Category Archives: places to go


The cooler temps are here and so are all the great events!

The weekends are jam-packed with things to do, and here’s a recap of some of our favorites:

First Friday

Tonight is the Q3 quarterfinals for Train Tracks. Each week, one local band performs on the Metro Light Rail and their performances are taped and shown here. After voting, the top three bands perform a whole set each at the Phoenix Art Museum. Live voting that night determines the winner.

It’s a cash bar, event takes place from 6-10pm in the huge exhibit area which is totally transformed into a concert venue (it’s like magic).

See the Train Tracks videos to acquaint yourself, and check here for the event details.

After the event, head over to Roosevelt Row and get some Tammie Coe cupcakes, then head up to Grand Avenue for some of the most cultivated galleries around. And you can take it all by a free shuttle that conveniently departs from Phoenix Art Museum.

Train Tracks at Phx Art Museum

Scottsdale Fashion Week

The fashion scene in Phoenix and Scottsdale is undeniable, and the Fashion Week event has grown and morphed over the years to become the hot-spot it is this year. This is going to be the best year ever because the local talent is mixing with the big boys, so-to-speak. On both Friday and Saturday nights, there will be two runways, one at Southbridge at the Waterfront, and one just across the bridge at the main tent. Southbridge will host the local designers, staggered by the shows from the main design shops at the main tent.

Who to go for? You want to make sure you see iuk iuk (who won designer of the year), Angela Johnson, Kevan Hall, Zhao Bandi (who presents a whole panda show in fashion as a form of contemporary art), VMarie, Amelia Walsh. I’d also attend the Carolina Herrara and Barney’s New York in the big shows, too.

Check out the entire schedule here, and all the ticket, parking details here.


One of the most locally-loved boutiques in the Phoenix area is Domestic Bliss, which pretty much lives up to the name. While the store is fantastic any day of the year, this Friday night and Saturday all day will be Blissfest.

Friday, is literally “The Grand Fandango,” with a Western theme and dancing, good eats, fashion shows, silent auction, live music – you get the gist. Anything Domestic Bliss touches turns – well – to bliss, to it’s bound to be a good time. You get in free if you are dressed up in Western wear (and there’s a contest, so make it count).

Saturday is the market in which over 50 shops and artisans will be set up to accommodate your purchasing dreams. Expect jewelry, paintings, accessories, and of course, great finds for the home. There will also be live music, craft booths, stagecoach rides, face painting – the whole kit and caboodle. All-in-all, it will keep families (read: kids and husbands) entertained.

Stephanie Nielsen will also be attending the events, accompanied by her husband Christian. Both lived in Mesa with their darling children when they barely survived a fiery plane crash last August. They live in Utah now, but they’re coming back to see the great event put on by Domestic Bliss, since Stephanie used to be a part of their great team.

Fall Events: Rawhide Doomtown


If Sergio Leone — the creative mind behind spaghetti Westerns such as “A Fistful of Dollars” and “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly” — had ever directed a slasher movie, I suppose it would have looked a lot like Doomtown.

Imagine an Old West town, populated by ghostly cowboys, headless horsemen and dust-covered zombies, all of them swaggering about at an unhurried pace, sizing up at interlopers and ignoring open wounds.

The unspoken dilemma of these undead, uninhibited townsfolk seems to be this: Should I make this kid cry or not?

Doomtown is the annual October incarnation of Rawhide Western Town at Wild Horse Pass. In the spirit of Halloween, the purveyors and performers at this replica of an 1880s Arizona boomtown don ghoulish garb and paint the town red, white and bluish — with fake blood, spider webs and black lights.

Halloween Train

I love Halloween but don’t scare particularly easily, so I carried a healthy bit of skepticism into last night’s sneak peek of Doomtown for media members. But I was instantly encouraged to see a pre-teen girl clutching her mother’s had and crying, “I want to go home!” as a headless horseman and pistol-waving cowboy circled her family aboard inky-black steeds.

This could be good, I thought. And it was.

Crying child aside, I can confidently report that Doomtown is fun for the whole family. The degree to which you frighten yourself is entirely up to you.

Our cadre of Doomtown expeditionaries consisted of five media/PR types and one very cool 11-year-old boy. The latter’s emotions vacillated from (1) pretending not to be scared, (2) pretending not to be scared while laughing loudly, (3) being scared without pretense, (4) being absolutely terrified as a chain-saw-wielding zombie chased him out of a haunted house.

We adults lubricated our fearlessness with salt-rimmed beverages and whiskey cocktails — neither of which, by the way, I would recommend taking on the Train of Terror unless you want to disembark with wet clothes. The 12-minute ride aboard this miniature train (whose conductor looked as though he were the illegitimate spawn of Bea Arthur and Ozzy Osbourne) was my favorite Doomtown attraction. It was dark, creaky and full of surprises — everything Halloween should be.


You can scare up a ticket to Doomtown for $13, but I suggest forking out $24 for the combo pass, which gets you into all the attractions (including the Train of Terror and the Rawhide Roughriders stunt show) as well as two haunted houses (the Asylum and Crypt).

For more information about Doomtown, including hours, pricing and directions, visit Rawhide’s Web site at The event runs through Nov.1.

Grand Avenue Festival

Grand Avenue runs diagonally through Phoenix. “Off the grid,” so to speak. So it’s only appropriate that they have some of the hippest shops, restaurants, galleries around. It’s an eclectic group, and the Festival this weekend is the place to be.

Grand Avenue is popular for its First Friday crowd in particular, but their all-day Festival THIS Saturday, Sept. 26th, will have live music from noon to midnight, three fashion shows (including “Boho haute hippie”), and historic/adaptive re-use tours (basically, old historic buildings that are once again shiny).

