A road trip is something everyone should be doing now. I have been doing all up and down the coast in California but I forgot how close Arizona is and how many beautiful things there are to visit there. I recently drove to Mesa, Arizona, it’s my first trip outside of California since the pandemic started and I’m happy I went. If you follow me on Instagram you know I love doing hikes and outdoor activities and Arizona has so much of that. Mesa also offers a fun activity called the Fresh Foodie Trail, they have mapped out all the best things to try in Mesa and surrounding cities. It only took us four and a half hours from LA to Mesa, the drive is so beautiful and easy. If you are like me and are not ready to get on a plane yet pack your bags, get in your car and head over to Mesa.
We started off our trip with a stay in an air stream hotel, The Cozy Peach, that is on a gorgeous farm called Schnepf’s Farm. This was my very first time staying in an air stream and on a farm. Two things I can now check off of my list. The Cozy Peach has about 10 different vintage air streams to stay in. All of them are uniquely styled with all the modern accommodations that you would need inside. They are outfitted with modern appliances which include coffee makers, fridges and comfy beds. They also offer bbq’s to use, outdoor games and bikes that you can ride around the farm.
We stayed a night so we just picked up dinner from Queen’s Creek Olive Oil Mill and enjoyed a dinner al fresco in our patio, with a bottle of locally made wine from Arizona. Before dinner I took a bike ride all around the Schnepf Farm, that is something you have to do when you stay at the Cozy Peach. They have a hidden library in a small forest, it has books, a hammock and places to relax and read.
At Schnepf’s Farm they also have miniature deer. I rode me bike to them and fed them some leaves. You can feed them through the fence and they are the cutest things ever. This was one of the highlights of my stay at the Cozy Peach. The farm also offers an area where you can pick your own veggies and flowers. I rode my bike over there and walked around the garden. It’s such a great way to enjoy an afternoon. I also loved that the farm has an onsite bakery so when you are staying at the Cozy Peach you can get some sweet treats for your stay or in the morning you can walk over there and pick up breakfast and a coffee.
The next morning we loved the Queen’s Creek Olive Oil Mill that we went back for breakfast and a tour. They are known from their lemon ricotta pancakes, every thing we ate there was amazing. The Olive Oil Mill is a family owned business that has over 7,000 trees with 16 varieties. I love their store, it has artisanal snacks and foods. Everything from Olive Oil, meal kits, tapenades, cheeses, wine and more. It’s a great place to go to pick up a sandwich or salad and take it on a hike with you. They also have a large outdoor seating area that is tucked in a grove of Olive trees. We did an olive oil tour and they taught us the correct way to taste olive oil. If you are not planning to visit them soon you don’t have to miss out because you can order online some of their handmade soaps and Olive Oils.
A short drive away from the Olive Oil Mill is Hayden Flour Mill. If you love to bake or know someone who loves to I would stop by the store to pick up some flour and pasta. This is also a family owned company who focuses on native seeds and growing heirloom wheat that has minimal processing. Their packaging is amazing and it makes for a great gift. Hayden Flour is also a favorite of many renowned bakers!
To my surprise Arizona has many sustainable communities, one being Agritopia. At Agritopia they have a community that is located in Gilbert, Arizona. There is an urban farm in the community and instead selling the farm land off when the area started to get more populated they built a community around the farm. Anyone can come to Agritopia even if you don’t live in the neighborhood. They have a community garden where people can pay a small fee and grown their own produce. Even if you haven’t had any gardening experience they offer classes to teach you how to do all things farming and gardening. The farm also offers events like farm night it’s a food event for the restaurants on property, they have a CSA which is a box that you pay for and you get 6-9 seasonal produce in a box, and they have a Farm Store which was so cute, the farm store is an honor system so you can go in and check yourself out. There is no one in the store to assist you. Also at Agritopia is an area called Barnone, it’s more than a food hall. It has handcrafted goods like an arms store, a lettercraft, and so much more. The building that Barnone is in was crafted by metal from WWII planes that served at a nearby Air Force Base.
After the exploring of Agritopia we had lunch and wine tasting at Garage East. It is owned by Todd & Kelly Bostock who are local winemakers. The space is beautiful, they have a lovely patio which you could easily spend an afternoon at. I know I could’ve. They have wines there that are fresh and bold. I really enjoyed the breakfast wine, and they had a green white wine that I loved so much that I bought some to take home. To compliment their wine they have amazing food. We tried three panini’s, they were all so delicious it’s hard to pick a favorite. When you go you need to do the same thing and get a sampler of all three. I can’t wait to go back.
We went from glamping to a hotel for the rest of our stay. We stayed at the Sheraton Mesa Hotel at Wrigleyville. If you are a Cub’s fan then you should stay there. It’s next to where the Cub’s spring train and the field is a miniature version of Wrigley Field. What’s interesting too is that there are some Chicago food institutions located around the hotel that I spotted when I was driving.
We headed out to dinner earlier because the next day we had an early morning and a very full day. I wanted to see as much as I could during my short stay. One of the restaurants that are on the Foodie Trail for Mesa is Postino East Wine Café. It boasts a large wine selection, 36 different wines, many of them being local wines. Their food is curated with local ingredients. They are known for their bruschetta. You must try them, they are meant for sharing and pair perfectly with wine. They have a beautiful wrap around patio and it’s perfect for these spring and summer nights.
I woke up at 3 am to get ready for my sunrise hot air balloon ride with Rainbow Ryders. This is a must. Watching the sunrise with hot air balloons surrounding you in the desert is magical. There is no other way to describe it. I have been in hot air balloons several times but never over the desert. Seeing the saguaros and the colors of the desert is a memory that will stay with you for a lifetime.
