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Guest Blogger Amanda Farr discusses her discovery and new love of her home in Arizona

Phoenix is a city I never imagined visiting. However, as I was working towards my MBA someone offered me a job out there and my husband and I said, “why not?” Since then, we have had many visitors so I thought I would put together a few of our favorite places to take people when they come to the city.

The Frank Lloyd Wright house, Taliesin West, is one of my favorite places to take people in Phoenix. It is the house and workspace Frank Lloyd Wright built towards the end of his career. He would spend the winters in Arizona while traveling back to Wisconsin in the summer. The tour of the house and grounds is very interesting in that you not only get to learn more about Frank’s architectural style towards the end of his life, but you also get to learn about how Frank believed in teaching his students, and in how Arizona has changed over the years. The great thing about Taliesin West is that it is still an architecture school which gives it a unique element. The tour lasts about an hour and the house and grounds are close to the city. It is easy to visit this place in the morning before it gets too hot.

The second thing I always recommend for people in Phoenix is a hot air balloon ride. These leave really early in the morning, 5AM, so you definitely need to plan for this. Though I was nervous at first, I was pleasantly surprised at how safe and gentle the whole experience was. After showing up at 5am and signing a bunch of waivers, you head out in a van to the launch site. You can either help the crew blow the balloon up or watch (I watched and took photos). Then you climb into the basket and take off. You float gently above roads, Arizona desert and fields and watch as the city wakes up. You are in the air about an hour before coming down and having a champagne breakfast. It’s a great experience that really shows you a side of Arizona most people don’t get to see.

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Since Arizona is hot in the Summers (and Fall…and Spring) people like to do indoor activities during the hottest part of the day. A museum I always take people to visit is the Musical Instrument Museum. The space has instruments from all over the world and from all time periods. Also, if you are up for a fun concert, you can catch some interesting groups playing at night. Last time we went we saw Feufollet, a southwest Louisiana Cajun band.

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By now, you are probably hungry. If you haven’t ever been to the west, you may want to try In ‘n Out Burger. It is a pretty iconic place that local people love. However, the best cuisine Arizona has to offer hand down is Mexican food. My favorite restaurant is Filiberto’s. It’s not fancy, but it is cheap. You can get two chicken tacos, rice, beans, and a drink for under $10.

If you are in Arizona for a few days, the scenery is spectacular and should definitely be experienced. Inside the city, some of the best hiking can be found at Camelback Mountain. The walk isn’t too strenuous but you definitely need to bring water + a snack. Another hike that offers great views, though is east of the city a bit, is Pinnacle Peak. Again, bring water. Truthfully though, it’s Arizona so you should always bring water wherever you go.

If you are up for some traveling, Flagstaff offers cooler temperatures and a mountain-like climate and snow and it only two hours north of Phoenix. Another fun place people visit to hike is in Sedona. The views are spectacular and the red rocks always amaze.

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Good luck on your visit to Arizona and remember, always bring water!

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