things to do
neighborhoods we love
Things To Do
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Things To Do
Neighborhoods We Love
Robrt L. Pela
May, 2012, Page 102
Photography by Sam Nalven and Michael Woodall
Whether you’re relocating or just recreating, the Valley’s diverse and distinctive neighborhoods offer a host of haunts to explore. From family friendly enclaves to hidden historic ’hoods, plus meccas for outdoorsy types, foodies anD creatives, here are 30 of our favorite neighborhoods.
Best Family Friendly ’Hoods
Sandwiched between the Arizona Canal and Camelback Mountain, Arcadia is not just gorgeous and livable but also a great place to pick a lemon. Once home to hundreds of acres of sweet-smelling citrus groves, Arcadia is today the residential jewel of east Phoenix, and many homes are still hugged by lush fruit trees. Immaculately maintained, mostly mid-century ranch-style houses with wide lots – perfect for backyard baseball games and family barbecues – are Arcadia’s signature. Highly respected area schools add to the allure.
La Grande Orange
Those of us who don’t live in this ’hood envy its proximity to
La Grande Orange
(4410 N. 40th St., 602-840-7777,
), one of Phoenix’s favorite epicurean epicenters. A patio-equipped café, pizzeria, coffee bar, and hip organic market all rolled into one, LGO also serves award-winning pizza and entrées at its indoor-outdoor
restaurant. And just down the street at
(from the same owners; 5040 N. 40th St., 602-957-2555,
), kids eat free on weekdays from 3-6 p.m.
Arcadia is one of the few local neighborhoods that hosts its own
Fourth of July parade
). The 17-year-old tradition is a kid-centric celebration featuring a fun promenade of bikes, trikes and little red wagons decorated with Arcadian pride and beaucoup red, white, and blue bunting. Vintage automobiles bring up the rear, followed by the local chapters of the Military Order of the Purple Hearts and the American Legion Color Guard.
Arcadians who require a more-than-once-a-year march love the nearby
Camelback Mountain hiking trails
and their breathtaking views of the Valley. Kids can lope along the picturesque and breezy Bobby’s Rock Trail, while Mom can stairmaster up the more strenuous Summit Trail for its view of lovely Echo Canyon (
This Del Webb development, named one of Parenting magazine’s best places to raise a family, boasts both curricular and extracurricular selling points. While Anthem kids study at some of the highest-achieving public schools in the city, moms can stock up at the
Outlets at Anthem
(4250 W. Anthem Way, 623-465-9500,
). Anthemites have their own water park and rec center, as well as numerous bike and walking trails.
Paradise Valley Oasis
At this modern-day Mayberry in the desert, mall life is the name of the game, thanks to its proximity to Paradise Valley Mall. But kids can stay fit surfing cement at
Paradise Valley Skatepark
(17402 N. 40th St., Phoenix,
Phoenix Mountain Preserve
’s hiking trails from the 40th Street trailhead (
), or enjoying the pond, play areas and farmers’ market (
(3502 E. Cactus Rd.).
Best Historic ’Hoods
Robson Historic District in Mesa
Bungalow fans, rejoice! Most of the homes in this Mesa enclave were built in the late 1920s and early 1930s, architectural heyday of the ever-popular bungalow, in all its gabled, one-and-a-half story glory. But given the neighborhood’s 50-year, mostly pre-WWII development history, Robson also offers an eclectic blend of structural styles. A recent grassroots effort saved several architecturally significant homes once on the brink of demolition, including Mitten House (the 1936 residence of Mesa Journal Tribune publisher Charles Mitten) and Pomeroy House (one of Mesa’s last Tudor Revival homes). Beautifully maintained by residents who revere their rustic buildings, Robson homes are often more affordable than those in Downtown Phoenix’s tonier historic districts.
With its colonnades and brick buildings,
) is a historic throwback. Visit during
(select Saturdays, September-April,
), when the sidewalks swell with musicians strumming six-strings and artists selling their wares.
The Mitten and Pomeroy homes were once located on the nearby site of the
Mesa Arts Center
(1 E. Main St., 480-644-6500,
). At 212,755 square feet, it’s the largest arts venue in the state, encompassing 14 classroom studios, four theater spaces and five art galleries. The stunning complex hosts world-class concerts and events throughout the year, including the National Geographic Live series.
