I love correlations. One is this; since we are downtown real estate guys we know all the great things to do and places to go in downtown Phoenix. I’d like to say we know them all, yet that’s pretty much impossible. That said, we do know a bunch of stuff to do, places to go, great restaurants and other things downtown. More important, we know people who know… our wonderful downtown Phoenix clients and friends. Thus, we have been inspired to write a series of 100 articles on the best things to do in downtown Phoenix… an assignment I am finding both fun and daunting.
We will be breaking down the lists of 100 things to do in downtown Phoenix into categories… we thought you would find that more navigable. Over time we will be writing our personal observations about each of the 100 things to do and places to go in downtown Phoenix and publish them as blog posts here on Urban Connection or our sister site, UrbanLIfeBlog.com. If we haven’t gotten to an article yet, we will give you pertinent links so you can get more info from the venue’s own site, Yelp and other information sources we deem helpful.
Without further fanfare we offer you the Urban Connection Real Estate Team’s Top 100 Things To Do in Downtown and Midtown Phoenix, AZ.
SIGHTSEEING AND TOURS OF DOWNTOWN PHOENIX:
Chase Field Tours: Just what the name says, a tour of one of America’s great baseball fields. A real treat even if you don’t like baseball. Chase Field is an engineering marvel.
Segway Expeditions: Custom tours of Phoenix and Tempe where you travel by Segway.
Phoenix Tours, LLC: Sightseeing tours of Phoenix, Scottsdale and the Heard Museum
Ghosts of Phoenix Tour: The Hotel San Carlos is famous for their ghosts and love to share them on their ghost tour. They are dark during the summer and run during Fall, Winter and Spring. I guess ghosts don’t even like our summers.
PROFESSIONAL SPORTS IN DOWNTOWN PHOENIX:
Chase Field: Chase Field is home the Arizona Diamondback Baseball team as well as a great venue for concerts, corporate events, wedding and more. In July 2011, Chase Field will play host to the MLB All-Star Game.
US Airways Center: Best known as home to the Phoenix Suns NBA basketball tea, US Airways center hosts a wide variety of concerts and events including the American Idol Tour show.
Diamondbacks Baseball Tickets and Info: Catch a baseball game in one of America’s premier fields. Come early and enjoy the sights and sounds of a live baseball game.
Phoenix Suns Basketball Tickets and Info: Sun’s basketball games are action packed events with some of the top players in the country driving the lanes.
Phoenix Mercury Basketball Tickets and Info: Two time national champions, the Phoenix Mercury games are great fun and a reminder of days gone by when passion was the name of the game.
MUSEUMS OF DOWNTOWN PHOENIX:
Phoenix Art Museum: We locals are very proud of our Phoenix Art Museum. The variety of art and exhibitions is wondrous and always stimulating.
Arizona Science Center: A wonder of science for all ages. The Center was recently renovated and offer a variety of experiences and special exhibitions like Body Works.
Heard Museum: The Heard is often cited as the finest western and Native American history museum in the world; A must see for museum and history lovers.
Phoenix Children’s Museum: PCM is more a learning and engaging center than museum. A great place to bring your children to play and experience the variety of exhibits and experiences the Phoenix Children’s Museum offers.
Rosson House Museum: The Rosson House is located in Historic Heritage Square… also the home of Pizzeria Bianco. This area of Phoenix was once called Millionaires Row and Rosson House is a fine example of period revival architecture.
Arizona Jewish Historical Society & Museum: Located in the home of Phoenix’s first synagogue, the AJHS celebrates Jewish Heritage in Arizona. They currently have an exhibit of Jewish Pioneers in the Arizona Territory exhibit. It is located at 122 E. Culver Street next to the Burton Barr Library.
Wells Fargo Museum: Wells Fargo bank has a rich history and their museum has some excellent art, guns, and things of the old and wild west.
Musical Instrument Museum: This museum is not located in the downtown Phoenix area, yet it is an amazing place and well worth the 15-20 minute drive to North Phoenix where it is located. It is described as “the most amazing museum you will ever hear”.
