We FBGs wanted to give readers a “Fit Bottomed Tour” of our towns, showing the fit and healthy places we love to frequent. Kind of like if you came to visit us from out of town—it would be all the places we’d show off! So without further ado, this one is from Susan!
“But isn’t it hot there?”
Every time I mention I live in Phoenix, Arizona, I get this question. Every. Single. Time. So let’s just address this right off the bat: Yes, Phoenix is hot. But it’s also very, very cool.
There’s a reason so many folks move to the Valley of The Sun — in addition to friendly people, gorgeous scenery and amazing architecture, Phoenix serves up infinite options for the active, health-conscious individual. Want to climb mountains? We’ve got them. Prefer something flatter? Take a canal path. Swim? Yoga? Crossfit? Yes. Yes. Yes. And when you’re all done and ready for lunch, there’s an endless buffet waiting for you.
If I could wrap this city in a big, sweaty, Fit-Bottomed hug, I would.
8 Phoenix Must-Visits:
1. Best trails to run or mountain bike: Papago Park. Located in the heart of the city, Papago Park is a 1,500-acre playground for runners. The trails weave through gorgeous red sandstone buttes and around pristine lagoons; you’ll also get a good view of the Phoenix Zoo and Desert Botanical Gardens. Don’t miss the climb to “Hole in The Rock,” where you’ll be rewarded with refreshing winds and great views of the west side of the city.
2. Best market for local, healthy wares: Saturdays at Phoenix Public Market. The Phoenix Public Market is a great destination any day, but Saturdays have an added bonus of an open-air market and food-truck service. Grab an acai bowl from Mojo Bowl or spring rolls from the Great Pho King Food Truck, then load up your baskets with the offerings of local farmers and purveyors.
3. Best pool: Mona Plummer Aquatic Center, Arizona State University. Regarded as one of the best aquatic centers in the nation, the “Mona Plummer,” as the locals call it, is always a sure bet for lap swimming. Go at noon or 6 p.m. on weekdays, when you can hop in the pool for a challenging (but fun!) workout with the Sun Devil Masters group.
4. Best open-water swim: Canyon Lake. In addition to clean water and stunning scenery, Canyon Lake provides swimmers with peace of mind — the one-mile loop in Boulder Recreation Area is off-limits to motorized watercraft, making for a safer open-water swim experience.
5. Best place for a post-workout treat: 24 Carrots. I go to a gym that has a smoothie bar near the exit. I could stop there on my way out and grab a post-workout treat … but I don’t. Instead, I hop in my car and take a mile-long detour to 24 Carrots. This is a small restaurant with big flavors. Order a Voodoo Cooler from the juice bar, and if there are vegan cupcakes on display, take them all. Yes, I’m serious — after you eat one, I guarantee you’ll go back and order the rest. They’re that good.
6. Best local race: Please don’t make me pick just one! Choosing just one “best” race in Phoenix is a near-impossible feat — the city offers amazing races almost every week! The endurance community is loud and proud in this city, and it attracts a lot of big events to the area: Ironman, Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon, Women’s Running Half Marathon, and Leadman 125 all take place in Phoenix each year. All of these are marvelous experiences offering a lot of excitement!
But I’ve always had an infatuation with smaller races, put on by local folks. Thankfully, Phoenix has a lot of those, too: The non-profit Lost Dutchman Marathon Festival is better than any corporate-owned race, and the 4 Peaks Splash & Dash events always feel like a family reunion (every family wears spandex, right?).
7. Best place for hill repeats: South Mountain. At first glance, South Mountain looks intimidating — impossible, even. But the first time you conquer the summit by foot or on a bike, you will feel invincible. Climb 800 feet over four miles to Dobbins Lookout, or go for the gusto — 1,300 feet of climbing in seven miles — to get to the TV towers at the very tippy-top. Go first thing in the morning, when you can catch cool breezes and the most amazing sunrise.
8. Best post-ride brunch: The Farm at South Mountain. After descending South Mountain, ride your bike to The Farm. This peaceful oasis is home to Morning Glory, a gorgeous patio café serving up farm-to-table (literally!) goodness. Sip coffee in the pecan groves and stop to smell the flowers at Maya’s Garden — you’ll completely forget you’re in the middle of a bustling metropolis.
Fellow ‘Zonies — did I miss any of your Sun City Favorites? What’s your favorite Fit Bottomed destination in Phoenix? —Susan