Women laughing at a winery

The ultimate guide to a girls’ staycation weekend in Phoenix

You don’t need to go far to get away.

It can be tempting to jet off to Mexico, or take a road trip to Vegas or San Diego, but when’s the last time you booked a staycation with your besties and enjoyed all the treasures in your own backyard? We aren’t talking about staying at your respective houses and just meeting up for an afternoon — you and your gal pals deserve a dedicated weekend with a stay at a luxury resort, delicious food and drinks at all the trendiest spots in town, and fun activities that’ll further cement your bonds and make memories to last a lifetime. Here’s your guide to the ultimate girls’ staycation itinerary: 

Where to Stay

Phoenix and Scottsdale are home to a slew of world-class resorts — with more than a dozen awesome contenders to choose from, we narrowed our picks down to two properties that specialize in showcasing the gorgeous Sonoran desert in a serene environment. 

To Get Away from It All: Four Seasons Resort Scottsdale At Troon North

Tucked into the rugged landscape of far-north Scottsdale is Four Seasons Resort, the perfect place to hide out for a few days. It’s especially ideal if you truly just want to luxuriate in your adobe casita and feel far away from your everyday life (it’s nearly an hour from downtown and 40 minutes from Old Town). 

Choose a two- or three-bedroom suite — the two-bedroom comes with a heated plunge pool, gas-burning fireplace for ambiance, and telescope for late-night stargazing, while the three-bedroom has a private plunge pool, outdoor garden shower, and wood-burning fireplace. Book treatments at the onsite spa (the Himalayan Salt Journey is not to be missed), pop by Proof for a casual meal or sip cocktails at Onyx Bar & Lounge. The property has two world-class golf courses, and the hotel can help book such adventures as Jeep or ATV tours, hot air balloon rides, horseback riding, and canyoneering. 

A Wellness Retreat: Sanctuary Camelback Mountain, A Gurney’s Resort & Spa

If your besties appreciate a spa-focused getaway, look no further than Sanctuary Camelback Mountain. The Sanctuary Spa takes guests on an Asian-inspired journey of rejuvenation, complete with a dozen indoor and outdoor treatment rooms, a meditation garden, and a reflection pond. Standout treatments include aquatic massages (like the Immersive Watsu and Sound Bowl Fusion), the Signature Coconut Sumatra Body Ritual, and Thai Massage.

When you aren’t spaaah-ing, try your hand at tennis or pickleball, rent a cabana and take a dip in the infinity pool, and hit some fitness classes (such as BOSU and ball & band). Enjoy cocktails accompanied by live music on Friday nights in Jade Bar (consider booking a private mixology class for a fun and boozy activity), tempt your tastebuds with weekend brunch, and plan for a dinner featuring seasonal ingredients at Elements (get here before sunset to watch the sun dip below the mountains). Villa Roca has four bedrooms and a private pool, or splurge on Villa del Sol with four bedrooms, a spa treatment room, a movement studio with fitness equipment, private pool, and hot tub.

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What to Do

Oh, you’re looking for something more to do than hanging at the pools and spas at your fancy hotel? Well, here are a few other activities to round out your weekend:

Fly High with Rainbow Ryders

The best way to experience the beauty of the Southwest is from high above with Rainbow Ryders. Take in your bird’s-eye view of the city and surrounding landscape as you glide across the sky in a hot air balloon for an unforgettable adventure. Book a sunrise (available year-round) or sunset (available November-March) ride and enjoy a celebratory toast and a commemorative flight certificate when you land.

Hike or Bike McDowell Sonoran Preserve

The McDowell Sonoran Preserve is a protected area of land consisting of Scottsdale’s McDowell Mountains and Sonoran Desert — it’s an ideal spot to connect with the city’s unique desert attractions, like Saguaro cacti and roadrunners. The Preserve, which is 36 times the size of Central Park, is home to more than 225 miles of trails prime for hiking and mountain biking.

Shop at Biltmore Fashion Park

Would it even be a girlfriends’ getaway without a little retail therapy? The beauty of the Biltmore Fashion Park is that it’s an outdoor mall, so you can enjoy the sunshine while popping in and out of such stores as Sephora, Anthropologie, Lululemon, My Sister’s Closet, Pottery Barn, Ralph Lauren, Saks Fifth Avenue, and Skin Laundry.

