and pile of board games available have made this place a favorite go-to for Sam and myself after “a night on the town” when we want to unwind with a good beer. Pueblo Vida also embraces the local bicyclist community and constantly has bikes in their rack outside and bicyclists inside their business. If I lived closer to Pueblo Vida Brewing Co., I would want to bike there too…
Harbottle Brewing Co.
When I suggest breweries to fellow Tucsonites, Harbottle is often the lesser-known of the options I’ve listed here… which might have something to do with the fact that this amazing brewery is hidden in a largely commercial part of Tucson. That said, it is worth seeking this place out. Harbottle Brewing Co. boasts rich beer, a laidback atmosphere, and an arcade machine you can play -for free!- until your forearm is sore. Sam and I have shared some relaxing afternoons at this diamond-in-the-rough of a brewery.
You know that feeling when you’re out to dinner where you’re undecided between the menu item you already know you love and the prospect of trying something new? That’s my conundrum at most places when they’ve got Barrio’s Citrazona on the menu. I know I love it. I’ve loved it for years. And I constantly come back to that beer. It’s harder still not to fall for something from Barrio Brewing Company… and here’s why: you can find them EVERYWHERE. If you live anywhere in Arizona, you might already have this option available to you in the local beer section of your grocery store, as an option at a nearby restaurant, etc.. Barrio Brewing Co. is located right up against the train tracks (which weirdly, seems to totally match their rustic décor). They’ve got a lot of indoor and outdoor space and they frequently host events. My favorite of which was probably the “Tails and Ales” Fundraising event… which my dog seemed to enjoy just as much as the beer-drinkers.
All my favorite sours can be found at the Crooked Tooth! Crooked Tooth’s tamarindo sour “Cloud People” comes readily to mind. That said, this place is another well-placed brewery only a couple blocks away from Historic 4th Avenue. Crooked Tooth rotates various Food Trucks on a calendar they usually post in advance. This brewery hosts a broad range of interactive events including a yoga class (which I have yet to work up the courage to join in on), an “Office” trivia night (which I was disappointed I didn’t win, but hey I had a great consolatory beer), and a Disney sing-a-thon event which culminated in a night where the entire bar erupted in the songs from my childhood. To date, the latter was one of my favorite nights out in Tucson!
The road racing theme will not be lost on you upon entering Moto Sonora Brewing Co. This brewery boasts a large outdoor area that is incredibly dog friendly. Not only are leashed dogs welcome in the outdoor space but there is a small gated area that serves as a “dog park” for dogs to socialize together while you sip your beer and supervise. Come to think of it, I don’t think I’ve ever visited Moto Sonora and not seen at least two dogs. Also, major props to this brewing company for being one of a few breweries to stay open past 9 PM on a week day. Some of us want a beer on date night, you know? Which reminds me…. my favorite beers on the menu: the Victory or Death IPA and Date Night.
To be honest Lucy is the more serious beer/brewery enthusiast out of the two of us… but she has introduced me to a couple of these spots.
We’ve enjoyed a girl’s night out at Barrio Brewing with a couple other teacher friends. Bonus: they offer a teacher discount. We ate dinner (they have a solid menu) and enjoyed the good beer and good company.
I’ve also been to Harbottle a couple times. I can vouch that they are extremely laid back. (You can even bring your kids if needed… Hey, no judgement, babysitters aren’t always easy to come by.) Although they don’t have a food menu they are kind enough to offer complimentary snacks if you ask. Try their sour beer “Too Funk to Drunk” with cheese puffs, they make for a strangely perfect combination. I also appreciated the humorous additions to their decor. (Just check out the sign about the masks posted by the entrance, you’ll see what I mean.) Oh, and one last thing… succulents planted in beer cans… that is all.
As a life-long brunch lover I was excited at the chance to write this blog post. What do I look for in a great brunch place? Well delicious food -obviously- but also the right type of atmosphere and HUGE bonus points if they have a beautiful outdoor seating area. I can’t help it, I prefer my brunch outside… especially here in Tucson where the weather is so nice for the majority of the year. So here they are -in no particular order- my top 5 Tucson brunch spots …
Baja Cafe –
So this one doesn’t necessarily have great outdoor seating options (although there are multiple locations so I can’t say that definitively)… but they make up for it in the tastiness of their food. When Lucy and I briefly discussed writing this blog post she specifically mentioned this restaurant… and it’s a FAVORITE of both of our significant others. The biggest thing you need to know about Baja Cafe: daily eggs Benedict and pancake specials… ‘Nuff said. Who doesn’t love an interesting take on eggs Benedict and fancy, dessert pancakes for breakfast? The most recent pancake I’ve tried at Baja Cafe was the lemon ricotta and it was fabulous.
