Phoenix AZ – Roosevelt Row

Roosevelt Row is the arts district of Phoenix. Its one of the first spots I explored when I started photography and getting into local community a few years ago. And the memories I’ve made here over the years makes it one of my favorite places in Phoenix. Even this last Saturday, I discovered three spots I had never known about. It’s an easy area to wander and stumble upon street art or cute boutiques and galleries, and this article is for the purpose of encouraging you to do just that: wander.  There’s so much in Roosevelt Row that it would be impossible to feature and give just impression of each spot. So here’s some highlights from my weekend on Roosevelt Row.

I’d have to start by informing you of First Friday. It’s well known by Phoenicians as a night to be on Roosevelt Row for free art galleries, and pop up local art tents, local musicians playing on the streets, and food trucks. Because it’s a popular event, I recommend going for your first experience, as I enjoyed mine, but not everyone likes how crowded the streets, galleries, and coffee shops can get.

I prefer to explore Roosevelt Row on a morning or afternoon. And walking it anytime other than an Arizona summer, is so nice and there’s lots of street art to see. The art galleries rotate with local artists, the boutiques are set in neighborhood homes, as are a local coffee and ice scream spot. Let me highlight some of my favorite stumble upons.

Let’s say you want to walk in a loop. You could park on Roosevelt and 4th Street. There’s a cut out semi-truck with a piano and wood Arizona flag designed by a local artist.

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On the same corner is the Modified Arts gallery. They rotate featuring local artists, and are free. I really loved the current local artist Christine Cassano.

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Behind the gallery and semi-truck is an alley with every wall and dumpster covered in  murals.

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If you walk further on Roosevelt Row and turn south on 5th Street, there’s a cute boutique on the corner in the first house called Made Boutique.

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The second house is Jobot. A local coffee shop open 24 hours. Three years ago, when me and my friend were trying to discover Phoenix and our local community, this was the first local coffee shop we tried. And the back alley was where I took my first photos as a film student. I remember we were a little sketched out, but the alley and semi were covered in murals which were perfect for my project. The semi is still there too, but the mural on it changes every so often.

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And after that, in a pink house is a ice cream shop called Melt.

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They have flavors like salted caramel, Jobot coffee, and fruity pebbles… I tried those three and they were so great. Seriously though, the fruity pebbles one is just too fun and unique to not go back for.

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On the same street are more boutiques and a bookstore. Easy to stumble upon, if you turn East on the next street Garfield, and then head North on 6th Street, the first two boutiques are really cute. I adored GROWop’s space.

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We met Josh, the very friendly and stylish owner, who said he designed the space in Madewell style. He told us a little about the concept of the boutique, including some history on how he had once lived in the house before it was GROWop. He offered to work with me on any photoshoots I did, meaning that I could borrow items at no cost. How fun! And exactly why I love connecting with local community: there’s so much kindness and interest in supporting local artists and a sense of working together.

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At the end of 6th Street, on the North side of Roosevelt is a gem I just recently, and finally discovered, named Curious Nature. I fell in the love with this unique themed boutique. We met the owner Mason and he was super friendly and funny. I love connecting with others involved in local community. And that moment at Curious Nature was exactly that. Mason was well informed on what Roosevelt Row offered in local community, and was the reason I found some new spots in the area.

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This shop was absolutely fascinating. The space is small but there was so much to captivate one’s interest for a length of time, which I say from my personal experience: I was there for a length of time. Let’s just say there were bats, spiders, jarred and framed pigs. And then I’ll say it’s a must that you discover this spot for yourself.  I’ve never found such a unique shop in Phoenix, so as a rare find, I definitely label it as a gem that should be paid a visit.

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If you stay on the North side of Roosevelt and walk west and just past your car, there’s a coffee shop named Songbird. It’s a popular place know for it’s photogenic space. And there’s greenHAUS gallery boutique. The first time I stumbled on this boutique, I was all about it.

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Also, there are a couple of popular food spots on Roosevelt Row. Short Leash hot dogs and Welcome Diner.  Short Leash has made a good name for themselves, and from the only chance I’ve had to try them, it was just as delicious as I had heard. Welcome Diner is outside the arts district in another residential neighborhood just East on Roosevelt Row.

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I love their vibes and that they are open for late night comfort food cravings. I honestly don’t have enough Welcome Diner in my life and that needs to change.

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One of their most popular items is the Big Jim: a biscuits and gravy sandwich with fried chicken, bacon and cheddar cheese. It’s like the epitome of comfort food.

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And another coffee shop option on Roosevelt Row is a cute spot called Lola. I need to snap some updated photos to post. A couple years ago I was always frequenting this spot and introducing everyone I knew to it, so I’ll pass that on to introduce YOU next. It’s definitely a coffee shop that’s made a name for itself.

This definitely isn’t a comprehensive list, but I’m hoping you will go and find some stumble upons for yourself!

Northern AZ – Flagstaff, Grand Canyon, Route 66

I think anything can be a good reason to take time away from work to travel. Driving out of town for a wedding, for example, can be turned into a three day weekend to explore a town. I recently went to a wedding in Flagstaff for two friends that I’ve had the pleasure to watch meet, befriend, engage and wed. It’s beautiful to see two people who are so genuine and full of life commit themselves to one another. The ceremony was in an adorable country chapel, and the reception to follow was outdoors in the forest at sunset. It was all too adorable to even capture, so here’s the only shot that a new friend captured that I love.

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So this is my roommate from Italy that I reunited with at the wedding. Having not seen her since Italy nine months before, made the wedding all the more special, especially since we had planned on spending the weekend together in flagstaff.

