24 Hours in Phoenix: Design and the Desert

While the Phoenix area has seen myriad waves of change and growth since Frank Lloyd Wright built his beloved winter getaway here, glimmers of the things he loved can still be found all across the region. Today, the city is home to a thriving arts scene, stunning natural beauty, and a bounty of celebrated chefs. Here’s how to make the most of your time in the Valley of the Sun, even if you only have one day.

Morning

Trail Time. Start your day with a hike through the landscape that Wright fell in love with at the McDowell Sonoran Preserve, where towering saguaros and blooming prickly pears pepper the landscape. Just east of Phoenix, the Preserve offers a variety of trailheads, suited to every skill level.

Farm Fresh. Wright was ahead of his time when he founded the Taliesin Fellowship (now the School of Architecture at Taliesin), an apprenticeship program meant to provide an integrated education of architecture combined with farming, gardening, and cooking, among other things. Post-hike, revel in the bounty of the Southwest’s best farms — and grab a bite to eat — at one of the many farmers markets across the Valley.

Midday

Explore an Architectural Gem. • Nestled in the desert foothills of Arizona’s McDowell Mountains, Wright’s winter home and desert laboratory, Taliesin West, is now a National Historic Landmark and home to the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation and School of Architecture at Taliesin. Built and maintained almost entirely by Wright and his apprentices, it’s one of the architect’s most personal creations. Today, it’s open to the public, with a broad range of tours available throughout the week. Tickets sell out quickly, though, so be sure to book in advance.

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Afternoon

Everything Old Is New Again. Take an afternoon break with happy hour on the patio at Hearth 61, the on-property restaurant of the recently rebuilt Mountain Shadows resort. Post-cocktails, revel in more midcentury art and design at the hotel’s gallery, which currently features Evolution Through Color, an exhibition of 1960’s artwork.

Head to the Heard. Soak in the culture and design that inspired so much of Wright’s work as you walk the grounds of the Heard Museum, one of the foremost collections of American Indian art and culture in the U.S.

Photo: Mountain Shadows © 2018

Photo: Desert Botanical Garden ©

Evening

Dinner Alfresco. Enjoy local, seasonal fare in a stunning atmosphere with dinner at Gertrude’s, the restaurant at the Desert Botanical Garden, where the beauty of Wright’s beloved natural landscape is on full display. If you’re there on a Friday, catch a post-dinner live music performance in the garden, as part of the Spring Music in the Garden concert series.