Cup Cafe at Hotel Congress –
I love Hotel Congress in general and their restaurant Cup Cafe is just one of the reasons. The seating is located outside on their expansive patio, dotted with trees and plants. I always enjoy the ambiance of Hotel Congress, I feel like it’s the epitome of all things Tucson… I love that the crowd is always a mix of young and old, a little bit of a wild west feel but with the promise of a hip nightlife always lingering in the air. Enough about the vibes… let’s get on to the food. I got the cast iron baked eggs. They came in one of those tiny cast iron skillets (aw, cute). They were packed with ham, fancy cheeses, and herbs… delicious!
Prep & Pastry –
If you go, do yourself a favor and plan on getting a coffee and pastry before your meal. The pastries are out of this world… I tend to get the croissants (which you can get stuffed with things like nutella, almond spread, etc.) It’s a cute space that is open, bright, and inviting. They do have an outdoor patio, but it is next to a major road… so it’s a little more of a city feel (versus nature). One other note… it is my humble (but correct) opinion that Prep & Pastry has the best breakfast potatoes in all of Tucson. They’re so good. They’re smashed potatoes with the perfect amount of salt and fresh rosemary. I’ve tried to duplicate them using my air fryer but have never even come close (and I don’t think any other restaurants in Tucson have either).
Café a la Cart –
This restaurant is located at the Tucson Museum of Art and the outside looks very unassuming (we’re talking large, white, exterior stucco wall with nothing on it except for one random door), but the inside is anything but. Inside the door they have a huge menu posted on the wall and you order your food, drinks (they have good coffee) and baked goods at the nearby counter. The magic happens when you walk out onto their patio to choose a spot to sit… it’s a colorful outdoor space with ample decor and potted plants (they refer to it as “Monet-inspired” on their website). It’s a delightful place to eat brunch, and the food and coffee are excellent. It’s the type of place that will make you want to linger and waste away your afternoon (although relaxation and self care isn’t wasteful).
Mercado San Agustin –
Ok, this one might be cheating because it’s not exactly one restaurant… It’s an awesome Tucson area with multiple restaurants. This outdoor courtyard/marketplace might be my favorite area in all of Tucson (it’s going to need it’s own blog post soon). It’s perfect for brunch, you have so many options… I’ll go over a few. You can dine on breakfast tacos/burritos and more at Seis Kitchen (named after the 6 different culinary regions in Mexico that inspire their cooking). Seis has amazing food (again, a huge Tucson favorite of mine). You can get a little more of a fancy, sit-down meal at Augustin Kitchen. This is the type of brunch place that gives you arugula salads with your breakfast… I don’t know about you, but breakfast salad helps me feel like a better person. Another option would be to get coffee at Presta Coffee Roasters and a pastry from La Estrella Bakery. No matter what dining choice you make you get to sit out in the open air courtyard filled with sunshine and citrus trees and surrounded by cute shops selling local goods. They even have misters (so you can enjoy outdoor seating in the summer without dying of heat exhaustion). For all these reasons, and more, I consider Mercado San Agustin my number one Tucson brunch spot.
I must reiterate Sam’s advice about getting a pastry at Prep & Pastry. It’s in the name of the restaurant people! Just do it, it’s so worth it.
#4, 2, and 1 on this list stand out to me because they happen to be either “centrally located” downtown or in a place that will allow for you to window-shop or explore. (Just thought I’d point that out, in case you’re like me, and you like to walk off your meal).
Our Significant Others (my husband and Sam’s boyf) are the types of people to balk at a “tiny breakfast” especially if we’re eating out. So, it is no surprise that Baja Cafe is their favorite because the food is great and the portion-sizes are incredibly generous!
Beautiful location, wonderful wine and entertainment options
Our favorites: Yia Mas & Drag Queen
“This is not what I expected the winery to be like…” our friend visiting from San Diego admitted over a glass.
We understood where he was coming from. The pretentiousness of other wineries that might discourage the first-timer is absent from this charming place. Our visiting friend was not alone in the sentiment. He’s one of several people Sam and I have introduced to Hops & Vines. And although our friends’ experience with wine (or visiting wineries) ranges all over, they’ve all echoed an appreciation for the laid back atmosphere and delicious wine options.