THEATERS IN DOWNTOWN PHOENIX:
Herburger Theater Center: The Valley’s top theater for the performing arts. Everything from off-Broadway productions, Phoenix Youth Theater and dance productions can be seen at the beautiful Herberger Theater.
Phoenix Symphony Hall: Home to the Phoenix Symphony and the Arizona Opera. Under the leadership of Michael Christie, the Phoenix Symphony offers wonderful programs that will delight all.
Orpheum Theater: The Orpheum is one of my favorite theaters. Built in the 1920’s and listed on the National Registry of Historic Places. Check out the calendar of event for live theater productions at the Orpheum.
Comerica Theater: To be honest, this is not one of my favorite venues. Too sterile and I think the sound system is sub-par. I’d love to hear from others to confirm or deny my opinion.
Space 55: Space 55 is community, grass-roots theater in action. It’s small, the productions are unique and it is highly affordable. We like that combination. Hop on over to 7th Street and Piece for a night of live theater.
Valley Youth Theater: A world-class, nationally recognized non-profit theater. We target young people ages 3–19 to participate in and attend quality live theatre productions. Go to VWT and learn stage craft.
Great Arizona Puppet Theater: Thank heavens we have this theater to keep this wonderful art form alive and vital.
FilmBar: A totally fun place to watch independent and specialty movies in downtown Phoenix. Plus, you get to drink adult beverages from a selection of over 30 craft beers and 15 wines by the glass. Intimate, engaging and totally urban.
AMC Theaters: Looking to watch a movie in downtown Phoenix. AMC is the place for current movies.
ART GALLERIES AND EXHIBITS IN DOWNTOWN PHOENIX:
Phoenix Art Museum: A world class art gallery and museum. Far too much to say about this here, so take a look at their web site for news and events.
Bentley Art Gallery: Features contemporary art and sculpture from a variety of international artists. Bentley is located in the historic warehouse district south of the downtown area.
Artlink A.E. England Gallery: Located in Civic Space Park, this gallery features both established and upcoming artists. Easy to get to by foot or light rail and you can pop over to Fair Trade Coffee for a beverage or a bit to eat.
Conspire: Located on 5th Street south of Roosevelt, Conspire features local artist in a coffee house setting. This is a real coffee house since it in located in a historic home.
Blink Art Gallery: Showcases local and emerging artist with rotating exhibits. Located at 610 E. Roosevelt.
Gallery SUHU: A newer gallery in the Roosevelt Arts District at 5th Street and Roosevelt. Open during First and Third Friday nights.
Gallery Celtica: Another of the collaborative art space galleries featuring local artists. Come by on First Friday for sure and check the web site for other times you can enjoy the place. Located in the Roosevelt Arts District.
Eye Lounge: is a collective, artist-run, contemporary art space committed to fostering emerging and established visual artists in downtown Phoenix. Located at 419 E. Roosevelt. Check the web site for the current exhibits.
Modified Arts: One of the more innovative galleries in Roosevelt Row. They are going through some changes so make sure and visit the web site before heading over there.
WHERE TO LISTEN TO LIVE MUSIC IN DOWNTOWN PHOENIX:
Shamus McCafferies: A pint of Guinness and some great Irish Music… need we say more? Live music on Friday nights for sure.
Paisley Violin: A great outside patio, delightful menu and a variety of music during lunch and at night. A Grand Avenue favorite of the Urban Team.
Crecent Ballroom: A live music venue with food and a great, reasonably priced bar. The big room has a good sized stage and intimate listening area… a great place to hear a band. The lounge has music as well and is free except for the food and beverage.
Turf: Another downtown Irish pub style hangout with music on Wednesday and Friday nights.
Chars Has The Blues: Known as the house that blues built, Chars is a top choice for live music lovers. Best of all you can listen to live music 7 nights a week at this local favorite located on 7th Ave south of Camelback.
The Foundry: A new music venue from Danny Zellesko of Live Nation fame. It opens in July 2011 and will offer a wide variety of intimate concerts in the downtown historic warehouse district.
Carly’s Bistro: Near the ASU downtown campus on Roosevelt, Carly’s is another locals favorite for many reasons including the live music that happens every night at 10:00 pm.
