Phoenix is Hot

5.13.2010

By Ed Salvato

An up-close look at gay Phoenix.


DSCF0025
Story and images by Ed Salvato; above hunky hikers huffing up Camelback Mountain

Phoenix is a sprawling city -- the nation's fifth largest --
a collection of palm tree-studded cities and towns ringed by mountains, where a
car is in indispensable necessity. The similarities to Los Angeles are
striking, right down to analogous municipalities, including exclusive Paradise
Valley, Phoenix's Bel Air, and tony Scottsdale, its Beverly Hills.

Despite the controversial new immigration law scheduled to
take effect this summer, it's impossible to paint the area with the broad
brushstroke of intolerance. Phoenix boasts a thriving community of LGBT
residents and remains a warm and welcoming destination for gay and lesbian
visitors. The population of Arizona is approximately 30% Hispanic, a group that
depends heavily on tourism for employment. The other 70% is incredibly diverse
ranging from bona fide desert cowboys to hippy-dippy energy healers in Sedona.
As one of the last bastions of the U.S. West with these intriguing
contradictions, Phoenix is well worth a visit.

Gay life

With gays and lesbians living throughout the vast
metropolis, there's not a single defined gayborhood, though there are nearly
three dozen bars and clubs catering to queers, with a concentration of
businesses along 7th Ave in central Phoenix, like Fez, an LGBT-popular restaurant offering American cuisine with a
Moroccan flair.
Amsterdam in downtown Phoenix is the
happening weekend club attracting a range of gays and lesbians.

The more residential-feeling Scottsdale, home to some of the nicest resorts and hotels in
the city, has two  dance bars, charming
BS West tucked into Old Town Scottsdale with
its fun drag shows and
Forbidden, also in Old Town, which attracts a younger crowd. Phoenix
Gay Pride

takes pace in April to avoid the much hotter summer weather, and is a terrific
time to visit.

Do

DSCF0029See the stunning new Musical Instrument Museum, with its collection of
12,000 (and counting) instruments
from around the world and Phoenix's Desert
Botanical Garden
, a
huge outdoor park for a better understanding of this sometimes extreme
environment. Climb
Camelback Mountain, which resembles, not
surprisingly, a supine dromedary. Go early to avoid both crowds and heat. A
truly magical experience is an evening stargazing Hummer tour with
Stellar
Adventures
. You haven't really experienced the stars till
you've seen the rings and moons of Saturn, a billion miles away, with your own
eye.
If you catch the season just
right (spring after a rainfall), you may see beautiful flowering cactus
plants, like the one pictured here.

Sleep

 Paradise Valley's InterContinental Montelucia, the brand's only
resort property offers
DSCF0054excellent service, gorgeous architecture and
surroundings, great amenities, and views of Camelback Mountain. In Scottsdale,
the
Hotel Valley Ho,
originally opened in 1956 as a motor court-style hotel, re-opened after an $80
million renovation on its anniversary in 2005 as a hip urban hotel that pays
homage to its mid-Century Modernist roots. The hotel is located at the edge of
Old Town Scottsdale with its restaurants, shopping and
Artwalk, the first Friday of
each month.
Photo: Pool scene at Hotel
Valley Ho.

Eat

Phoenix considers itself a foody city and in that vein
offers a range of topnotch restaurants representing a wide variety of cuisines
from American to French to Mexican and many others. Prado at the Montelucia (above)
offers Italian and Mediterranean cuisine with an emphasis on locally sourced
ingredients. For a casual lunch, join the shoppers and local business people at
Zinburger, a locally-owned burger and
shake joint with a contemporary feel in a popular upscale mall. The same owners
opened
Culinary Dropout,
a hip dining and drinking hotspot along Scottsdale's developing canal-front
area. It's a short walk to
BS West
(see above) from here for a gay after-dinner nightcap.

La Petite Maison in Old Town Scottsdale is an authentic French
bistro restaurant with a limited menu of beautifully presented traditional
French selections. Located in upscale Paradise Valley,
El Chorro
Lodge
(a restaurant
actually, not a hotel) at first blush seems a bit stuffy. However, the
atmosphere is actually quite warm, and the food is consistently good and fresh.

Finish your night at Elements at Sanctuary,
an outdoor bar/bistro/lounge for incredible views of Paradise Valley and its
surrounding mountains, to engage in some star gazing, or to simply relish the
discovery of this city's surprisingly rich offerings.