The flight ranges from 40-60 minutes depending on the wind and weather. If this isn’t on your bucket list you need to add it. If you have done it before this view is like no other. It was one of my favorite things that I did while visiting Mesa.
It’s great to go for a special occasion, if you are like me and love adventure. I saw a lot of families here too. If you want to do something special and create great memories, this hot air balloon ride is what you need in your life.
I had never visited a vertical farm before. I didn’t know they existed until now. True Garden is the future of urban farming. It was started and is still operated by pharmacist Troy Albright, PhD. He has the most incredible story and farm. He’s an innovator in the industry and is very knowledgable on nutrition and how plants can heal you. I could’ve spent the entire day there. I had the chance to sample some of the produce he grows. To tell you it tastes better than any organic veggie I have eaten is an understatement. If I lived closer I would shop at his famers market weekly which he has in at his farm. You can not tour the actual farm but you can buy the produce that he grows. If you have been following me for awhile you know that I eat plant based for 90% of the time and have been since I was child. I know veggies and these are the best.
I’m always inspired by people who create beautiful things like what Steadfast Farms is doing. They are a bio-intensive market farm that is located in a community called Eastmark. They grow everything organic from fruits, veggies, flowers and also have organic eggs available. Steadfast farms is where a lot of chef driven restaurants in the area get their produce and it’s because it’s some of the best produce grown in the area. Erich Schultz who is the farmer who created Steadfast Farms started as a passion project and now consults everywhere on farming techniques and creating these urban farms.
Erich is the leader in creating these suburban farms. He has a focus on ecological principle which considers the soil’s health. He’s thoughtful in what he plants and how it’s farmed. Steadfast farms also has a cute store that carries their produce, flowers and eggs as well as products from local artisanal foods. This was the most aesthetically pleasing store as well.
Anyone can come visit the store and they also have a cute coffee bar that they have just opened. That is located next to the farm store. Next time I’m in town I will be going there! Located at the Eastmark is a cute diner called Handlebar Diner, I recommend the cobb salad or fish tacos.
To finish off our day of activities we did sunset goat yoga. I have done goat yoga once before and actually tried doing yoga this time I decided that I would just focus my time on the baby goats who are really cute. We did it with Arizona Goat Yoga and the owners were on a show called The Amazing Race. The goats are free to roam around and during poses they jump on and off of people. I had a baby goat come up to me and crawl into my arms and fall asleep. It was the best way to end the day.
We wanted to check out downtown Mesa and headed to dinner there and tried 12 West Brewery. Mesa is known for their breweries and have the most in the area. 12 West Brewery is a taproom and lounge, they have very generous serving sizes. They also have a really fun cocktail menu, I had a light and refreshing cocktail that was made with kombucha. They also have an extensive craft beer selection. I loved that they had live music and also a small shop inside that you can take your favorite beers home with you. I recommend starting off with a cocktail, then trying some of their beers. We loved the shishito peppers, katsu chicken sandwich and their salads are amazing.
Our last day in Mesa we wanted to explore the Apache Trail. I wish I had one more day in Arizona so that I could’ve really taken my time exploring this area. It has gorgeous hikes and its a historic trail that goes through the Superstition Mountains into the foothills of the Tonto Natural Forest. It is the fifth largest forest in the US.
We started the morning with kayaking down the Salt River. This is a must when visiting Mesa. It’s the most serene and relaxing activity. I had only ever kayaked in Malibu before which is ocean kayaking and it’s very different than kayaking down a river. We went with Saguaro Lake Guest Ranch, they have kayaking all day long and teach you how to kayak if you’re a first timer. This is a great way to have scenic views of the mountains and it’s a really fun way to spend a morning. I suggest booking a morning excursion because it does get very hot even by mid morning depending on what time of year you visit. You should definitely bring a wet bag for your phone, sunscreen and some water. It takes about two hours to get from the starting point to the end point.
One of my favorite parts besides being on the water with the views is seeing the wild horses that roam along the river. They are small and you may catch a glimpse of them drinking water by the river. It’s really beautiful, just be respectful and mindful if you see them. They startle easily and are wild. Kayaking down the river is something that I will do again.
After our kayaking fun we wanted to go explore Goldfield Ghost Town and grab some lunch at Mammoth Steakhouse and Saloon. Goldfield Ghost Town is an old gold mining town from 1892. They have daily gun fights there to watch, stores to shop in and several places to eat. They also just added Superstition Zip-lining and you know I had to do that. The zipline is so fun, you take get views of the town and also of the mountains. It’s a fun activity for adults and children. They also have several tours to take when you are there. We wanted to take one but didn’t have time because we had booked a cruise to go on. Next time I visit the tour I want to take is of the underground mines.
If you want to cool down and get a bite to eat there is a Mammoth Steak and Saloon. They have a great prickly pear margarita and some dishes that are good for sharing. On the weekends they have live music in the back on their patio. It’s worth popping in for drink or bite to see the decor.
To finish our day we wanted to still be out on the water in Arizona and we went for a cruise on Dolly Cruises. It’s a steamboat that takes you around Canyon Lake. If you want to do something relaxing it is the best way to learn about the area. We learned about history, saw petrified trees that were in the mountains. We also saw wild mountain sheep and eagles. The cruise is a great and affordable way to spend a couple of hours learning about area and relaxing on the water. There is no bad view from the boat.
Our last dinner we had we went back to Gilbert. We went to Barrio Queen which is a cute Mexican restaurant. They have a fun cocktail menu with so many good drinks. I loved the table-side guacamole, pozole, tacos and they had amazing caramel filled churros. The atmosphere is fun, make sure to make a reservation because it gets very crowded.
If you are looking for a fun road trip Mesa is the place to head to. I know I’ll be back there soon!