Steve’s Greenhouse Grill: Located across the street from the Hyatt, Steve’s offers live music on Friday and Saturday nights. Our good friend Matt is the house guitarist these days.
Lost Leaf: Another restaurant/bar near the ASU downtown campus that knows the value of live entertainment. Never a cover charge and music every night with an emphasis on jazz. Check out their site for more info.
Trunk Space: Located on Grand Ave at Roosevelt, Truck Space is in a space of its own. They specialize in non-commercial entertainment including music, circus acts and more. You will never hear top-40 music cuts here, they don’t allow it. If you want something unexpected and interesting, The Truck Space is your place.
WHERE TO SHOP IN DOWNTOWN PHOENIX:
Bunky Boutique: A sweet clothing store that shares space with Giant Coffee on 1st Street south of McDowell. Rachel named the place after her grandmother and features a wonderful assortment of both women’s and men’s clothing and accessories. A must visit when shopping in downtown Phoenix and winner of numerous Best of Phoenix awards. Read the Urban Team’s review of Bunky Boutique.
R & R Surplus at the Duce: Andi and Steve, the Duce’s proprietors, came from the clothing world where they made a name for themselves with Fatigues. Now they offer R&R Surplus, an eclectic mix of reused clothing for men and women. While your checking out the threads you can grab a bite to eat and wash it down with an adult beverage… what a great way to spend the afternoon.
Bards Books: I am so glad I found Bards Books. It is one of those rare stores that make you glad you came. Tall stacks of books in a warm, cozy setting make you feel welcomed and special. Sven, the ow, has new and used books and can order any book you want.
Shop Devious: An interesting store specializing in wigs, vintage clothing and a mix of resale clothing. A favorite of the Grand Ave gang.
Brand Label: The first of its kind artist and musician collective/consignment store. Every month, we select a new local brand and local band to feature in the store. Located at CityScape.
Figs Home and Garden: An eclectic urban furnishings boutique fashioned with Asian, Indian, Indonesian, and European furnishings, antiques, accessories, garden, architectural elements and a large selection of gifts. Figs is located in midtown Phoenix on 7th Ave.
Dragonfly Boutique: A member of the Grand Avenue Merchants Assn, Dragonfly has a rare mix of shoes, clothing and accessories you won’t find in the commercial stores.
Urban Outfitters Phoenix: Located in CityScape, Urban Outfitters is filled with clothing for the urban dweller of all ages.
Charming Charlies: Another national chain who decided downtown Phoenix is the place to be. CC specializes in fashion accessories for ladies.
Designer District: A men’s and women’s contemporary specialty concept offering mid to high end branded apparel collections. You’ll find the store at CityScape.
West of SOHO: Though its roots are from Europe, this store belongs in downtown phoenix. Offer a variety of apparel and accessories for the forward thinking, young trend setter.
Mercantile: Looking for help with your hair, need some sweet vintage clothing. Merchantile at 801 N. Central offers both.
THE TOP PICKS FOR RESTAURANTS AND DINING IN DOWNTOWN PHOENIX:
The Best Breakfast in Downtown Phoenix:
LoLo’s Chicken and Waffles: Just what the name says plus a lot more. You’ll have to wait till 9:00 am for your meal though… Larry likes to sleep in a bit after a long day and night at work.
The Best Lunch In Downtown Phoenix:
Arrogant Butcher: This place is pretty new to the downtown scene and people are loving it. It is the brainchild of Scottsdale food guru Sam Fox. The AB is modestly upscale with a fine American bistro menu. We like it for lunch as the prices are a bit lower and we can enjoy are favorites for a bit less. Here is what they are saying about the Arrogant Butcher on Yelp.
Pane Bianco: Located next to Lux Coffee on Central, Pane Bianco is Chris Bianco’s (Pizzaria Bianco fame) midtown take out lunch and dinner place. The brick over backed breads are to die for and the cheeses and other fillings are always delectable. Yelp gives Pane Bianco nearly 5 full stars… a rarity.