Where to Eat and Drink

Brunch, lunch, happy hour, dinner, and drinks — half the fun of a girlfriends’ getaway is trying new dishes, clinking champagne glasses, and sharing plates. These are the best of the best:

Century Grand

There’s no better place in Phoenix (or the country actually, since this three-bars-in-one concept was named Best U.S. Cocktail Bar) to grab a Prohibition-era drink than Century Grand. Grey Hen RX is an apothecary-style bar inspired by New Orleans, UnderTow serves up tropical flavors on an antique Clipper ship, and Platform 18 allows passengers to step aboard a replica of a 20th-century Pullman train car for an immersive ride through various landscapes. Make reservations ahead of time for your 90-minute experience.


Top Chef alum Angelo Sosa has opened his second restaurant at JW Marriott Phoenix Desert Ridge Resort & Spa to much acclaim — a meal here will remind global travelers of dining on street food in Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore, and Japan, as this is where chef Sosa gained his inspiration from. Definitely order the Green Papaya salad (it’s a flowery work of art), Mee Babi (house-made egg noodles with pork belly), Rendang Lembu (Wagyu beef with chili sambal), and the Ketam Cili (Alaskan king crab with tamarind, ginger and sambal). 


More Asian flavors await you at PYRO, the new Japanese-American bistro in Central Phoenix. This restaurant harnesses the power of open flame with fiery and flavorful dishes, including spicy salmon hand rolls, fluke crudo, a 40-day dry-aged bone-in ribeye, short rib fried rice, and Iberico pork skewers. The ambiance makes for Instagram-worthy BFF photos, as it was designed to resemble a mid-1900s Japanese casino. 

Le Âme, at the Global Ambassador 

The place to see and be seen is The Global Ambassador, famed restauranteur Sam Fox’s new hotel with four restaurants and bars in Central Phoenix. Le Âme is a particularly lovely choice for a boozy lunch or brunch, serving up oysters, truffle frites, onion dip with potato chips and caviar, Nicoise salads, Croque Madame, and quiche Florentine — dine outside if the weather allows, as you’ll swear you’re dining al fresco at a Parisian bistro. 

Hurachis Taqueria

Renowned local chef Rene Andrade’s newest creation following his James Beard Award nomination in 2022 is a casual downtown spot perfect for happy hour. He serves up comfort foods, such as tacos (try the Lala Lengua or Tripas), burritos, and ceviche — don’t miss the elote for an appetizer and wash it all down with the spicy mezcal margarita. 


For a more sophisticated evening, choose dinner downtown at Anhelo. The three-course dinner begins with one cold dish (the crudo is an excellent choice, as is the steak tartare), then a hot second course (the agnolotti is a standout dish, and the dry-aged tuna is delicious), followed by the entrée (this restaurant is known for its prime beef wellington). Add a wine pairing for each course and you have yourself a culinary experience to remember. 

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An aerial view of the Dallas Arts District

Things to do in the Dallas Arts District

We’re exploring the dynamic Dallas Arts District, full of outdoor fun, museums, food, people-watching, and more.

Twenty-five years ago, locals used to joke that Downtown Dallas rolled up its sidewalks at 5 p.m. and everybody drove home. Only certain pockets, like Deep Ellum with its music scene or the West End Marketplace, welcomed regular crowds for nights and weekends.

In 2024, what was once sleepy is now home to a cultural, architectural, and creative powerhouse: the Dallas Arts District. This is the largest contiguous arts district in the U.S., spanning 19 city blocks that are easily walkable with short distances between attractions. It’s ideal for navigating during the warm weather months, offering outdoor fun, museums, performance venues, food, people-watching, and more. So put on your sneakers and let’s explore this dynamic Arts District.

Under the Sun

Despite being located in the heart of downtown Dallas, the Arts District highlights innovative urban design, with pedestrian-friendly streetscapes, multiple green spaces, and public art installations. It’s a welcoming environment for visitors and residents alike.

Start any visit to the area at Klyde Warren Park, a 5.2-acre urban oasis built over the recessed Woodall Rodgers Freeway between Pearl and St. Paul streets. This highly active space provides ample free daily programs, from tai chi, yoga, and boot camps to book signings to outdoor concerts and films.  

(If you’re hungry, grab a bite from a food truck at Klyde Warren Park – we love the Fletcher’s Original Corny Dog truck, appearing multiple times in April.) 

As you walk around the Arts District, keep your eyes open for impressive public art installations. One hidden gem is the Texas Sculpture Walk at Hall Arts, 2323 Ross Avenue.

Architecture aficionados will be delighted to see the work of some of the most exceptional architects of the 20th and 21st centuries, like I.M. Pei, Rem Koolhaas, Edward Larrabee Barnes, and Norman Foster. Catch a 90-minute architecture walking tour of the Arts District on the first and third Saturdays of each month, beginning at 10:00 a.m., rain or shine, from in front of the Dallas Museum of Art, 1717 North Harwood Street.