I guess it is no wonder that Sam and I have frequented this winery multiple times…
I celebrated my birthday during the famous Grape Crushing event! Sam’s daughter has literally fallen into the duck pond! My husband and I have seesawed in their playground area. Sam and I had our first double date at the winery. Sam and I have visited Hops & Vines over the summer when the grape vines were at their greenest and we have visited in the winter where we made good use of the many chimineas available on the lot. (This alone should say a lot by the way, Sam and I are true desert creatures who would not brave the cold unless it was worth it).
My point put more succinctly: Sam and I have never had a bad time at Hops & Vines… and we’ve had many experiences there.
But perhaps I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s talk about where to find this gem of a winery.
Hops & Vines is located in Sonoita, Arizona’s “wine country”. The drive to the location is scenic, taking you through hills of pale yellow and green with a gorgeous mountain-scape. It’s simple enough to get to the winery, I’m fond of saying, it just takes a little while to get there. The Hops & Vines location itself boasts a vast outdoor area with various rustic picnic tables, pergolas, and seating areas. There is a small playground for children (though that didn’t stop us from having fun) and an enclosure for the goats and a pig that teeters from side to side as it walks. There are various chimineas scattered throughout the outdoor area and a nearby pile of firewood for people to help themselves to. A tiny duck pond near the base of some trees is surrounded by even more outdoor seating so you can sip your wine and giggle at the quacking waddlers. Finally, a peacock named Frank wanders around the winery at his leisure like he owns the place. (Learn more about Frank the peacock in our interview with Shannon, a co-owner of the winery).
The tasting room itself is reminiscent of a cabin, with paintings and “isms” drawn on the walls themselves and quaintly trimmed windows that look out on the Sonoita countryside. Sam and I have sampled various wines -with the ever-cheerful help from the ladies behind the counter- and have settled on a couple favorite bottles: the Yia Mas, the Vicki, the Sebastian, and the Drag Queen.
In an admittedly ironic twist for travel-advice, Sam and I would highly encourage you not to take our specific wine recommendations and “do the tasting” for yourselves. The owners of the winery rose to the challenges of providing wine tastings during the worst of COVID by providing visitors with repurposed cupcake tins that each hold six of their best wines thoughtfully paired with snacks to complement the wine.
There is a wine for everyone at Hops & Vines and perhaps just as impressively, there is a good time for everyone too.
The drive to Sonoita is beautiful in and of itself. You get to cut across mountains and over hills and eventually you end up at the wide open expanse that is Sonoita. It’s a fun road trip for sure!
AZ Hops and Vines offers teacher, military, and law enforcement discounts (maybe even more discounts I don’t know about). The owners are extremely kind people. For instance, they hold a supply drive for teachers in August right before the school year begins.
I always like the music they are playing at the winery… and they often have live bands on the weekends. They have a great social media presence where they post about upcoming bands and events.
“..my sister is a horticulturist, a viticulturist, a vinologist and she was like ‘why do I feel like I’m less than?’ And we thought, we never, ever want anyone visiting us to have that experience ever.”
What are three things you want people to know about your winery?
The winery is women-owned and operated. We’re very kid-friendly and pet-friendly… it’s okay if you put those all as one thing (laughs). We’re laidback and we want people to feel at home. Honestly, a lot of people are intimidated at the idea of visiting wineries. My sister, a sommelier, and I were tasting at a winery once in Napa and they were so pretentious and rude. And she, my sister, is a horticulturist, a viticulturist, a vinologist and she was like ‘why do I feel like I’m less than?’ And we thought, we never, ever want anyone visiting us to have that experience ever. We’re here offering wine tastings not curing cancer.
What is your favorite wine on the menu and why?
The Sebastian, it’s the last of our estate, and it’s named after my youngest child. And I think it is the best one my sister has made yet.
For people who are travelling a bit to get here, what else would you recommend that they do in Sonoita?
I would absolutely have them go wine-tasting but also it’s just so beautiful just driving out here. I would definitely stop at the Cafe or the Steakout. The lead singer of Midland, his parents own the Steakout, so he’s always in there. There’s honestly nowhere that comes to mind that I wouldn’t want people to visit or check out.
What’s the story behind the peacock? Where’d he come from?
Oh, that’s Frank. We originally got him from a ranch in Marana and a female too. That was about three years ago. When we first got him he ran off to the neighbor’s once, nobody could catch him. But now, he’s a lot more settled. People love seeing him. [What happened to the female? What was her name?] We actually never named her and I guess I feel a bit guilty about that, she just went missing once. We left and came back and she was just gone.
