I am here to testify that a trip to the Phoenix area of Arizona can be an absolute delight, even in the summertime. You may need to explore the hiking trails early in the morning and frequent air-conditioned buildings and refreshing swimming pools for the rest of the day, but don’t let the thermometer scare you away. I am so excited to share with you my 3 favorite things to recommend from my vacation to East Valley, Phoenix. Each are well worth the visit, no matter the season!
This East Valley destination is one of my 3 favorites because it is jaw-dropping awesome! It contains mazes of trails from short and flat to long and steep. There is something for everyone. The natural terrain is breath-taking, with saguaro cactus and desert colors as far as the eye can see. Did you know a saguaro cactus does not sprout arms until it is 50-100 years old? Just think of what these beauties have seen and endured over the years!
The trails in San Tan Mountain Regional Park are dusty. Bring plenty of water! There are ample opportunities to stop and hydrate while you rest on a benched viewpoint or stand aside the path to let a horse or mountain bike pass you by.
Have you heard of the Jumping Cholla cactus? They are totally terrifying and incredibly interesting. In my opinion, they definitely deserve your cautious intrigue. Apparently, their real name is Teddy Bear Cholla, but they are not cuddly! They easily release their wads of barbed spines, so if you or your pet get too close, it will seemingly “jump” and stick into the flesh of whatever disturbed it. Know what they look like and stay on the trails if you hike in San Tan Mountain Regional Park. Watch this short but incredibly informative and also agonizing video!
Do not miss this attraction if you are anywhere near the Phoenix East Valley. Seriously, this is a must stop! It is one of my 3 favorite recommendations, because whether you are an information junkie, a nifty souvenir hunter, a food connoisseur, or all the above, you will thoroughly enjoy the time you spend here.
Ok, forgive my ineptness at taking selfies, I’m learning. Focus on the bounty! The large gift shop area of the mill contains bottles upon bottles of olive oil in many varieties of richness and flavors. The best part is you can sample them all! In addition to the oils, they have a section of balsamic vinegars and recommended pairings galore. They also sell wooden treasures made from the bark of the olive trees and olive oil skin care products. We found gifts for all our adult kids at this one-stop souvenir shop!
And the food! You can dine on baked goods, deli creations or signature entrees, and the olive oil is the star of every selection! I’m not yet an olive oil aficionado, but every one of my senses enjoyed this experience. We ate lunch indoors, but the outdoor patio was equipped with misters and a stage for live music. Just one more reason to go back and enjoy the Queen Creek Olive Mill again and again!
We took a guided tour of the working mill and learned that an olive tree can produce, seasonally, for up to 3000 years! If you’ve been to Israel, you may have walked under an olive tree that was there when Jesus walked by. I read that there is an olive tree in Bethlehem that is thought to be 5000 years old. Think of that!
We were given information about the process of making olive oil and how to know if you’re paying a good price for the quality. But honestly, it was the Biblical references that occupied my thoughts. I simply must interrupt this recommendation post with a quick devotional thought…
Our mill tour guide explained that the olives are pressed, but never crushed. If they are crushed, they fall apart, and the particles contaminate the oil. Suddenly, 2 Corinthians 4:8-9 came alive to me. The Apostle Paul, who may have eaten olive oil from a tree whose oil is still being served in Israel today, was making a reference to something familiar.
We may be pressed, perplexed, and the rest, but only to the extent that Godly purity can pour forth from us and shine. We are not crushed or abandoned by our Lord in any way which would contaminate His goodness. Tell me that isn’t an incredibly relevant picture!
This was my favorite coffee stop on my trip and coffee is one of my favorite things, so there were many coffee stops. If you are ever in the East Valley area of Phoenix, this quaint shop in Chandler must be on your list. I had a decadent iced coconut espresso, complete with coconut crème and toasted coconut flakes on top. My husband had something similar with cold brew and my friend tried the matcha green tea. We all raved!
Well, those are my 3 favorite things to recommend to you from my vacation to East Valley, Phoenix. The best thing about the whole trip, though, is not a recommendation I can make, only an experience to tell you about. My most cherished thing of all was staying with friends.
They rolled out the welcome mat for my husband and me and made us feel right at home in theirs. I can’t finish a post about the wonders of the East Valley without including a few photos and comments about our time with these dear people.
This gal has been blessing me with the gift of Godly friendship since 7th grade and I couldn’t appreciate her more. Besides being the ultimate tour guides and taking us to each of the above highlighted 3 favorite places, she and her husband spoiled us and made us wish vacations could last forever.
The morning Arizona sunrises were glorious in their backyard hammock. My blogging time was interrupted only by mosquitos, who must have been as surprised to find themselves in that beautiful spot as I was to see them there. Normally, there are very few mosquitos in the East Valley, I learned, but due to the unusual monsoon activity in the Phoenix area this year, there were many.
Any discomfort from mosquito bites was quickly forgotten when I bit into my friend’s from-scratch, oat and blueberry pancakes topped with strawberries and a mountain of homemade whipped cream the size of my face. She also served us huevos rancheros, lemon chicken, carne asada tacos with street corn, several delicious and healthy salads, and so much more! She has inspired me to be more creative in the kitchen again because I’ve tasted the results and they are worth it!
We all cleaned up pretty well, if I do say so myself! We spent our last evening with a meal out and a movie in. It was the perfect ending to a wonderful visit full of fellowship and fun. My hubby and I are deeply grateful for the warm hospitality we received. We are already looking forward to our next visit to Phoenix, East Valley. Have you ever been there? What were some of your favorite things?
Tell me about somewhere you’ve travelled or somewhere close to home you like to visit. Do you have a recommendation to share from one of your favorite spots? I’d love to hear them!