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Magnificent Museums

Several key museums anchor the Arts District, and all are worthy of hours. Established in 1903, the Dallas Museum of Art (DMA) is one of the largest art museums in the U.S. Their extensive collection spans thousands of years and cultures, including favorites by Van Gogh, Picasso, and Monet. 

Before you dive in, make time to relax in the DMA Cafe, located in the beautiful Hamon Atrium. Look up to admire the enormous window framed by a Dale Chihuly glass sculpture, Hart Window. Stunning.  

Across the street from the DMA, the Nasher Sculpture Center invites visitors to explore modern and contemporary sculptures. Fun fact: floating above the barrel-vaulted glass ceiling is an innovative cast aluminum sunscreen, specifically designed for the museum. It controls the natural light filtered inside, providing the optimum illumination for viewing sculptures. 

Tucked away in the back, get serene in the sculpture garden, an oasis in the urban landscape, filled with mature trees, a peaceful pond, lush greenery, and about 25 large-scale sculptures. It’s home to monthly ‘til Midnight at the Nasher, from 6 p.m. to midnight on the third Friday of each month.

Nearby, enter a different world at the Crow Museum of Asian Art, featuring a diverse collection spanning centuries and cultures. Keep an eye out for the new exhibition running through April 2025, Japan, Form & Function: The Montgomery Collection. Don’t miss the chance to participate in a traditional tea ceremony if available. 

Be sure to take time for the African American Museum of Dallas, one of the largest African American Folk Art collections in the U.S. It’s one-of-a-kind in the Southwest.

Dallas Arts District Performs

Plan ahead and immerse yourself in the performing arts scene with a show at the AT&T Performing Arts Center. Several spaces call this sprawling landmark home, including the Dee and Charles Wyly Theatre and Margot and Bill Winspear Opera House, which can welcome 2,200 patrons. 

Even if you’re not catching a performance, stroll outside through Sammons Park at the Winspear and you might catch local artists performing in this outdoor green space with a soaring s 63′-high Sky Canopy for shade. You’ll certainly see photographers snapping portraits of people around this picturesque venue. 

Take in another gem in the Arts District and experience the Dallas Symphony Orchestra at the Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center. Opened in 1989, this venue has contributed to the district’s vibrant arts scene for years with a range of options, including free and low-cost events, like God Bless America on Saturday, April 27, with tickets starting at $17.

Dine in the District

Most of the museums and venues in the Arts District offer delicious dining options, though with limited hours. Standalone restaurants in the Dallas Arts District include:

  • Mercat Bistro: French-inspired cuisine in an elegant setting reminiscent of a Parisian cafe.
  • Nusr-Et Steakhouse: A high-end international steakhouse where fine cuts are king, like the Nusr-Et tomahawk steak, Dallas steak with mustard sauce, and a New York-style lamb. Outstanding. 
  • La Stella Cucina Verace: Award-winning authentic Italian everything in the heart of the Arts District. Don’t miss the Salsiccia e Friarielli made with Italian sausage from local favorite Jimmy’s Food Store, sautéed rapini greens, bruschetta, chili, and garlic.  
  • Zero Gradi: Hand-churned gelato, house-made cannoli, and steaming cups of Lavazza coffee make this the perfect end-of-meal treat. 

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Waterfall in a Serene Forest

8 spectacular hiking trails around Atlanta

Explore ATL’s natural beauty with the best hikes to be found around town.

Atlanta is renowned for its bustling city life, rich history, and diverse culture. However, nestled amidst its urban sprawl lies a plethora of breathtaking hiking trails for those seeking the tranquility of nature. From serene woodlands to cascading waterfalls, Atlanta and its surrounding areas boast an array of hiking experiences that cater to adventurers of all levels. Whether you’re seeking a challenging trek or a leisurely stroll, these 8 handpicked trails promise unforgettable encounters with nature’s wonders. 

East Palisades Trail 

Location: Northwest Atlanta

Trail Length: 4-mile loop

Difficulty: Easy to Moderate

Just a mere 20 minutes from downtown, East Palisades Trail is actually a series of trails that hug the Chattahoochee River. The trails are dog friendly (please remember leashes are required) with plenty of sandy beaches for your pup to run off some energy and then cool off with a dip in the river. You can also find breathtaking views of metro Atlanta. East Palisades is most known for its Instagram-worthy bamboo forest, located at trail marker EP 26. If you’re looking for a bit of a challenge, some trails take you to exhilarating high-elevation views of the Chattahoochee.

