What annual events should we add to our “Must See” list?
Phoenix Pride, of course. It’s held this year in November, along with the two-day Pride Festival. The Rainbows Festival and Street Fair sponsored by Phoenix Pride (Tel: 602-277-7433.) is traditionally in October in Heritage Square downtown.
Arizona Gay Rodeo is in February, and it’s held outside of Phoenix. Their 2021 rodeo unfortunately had to be cancelled due to Covid, but plans are underway for the 2022 rodeo.
Where can you go to get the best views?
If you want to be outside, I would suggest hiking Camelback Mountain (4925 E. McDonald Dr., Phoenix AZ), or Piestewa Peak (Several trailhead entrances), or Papago Park (625 N. Galvin Parkway, Phoenix AZ), up at the Hole-in-the-Rock.
For dining, J & G Steakhouse at the Phoenician (6000 E. Camelback Rd., Scottsdale AZ. Tel: 480-214-8000.) has a patio that overlooks downtown Phoenix.
Where are the best places to work out?
At any place, you’re going to need a membership or pass of some kind. I’m told that Lifetime Fitness (Various locations. Tel: 855-430-5433.) is one of the best ones. We also have a fitness center here at Hotel Valley Ho (6850 E. Main St., Scottsdale AZ. Tel: 480-376-2600.), and people can purchase memberships and passes.
If someone is looking for a full-service spa, where do you send them?
We have a spa here that is excellent, VH Spa (6850 E. Main St., Scottsdale AZ. Tel: 480-376-2600.). Also, Sanctuary on Camelback (5700 E. McDonald Dr., Paradise Valley AZ. Tel: 855-245-2051.) has a fabulous spa, in a luxury setting with Asian-inspired services, a Zen meditation garden, a reflection pond, and much more.
If they just want to go somewhere not affiliated with a resort, Spa Lamar (5115 N. Scottsdale Rd., Scottsdale AZ. Tel: 480-386-0793.) is a day spa with a swimming pool, relaxation rooms, and yoga, also massage (Swedish, Thai, CBD, hot stones) hair, nails, and facials. They’re on Scottsdale Road, just north of Fashion Square.
Designer labels for less—do you have any suggestions for the smart shopper?
Outlets at Anthem (4250 W. Anthem Way, Phoenix AZ. Tel: 623-465-9500.), toward the north, has stores like Calvin Klein, Coach, Michael Kors, Under Armour, and more. Phoenix Premium Outlets (4976 Premium Outlet Way, Chandler AZ. Tel: 480-639-1766.) is south, down by Ahwatukee, a fairly new city. Stores here include Perry Ellis, Armani Exchange, Brooks Brothers, Cole-Hahn, and many others.
What are the best gay/lesbian bars and dance clubs in the area?
There’s a plethora of gay bars in Phoenix, absolutely. Here are a few:
Kolbalt (3110 N. Central Ave., Phoenix AZ. Tel: 602-264-5307.) is a great gay karaoke bar in Central Phoenix. They have events every night, local entertainment, and cheap strong drinks!
BS West (7125 E. 5th Ave. Rear, Scottsdale AZ. Tel: 480-945-9028.) has one of the outrageous drag shows, it’s fabulous. They’re the only real bar for the community in Scottsdale. Also, in the entertainment district, east of Scottsdale Road, south of Camelback, has a concentration of bars and pubs that’s popped up over the last eight years or so. But for a true community bar with amazing karaoke and fantastic weekly events, don’t miss BS West.
Charlie’s (727 W. Camelback Rd., Phoenix AZ. Tel: 602-265-0224.) is a well-known spot, with a huge dance floor, live DJ’s, a large patio, several bars, and a variety of drag shows, karaoke, and special event parties. It’s been around since 1984 and is still a popular and fun place to go!
Rock Phoenix (4129 N. 7th Ave., Phoenix AZ. Tel: 602-248-8559.) is in the Melrose district in downtown Phoenix, which is becoming known as the gayborhood. They do karaoke, they have drag shows, and you can play darts or relax on the patio.
Stacy’s @ Melrose (4343 N. 7th Ave., Phoenix AZ. Tel: 602-264-1700.) is also in the Melrose District. It’s a unique dance club with an Old World look thanks to its Gothic architecture, and they boast local community art on the walls. They have a variety of events, which you can check out on their website.
Where can someone go at 3 A.M. for a good meal?
Denny’s on 7th Street (5002 N. 7th St., Phoenix AZ. Tel: 602-279-7721. www.dennys.com). At 3 A.M. all the gays are there. There aren’t many places open for food at 3 A.M., but this is definitely a popular spot.
What is the iconic tourist souvenir, and where will we find it?
It depends on what you consider iconic. For me it would be Soleri’s wind bells. To get them, I would go to Cosanti (6433 E. Doubletree Ranch Rd., Paradise Valley AZ. Tel: 480-948-6145.). Take a tour, and get one of the amazing bells, or book a tour up at Arcosanti (13555 S. Cross L Rd., Mayer AZ. Tel: 928-632-7135.).
If you want something more kitschier, like a scorpion in a lollipop, you can get it at Bischoff’s Shades of the West (7247 E. Main St., Scottsdale AZ. Tel: 480-945-3289 or 888-239-5872.). It’s really kind of fun, and you can get rubber snakes or moccasins. They’re on Main Street and Brown in Old Town Scottsdale.
If you’re a Frank L Wright devotee, you can go to the gift shop at Taliesin West (12621 N. Frank Lloyd Wright Blvd., Scottsdale AZ. Tel: 480-627-5398).). The Desert Botanical Garden (1201 N. Galvin Parkway, Phoenix AZ. Tel: 480-941-1225.) is another place to get desert related gifts.
What is your favorite place to explore the magic of the desert nature?
The Desert Botanical Garden (1201 N. Galvin Parkway, Phoenix AZ. Tel: 480-941-1225.) and Papago Park in general, where you have hiking trails, etc. right in the middle of the desert. Further north, there’s the McDowell Sonoran Preserve (Several trailheads. Tel: 480-998-7971.), which they’ve really enhanced and improved with the hiking trails. Also, some of the viewpoints I mentioned above. Another place that I’ll direct people looking for ideas is to the Experience Scottsdale website.
Why should Phoenix/Scottsdale be on a LGBTQ traveler’s must-visit list?
It’s a very gay-friendly environment here; the Melrose neighborhood is a must-do, and I think people are pleasantly surprised with what they find as far as resorts and restaurants that are gay friendly.
Please finish this sentence: Don’t leave the city without…
…being a local. Really go out and see the things that make you feel like you’ve lived here for a nanosecond in time. And then I want you to go home and be a visitor in your own city. I try to encourage people to explore. Get out there, walk, and find out where locals go to buy whatever you’re looking for.
Please go to the local places: the local shops, the local restaurants. We have some phenomenal chefs here, and great restaurants. Incredible resorts. Golf, oh my lord! I can keep someone busy just doing things in Old Town Scottsdale for at least two days, if not more.
Don’t sell Scottsdale short on things to do. It’s not just shopping, spa, and golf, there’s so much more. Our history is incredible, and it goes back to the ancient times. I would send them to this little tiny museum called Huhugam Ki (10005 Osborn Rd., Scottsdale AZ. Tel: 480-362-6320.) in the Salt River Pima-Maricopa community. Museums are great places to start to learn about it. There’s also a historical museum in the Little Red Schoolhouse (7333 E. Scottsdale Mall, Scottsdale AZ. Tel: 480-945-4499.), it’s a one-room schoolhouse so it won’t take long! Most of all, talk to the people in the shops!