roadside americana

Mesa and Phoenix: Markets, Food Trucks and The Apache Trail

We always have fun throwing out the phrase “we get around” but while staying in Mesa, Arizona we definitly lived up to the self proclaimed reputation.

mesa area

This was one of those places we drove so much we almost proclaimed ourselves offical car tourist too!  Ok, maybe that’s an exaggeration, but we were super happy to have our 40mpg car!  Mesa is just a short drive from the Superstition Mountains, downtown Phoenix and the famous Apache Trail.  We visited all of them and everything in between.

We had more emails and facebook comments telling us to take a drive of the Apache Trail, than of anything actually in Mesa or Pheonix.  So, of course we took the advice.

The Trail was originally used by the Apache Indians for their migrations through the Superstition Mountains and later used as a stagecoach trail, and now it leads to the famous Ghost Town of Goldfield, and the quirky town of Tortilla Flat. The road is windy and full of beautiful views of golden mountains and Canyon Lake. If you’re in Mesa only for a day I highly recommend spending a few hours to checking it out.

tortilla flats

Of course one of our favorite things to do in any city is hit up the local Farmers Market. During the winter and spring months there is a farmers market in the Phoenix Metro area almost every day!  So, we decided to hit up the ever popular Phoenix Public Market in downtown Phoenix.  Of course there are the typical homemade gifts, local cheeses, the breakfast taco guy, fresh flowers, and of course local produce….but we came mainly for the food trucks!  Right next to the market are several food trucks serving up great local eats and drinks.

food trucks in Phoenix

There are also several great food trucks a few blocks away from the market on a non-descript street corner, we spotted one of Phoenix’s most famous “Short Leash” which specializes in Gourmet Hot Dogs including a veggie dog.  We of course asked for the locals favorite, the Moki Dog: Green Chilies, Tomatoes, Onions, Pinto Beans and Cheddar Cheese…YUM!

short leash food truck

We had the opportunity to meet up with a couple who’ve been following our adventures for some time.  They’re fellow RV’ers who seem to take adventures as often as possible, especially with their quads.  We wondered through the market together and found ourselves at a very swanky joint called “Bliss ReBar”. This place is covered in recycled metal and serves up good food and crazy cheap specials.  The giant metal entryway was the perfect spot for a photo-op with new friends.  If you see this cute couple out in one of thier mustangs or stiring up the dust in the desert on a quad, stop them and ask for thier secret bloody mary recipie!  I would give it to you but then we might not be invited back…

farmers market with friends

We were parked at Monte Vista RV Resort which has the tagline of “Hometown Friendship, Cruise Ship Fun”…and this place was crazy busy!

Now this is a 55+ park and I realize we’re not 55 yet, however the resort made an exception for us since we were there to film the property…hence the super awesome video above. 🙂
I will tell you not much beats working outside in the 85 degree sunshine with your best bud…in the middle of winter!  Gotta love visiting Arizona as a snowbird.

bring your cat to work

This is the 2nd age qualified resort we’ve visited and we’re in awe at the list of activities that never seemed to.  While filming at the softball field we were informed that 2 of the people on the field were over 80, and there was one who was in the baseball hall of fame.  Pretty cool!  We also noticed they had a wicked bicycle culture!  Most age qualified resorts fill their parking lots with decked out golf cars, but here bicycles were the main mode of transportation.  We loved it, especially the bikes with cool baskets and super padded seats!  The would fit right in at Burning Man.

bike culture

We definitely enjoyed exploring the Mesa and the Phoenix area and were most surprised at the beauty that was to be found just outside the city.  If you get the chance, take a trip to the area, just make sure you fill up your gas tank before you start exploring.

If you’ve been to Mesa or Phoenix, let us know what you thought about the area in the comments below.

Disclaimer:  While we were compensated to film the resort (thanks Encore!)…all of our experiences and opinions are not purchased and are still our own.