Earthier art can be found among the paleontological relics at the
Arizona Museum of National History
(53 N. MacDonald Rd., 480-644-2230,
), where nearly 60,000 objects of natural, anthropological, and historic significance reside. History buffs know it’s also home to the 1896 Sirrine House, a gorgeous Queen Anne-style home and the only fully restored Victorian-era house in Mesa.
F.Q. Story Historic District
Established in the 1920s as a diverse, upper-middle-class district of English Tudor cottages, Spanish Colonial and California Craftsman homes, F.Q. Story has reemerged as a thriving, well-tended place to live. It’s close to Downtown Phoenix’s hotspots and restored historic hangouts like homey pizzeria
(603 N. Fifth Ave., 602-441-2697,
) and retro lounge
(1514 N. Seventh Ave., 602-254-1646,
Country Club Park
The Coronado Historic District’s best-kept secret is its funky, pre-war Country Club Park. Founded in 1939, the subdivision’s curved streets encircle a verdant
(Windsor Avenue, between Eighth and 10th streets). Many of the beautifully restored Ranch-style homes were built by noted architectural firm Lescher and Mahoney and are within walking distance of casual, hip haunts like
(2245 N. 12th St., 602,354-2980,
The Main Ingredient Ale House
(2337 N. Seventh St., 602-843-6246,
Best for Outdoorsy Types
Usery Mountain Park
With its diverse floor plans; panoramic, postcard-perfect mountain and city views; and easy access to hiking and biking trails, this East Valley community is a bastion of bucolic pursuits. Built on 2,500 acres of Usery Mountain land, this neighborhood of mostly new homes in northeast Mesa boasts a broad range of home prices, a Robert Trent Jones-designed golf course, and half a dozen parks.
Usery Mountain Park
(3939 N. Usery Pass Rd., 480-984-0032,
) is an expanse of 3,600 desert acres at the foot of the Goldfield Mountains. It features the only five-star outdoor archery range in the state, with close to 100 field practice targets on six courses – all surrounded by breathtaking desert views. But Las Sendas – Spanish for “the paths” – is all about hiking and biking. The popular, 3-mile roundtrip
Trail leads to sweeping scenery and a cave cascading with plants. The gnarly, 7.1-mile
Pass Mountain Trail
is a technical thrill ride for mountain bikers or a scenic challenge for hikers and horseback riders. The park also offers regular bird-watching walks, a Fitness Challenge hiking series, guided hikes for kids, nature classes and yoga.
After a hike or bike ride, soothe your tired muscles with a syrah and live music on weekends at nearby
wine bar (2837 N. Power Rd., 480-654-4171,
), or with Four Peaks beer and other microbrews on tap at
Red White & Brew
(6740 E. McDowell Rd., 480-807-9393,
The lucky residents of Glendale’s Arrowhead Ranch enjoy both aquatic and arid amenities. They have private boating privileges on the manmade lakes and a desert back yard in the form of
Thunderbird Conservation Park
). Proud home of American Idol Jordin Sparks, Arrowhead Ranch is on the pricey side but perfect for the outdoorsy homeowner who wants a larger, new home.
There’s no need to joust for a parking spot at the Peak when you can hike from your front door to the Summit or Circumference trailheads (
), or bike to popular trail No. 100 (
). Pre- or post-ride, pedal to nearby
Trailhead Bike Shop & Cafe
(6825 N. 16th St., 602-264-2328,
) for a tea smoothie and a tune-up. Or beeline to the
(6335 N 16th St., 602-287-8900,
) for $5 happy hour drinks and sizzling Santa Fe-style fare. Most of the xeriscaped, 1960s ranch-style homes in the Peak’s southwestern foothills offer spectacular city views and come in a range of prices – from $250,000 to more than $1 million.
Best for Car-Free Living
Portland’s Wine Bar
If you’re tired of gorging on gas and want to shrink your carbon footprint, head to the well-beaten paths on the Central Corridor – that spinal stretch of Phoenix between Seventh Street and Seventh Avenue, from Roosevelt to Camelback. An estimated 60,000 people work within a 3-mile radius of this arterial road, and it’s built to fit the lifestyle of those bold enough to walk, bike, or ride to work. With houses in every architectural era (new, old and mid-century), configuration (high-rise, warehouse loft and single family homes) and price range, the Corridor is the eco-urban place to be.
