Phoenix, Arizona – Kosher Vacation
Guest Article by Joshua Feigin
Phoenix is car-centric. The roads are huge and move quickly with little traffic. The downside of this is that the city feels like one big sprawling suburb. The attractions outlined in this article are quite enjoyable and worth a visit while the downtown leaves something to be desired. Due to this, staying nearest to your desired attractions is better than any one specific neighborhood. If visiting during the warmer months, a pool is a must, since temperatures can easily surpass 100 degrees.
Taliesin West – Renowned for his Prairie construction style, Frank Lloyd Wright constructed many unique homes throughout the United States. One such home that is open to visitors is Taliesin West in Scottsdale. If architecture or design interest you, this place is certainly worth a visit. Guided tours demonstrate the intentional design choices and features that impact the functionality of this home as well as its integration with the harsh desert environment of Arizona. While we were there, there were also Chihuly exhibits spaced throughout the grounds (more on that later).
The author trying the harp at the Musical Instruments Museum
Musical Instrument Museum – True to its name, the museum consists of a variety of exhibits dedicated to the vessels that produce pleasing sound. The bulk of the museum showcases a collection of instruments arranged by country, so you get a geographic sense for the origins of music. As you walk by different displays, the provided headphones play corresponding audio clips. There are also smaller showcases that educate about automatic music production, famous musicians, musical instrument production, and an outdoor pavilion where we were able to catch a live concert. And make sure to check out the hands-on room, where you can actually play quite a few instruments, such as a theremin for example.
Botanical Gardens – The Botanical Gardens were extraordinary to visit. While we were there, there was an integrated exhibition from the glass artist Dale Chihuly (whose many works are on display in a wonderful museum in Seattle that I had the fortune of visiting a few years back). The particular interest that I found with the gardens was the highlighting of the flora native to the Arizona region. Many cacti and majestic desert plants wait for visitors to explore, in this albeit slightly small facility. Definitely stop in though! You won’t regret it.
Arizona Biltmore – In Phoenix, this hotel is one of many resorts in the area. While staying here is quite pricey, we nonetheless greatly enjoyed stopping in for a few hours. The grounds and interior of the main building are wonderfully designed (inspired by Frank Lloyd Wright) and just enjoyable to walk around in. We grabbed a seat outdoors and purchased some ice cream for a snack. Assuming the weather is appropriate for such, swimming can be a great activity to enjoy here, as there are a selection of 8 pools on premises, each with their own unique atmosphere.. The hotel sells pool access passes for day visitors.
Sedona – Sedona makes a pretty interesting day trip with some even opting to stay for longer. The main attraction here is hiking, with trails in plentiful abundance. The iconic red rock’s of the area provide a spectacular backdrop for all sorts of outdoor activities though, such as jeeping (as part of a tour) or hot air ballooning. The tourist office in the downtown has maps and can help you find an appropriate trail, or you can research information about trails online beforehand on sites like AllTrails. We hiked most of the Devil’s Bridge Trail, which was stunning, but unfortunately did not make it to the end where a natural stone archway spanning a ravine can be crossed by the daring. Tlaquepaque craft market can be found in Sedona, where little pieces of jewelry and carvings can be purchased. Some claim that “spiritually healing vortexes” can be found in Sedona (whatever that means) and many of the items for sale around town may be more “mystical” (sometimes bordering on avodah zara honestly). Nonetheless, Sedona makes a wonderful day trip.
Camelback Mountain / Papago Park – The Phoenix Metro area has a few hiking options right in the center of the vast urbanization. Papago Park and Camelback Mountain are two such locations. The trail on Camelback Mountain was closed for some reason on the day when we tried to visit. We drove up the sides of the mountain which was quite nice. From what I saw, they both looked great.
Kitchen 18 – This is one of the few kosher meat restaurants in the area. We really did not like the food more than what could have been bought at whole foods for half the price. Maybe other visitors will have different experiences than me.
Milk and Honey – Located in the Jewish Community Center, this cafe serves dairy breakfast/lunch style foods such as omelets, sandwiches, and wraps. We really liked what they had to offer and would highly recommend this establishment.
Other kosher options – The Phoenix area does have other kosher options that we did not end up visiting. Be sure to check them out if you are curious.
I really enjoyed this trip for a quick break with a different flavor from many other places along with the desert scenery. However, thee days was the perfect amount of time. Anything more and I imagine one might have a hard time finding things to do. At that point, perhaps combine the outlined activities with some other destinations.