Morningside Nature Trail

Location: Morningside

Trail Length: 1.6-mile loop

Difficulty: Easy

Located in North Atlanta, this easy trail loops through the Morningside Nature Preserve, which boasts 33 acres of secluded forest teeming with dense vegetation. On quieter days, hikers may spot foxes, turtles, beavers, and other wildlife that call the preserve home. Canine companions are welcome as long as they are on a leash. In fact, there’s a sandy stretch beneath the suspended wooden bridge traversing the South Fork Peachtree River, affectionately dubbed the “dog beach” by locals due to its popularity among four-legged trail visitors. Many also consider this off-trail spot the ideal location for a picnic, so be sure to bring along some provisions if you plan to pause for a bite.

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Vickery Creek Trail at Roswell Mill

Location: Roswell

Trail Length: 4.7 miles

Difficulty: Moderate

Vickery Creek Trail at Roswell Mill is an almost 5-mile network of trails that wind through a fern-filled forest with many delightful sights along the way. Near the Mill, you’ll find a large covered wooden bridge with stunning views of Vickery Creek rushing by below you. The waterfall (technically it’s a spillway dam) is another popular location to stop and catch your breath. If you’re lucky, you might even spy a heron fishing for its next meal in the creek. History buffs will enjoy inspecting the ruins of the old Roswell Manufacturing Company Mills, built in 1839 and 1853.

Cascade Springs Nature Preserve

Location: Southwest Atlanta 

Trail Length: 2 miles

Difficulty: Moderate

Cascade Springs Nature Preserve is a whopping 125-acre preserve located just 20 minutes from downtown. You’ll hike through the old-growth forest over multiple streams and through a Civil War battlefield. Other historic sites along the trail include an old pump house remains, trenches dating back to the Civil War, and a stone spring house covered with spongy green moss. This slightly strenuous hike is worth it for a view of the wondrous natural Cascade Falls waterfall. 

Kennesaw Mountain – Mountain Loop

Location: Marietta

Trail Length: 5.8-mile loop

Difficulty: Moderate

The Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park offers over 22 miles of trails across nearly 3,000 acres of preserved land, managed by the National Park Service, providing both stunning natural beauty and historical significance. The Mountain Loop trail, spanning nearly six miles and circling the park’s highest peak, is a favorite among visitors, offering panoramic views of Atlanta and insights into the area’s Cherokee heritage and Civil War history. With trails catering to hikers, runners, and history enthusiasts alike, Kennesaw Mountain promises an enriching outdoor experience blending both nature and heritage.

Arabia Mountain – Mile Rock Trail and Forest Trail

Location: Stonecrest

Trail Length: 2-mile loop

Difficulty: Easy

The Arabia Mountain National Heritage Area, located east of Atlanta, showcases a rich tapestry of landscapes across its rolling terrain, offering over thirty miles of hiking trails. The two-mile loop journey along the Mile Rock Trail and Forest Trail takes hikers through a shady forest, across expansive granite fields, and past a tranquil lake, showcasing diverse flora. With gentle elevation changes and well-marked trails, this route is suitable for beginners and families. Completing the loop at the Arabia Mountain Nature Center, visitors can immerse themselves in the area’s scenic beauty, punctuated by remnants of historic mining structures and abundant wildlife.

Red Top Mountain State Park – Homestead Trail 

Location: Acworth

Trail Length: 5.5 miles

Difficulty: Moderate

The Homestead Trail at Red Top Mountain State Park offers a captivating five-mile loop adventure, winding along the picturesque contours of Lake Allatoona’s shoreline. Beginning at the park’s visitor center, hikers are immersed in a lush forest filled with ferns and wildlife, gradually making their way toward the tranquil lake. Along the trail, vibrant wildflowers dot the landscape, complementing the stunning views of the iron-rich soil contrasting with the lake’s cool hues. The loop meanders through valleys and ascends to small knolls, providing ample opportunities to spot a variety of woodland creatures. With options for shorter or longer excursions, the Homestead Trail promises a rewarding outdoor experience suitable for hikers of all skill levels, complete with convenient access points and well-marked pathways.

Big Creek Greenway – Alpharetta Section

Location: Alpharetta

Trail Length: 9 miles 

Difficulty: Easy

The Big Creek Greenway, spanning 26 miles through Cumming, Alpharetta, and Roswell, offers a scenic journey along Big Creek, beginning at the City Limits of Alpharetta and Roswell and ending at the Marconi Trailhead. The 9-mile concrete trail runs parallel to North Point Parkway, offering glimpses of wildlife like blue herons, deer, ducks, and geese in the preserved water settings along the way. Divided into sections, the trail includes recreational amenities like restrooms and designated picnic areas.

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