bring warm clothes
always have warm clothes, i.e., jacket or sweater, for the evenings. It may be 80 deg during the day, but once the sun sets the temp can drop into the 50s or 40s, so be prepared. moisturizer!! for those of us who are not from dry climates, you'll be amazed how dry your skin can get. Again, be prepared.
bypassing phoenix (west)
Phoenix is not for everyone. It's a sprawling metropolis with crowded streets and freeways and can sometimes take hours to drive through. I always try to avoid it, often using really strange roads that aren't always on maps. The following are oriented for coming from Tucson to destinations outside of Phoenix.
West Route (use for I-10 West or US 93 North): The easiest way to bypass Phoenix to I-10 West is I-8 to AZ 85. You could do this, or you could take the old highway, which is scarcely travelled and much more interesting.
When you exit I-8 in Gila Bend for AZ 85 north, stay on the ramp until you hit southbound AZ 85. Take the first right that's possible. This should be Old Highway 80. If you miss it, you can turn right at the next street and go back around on the neighborhood streets. Old Highway 80 will take you alongside the Gila River, past cotton fields, one of Arizona's two remaining shrimp farms, and eventually to a beautiful old suspension bridge. The road then curves into the hills. You'll hit the village of Hassayampa and will need to turn left onto Salome Highway (there should be some large power lines nearby). Follow this several miles to 355th Avenue and take a right. That's the end of the hard part, so just enjoy the drive through the desolate Hassayampa Plain. At the stop sign, turn right to stay on the paved road and you'll be near Vulture Mine, and then Wickenburg. When you hit US 60, you can continue to US 93 by going straight.
Excellent Food - Pretty Restaurant
Nice mid-size restaurant on the south side of Phoenix (but not in Awautukee) that is also convenient to Tempe. Excellent bar menu. You can very easily make a meal on a couple of appetizers -- say the ahi tuna and a kobe burger -- and if you do it during "happy hour" when their price is 1/2 off, it's not only good eating but inexpensive, too! The food is excellent and the drinks are good -- no better or worse than comparable restaurants/bars and comparable prices, also. The bar is dark wood, but well lit without being intrusive. Nice tables for 2 - 4 and conversation "pit" areas, too...
Now, the restaurant is gorgeous. Medium dark woods and hunter greens and some florals and white tablecloths -- almost, just almost formal looking, yet it doesn't feel stuffy. Personally, I have not eaten in the restaurant (just the bar) but my husband has and he raved about the food. It is a bit on the pricier side -- a good place to be taken by a supplier maybe? -- but it's intimate enough of a setting that it could be nice for a celebratory meal such as a birthday. Maybe if I get that raise I'm up for...I wouldn't mind celebrating here!
Also note, this is probably the best restaurant on or in the Pointe at South Mountain/Phantom Horse resort. From the bar menu, in my personal order of preference, I can highly recommend the following: 1. Ahi Tuna, 2. Kobe Burger, 3. sesame grilled chicken... My husband also liked the tiger prawn spring roll -- I cannot comment because I'm allergic, but it looked really good! Bring a few friends, get here early, enjoy your favorite wine or beer or mixed drink, go grazing on appetizers and you can eat well, very well, for not a lot of money!
This is my most favorite asian restaurant of all time. I have never had anything here I didn't like.
Our kids (who are very picky) love the orange chicken. This is my favorite dish as well.
Lettuce wraps are very good as well as an appetizer. The portions are good, the atmosphere is nice and the food delicious.
Take the Tour of Taliesin West
A trip to Phoenix is not complete with out visiting Frank Lloyd Wright's Taliesin West.
This was his winter home and school for promising architects.
You'll be offfered two tours at the visitors center. My advice is to take the longer tour. You'll be glad that you did.
This compound is unique and an architectural gem.
Every room has its own special story of design and function. It was his home, his studio and his school.
Today, it offers an educational opportunity to a gifted few students from around the world.