Travel

8 Suburbs Near Phoenix You Should Absolutely Visit

You could use a little space.

Discover Gilbert AZ
Discover Gilbert AZ
Discover Gilbert AZ

Phoenix is pretty great. There’s the burgeoning culinary scene, the diverse culture, the arts, of course, the sports, the great outdoors, and don’t forget about the more than 300 days of annual sunshine. We could really go on, and on, about how great this place is, but all of that greatness can blind you to all the excellence just outside it. The suburbs across The Valley are not to be missed. To encourage you to actually explore them, here’s what the best of ‘em have to offer.

Photo courtesy of Tempe Tourism
Photo courtesy of Tempe Tourism
Photo courtesy of Tempe Tourism

Tempe

Notably, Tempe is recognized as home to one of the largest universities in the country, Arizona State. But this Phoenix suburb is so much more than a college town, although it does add to its undeniable magic. Downtown Tempe plays hosts to epic arts festivals, dragon boat races, marathons and triathlons, and dozens of other events that all take place a short-distance from Tempe Town Lake, a two-mile long perennial reservoir and urban park that attracts cylicts, rowers, and active types. Break a sweat with a hike to the top of A Mountain and take in a panoramic sunset view. Or, just belly-up to the bar at one of Tempe’s innumerable craft breweries. Both are solid choices. And both can get you acquainted with this laidback Phoenix suburb.

Photo courtesy of Hotel Valley Ho
Photo courtesy of Hotel Valley Ho
Photo courtesy of Hotel Valley Ho

Scottsdale

Nearly half of Scottsdale’s land area is dedicated to open spaces and untamed desert. Outdoor activities like mountain biking, hiking, road cycling, horseback riding, and kayaking reign supreme here, and the city certainly leans toward an active, wellness-centered lifestyle. And while there’s no shortage of desert to explore, Scottsdale also claims some of the best spas in the world, award-winning restaurants, world-class golf courses, it’s the center stage for major events like luxury car auctions and sporting events, and it’s even got a bustling arts scene. This Phoenix suburb checks all of the boxes, really.

Photo by Lauren Topor Reichert
Photo by Lauren Topor Reichert
Photo by Lauren Topor Reichert

Gilbert

Not too long ago Gilbert was a sort of sleepy, far-away farm town. That’s certainly not the case anymore. Gilbert has grown exponentially, but its agricultural roots are still readily present in its personality and charm. Downtown Gilbert is home to dozens of restaurants and bars, most of which have a local, farm-to-table approach, naturally. And then there’s Agritopia, a friendly neighborhood with its very own shared garden and community spaces that include Epicenter and BARNONE, where you can order a wood-fired pizza, a can of experimental natural wine, and camp out under a canopy of trees in the open-air. It’s practically a utopia.

Mike Boening Photography
Mike Boening Photography
Mike Boening Photography

Cave Creek

A gateway to Horseshoe and Bartlett Lakes, Cave Creek’s position on the outskirts of Tonto National Forest makes it a primo spot for outdoor activities like biking and hiking and adventure by way of air balloon or horseback. Modern cowboys and gals can mosey over to The Buffalo Chip Saloon where bull riding and swing dancing are just part of a typical day. Additionally, Cave Creek has its own botanical garden, raptor rescue, and a gallery packed with person-sized crystals. And it’s all yours to discover.

Ade Russell/Flickr
Ade Russell/Flickr
Ade Russell/Flickr

Mesa

Point your GPS east and you’ll arrive in Mesa, Arizona’s third largest city. Whether you’re after outdoor adventure, looking to explore the arts and culture scene, or searching for locally made ciders and craft beer, Mesa has it all. There’s a hip, growing downtown area lined with storefronts, restaurants, theaters, and tasting rooms. And if you’re game for a little outdoor recreation, Mesa is your jumping-off point to scenic Sonoran Desert trails including Usery Mountain Regional Park, Lost Dutchman State Park, and San Tan Regional Park. Mesa is also just a short distance from The Salt River where you can cruise by wild horses and native wildlife via paddle board and Saguaro Lake is just up the road.

Experience Fountain Hills
Experience Fountain Hills
Experience Fountain Hills

Fountain Hills

At the center of this Phoenix suburb is an expansive urban park and monumental water fountain that tops out at 560-feet. The fountain in Fountain Hills is larger than the Washington Monument, and it’s three times as high as Old Faithful. Pack a picnic and spread out in the park for an afternoon where you can traverse the walkable paths, cycle around the waterway, or play a competitive bout of frisbee golf. If you swing more towards traditional golf, there’s a shortlist of premier golf courses to tee-off at. And like many of the Phoenix suburbs here, Fountain Hills is surrounded by wide-open desert and scenic vistas just waiting to be explored.

