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5 activities in Phoenix that are perfect for first dates
Wanting to impress a date? Here’s where to take them around town.
Rebecca L. Rhoades
December 1, 2023
First dates are inherently stressful. A good first date — a really good first date — depends on several variables: exploring common interests, making each other laugh, and finding some time to simply get to know each other (so skip the bass-thumping clubs and crowded cocktail bars at first). We know that planning that perfect first date can be nerve-wracking, so we’ve rounded up some of the best activities that Phoenix offers, from tried-and-true attractions to irresistible icebreakers guaranteed to keep you entertained — and wanting a second.
Who said a first date has to be a basic dinner and drinks? Axe-throwing is sure to remove any awkwardness that often comes with a first date. At LumberjAxes, you can show off your strength and aim — or laugh about your lack thereof. Located inside Tempe Marketplace, the sporting venue includes a restaurant by celebrity chef Matt Hearn and a craft cocktail bar — everything you need for the perfect night out. Of course, there’s no better way to find out if you’re compatible with someone than by working together to solve a mystery. Escapology’s immersive escape rooms, with locations in Tempe and Gilbert, put your communication skills to the test by encouraging you to find creative solutions to problems. Choose from themes such as the Indiana Jones-inspired Lost City, the “Knives Out”-reminiscent Mansion Murder, or the cartoon caper, Scooby-Doo, and the Spooky Castle Adventure, among others. More fun and games — literally — can be found at Level 1 Arcade Bar, a retro arcade bar with two locations in the East Valley; Snakes & Lattes, a game board bar and cafe; and Puttshack, a miniature golf experience. All offer a variety of fun activities that will bring out your competitive spirit, as well as food and beverages. Get to know each other over dinner and drinks before challenging each other to a rousing game of Centipede, Battleship, or beer pong, respectively.
Walk through time
Greater Phoenix has grown tremendously in the past few years, but exploring its past is always fun. Newcomers will delight in learning about the region’s unique history, while native Arizonans can play tourists in their hometown. Taliesin West, the winter home of famed architect Frank Lloyd Wright, ticks several great first-date boxes with its stunning mountain views, groundbreaking architecture, and plenty of quiet spots for conservation. While this modernist masterpiece is one of the most popular attractions in the Valley, there are several other historically significant buildings that even the most die-hard Phoenicians have never visited. Wrigley Mansion, built by chewing gum magnate William Wrigley Jr., is a stunning Santa Barbara-style landmark that sits high on a hill overlooking the city. Take a docent-led tour, and if you’re feeling especially romantic and wanting to impress, dine at the upscale — and pricey — Christopher’s at Wrigley Mansion. The Rosson House Museum and Heritage Square is a reminder of the city’s Victorian past. Spend a few hours touring the 1895 home and surrounding structures before heading next door for a bite at the world-famous Pizzeria Bianco.
Nothing breaks down defenses more than cute, cuddly critters, and Phoenix has plenty of “pawsome” attractions that will allow you to get up close and personal with domestic and wild animals. For a casual afternoon get-together, head to the Phoenix Zoo, where you can stroll through the lush gardens while learning about more than 400 species from around the world. Share your love of everything from lions and elephants to endearing sloths as you relax at one of the outdoor cafes. You can even take in local art at the zoo’s two galleries. If you prefer house pets over primates, check out the PHX Cat Cafe, formerly La Gattara. Refresh with coffee or a smoothie while cuddling with some of the cutest cats around. And who knows, you may even bring home a furry friend.
Everyone has a special connection to music. Whether it’s rock ’n’ roll, classical, or soul, you’ll find it all at the Musical Instrument Museum. You won’t be at a loss for words as you explore galleries filled with ancient musical artifacts from nearly 200 countries, instruments played by some of history’s greatest artists, and one-of-a-kind pieces designed to spark conversation. Bond over your favorites while enjoying a bite at the onsite cafe, and then finish off the night with a show at the museum’s intimate theater. If your date is into jazz, surprise them with tickets to a show at one of the Valley’s top venues. The Nash in downtown Phoenix is a classic old-school jazz club where you’ll sip drinks at tiny tables for two just feet from the stage. At the same time, the Ravenscroft’s first-class Jazzbird lounge showcases popular local musicians, drinks, and catered meals every Friday evening.
