I'm also noting for which season(s) the activities are appropriate - you don't want to do crazy outdoor activities when there's a heat warning in effect!
Walk along Tempe Town Lake
Cost - free, Seasons - not summer :D
I'm sure other states have more impressive water features, but if you want a quick walk around a beautiful and cultural area, this is a great place! Plus, if your guest plays video games and/or plays Pokemon Go, walk along the south bank to hit a bunch of PokeStops in a row.
View from north of the lake
Cost - free(ish), All year round
This is more of an activity, but I want to put it on your radar. It's one of a few activities you can do regardless of the time of year. Plus, if you or your apartment complex have a pool, it's free! Put together some sandwiches, grab some lemonade, and make a day of it.
Organ Stop Pizza
Cost - $6+, all year round
This one would also fall under the "local eats" category. I feel like this place is often forgotten about - but it's awesome! This pizza restaurant is home to a giant organ. You eat your pizza at cafeteria-style tables all facing the organ player. You can put in requests, or just sit and enjoy the music. There's a bunch of other random additions to the organ as well - lights, bubbles, puppets, and more! If you sit there long enough I can pretty much guarantee that you will hear Phantom of the Opera and quite a few Disney hits. You can check out their website here.
Feed My Starving Children
Cost - free, all year round
I'm not sure I've met anyone who went to Feed My Starving Children and didn't love the experience. If you're not familiar with it, this is an organization that packs meals to be sent to those who need it. You work as an assembly line to pack vitamins, veggies, soy, and rice into a rice-a-roni sort of mixture. You have to sign up ahead of time (see their website here), and it takes about two hours. It's upbeat and high-energy. It is free, but donations are always appreciated.
Changing Hands Bookstore
Cost- free, all year round
This is a great local bookstore that always has a lot of events going on. Check out their website for their upcoming events - maybe you'll find one that's perfect for your guest!
Cost - free, not during the summer days
This is another mini-hike/walk in the Gilbert area. There's a small lake, a couple of trails, and lots of birds! It's a great bit of nature in the middle of the city.
Cost - $25+, spring-fall (baseball season)
I love going to Diamonbacks games! It's a unique experience, even if your guest has been to baseball games at other stadiums. It's fun to share the ketchup/mustard/relish dash or the giant bobble heads or the taste of a DBacks dog with your guest.
Hot dog and a beer - a baseball classic!
One of the aforementioned giant bobble heads
It has a retractable roof!
This is one of my favorite local restaurants. They make amazing pulled pork with exceptional sides like mac and cheese and baked beans, with lots of other options. They even have home-made root beer. They have indoor and outdoor seating available. If you decide to go you might have better luck going on a weekday - on weekends their line is out the door!
This is a unique donut chain that does exist across the US, but of which your guest may not have heard. They make the donuts in front of you, which is always fun. Plus, you know, they're delicious! Their donuts are mostly cake donuts, with fun combinations like OC Sand (honey glaze and cinnamon sugar), strawberry shortcake (strawberry glaze, graham crackers and powdered sugar), and s'mores (marshmallow glaze, graham crackers, chocolate chips).
This is another chain that is great for guests who have never tried Baja Mexican food, like a fish taco or street taco. Pretty much everything on their menu is delicious.
(Such as Burgers Amore, DGP Fry Bread, more!)
If you manage to track them down, this is another unique-to-the area experience! During the school year they are on ASU's campus on Thursdays from 10:30am-2pm.
Day or Weekend Trips
This is a great day-trip to take and see the red-rocks of Sedona. What you do while there is up to you - there's great hiking, but it's sometimes also fun just to roam the town.
Rock Springs Cafe
This is a crazy delicious pie place about an hour, hour-and-a-half from Phoenix. (They also have great food, like a pulled pork Reuben, but people mostly go there for the pies.) You can pair this outing with a hike at Fossil Springs (use Google to help with this one...) or an evening of stargazing.
Mmmm. Peach crumble a la mode
This is a great day trip with lots of different sights to see. The University of Arizona is there if you want to wander campus or take a tour or try to catch a sports game. There's also a lot of great food in the area. Suggested day trip is below.
Suggested day trip:
Drive to Tucson in the morning, go to The Fix (a Mac and Cheese place)
Wander UofA campus
Drive up Mount Lemon, get giant cookies The Cookie Cabin
Drive down to Guadalajara Grill for Dinner
The Fix has the best mac and cheese - with lots of gourmet options.
Driving up Mount Lemon
The view from Mount Lemon
The cookies are the size of the plate!!! (at Cookie Cabin)
This is a must do for anyone from anywhere. (And if you live in Arizona and haven't been, Go!) My family prefers to approach it from the South Rim, so you get the full "oh-my-gosh-it-looks-like-a-screensaver" experience. Don't hike it if you're out of shape, and be aware of altitude sickness. This one is great to see even just from the top.
From the Grand Canyon it is great to head towards Cameron, if you have time. There's great views of the Grand Canyon from a different angle, and once you get to Cameron you can get a Navajo Taco (and then Indian Fry Bread) at the Trading Post.
En route back from Cameron you can also visit Sunset Crater and other cool historical/geographic sites.
No - pictures cannot do it justice.
I love Flagstaff - in part because I went to college there. :) Here you can check out the local eats (my favorites are Fratelli's Pizza and The Place) or take a tour of Northern Arizona University's campus. There's also a Lava Tube hike just outside of the city, which is a pretty neat experience.
The food at The Place is soooo gooooood! (And good fuel if you're hiking later on :P)
Lava tubes are best during the summer. This picture was in April, and you can see how much ice is still there! Also, headlamps highly recommended!
Suggested weekend outing:
Friday night, drive up to Dead Horse Ranch state park
Saturday morning, drive to Grand Canyon
Drive to Cameron Trading Post for Navajo Tacos for lunch
Hit Sunset Crater and different Native American sites on your way back.
Dinner at Fratelli's Pizza on Fourth Street
Stay the night in Flagstaff
Sunday morning, church at the NAU Newman center
Breakfast at Mike and Rhonda's The Place
Hike at Lava Tubes
6 years ago: Ponderosa Pines
6 years ago: Constellations
6 years ago: Parachutes