Camelback Ranch - Glendale
Camelback Ranch – Glendale
Camelback Ranch – Glendale

Glendale

Arizona sports teams including the Coyotes and Cardinals have home turf advantage in Glendale. Over the years Glendale has hosted three Super Bowl bouts and will host another in 2023. But Glendale’s not just a sports mecca for fans of professional football and hockey. This Phoenix suburb is homebase to Camelback Ranch, a modern ballpark with all the amenities where the Chicago White Sox and Los Angeles Dodgers take the field each season as part of Cactus League Spring Training. Take your time in Glendale into extra innings and visit Historic Old Town Glendale. Here you’ll encounter eclectic antique and vintage stores, restaurants, candy shops, and coffee houses.

Pedal Haus Brewery
Pedal Haus Brewery
Pedal Haus Brewery

Chandler 

Museums, urban parks, art galleries, and growing neighborhoods like Uptown Chandler and Downtown Chandler give this Phoenix suburb lots of appeal. Rows of palm trees line the Downtown area where you can start your day with a locally roasted coffee and organic breakfast bowl. Downtown Chandler regularly hosts community-focused events and it’s a popular hangout for craft beer drinkers. SanTan Brewery, Pedal Haus, and The Perch, with 40 beers on tap and tropical birds at every turn, all call this Phoenix suburb home.

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Lauren Topor Reichert is a Phoenix-based multimedia storyteller, photographer, and content creator. Her work has been featured in travel guides, national publications, and the social feeds of some stellar local restaurants. Follow her around Arizona, and beyond, on Instagram @hungryinphoenix.

Travel

8 Suburbs Near Dallas You Should Absolutely Visit

You could use a little space.

Courtesy of Visit Frisco, TX
Courtesy of Visit Frisco, TX
Courtesy of Visit Frisco, TX

Dallas offers residents and visitors plenty of fast-paced excitement, cultural diversity, an incredible arts scene, world-class restaurants, and a never-ending supply of fun things to do-especially now that things are getting a little bit back to normal. However, to never leave the city limits would deprive one of everything the many surrounding suburbs contribute to the overall North Texas experience. 

To put things in perspective, Dallas has a population of around 1.3 million people while the entire metroplex clocks in at more than 7.5 million. That’s a lot of suburban influence. So we’ve rounded up eight of the coolest suburbs in the region with much to offer if you know where to look. Who’s ready for a mini road trip? 

Courtesy of Texas Live
Courtesy of Texas Live
Courtesy of Texas Live

Arlington

20.7 miles from Downtown Dallas
Nicknamed the Entertainment Capital of North Texas-and for good reason-Arlington offers visitors practically limitless options for excitement. Six Flags Over Texas and across-the-freeway neighbor Hurricane Harbor provide the thrills, while Globe Life Field and AT&T Stadium showcase hometown teams Texas Rangers and Dallas Cowboys on their home turf, or you can tour either complex when matchups take place out of town. Or head over to Texas Live!, which brings in live music acts, as well as year-round consumption of tasty eats and thirst-quenching drinks at more than a dozen restaurants and bars in the same complex.

Courtesy of LSA BURGER
Courtesy of LSA BURGER
Courtesy of LSA BURGER

Denton

39.6 miles from Downtown Dallas
Once a rather sleepy little college town, Denton has grown up to become a legit destination for North Texas locals and out-of-towners alike, thanks in big part to its incredible live music scene. With one of the top music schools in the nation at the University of North Texas, there’s a constant influx of new talent to add to the iconic acts that have been performing for decades. One of the hippest spots to groove to some tunes is Dan’s Silverleaf, but you’ll find live music all over the city from intimate venues like Andy’s Bar or over a burger and killer chicken tenders at LSA Burger, both on the historic downtown courthouse square. And while you’re there, you must visit Paschall Bar (part of Andy’s), one of the greatest speakeasy-style venues in the entire region.