Over 15 galleries and studios will be open for perusing, including painting, sculpture, photography, mixed media, and more, more, more. Restaurants will be open and bustling (don’t miss The Paisley Violin – it’s a local staple), and shops have crafty, urban, creative gear (my personal fave is Butter Toast).

To find out where to go, see the map. Parking should be easy on any of the side streets, and weather will be beautiful for walking.

Tilt Gallery

Tilt Gallery

For all the details, check out the Grand Avenue Festival page. See you there!

Copper Star Coffee

Yes, I love coffee. LOVE. But it’s a chicken-and-the-egg thing because I’m not sure which came first: my love of coffee that led me to great places, or the fantastic places that make it so easy to love.

Copper Star Coffee is one of those places.

Copper Star Coffee

Built in an old gas station turned transmission repair, Copper Star Coffee on 7th Avenue has all the great nostalgia and aesthetic of its former life, but an entirely new smell. Instead of gas and oil, aromas of freshly roasted coffee beans and pastries made on site. Now, Copper Star refuels me instead of my car.

The funky couches and tables are a second home to a lot of locals who spend quite a few hours there. The staff is so friendly, it’s easy to see why. Or maybe it’s the pastries. There is this rocky road brownie there that will blow your mind. I mean seriously. It is absolutely one of the most delicious things I’ve ever eaten, to the point that I would never share it. Get your own, for sure. See below in all its glory.

Rocky Road brownie

Pop into Copper Star when you’re checking out the other 7th Avenue shops, like Hollywood Regency, Paris Envy, Qcumberz and more. It’s right in the Melrose District, and you can’t miss it.

Copper Star Coffee

4220 N 7th Ave
Phoenix, AZ 85013
(602) 266-2136

Paris Envy

Shopping in Phoenix is so great because there are so many niches that our boutiques fill. The home and garden category is robust, but truly each story is very different. Take Paris Envy, for example, which is situated right on the 7th Avenue Melrose District. At first glance, it carries relics similarly found at some other boutiques, but noticeably higher quality – without the higher prices.

Paris Envy front room

The shop sits in a former home with amazing wood floors, two stories, and fantastic location in between downtown and central Phoenix. Immediately upon entering, there are two things that hit you: amazingly European and amazingly modern. Ther first room feels like something in Anthropologie, with French soaps, their own line of scented candles, clothing, jewelry, kids toys and gifts (also known as the perfect room for gift buying). An adjoining room and the upstairs are filled with fantastic furniture pieces, from bookshelves, Louis XVI chairs, zinc-topped tables, coffee tables out of reclaimed wood, etc.

Paris Envy furniture

The difference with Paris Envy is that one of the partners is an amazing carpenter, so he searches high and low for great wood, table legs, chair frames, and more to take to his shop and make into something magical. An electrical engineer by day, he handcrafts the pieces and works at the store. There’s truly something to be said for shaking the hand of the person who made something from nothing.

The home accessories are unique to Paris Envy versus other stores in Phoenix as well; I comb the shops and haven’t found anything like the mirrors, dishes, statues and even vintage bird cages Paris Envy carries. Go for a gift, go for yourself.

See more photos here.

Paris Envy

4624 N 7th AvePhoenixAZ

(602) 266-0966

Paris Envy set up

Melrose Vintage

Melrose Vintage is a shabby chic haven.

Inside Melrose Vintage

It’s tucked into the glorious 7th Avenue shopping district (the Melrose district, coincidentally), and while it offers vintage items (again-  in the name),  there are great pieces that really would work in any home. They have bedding, furniture, fabric, lighting, even a scrapbooking area. For gals, there are some amazing accessories from jewelry to hair thing-eys as well (men: what a great place to find a gift for your girl!).

I really love the way it’s set up, too, with a living room, a master bedroom, a kids room, but they’re not like an interior decorator showroom – it’s stocked with goods. It’s a perfect blend where you can rely on Melrose Vintage to have certain things all the time, but enough in rotation that it’s always new.

Melrose Vintage bedroom

Certain times of year you’ll also find really great garden items as well. It’s the kind of lplace where there’s somthing else amazing around every corner. You have to do a few laps to take it all in.

Melrose Vintage

4238 N 7th Ave
Phoenix, AZ 85013-3069
(602) 636-0300

outside of Melrose Vintage

Phoenix Zoo and Giraffe Encounter

This is my hand.

Giraffe eating

My hand – what this lovely giraffe named Charlie Bell used for a breakfast plate. It’s part of the new Giraffe Encounter at the Phoenix Zoo, where every morning from 9 – 10 a.m., you can feed a giraffe either a pellet (for adults), or a piece of lettuce (for the kiddos).

For three dollars (and kids under 2 are free), you step right up and one of the professionals shows you exactly what to do. Notice the assistance I received.

Waiting there right before it opened, the giraffes intuitively made their way over to the Encounter deck, which is just a few feet lower than where their heads reach. They all start to get hungry for the goodness we are about to feed them, and each person feeds them once. My nephew fed the lettuce, and was surprised by the big black tongue!

nephew feeding giraffe

I think it’s a great way to get the kids and adults (let’s not kid ourselves) to get up close to some of the most magnificent animals. The area where you feed them also has ostrichs and tons of other animals in the safari area all together.

While you’re at the zoo, which Travel + Leisure named one of the top five in the country, check out these not-so-native animals:


It’s a very cool experience – literally. There are splash “caves” and water play areas everywhere, a lot of the exhibits are shaded by huge tropical trees, and the best part – there are SnoCones galore for sale throughout the zoo.

Just do me this favor – when you go, say hello to my near and dear friend, Charlie Bell.

Charlie Bell

Phoenix Zoo

455 N. Galvin Pkwy

Phoenix, AZ 85008