We stayed at the Fiesta Resort Conference Center. The hotel was nice, but the people who worked there were even nicer. The shuttle was available for pick up and drop up within a few mile radius of the property. We were able to get rides to Arizona State University, local shopping, the light rail and to the Botanical Gardens.
The people in Tempe and Phoenix were so friendly. There was not a single time that we entered the hotel lobby that we were not greeted. The staff in the shops were friendly and kind. Even the convenience store clerk where we picked up a Sunday paper was friendly and generous. It was awesome!
We didn't have a lot on our agenda, but we did find the Las Noches de las Luminarias at the Botanical Gardens. Several evenings in December were designated for this ticketed event and we were visiting during a time when the event was scheduled. We were advised to get tickets in advance because they often sell out. We secured our tickets and opted for the dinner they host on site for that night.
The Garden paths were lined with luminaries and the paths wind around to different "rooms" where entertainment was hosted.
We enjoyed blues, classic violin, old-fashioned carolers, Native American storytelling, and more. Our favorite was our first stop of the night - The Sugar Thieves.
We had an awesome time walking around the gardens and would highly recommend this activity for anyone in the Tempe area in December - a casual and romantic way to spend the evening.
We took the light rail from Tempe to downtown Phoenix to check out the Public Market. We learned that the Public Market is an urban grocery and wine bar that hosts an open air market in the parking lot on specific days. We were lucky to be able to take in the open air market while we were visiting. Vendors told us that there were more booths than usual because of the holiday shopping season. Think about all the stuff you love about open air markets - farmers and artists displaying their products, food trucks, live music, and more! We had this really, really good coconut iced tea and found some cool small pieces of art.
The burlap shopping bags with the Public Market logo were only $2! I loved these.
(The terra cotta plate we purchased busted on the way home. Bummer.)
We found this historic church downtown on the way to lunch.
After our return to the Tempe light rail station, we hiked to the Hole in the Rock for some great views of the area. It was a fairly easy hike and we loved being able to do something outside.
Things we didn't get to do: drive to the Grand Canyon and shop in Scottsdale and other towns nearby. The Grand Canyon was around three hours away and they had received a fair amount of snow. Everyone was saying that travel would be difficult and things might be closed. We didn't have a rental car, so Scottsdale was out. Next time!