Arizona, the Grand Canyon State, is a fun place to visit and a great state to attend a training class. It's always blue skies and sunshine. Bring your significant other and make a vacation of it!
First things first, getting here. The airport you will fly into is Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport (airport code 'PHX'). All of the major airlines fly here, so finding a convenient and affordable flight should be no-sweat. Concrete Design School is located just 5 miles away and is approximately a 10 minute drive from the airport.
The class is held in Tempe, AZ, but for all intents and purposes, Tempe and Phoenix are the same - it's impossible to tell where one ends and the other begins. Phoenix is a large and sprawled city (518 sq mi and 4.2 million people). If you want to get out and explore you will need a rental car. TIP: the best deal on rental cars, here or anywhere else, is through Costco. If you don't have a membership, check out Kayak.
What if you're from Portland and you hate cars - no worries, we have a source for bike rentals. Check out The Bicycle Cellar and get your green on.
HOTELS & MOTELS
There are many, many hotels and motels to choose from that are in close proximity to Concrete Design School. Three that are within walking distance are:
DoubleTree by Hilton Phoenix Tempe / 2100 S. Priest Dr., Tempe, AZ 85282 / 480-967-1441
Motel 6 - Broadway ASU / 513 W. Broadway Rd., Tempe, AZ 85282 / 480-967-8696
Motel 6 - Tempe / 1720 S. Priest Dr., Tempe, AZ 85281 / 480-968-4401
If you have a rental car, the following hotels are very close:
Marriott at The Buttes / 2000 W. Westcourt Way, Tempe, AZ 85282 / 800-228-9290
Sheraton Phoenix Airport / 1600 S. 52nd St., Tempe, AZ 85281 / 480-967-6600
Comfort Suites Airport / 1625 S. 52nd St., Tempe, AZ 85281 / 480-446-9500
Country Inn & Suites / 4234 S. 48th St., Phoenix, AZ 85040 / 602-438-8688
Tempe Mission Palms / 60 E. 5th St., Tempe, AZ 85281 / 480-894-1700
Holiday Inn Hotel & Suites / 3220 S. 48th St., Phoenix, AZ 85040 / 480-543-1700
Arizona Grand Resort / 8000 Arizona Grand Pkwy, Phoenix, AZ 85044 / 602-431-6480
If you are wanting to stay in an ultra-hip hotel check out the Hotel Valley Ho. It is a bit of longer drive (20 minutes) but is very cool:
Hotel Valley Ho / 6850 E. Main St., Scottsdale, AZ 85251 / 480-248-2000
PLACES TO EAT & DRINK
Phoenix has many a fine dining establishment, and quite a few that aren't so fine, but the food is better. These are our suggestions:
Let's say you're craving an awesome made-from-scratch hearty meal and a pint of beer or a glass of whiskey. You like dark restaurants, loud music and a seedy crowd. The spot for you is Cornish Pasty Co., a local favorite and guaranteed to please. Check out the Carne Adovada, Rosemary Steak, or Shepard's Pie. Save room for the Chocolate Bread Pudding. 960 W. University Dr., #103, Tempe, AZ 85281 / 480-894-6261
What if you're in the mood for something lighter, maybe a bit healthier? Local hotspot Pita Jungle will do nicely with a large selection of Mediterranean food. 1250 E. Apache Blvd., Tempe, AZ 85281 / 480-804-0234
If you're feeling a bit more adventurous and looking for an Anthony Bourdain experience, check out Haji Baba. You have to be "in-the-know" to know about this place, but it is always busy for a reason. Located inside of a Middle Eastern grocery store, walk to the right when entering and wait to be seated. The "gyro plate" with an iced tea is a sure winner. Take the ticket stub and pay at the counter when you're finished. 1513 E. Apache Blvd., Tempe, AZ 85281 / 480-894-1905
Everyone loves BBQ - if you've got a hankering for some of Arizona's finest, make the drive to Joe's Real BBQ, located about 14 miles (a 25 minute drive) from Concrete Design School. Joe's Real BBQ is legendary in the Phoenix area. When you're finished, walk across the street to Liberty Market (same owner) and order a coffee using Stumptown Beans. 301 N. Gilbert Rd., Gilbert, AZ 85234 / 480-503-3805
Lastly, if you're like Brandon and enjoy a good vegan meal, definitely visit Green New American Vegetarian. Located in Downtown Phoenix, Green is a world famous vegan eatery. We suggest the Big Wac with fries, which is by far their most popular item. After dinner walk next door to Nami and order a Peanut Butter and Chocolate Tsoynami - it's a coconut ice-cream dessert. An added benefit of visiting these two restaurants is that you can see much of our concrete work. At Green look for the fabric-formed concrete order counter and Knotty Stools. Next door at Nami check out the Inclinare Bench, Orson Coffee Table, concrete countertops, concrete sink, and the fabric-formed concrete bench on the front patio. 2022 N. 7th St., Phoenix, AZ 85004 / 602-258-1870
If you want to go where the locals go, check out Cartel Coffee Lab, located at 225 W University Dr, Tempe, AZ 85281, open 7 days a week, 7am - 10pm. The coffee is actually quite good, but the place is a hipster haven and the lines and wait times can be ludicrous. If you have time to spare, this is a good option.
