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Aug 2, 2011 02:04 PM

Planning wife's birthday, looking for places to explore in Phoenix

Hello everyone,
I wanted some help planning my wife's birthday this weekend. We moved to Tempe just a short while ago and haven't really explored much of the Phoenix area yet. I was considering taking her somewhere nice for dinner, perhaps someplace with a nice hotel so we can enjoy a bottle of wine and not worry about driving or cabs. Lon's at the Hermosa looked nice on the website and has good reviews on Chowhound, but it looked like much of the ambiance is the patio and I'm not sure that sounds nice in the heat. Anyone been there in the summer?

T.Cooks looked ok, although perhaps a bit heavy on big proteins. We ate at POSH this spring and thought it was absolutely amazing, although its pricey. I'd also like to be close to somewhere with some activities close by. We are both pretty active, so if we could do an early hike, bike ride, or similar nearby that would be great. Neither of us is good at golf, but we both enjoy hitting balls at the driving range so that might be an option. Ultimately, we just don't want to shop or sit in the hotel if we stay over night.

Here are a list of the restaurants we have tried in Phoenix. We thought they were all quite good :
Different Pointe of View
Bianco's Pizzeria

Sooo, I'm open to suggestions. What are some ways we can do a local staycation for her Birthday and explore outside of Tempe.

P.S. - If there are suggestions just a short drive away, I'm open to that as well. We visited Sonoma in May so I'd probably skip that, but other cities that get us out of the heat would be a consideration.

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  1. Over the years, we have had many great meals at Lon's, plus have hosted several events there. I have never stayed at the inn, but several of our guests have, and have enjoyed it. Going back some years, they hit a rough spot, but Mr. Unger changed many things around, and smoothed things out nicely.

    I'd look into elements at the Sanctuary Resort, as a possibility, as they are also nice. Just attended an event there, and all was back to how it used to be. They too, hit a rough spot in the past, but seem to have gotten past that.

    The Wild Horse Pass Sheraton and Kai's springs immediately to mind. Again, we have dined there, but have not stayed there. Check if they are open, as last year, they closed for several weeks at the end of July. While I am anything but a casino-type, some of our guests have enjoyed the rooms, for events, and we have had great meals at Kai's.

    Binkley's up in Cave Creek/Carefree is another great option, but Chef Kevin Binkley used to close down in late July, through mid-August. The Boulders Resort is just down the road, and the rooms there are great - first-hand experience finally.

    While there are other great "special occasion" restaurants in the Metro-area, those are the ones that come immediately to my mind, with lodges, or very near lodges. Others will likely fill in with more.

    Happy wife's birthday!


    6920 E. Cave Creek Rd., Cave Creek, AZ 85331

    1. i'd check the summer discounts at the Biltmore, Ca,elback Inn, Sanctuary and the Phoenician. all have summer room rates and good on property restaraunts, as well as access to Camelback etc for other dining.

      1. In town, I opt for T.Cooks because it is so gracious and delicious. The meal need not be 'meat-centric'. My last guests there were vegetarian and very happy with their dinner. Be sure to tell them that it a birthday when (if?) you make a reservation.
        For a "local" out of town recommendation -- Hidden Meadow Ranch in Greer was a lovely experience for us. We rode horses all day, stayed in a beautiful luxe cabin and ate chef-prepared meals three times daily. Yes, it is pricey and we loved every moment of our time there. If you have your own horses, you can take them. If you don't ride there are other activities.

        It isn't local, but the Arizona Inn in Tucson is another old Arizona property that has aged very gracefully.

        Personally, I would opt for the Mendocino Coast or Santa Barbara or Coronado but that is because I am happiest when faced with a beach but none of these fit your criteria for "... short drive away".

        3 Replies
        1. re: Sherri

          t cooks is always good to great when i have been there for what you are looking for the royal palms resort is very romantic / old word - sun - thurs during the summer they have $50 3 course anything for each course off the menu which is good for their normal prices if that helps

          1. re: Dapuma

            Perhaps I should have posted a disclaimer -- I have a very soft spot in my heart for the romantic Royal Palms Resort; we were married there almost twelve years ago. Most all of our (in town) milestones are celebrated at T.Cooks. Succintly put, it is a favorite. What could be lovelier than enjoying a cocktail while strolling the grounds before a leisurely dinner, enjoying a wonderful meal then retiring to one of the lovely casitas for the night? I thought it fit the "in town" part of the OP's request perfectly. Glad that you agree.

            1. re: Sherri

              I completely understand. My wife and I are both skiers and got married on the slopes of Beaver Creek in CO. We return every winter to go skiing and celebrate our anniversary. We always have dinner and a cocktail at the restaurant where we had our reception. Of course, our wedding pics are featured on the hotel's website to promote weddings there so we usually end up with complimentary drinks which doesn't hurt either.

        2. Thanks everyone. After all that I ended up going with Hermosa Inn and dinner at Lon's. I called and was able to get a great package and upgraded room (Deluxe Casita). I checked out Sanctuary and T.Cooks and will need to put those on the list of places to try in the future.