DSCF0025
Story and images by Ed Salvato; above hunky hikers huffing up Camelback Mountain

Phoenix is a sprawling city -- the nation's fifth largest --
a collection of palm tree-studded cities and towns ringed by mountains, where a
car is in indispensable necessity. The similarities to Los Angeles are
striking, right down to analogous municipalities, including exclusive Paradise
Valley, Phoenix's Bel Air, and tony Scottsdale, its Beverly Hills.

Despite the controversial new immigration law scheduled to
take effect this summer, it's impossible to paint the area with the broad
brushstroke of intolerance. Phoenix boasts a thriving community of LGBT
residents and remains a warm and welcoming destination for gay and lesbian
visitors. The population of Arizona is approximately 30% Hispanic, a group that
depends heavily on tourism for employment. The other 70% is incredibly diverse
ranging from bona fide desert cowboys to hippy-dippy energy healers in Sedona.
As one of the last bastions of the U.S. West with these intriguing
contradictions, Phoenix is well worth a visit.

Gay life

With gays and lesbians living throughout the vast
metropolis, there's not a single defined gayborhood, though there are nearly
three dozen bars and clubs catering to queers, with a concentration of
businesses along 7th Ave in central Phoenix, like Fez, an LGBT-popular restaurant offering American cuisine with a
Moroccan flair.
Amsterdam in downtown Phoenix is the
happening weekend club attracting a range of gays and lesbians.

The more residential-feeling Scottsdale, home to some of the nicest resorts and hotels in
the city, has two  dance bars, charming
BS West tucked into Old Town Scottsdale with
its fun drag shows and
Forbidden, also in Old Town, which attracts a younger crowd. Phoenix
Gay Pride

takes pace in April to avoid the much hotter summer weather, and is a terrific
time to visit.

Do

DSCF0029See the stunning new Musical Instrument Museum, with its collection of
12,000 (and counting) instruments
from around the world and Phoenix's Desert
Botanical Garden
, a
huge outdoor park for a better understanding of this sometimes extreme
environment. Climb
Camelback Mountain, which resembles, not
surprisingly, a supine dromedary. Go early to avoid both crowds and heat. A
truly magical experience is an evening stargazing Hummer tour with
Stellar
Adventures
. You haven't really experienced the stars till
you've seen the rings and moons of Saturn, a billion miles away, with your own
eye.
If you catch the season just
right (spring after a rainfall), you may see beautiful flowering cactus
plants, like the one pictured here.

Sleep

 Paradise Valley's InterContinental Montelucia, the brand's only
resort property offers
DSCF0054excellent service, gorgeous architecture and
surroundings, great amenities, and views of Camelback Mountain. In Scottsdale,
the
Hotel Valley Ho,
originally opened in 1956 as a motor court-style hotel, re-opened after an $80
million renovation on its anniversary in 2005 as a hip urban hotel that pays
homage to its mid-Century Modernist roots. The hotel is located at the edge of
Old Town Scottsdale with its restaurants, shopping and
Artwalk, the first Friday of
each month.
Photo: Pool scene at Hotel
Valley Ho.

Eat

Phoenix considers itself a foody city and in that vein
offers a range of topnotch restaurants representing a wide variety of cuisines
from American to French to Mexican and many others. Prado at the Montelucia (above)
offers Italian and Mediterranean cuisine with an emphasis on locally sourced
ingredients. For a casual lunch, join the shoppers and local business people at
Zinburger, a locally-owned burger and
shake joint with a contemporary feel in a popular upscale mall. The same owners
opened
Culinary Dropout,
a hip dining and drinking hotspot along Scottsdale's developing canal-front
area. It's a short walk to
BS West
(see above) from here for a gay after-dinner nightcap.

La Petite Maison in Old Town Scottsdale is an authentic French
bistro restaurant with a limited menu of beautifully presented traditional
French selections. Located in upscale Paradise Valley,
El Chorro
Lodge
(a restaurant
actually, not a hotel) at first blush seems a bit stuffy. However, the
atmosphere is actually quite warm, and the food is consistently good and fresh.

Finish your night at Elements at Sanctuary,
an outdoor bar/bistro/lounge for incredible views of Paradise Valley and its
surrounding mountains, to engage in some star gazing, or to simply relish the
discovery of this city's surprisingly rich offerings.

Tags: Phoenix
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