Pita Jungle Downtown: Pita Jungle, located in the Roosevelt Historic District is a top choice for lunch among the locals. The food is fresh and tasty. The restaurant is a great example of adaptive reuse located in the historic Gold Spot building. Definitely worth a trip for both the food and location.
Bowl of Greens: Located at 555 N. Central, this build your own salad place has won the hearts and stomachs of students and locals alike. It’s reasonably priced and has a ton of option to create your own salad masterpiece.
Portlands: This place reminds me of a power lunch place in DC. Dark wood and a favorite of many politicians and downtown business people. A bit pricy, yet the quality of the food is evident. Lunch time is my favorite and more locals eat dinner there.
The Best Dinner Restaurants in Downtown Phoenix:
Roosevelt Tavern: If we’re down in Roosevelt Row I love to stop here for a bit of beer and a simply, good meal. Got to say I love the grilled cheese and tomato basil soup. The Roosevelt Tavern is nestled in a historic home. Staff could be friendlier though.
Pizzeria Bianco: Not too much I can add to the accolades already bestowed upon this legendary restaurant. How many places lay claim to the best Pizza in the country? Pizzeria Bianco does. The food really is exceptional and if you are okay with a long wait, it is worth it. We recommend you come very early or perhaps come for lunch.
Paisley Violin: We regret to say that this wonderful place has closed.
Sens: Closed on May 8th, 2012. Johnny Chu says he is opening a new place called SoChu House Neo Asian + Martini Bar in June 2012.
Majerle’s Sports Grill: Majerle’s makes most of the lists of top places in downtown. Named after NBA great Dan Majerle, this place puts out a great burger, has beautiful staff and is our favorite place to catch dinner before a game. They made our pub and bar list too.
The Arrogant Butcher: This place makes our dinner list as well. I just haven’t found anything on the menu I didn’t like… a lot. Sam Fax is a great restaurateur and his staff is very well trained.
Cibo: Although I love Pizzeria Bianco, I’ll take Cibo over it most of the time. The pizzas are excellent and I like the affordability of their wines. The large outdoor patio is a real plus too. Fresh, tasty and great service are always mentioned in the reviews and we agree.
The Breadfruit and Rum Bar:This local’s hang is a mix of fun, food and more fun. The Jamaican influenced food is spicy and fresh. Check out their menu and you’ll get hungry right now. Did we tell you they specialize in rum cocktails too? YoMan.
THE BEST BARS AND PUBS IN DOWNTOWN PHOENIX:
Locally Owned and Local’s Favorites:
Seamus McCafrey’s: Irish through and through at this locals favorite. It would be very hard to not have a good time at Seamus McCafrey’s where you are either Irish or wish you were.
Bliss Rebar: Both a bar and restaurant, we like the bar side best and the huge patio offers some great people watching.
Ghost Lounge: Located in the Hotel San Carlos, the Ghost Lounge brings together the old and the new. Drinks, music and dancing are on the fare as well as a good meal.
Alice Cooperstown: A top spot to catch a drink before or after a ball game or concert. Maybe you’ll even see Alice Cooper if you are lucky. Big place, big patio and great rock and roll atmosphere.
Maizies: Locally owned and operated, Maizie’s has a great patio facing Central in Midtown Phoenix. Food and a fine selection of beers, wines and drink favorites.
Carly’s Bistro: Carly’s is another top spot for locals. It is located on Roosevelt Row and has won Best of Phoenix for their Bloody Mary’. They often have live music and the food is quite tasty too.
Turf Irish Pub: A newer addition to downtown and proof that you can’t have too many Irish Pubs. Warm interior, good food and drink plus live music on the weekends.
The Duce: Fun, eclectic, out of the ordinary is what many say. Located a bit south of the ball parks, The Duce is an experience unlike any other. Wednesday, Friday and Saturday nights are karaoke nights and a lot of fun. Great food with Chicago flair is available as well. More popular Fall though Spring when the weather is cooler and they have more events happening.
Coach and Willies: A fun place most often packed before and after sporting events. Located south of the ballpark.