On average how many people fall into the duck pond?
(laughs) I’d say about four people a year.
We adored interviewing Shannon! Her cheerful, knowledgeable, and delightful personality is yet another reason to visit AZ Hops & Vines.
CLICK HERE to read more about our own experiences at AZ Hops & Vines!
Centralized location within walking distance of Old Town Scottsdale
A bit pricey for what you’re getting… but still worth it.
Met some people from Minnesota… or Colorado? They seemed confused in how to respond about their place of origin.
Where we ate: Cornish Pasty Co. & The Montauk
Given the theme of our blog, I guess it is no surprise that the name of this hotel is what first caught our eye when we were planning our trip. But after arriving, it was obvious that the name of the place had nothing on the eye-catching plethora of color in their décor. The main buildings of the Saguaro Hotel are mostly white, but the accent walls are in every other color and the furniture ranges from hot pink sofas in the lobby to bright yellow chaise lounge chairs by the pool.
In décor alone, the entire hotel felt like a pick-me-up.
Fortunately, this was exactly what Sam and I had in mind for our overnight trip. See, normally Sam and I would be concerned with entertainment available “around the hotel” but this was one of those rare trips where we just wanted a unique hang out. After a particularly stressful beginning to the 2021 semester -thanks, COVID- we just needed a place to (safely) let our brains melt in peace. I’m sure our fellow teachers and stressed-out Monday-through-Friday workers in any field can empathize with that need.
So, Sam and I threw together our odd mix of “Scientific American” issues we hadn’t had time to read during the school year along with the latest trashy magazines and made our way for the pool.
The Saguaro Hotel boasts two separate pools to choose from. Sam and I settled down at the larger of the two. Eventually, Sam disappeared to the poolside bar to order us some beer. She came back with beer and water and a pursed lip at the price.
“We didn’t come to Scottsdale for how cheap everything was going to be,” I commented. (See Sam’s footnotes below for her response.)
We didn’t have to get up from our lounge chairs for the next couple of hours… which was as relaxing an experience as that sounds. The staff stopped by occasionally to ask if we wanted another drink. The crowd at the pool was not overwhelming. A particularly buzzed and talkative girl, named Brittney, meandered over to us eventually to make conversation. She was either “from Minnesota and living in Colorado” or “from Colorado and living in Minnesota”. Although Brittney had a lot to say about a lot, it was comforting for Sam and myself to talk with another couple of girlfriends who had also stumbled on this hotel in search of a place to relax.
Sam and I stayed at the pool for most of the afternoon until it was getting a bit cold (for us desert creatures anyway). We dolled up and walked to a nearby restaurant, the Cornish Pasty Co., a favorite of mine that Sam hadn’t tried before. Over the hearty pasties, Sam and I plotted our walk to Old Town Scottsdale.
Now, although there is a lot to be said about Old Town Scottsdale, I’d prefer to focus on two tangents that relate a little more to the experience surrounding our stay at the Saguaro Hotel. For one thing, as two girls walking alone in the evening, it is worth noting that the area we stayed in is particularly well-kept, well-lit, and safe. Sam and I comfortably walked a 2-mile loop visiting various shops in the area. Secondly, the foodie in me must comment on the variety of amazing options for food and drink surrounding the Saguaro Hotel that Sam and I could not have possibly sampled in just a two-day stay. All that said, the Saguaro Hotel is not just a great place to stay but a great place to come back to.
I have a couple points to emphasize:
Number one: how expensive those beers at the pool were
Number two: how delicious Cornish Pasty Co. really is.
I knew Scottsdale would be an expensive spot to visit, but I was still shocked when I saw the receipt for our 4 measly little cans of beer. (We’re talking normal sized cans, not those tall ones.) The total -they automatically added gratuity- came to a little over $40. I had that Tiger King meme moment… “I’m never going to financially recover from this.”
Ok, yes… I’m being dramatic! After the initial sticker shock I DID come to the conclusion that we had a great time at the pool and it was totally worth it in the end. But just a head’s up that it can get expensive.
Cornish Pasty Co… which I kept pronouncing wrong… it’s pah-sty not Pay-sty… is SO good. I always thought Lucy was a little obsessed with it (she has been known to make 2 hour trips to Phoenix just to get their food) but I totally get it now. It’s the most comforting comfort food you could ever imagine. I would describe it as an adult, sophisticated hot pocket. But a huge hot pocket with this really good flaky pastry dough on the outside and then packed with gourmet cooking on the inside (and they each come with their own type of dipping sauce). If you haven’t tried it yet you need to!