Courtesy of Dee Lincoln Prime
Courtesy of Dee Lincoln Prime
Courtesy of Dee Lincoln Prime

Frisco

27.3 miles from Downtown Dallas
Sports enthusiasts can get their fix on everything from football and basketball to hockey and the “other football” all within Frisco’s borders. Officially branded as Sports City USA, the city plays host to practice facilities for both the Dallas Cowboys (NFL) and Dallas Stars (NHL), as well as the home fields and courts of FC Dallas (MLS), the Frisco Roughriders (MiLB), and the Texas Legends (NBA G League). Because of all these athletic teams congregating in Frisco, businesses have built up around them, including the popular destination, The Star District. That’s where you can catch America’s team practicing, as well as 22 incredible dining options, including Frisco-only spots Dee Lincoln Prime, Sushi Marquee, and Cowboys Club. Of course, there’s always IKEA in town, too, if you feel like putting together a cabinet this weekend from 237 pieces.

Courtesy of Visit Grapevine
Courtesy of Visit Grapevine
Courtesy of Visit Grapevine

Grapevine

27.3 miles from Downtown Dallas
Even someone from another country could probably guess the main attraction of this city to the northwest of Dallas. If you’re playing along and guessed wine then you’re in luck. Texas ranks No. 5 in the nation for wine production and a small slice of that can be found right here with seven different wineries along Grapevine’s Urban Wine Trail. A duo of craft breweries round out the offering of booze-laden beverages created here and you can enjoy them during special adults-only excursions on the Grapevine Vintage Railroad throughout the year, too. And while you’re in town, make sure to visit the 8,000-acre Lake Grapevine for a beautiful change of scenery.

 MaryAnne Campbell/Shutterstock
MaryAnne Campbell/Shutterstock
MaryAnne Campbell/Shutterstock

Highland Village

32 miles from Downtown Dallas
Lake Lewisville, the largest lake in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex, rewards visitors with 29,000 acres and 233 miles of shoreline for all varieties of watersports and Highland Village rests directly upon its shores. Fishing, boating, kayaking, and waterskiing all take full advantage of the lake itself or venture onto land for hiking, biking, relaxing on the beach, or camping overnight without having to make a long-distance drive. The lakeside Pilot Knoll Park makes for a great home base during your stay. 

Courtesy of Irving gondola
Courtesy of Irving gondola
Courtesy of Irving gondola

Irving

12.6 miles from Downtown Dallas
When a craving for Indian food strikes, you’ll discover dozens of options in Irving from all-vegan or vegetarian to meaty options galore from all regions of India. Spices of India is always a popular choice and a best bet when it comes to variety. One of the most unique experiences you can have this side of Venice can also be found in the Las Colinas section of Irving where Gondola Adventures takes you out on the canals for quick tours, as well as romantic sunset dinner cruises or early morning breakfast and brunch outings.  

Courtesy of Visit Plano
Courtesy of Visit Plano
Courtesy of Visit Plano

Plano

19.1 miles from Downtown Dallas
When summer rolls around and you need some serious cooling off, check out the immediately recognizable Texas Pool, a 168,000-gallon oasis shaped like the Lone Star State. You’ll find it on the National Register of Historic Places and memberships for the season can be purchased or you can opt for a $10 day pass if you’re only rolling through town. Either way, you’ll be able to brag (and cause a bit of confusion) on social media when you boast that you just swam across Texas. Squeeze in a visit to Oak Point Park, too, where you can kayak, hike, or head high into the tree line for adventure courses and zip lining. 

Courtesy of DFW Chinatown
Courtesy of DFW Chinatown
Courtesy of DFW Chinatown

Richardson

13.5 miles from Downtown Dallas
Unlike Houston, which has an actual Chinatown that spans nearly 3 square miles, Dallas has smaller pockets of fantastic Asian restaurants and retailers in numerous suburbs. One of our favorites, however, can be found in Richardson. Funny enough, they’ve named one particular shopping center DFW China Town, so it sounds like we have a full district when it’s really only a collection of businesses, almost entirely restaurants. That doesn’t diminish what you can find here, however. Some of the best Asian fare we’ve ever eaten locally can be found in popular spots including Jeng Chi (Taiwanese, Chinese), Maru Ramen (Japanese), Pho Que Huong (Vietnamese), Royal Sichuan (Chinese Sichuan), and Tofu Factory (Korean). You can also find a variety of culinary treasures at Good Fortune Supermarket, which might be smaller than some of the Asian grocery megastores in North Texas, but you’ll benefit from an easier-to-navigate experience.

Steven Lindsey is a Thrillist Contributor.

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