FRIDAY

So coming up early for the wedding, I spent the day in Downtown Flagstaff at some spots that I had been recommended to. Since I’m not much of a breakfast person, I arrived around noon starving. I didn’t have any plans, so my plans became to find a good breakfast spot. I decided on La Bellavia. They are known for their eggs Benedict, of which there were about 10 options for on the menu, so naturally that’s what I went for, going with the artichoke and avocado Benedict. The sauce definitely proved that La Bellavia knew what they were doing with their Benedict’s, but honestly, my favorite thing about this place was sitting outside on their mini patio on the breezy day that was perfect for people watching.

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La Bellavia is located right by Macy’s European Coffee House which is like tourist central, that being the only reason I would try them, and having heard they were over-rated, they were too packed on the weekend for me to go in and form my own opinion.

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I’m a firm believer that coffee, especially black, is great for digestion and increasing the metabolism – though some would tease me for thinking so – so after my heavy brunch, I moved to Firecreek Coffee Co.

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Not knowing the area well, I reparked closer to the Downtown Flagstaff area, but I could have easily walked. It was never hard to find a spot or two, but most places are marked for two hours or with specifications, so just be sure to be aware.

Firecreek Coffee Co. is an adorable space with friendly baristas and in the know for what they are doing with their coffee. I got a Papua New Guinea cold brew.

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Afterward I acquainted myself with the Downtown Flagstaff area. It was an easy town to navigate.

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I found the Basement Marketplace which was recommended to me and which I would pass on the recommendation. Here you will find the famous Diablo Burger, and other boutiques and gift shops, but my favorite is the actual Basement: an underground local shop in the style of Urban Outfitters.

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The workers were extremely friendly, including this girl that I took a portrait of, who listed out places for me to try. I always appreciate what locals recommend because they know what they are talking about. She was another to affirm the need for me to try Diablo Burger. She was the sweetest. And really, the best part of travel is meeting new people: there is something special about a stranger showing hospitality and welcoming you to their town.

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I also stumbled on The Sweet Shoppe. Another spot with extremely friendly and kind staff.

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The girl helping me recommended the Oreos dipped in mint chocolate, and it was just as great as she said they were. I also got a white chocolate and sprinkle pretzel which was great. They let me know a little about their shop, including that they house make their caramel for the chocolates, and that they have a location in the Phoenix area.

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SATURDAY

The following day, my friends wanted to visit the Grand Canyon. I, needing coffee to start my day, drove us out to Williams on the way. We drove past an outdoor flea market, then returned to browse around. Such a fun stumble upon! We found some great items that were so cheap, and eventually figured out that we were on historic Route 66.

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My find was an Italian Moka Pot. I’ve been hunting for one for months since returning from Italy, and they never come cheap or easy to find, so I was pretty excited. The couple selling it to me weren’t even sure how it was supposed to be used, so we got to show and interact with them, and they were so glad that they could sell it to someone who would use and appreciate it. All for only $5! And while taking a photo with my new Moka Pot in front of a blue Ford, a little old man came out joking, “It costs $5 to take pictures with my truck.” His name was Clide and he told us about his service in the Air Force in Okinawa and other life details. He was so cute that I had to ask if I could take his portrait.

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The drive up to the Grand Canyon is so pretty. The landscape changing constantly. Most of the drive was deserted, but we made a stop at Bedrock and to buy jerky from a car parked by the side of the road.

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We spent a few hours at the Grand Canyon having time enough for  a few various view points, and stopping to picnic at one of them.

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Most of the look out points have too many tourists for anyone to get a good view or to feel close to nature, so our last stop was definitely my favorite: Yaki Point.

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There weren’t many people there, and even so there was a rock plateau within walking distance where there was no one. We climbed up it and had the best view of the canyon. And we were at the top of the canyon so we had the rush of the constant wind. And though we were there in early evening, it seemed like a perfect place to watch the sunset, which having experienced the Grand Canyon at sunset once before, I totally recommend putting in your plans when you visit.

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We drove back to Route 66 for the evening. We got ice cream and looked through the shops, but there really wasn’t much else to do, unless you want to eat.

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I’d say it’s a good spot to walk through and see and grab food, but don’t plan on being there longer than a few hours, unless you go earlier on a summer weekend when the flea market is open or you hear of an event.

SUNDAY

The following day I took a more relaxed approach and revisited Downtown Flagstaff.

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Went back to Firecreek Coffee Co. and tried an Orange Lavender Iced Latte. It was unique and totally worth trying. Being obsessed with orange in my coffee, and lavender in general lately, I completely loved his latte. Plus, having been to so many coffee shops in my travels, this coffee shop is the only place I’ve ever seen this flavor. They also have a spicy cardamom syrup that is unique, but I wasn’t as crazy about it.

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I went in and out of shops, including Earthbound which was recommended to me by a local. So cute for sure.

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Also found a small bookstore, a vintage costume shop, and other boutiques. There’s definitely enough to stumble upon.

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Then I tried Diablo Burger since multiple people had told me about it. The most obvious quality was how kind the staff was in dealing with all the hangry people waiting in a very long line. I had plenty of time to look through the menu, but I quickly knew what I would order: SeƱor Smoke of ancho grilled onions, grilled avocado, bacon, cilantro and Sriracha mayo. It was delish and I loved that it was a local spot in Flagstaff and Tucson.  There’s definitely enough to do in northern AZ for locals looking to get out of town a few days, or for those traveling from out of state for a Grand Canyon vacation.

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