Picturesque farm surprisingly close to the city (Phoenix)!
Family-friendly outing & breakfast spot
Green! Lush! Even better than a trip to the park.
What we ate: Pork Belly Tacos and the Chicken Enchiladas
What’s the best way to end a two-day vacation in Phoenix, AZ? Visit The Farm at South Mountain for breakfast on the way out of town of course!
The restaurant located at The Farm is called Morning Glory Cafe (Lucy was quick to point out a dirty reference within the name). It has a convenient location, near metro Phoenix and not far from I-10, which we took to return back to our homes in Tucson. Added bonus, it’s outdoors, on tons of land (allowing for a safe, socially distanced dining experience).
From the moment we stepped out of the car we were amazed that we were still in Phoenix, the 5th largest city in the U.S. The farm, and all its beauty, stretched as far as the eye could see. It felt like a reverse Wizard of Oz moment… “Toto, I’ve a feeling we’re not in Phoenix anymore. We must be on a farm in Kansas!”
We excitedly walked past the rows of picnic tables, and grand trees with string lights draped between them, to the line for ordering breakfast. Morning Glory Cafe prides itself on using fresh, local farm ingredients that they grow themselves right there on site. Lucy got the chicken enchiladas and I got the pork belly tacos. They also offer coffees, smoothies and juices. After one sip of Lucy’s fresh-squeezed orange juice I instantly felt like a healthier human being.
While we waited for our food to be prepared we hit the bathroom. I only mention this because they were nice (like strangely nice) bathrooms for a farm. They were located in a little building with 4 doors, even the outside of the doors looked like they had just been renovated and painted and you were about to enter someone’s cute little house. (The inside was just as nice, seriously, you have to check out the bathrooms if you go. 10 out of 10. Would recommend.)
We only waited about 10 minutes until our breakfast was ready. The food was delicious… savory and comforting with a Southwest flair. Both of us were impressed with the fresh touches of locally grown bell peppers, cabbage, cilantro, onion, and lime.
Once finished we decided to explore the rest of the farm, and there was a lot of exploring to be done. We wandered through the “stone grove”, beautiful walls and a fireplace built of stone that you can just imagine a bride and groom reciting their vows in front of. We walked past vibrant, growing rows of crops. A huge (and adorable) chalkboard sign boasted what fruits and vegetables were currently being grown at The Farm. We visited the resident birds… ducks bathing in kiddie-pools and chickens roaming around a large coup. We even met one, very vocal, turkey.
It was evident that The Farm at South Mountain is an ideal spot for families and children. We saw many examples of this… kids running free and enjoying the great weather, the space, the nature that surrounded them. One boy had a perfect imitation of the aforementioned turkey’s call (it even fooled me a couple times, it was impressive).
If you’re a fan of cute photo op’s The Farm is a place you’ll want to check out! Stone walls, random couches with cute pillows, symmetrical rows of crops, vine covered picnic gazebos, rustic trucks with flowers in the bed… you name it, we took a picture with it. No shame! At one point we were trying to get a good picture, but the sun was shining in our face causing us to squint… a few seconds later a cloud moved in front of the sun allowing us to get the shot. Pure kismet! (I’m stealing that word from Lucy, she introduced it to my vocabulary).
We climbed back into our car, feeling relaxed, content, and sure that we had chosen the perfect ending to our Phoenix trip. On our way out we noticed a sign saying that no outside food/drink was permitted at The Farm. We discussed how this does seem like a shame (because damn, it would be the PERFECT spot to bring a picnic) but we understood how they would want to be making money off their own restaurant (and it was well worth the money).
If you live in/near the Phoenix area (or are visiting) do yourself a favor and check out The Farm at South Mountain and their restaurant Morning Glory Cafe… you won’t be disappointed. It’s a naturally peaceful farm retreat that will relieve you from the hustle and bustle of city life and leave your soul soothed.
I can totally relate to Sam’s this-isn’t-Phoenix moment upon visiting the farm. It’s honestly hard to believe it took us so little time to drive to this place (from inner city phoenix). The place made you feel transported.
The farm occasionally hosts special events and classes. Sam and I haven’t tried those (yet!) but it’s probably something worth looking into.
When visiting, parents should really encourage their kids to perfect their turkey gobble imitations… It was clearly an entertaining way to spend the time!