Central Avenue boasts more light rail stops (10) than any other street, and with a stellar selection of cultural and culinary hotspots dotting the line, you can create numerous constellations of itineraries. Take your pick from
Phoenix Public Market
Portland’s Wine Bar
Cheuvront Restaurant and Wine Bar
(1437 N. First St., 602-396-7215),
Phoenix Art Museum
), the new incarnations of Lux (
) at Central Pawn for used musical instruments,
All About Books & Comics
Coming home late from all this shopping and dining isn’t a problem, because the Central Corridor has more marked, lighted bike paths than any other midtown neighborhood. On weekends, pedal a portion of the
Phoenix Sonoran Bikeway
) down Third Avenue from Maryland Avenue to Jefferson Street (or cruise it all the way from the Carefree Highway to South Mountain). For a more recondite ride, pedal west on Colter from 10th street to Central, take Central south to Campbell, and head west on Campbell to Third Avenue. From there, you can continue peddling south down Third Avenue towards Earll Drive and finish the trip with some shopping at Park Central Mall.
Let’s hear it for the City of Scottsdale’s downtown trolley, a free, year-round shuttle service that runs every 15 minutes, seven days a week from 11 a.m. until 6 p.m. (
). The City even provides you with a place to stash your car (at one of five downtown garages) while you enjoy a free ride to and from the
Old Town Arts District
Fifth Avenue Shops
Scottsdale Fashion Square
University Park Historic District in Tempe
Thanks to a recent City Council-approved grant for a tree-planting project, this architecturally distinctive ’hood – bounded by Apache Boulevard, McAllister Avenue, and Mill Avenue – should be shady and (relatively) cooler come summer. If it’s too toasty, a refreshing Irish beer at
(401 S. Mill Ave., 480-929-9500,
) and the air-conditioned
Harkins Valley Art Theater
(509 S. Mill Ave., 480-446-7272,
) are just an Orbit bus ride away (
Best for Foodies
SouthBridge area, Scottsdale
SouthBridge, stretched fetchingly along Stetson Drive, is a tree-lined, pedestrian-friendly riviera that offers the best in shopping, dining and imbibing. Epicureans and locavores are thrilled that SouthBridge crams so many locally- and independently-owned restaurants and bars into its glittery three acres. The restaurant scene here has played musical chairs in recent years, but hopefully its current lineup is here to stay.
Chef Silvana Salcido Esparza’s hotly anticipated
(7114 E. Stetson Dr., 480-656-4197;
) spotlights regional Mexican cuisine (think: squash-blossom quesadillas) and 375-plus tequilas.
(7133 E. Stetson Dr., 480-946-3111,
) continues to satisfy foodies with its spaghetti-Western fare and diverse wine selection. Recently relocated
(7114 E. Stetson Dr., 480-990-9500,
), an upscale Italian restaurant known for handmade pastas and a superb wine list, has landed on several “best” lists. Foodies also favor friendly
(7133 E. Stetson Dr., 480-425-9463,
) for its simple, veg-heavy menu and Arizona wine list.
Speaking of wine lists, the one to beat belongs to
Kazimierz Wine Bar
(7137 E. Stetson Dr., 480-946-3004,
), which boasts more than 2,000 wines from 40-plus countries (and some pretty cushy sofas, too).
(7134 E. Stetson Dr., 480-970-7888,
) takes its craft cocktails just as seriously; try the apple-infused Seasonal Buck. Head across the canal to
Olive & Ivy
(7135 E. Camelback Rd., 480-751-2200,
) for its see-and-be scene and drinks like the Cactus Blossom, a scrumptious gin concoction mingled with elderflower.
North Central area (Central and Camelback)
Gastronomes in North Central enjoy a host of local eateries within walking distance. Long-time fave
(5202 N. Central Ave., 602-277-8700,
) serves up classic east-coast Italian, while perennially popular
(5144 N. Central Ave., 602-274-5144,
) puts a modern twist on Mediterranean.
(111 E. Camelback Rd., 602-200-8111,
) is all about shareable plates and wood-fired fare, and
(5223 N. Central Ave., 602-279-1111,
) wins over habitués with its cool patio.
Wedged between the Biltmore area and the Arcadia neighborhood, Arcadia Lite is a mid-century-modern lover’s dream. This clutch of smaller ranch and transitional homes built in the ’50s and ’60s are all within walking distance of some of midtown’s most popular eateries, most notably
(4041 N. 40th St., 602-553-7227,
(3717 E. Indian School Rd., 602-954-1700,
For more of
magazine’s 'Neighborhoods We Love', check back soon, find us at newsstands Valleywide or call 480-664-3960.
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