National Chain Bar/Restaurants in Downtown Phoenix
Lucky Strike: This is a national chain place that mixes an upscale bar with bowling. Located in CityScape, Lucky Strike has become a strong favorite of the business crowd. Read what we wrote about Lucky Strike when they first opened in CityScape.
Hooters: Not one of my personal favorites, yet I do like the wings and scenery. That said, I’d pick on of our local places since you can go to a Hooters in many other cities and I like to experience the local scene when visiting a city.
Hard Rock: I feel pretty much the same about this as Hooters.
COFFEE HOUSES IN DOWNTOWN PHOENIX:
We could write all day about the great coffee houses in Downtown Phoenix. In fact, we have. You can also view our YouTube video about coffee houses along the light rail in downtown Phoenix.
Lola Coffee: Daniel Wayne has two locations for his take on coffee. Both are right off the light rail and offer a great cup of java and plenty of space to work, read, and reconnoiter.
Lux: Jeff and Tara Fischer are the soul behind Lux. I say this because Lux is so much more than its coffee (don’t’ tell Jeff this as roasters can be a little sensitive). Lux is an urban community within the larger one. Locals, lots of them, see it as a home away from home. It just feels good. They also feature local artists, have a great music mix going and lots of space to lounge. They moved next door to the old location last fall, so you only have to take an extra few steps to get there and they added a lo of parking too.
Giant Coffee: Giant Coffee is another Matt Poole concept place. He and his wife own Matt’s Big Breakfast and the Roosevelt too. It is a large open place with an industrial warehouse feel and big windows looking out over 1st Street. Bunky Boutique shares space here so you can enjoy a great Latte while you shop.
Fair Trade: Fair Trade has two locations, one at 1st Ave and Roosevelt and one in Civic Space Park. Each have a different feel. They like to say they serve coffee with a conscience as social issues are as much a part of their lives as the coffee and food. I like the 1st Ave place best as it is more intimate.
Copper Star: If I’m up in the Melrose district around 7th Ave and Indian School I like to stop off at Copper Star. I really like their lattes. Housed in an old gas station, Copper Star is a great local coffee house.
Royal at the Market: Located next to the Phoenix Public Market, Royal is a small coffee house and favorite to many locals. They have a great staff and make their coffee by pour over.
Cartel Coffee Lab: Located on 1st Street below Adams, Cartel has a strong local following. They do their own roasting and are noted as being coffee savvy. A great choice if you are at the Convention Center.
Conspire: We mentioned these guys under the Art Gallery section as well. This place feels like you went next door to hang out with a friend for a cup of joe. Very earthy and neighborhoodish.
Urban Beans: Located on 7th Street and Osborn, Urban Beans offers a nice cup of java, a bit of art and tasty food. Very popular on Sundays when they open their omelet breakfast bar.
YOGA CLASSES AND GYMS IN DOWNTOWN PHOENIX
Phoenix Yoga: One of the older yoga studios in the area specializing in Kundalini Yoga. They are known for great depth and knowledge and offer classes for beginners to advanced practitioners.
Urban Yoga: I think the name is right for this yoga studio. They offer a variety of yoga styles as well as wellness services, a retail boutique and more. Located at One Lexington, Urban Yoga is easy to get to by light rail.
Yoga Den: Located near Alta Lofts, ASU and the Coronado Historic District, Yoga Den offers a variety of classes at reasonable prices including a lunch time session.
Desert Song Yoga: Located in uptown Phoenix on N. 7th Street near Camelback, Desert Song has been offering yoga and Tai Chi classes for about 20 years.
Peaceful Roots: A yoga and holistic healing center in uptown near 7th Avenue and Camelback.
Gold’s Gym at CityScape: This is one of Gold’s Guys elite facilities. It has everything you can imagine in a high level workout facility. You can buy a day pass or join long term membership programs. Lots of options and now they offer Zumba Fitness.
The Urban Team: Gene and Ron Urban of the Urban Team at Realty Executives specialize in helping people buy and sell homes and condos in downtown Phoenix. Whether you live in Phoenix, are visiting our fair city, have a son or daughter going to the ASU downtown campus, the Urban Team is your best choice for real estate in the downtown Phoenix region.