Art can elicit a rainbow of emotions, from appreciation to criticism. You’ll likely learn a lot about your date simply by talking about the different pieces you see at these creative attractions. View the works of masters from Europe, Asia, and Latin America at the Phoenix Art Museum. It’s also one of the few museums worldwide with a fashion design collection. Or, browse galleries filled with paintings and sculptures by local artists during Scottsdale ArtWalk, held every Thursday evening. Meander the streets of Old Town while discussing your top pieces. In between, take advantage of some of the city’s best cuisine at area restaurants or sample the local terroir at one of the award-winning tasting rooms. One of the most unique and conversation-worthy art experiences in the Valley is Wonderspaces, located in the Scottsdale Fashion Square Food Court. You’re sure to find shared interests as you stroll through the thought-provoking, interactive, and immersive installations by renowned artists from around the globe.
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How to maximize your experience at 3 Atlanta entertainment districts
Some consider these developments hallmarks of the city. Here’s what to know if you plan to visit.
Ask any ATL native how much the city has changed over the years, and you’re probably in for a half-hour rant. Fellow residents have likely noticed the emergence of large-scale developments offering trendy restaurants, retail storefronts, office space, and concert venues in up-and-coming areas of Atlanta. Now, some believe these mixed-use spaces are hallmarks of the city.
With all the new offerings, it can be intimidating to determine how to navigate each of them. This guide takes you through everything you need to know — from the restaurants worth visiting to the parking situations you’ll find — to maximize your experience at three entertainment districts.
Let’s start where every tourist begins: Ponce City Market. Sure, major construction can block views of the city, but the iconic neon signs and unique spots keep drawing visitors back.
Parking: PCM offers reasonably priced spots on the deck at $2.60 per hour. Street parking is an option if you’re not opposed to searching and then walking down Ponce de Leon Avenue.
Food & Beverage: Depending on your vibe, the PCM food hall can be a cuisine wonderland or completely overwhelming. For a standout option, try one Minero’s burritos, loaded with white rice, beans, Oaxaca cheese, crema, poblano peppers, cabbage, cilantro, salsa verde, and avocado. Did we mention they toast the burrito in cheese, creating an irresistible crispy exterior?
For those looking for a luxury lounge experience, the exclusive 12 Cocktail Bar fits the bill. Its craft cocktails, such as the Oaxacan smash featuring Siete Misterios Mezcal, lemon, lime, blueberry, passion fruit, and orange, are sure to impress. Get there before the 5 p.m. opening each day, or make a reservation before your next date night!
Retail: PCM is home to many big-name retailers like Allbirds, Casper Mattress, and Atlanta’s only Glossier storefront (one of only 11 worldwide). Whether you’re in the mood to splurge or window shop, it’s undoubtedly a fun opportunity to experience online-first brands in their brick-and-mortar store.
Let’s head south to The Krog District, a fascinating piece of Atlanta’s history, named after notable resident Frederick Krog. It’s been going strong since its redevelopment in 2004, with new additions and old favorites among the ever-expanding mix.
Parking: The Krog District offers surface lot and garage parking options starting at $4 per hour on weekdays and $6 per hour on weekends (beginning Fridays at 5:30 p.m.).
Food & Beverage: You’ll find two restaurants here that have earned the Bib Gourmand honor in the Michelin Guide. First, there’s the intimate Ticonderoga Club — where you’ll want to opt for a reservation when (and if) you can. The Club rotates seasonal standout entrees, including the catch of the day, served alongside Carnaroli risotto, red grapefruit, parmesan, and fresh chives.
For a more casual spot, Fred’s Meat and Bread offers unbeatable food at a reasonable price. Sample tried-and-true sandwiches like the classic parm and tuna melt, or opt for eclectic creations like the “almost vegetarian” cauliflower and eggplant banh mi. It features pickled carrot, daikon, spicy mayo, jalapeno, cilantro, and a Thai vinaigrette.
Retail: The Krog District boasts many unique storefronts as well, including Outdoor Voices, Patagonia, Xocolatl Small Batch Chocolate, and at least a dozen other highly recommended retail spots to hit up.