Otherwise, there is that old standby, Starbucks. The closest is located at 1537 W Broadway Rd, Tempe, AZ 85282 / 602-258-5199 and is open 4:30am – 9:00pm
While you're in town, be sure to check out the Desert Botanical Garden. It really is spectacular, and not to be missed. 1201 N. Galvin Pkwy., Phoenix, AZ 85008 / 480-941-1225
One of our favorite places to visit is Cosanti, the experimental community by Paolo Soleri. Paolo was an apprentice of Frank Lloyd Wright. His ideas and structures were ahead of his time. Cosanti is a great place to visit to get ideas and see things from a different perspective. Buy a handmade bronze bell while you are there. 6433 E. Doubletree Ranch Rd., Paradise Valley, AZ 85253 / 480-948-6145
Speaking of Frank Lloyd Wright, no visit to Arizona would be complete without visiting Taliesin West. This was Frank Lloyd Wright's winter home, studio and architectural campus. Amazing cast concrete details abound! 12621 N. Frank Lloyd Wright Blvd., Scottsdale, AZ 85259 / 480-627-5340
If you want to spend a few extra days in Arizona after your workshop you should consider hitting the highways for some adventure:
Sedona, AZ (125 mi / 2:15 hr drive time) World famous red rocks and energy vortexes. Take a Pink Jeep tour while you're there.
Jerome, AZ (120 mi / 2:15 hr drive time) This is an old mining town that is now full of interesting characters and shops.
Grand Canyon National Park (360 mi / 8 hr drive time) One of the worlds deepest canyons, the Grand Canyon should be visited at least once in your lifetime.
Bisbee, AZ (205 mi / 3:30 hr drive time) Much like Jerome, Bisbee is an old mining town that has become a mecca for artists, hippies, and other fascinating individuals. If you go to Bisbee see if you can get a reservation to spend the night at the Shady Dell.
Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum (105 mi / 1:55 hr drive time) If you want to head south towards Tucson, AZ, make certain to visit this museum that focuses on life and ecosystems of the Sonoran Desert, it is amazing.
FUN FACTS ABOUT ARIZONA
In case you are bored while waiting for your flight to come take a class, we have compiled the following fun facts about Arizona for you to peruse:
Arizona is roughly the size of Italy.
Arizona has more parks and national monuments than any other state, more mountains than Switzerland, and more golf courses than Scotland.
The famous gunfight at the O.K. Corral only lasted about thirty seconds.
Grand Canyon's Disaster Falls was named to commemorate the site of a previous explorer's wreck.
The world's largest solar telescope is located at Kitts Peak National Observatory in the city of Sells.
At one time camels were used to transport goods across Arizona.
One must be 18 years old to buy spray paint in Tempe, Arizona (true story).
Phoenix originated in 1866 as a hay camp to supply Camp McDowell.
The Grand Canyon is 227 miles long, 1 mile deep and has an average width of 10 miles.
There is a possibility of spending 25 years in prison for cutting down a Saguaro Cactus.
The hottest recorded day in Phoenix was June 26, 1990, when the temperature hit 122 degrees.
The Saguaro Cactus blossom is the official state flower of Arizona. The white, funnel shaped, night blooming flowers, grow on the trunk and branches of the saguaro cactus during May and June. The red fruits of this largest American cactus are edible.
It is illegal in Tucson for women to wear pants (don't worry, it's a town of law breakers).
If you bother the cottontails or bullfrogs in Hayden, Arizona, you will be fined.
The sun shines in southern Arizona 85% of the time, which is considerably more sunshine than Florida or Hawaii.
The Navajo Reservation, the nation's largest reservation, lies primarily in Arizona and extends into Utah and New Mexico.
In Tombstone it is illegal for men and women over the age of 18 to have less than one missing tooth visible when smiling.
In Glendale, Arizona cars may not be driven in reverse.
Arizona Highways Magazine has an approximate 85% circulation rate outside of the state of Arizona.
It is illegal to hunt camels in the State of Arizona.
Arizona once had a navy consisting of two boats on the Colorado River. They were used to prevent California from encroaching on Arizona territory.
A saguaro cactus will take between 50 and 100 years to grow an arm. The saguaro cactus flower is the official state flower ofArizona.
An ordinance prohibits the wearing of suspenders in Nogales, Arizona.
Arizona became the 48th state on February 14, 1912, the last of the contiguous states to be admitted into the Union.
The amount of copper on the roof of the Capitol building is equivalent to 4,800,000 pennies.
The Arizona trout is found only in the Arizona.
Wyatt Earp was neither the town marshal or the sheriff in Tombstone, Arizona at the time of the shoot-out at the O.K. Corral. His brother Virgil was the town marshal, who had temporarily deputized Wyatt, Morgan and Doc Holliday prior to the gunfight.
In Arizona, it is against the law for donkeys to sleep in bathtubs.
Arizona leads the nation in copper production.
Petrified wood is the official state fossil. Most petrified wood comes from the Petrified Forest in northeastern Arizona.
The bola tie is the official state neckwear.
Arizona observes Mountain Standard Time on a year round basis. The one exception is the Navajo Nation, located in the Northeast corner of the state, which observes the daylight savings time change.
In Arizona, it is unlawful to refuse a person a glass of water.
In 1926, the Southern Pacific Railroad connected Arizona with the eastern states.
No one is permitted to ride their horse up the stairs of the county court house in Prescott, Arizona.
Once a rowdy copper mining town, Jerome's population dwindled to as few as 50 people after the mines closed in 1953.