Braves fans are likely familiar with The Battery, which includes Truist Park, home of the Atlanta Braves. In addition to food and drinks, concertgoers also flock to The Coca-Cola Roxy, which features notable comedians, musicians, and other performers.
Parking: Great news! Self-parking is complimentary at the battery for the first three hours on the red, green, yellow, and purple decks. Not such good news: Event-day parking has a fairly complicated set of new rules. Uber or Lyft may be your best bet.
Food & Beverage: Crowds visit for sports and beer, and those are truly the standout draws. However, Antico Pizza Napoletana and elevated Tex-Mex eatery Superica are excellent choices if you’re seeking a full meal. Regarding drinks, there’s no lack of beer (think $12 tall boys) in every corner. Try Terrapin Taproom for an ice-cold Luau Krunkles POG, a hazy IPA with tropical aromas.
Retail: There’s no lack of Braves swag available, with two different storefronts selling team merch.
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7 essential Greater Phoenix farmers markets to visit
Where to shop for local produce and more this season.
Grocery shopping is a hassle. A solution to big-box grocery stores is your local farmers market, where you can avoid long lines, high prices, and bright overhead lighting and find fresh, locally made goods. These open-air weekend markets bring out local vendors from the Phoenix Metro region who dish fresh produce, in-season items, baked bread, and other local snacky goods. There’s music, community, art, artisan-made crafts, food trucks, and vendors. What are you waiting for? Jot down that grocery list, grab your reusable totes, and plot your next market run to these local Phoenix farmers markets.
Every Saturday from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., every Wednesday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Mexican fusion barbecue, seasonal honey, and organic coffee are just a few things you can check off your grocery list at the Uptown Farmers Market. The year-round market draws out crowds for its community-focused atmosphere, kid-friendly activities (pet kids, too), and unmatched roster of Arizona growers and producers. And you don’t have to wait until the weekend to restock your pantry with sourdough bagels and prickly pear teas since the Uptown Farmers Market is recurring every morning on Saturday and Wednesday.
Every Saturday from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.
The Downtown PHX Farmers Market is widely considered the best farmers market in town. It’s certainly one of the biggest around, boasting close to 100 Arizona-based vendors for every Saturday market. In addition to the fresh produce, and lots of it, the Downtown PHX Farmers Market platforms local Phoenix artisans and makers. So, you can shop for fresh-pressed juice and jewelry on your next market run.
Every Saturday from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m.
This popular East Valley market is known for its lineup of food trucks and for being very dog-friendly. The local artisan bread booths, iced coffee pop-ups, and organic produce are also big draws, of course. Come out early to beat the crowds and find your place in line for some breakfast, like strawberry and whipped cream-covered waffles, while you watch the adorable pups go by on their morning walks.
Old Town Scottsdale
Every Saturday, 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Built on local connection, the Old Town Scottsdale Farmers Market boasts a local lineup of farmers, vendors, and growers every weekend. The food- and farming-only market is stocked with stuff you won’t find on any ordinary grocery store shelf, like spicy vegan toffee, hand-rolled pasta, bottled cashew oat milk, and free-range organic blue eggs. A word to the wise: Don’t forget to pick up a pack of tamales for lunch while you’re there.
Tempe Farmers Market begs the question: Why wait until the weekend? Here, you can shop for your favorite local goods every day. The Tempe Farmers Market, also known as TFM, is a permanent brick-and-mortar space that specializes in local specialty products, fair trade teas and espresso drinks, made-to-order paninis and smoothies, and takeaway vegan deli-style eats. We can’t forget to mention the selection of basic produce items like locally grown fruit and vegetables. At night, the space transforms into a sort of speakeasy-style lounge where you can catch live performances and music while you sip on TFM’s tasty chilled drinks.
Every Saturday from 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
While the Downtown Mesa Farmers Market is a newcomer to the local farmers market scene, it has amassed a large following for its curated selection of unique vendors and its offering of handcrafted goods. And, thanks to a series of local partnerships, the market is able to bring live music to its outdoor venue. The Downtown Mesa Farmers Market features a different local musician or band each week. So, you can expect to hear a range of tunes, from jazz to upbeat ukulele melodies, while browsing the soy candles and gourmet butter.
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