Hello there! I honestly don’t know what to say, so I am going to tell you a bunch of random facts instead. I'm a fish eating vegetarian who hates spiders and loves snakes. I almost never took vacations growing up. I wanted to be Pippi Longstocking (still do). I misspell about every other word I write and still struggle with grammar. I love splurging on a good high tea (which is really hard to find these days). And whatever you do, don’t tell me I can’t do something, because then I'll HAVE to do it!

Comments (22)

  • My mom and dad were snowbirds in Apache Junction and Mesa for nearly 20 years, and we loved going to visit them in the winter. It made living in Seattle tolerable. They started with a huge travel trailer that they pulled down each year from Minnesota, and finally bought a park model.

    This brings back great memories.

    • Thanks for sharing Dick, We’ve heard so many people say the same about going from 5th wheel or 40′ motorhome to a park model…we say if you love a place why NOT purchase a park model!

      • Mom always complained that she’d be looking for something and realize that she’d left it “in the other house”.

  • I suggest when in the Los Angeles area to visit the L.A. Renaissance Faire. To camp I would go to East Shore RV Park, Puddingstone Lake.

    Enjoy your time in California…

    • Frank we’re past LA and in Santa Cruz currently….thanks for the tips though. One thing we’ve realized over the years of traveling: there’s way to much to see and experience than one can do in a lifetime.

  • Wait…Wow….Double Take. That first picture, kinda of reminds me where I’m from.

    • YEP, knew you’d get a kick out of that one Michael…We tried to ask around for the story on that hanging guy but nobody seemed to know.

  • mary van

    Are the food trucks as good as they are in Austin? Pretty hard to beat them.

    Looks like a great place to be in the winter. I can’t imagine the summer temp if it is 85 now!

    • Tell me about it, 85 in winter must translate to 110 in the summer! Yikes! That’s why many of the southern Arizona RV resorts are only open during the late fall, winter, and early spring months.

  • Katie Arnett

    I’ve never been to Mesa or Phoenix, AZ, but seeing what you described makes me want to go there. Next time I’m in the area I’ll have to go there with my family. Thanks.

    • Katie we were blown away by how much there was to do in the area as well. The greater Phoenix area is HUGE and extremely diverse. Have fun.

  • Dave Mackenzie

    Thank you for the constant updates on your travelling experiences. We are seriously looking into spending the winter months (2014) in a warmer climate. Where that will be is hard to pin down at the moment but all your posts and pictures will definitely help in our decision if we decide to make the USA our choice. Safe travels.

    • Dave make sure you contact us BEFORE you select a place…we can help you find the perfect spot to “settle” in for the winter.

      • Dave MacKenzie

        Thank you, Jason. We will definitely contact you and Nikki for advice before we make a decision. The plan is to find a 2 bedroom apartment/condo (2nd bedroom for visitors) to rent that we can use as a base for our travels. I really have to get away from cold and dampness during the winter months. I know you guys are extremely busy and we do appreciate all your help. Your info, photos and videos are keeping us motivated to get on the road soon. You and Nikki take care and have a great day.

  • Debbie from Illinois

    Great video! My husband and I are getting ready to to explore the country again with an RV. We have owned 5 travel trailers in the last 25 years, 4 of those with bunks for the kids. We are now empty nesters and we have been ”shopping” for our next RV. Oh my, there are just too many choices but we are enjoying the hunt.

    You two are headed to one of my favorite parts of the country. I adore Big Sur! Make sure you stop at Nepenthe for a delicious lunch. It is a great place for sitting and gazing at the ocean. I love Deetjen’s for breakfast. When you are there take the hike to the lookout point. We have rented a cabin a few times at Big Sur Campground. We can’t wait to go again and camp there.

    Have a great trip!

      • Debbie from Illinois

        You won’t be disappointed with Nepenthe. I love the ambrosia steak burger and the kidney & garbanzo bean salad. Hope you have good weather so you can sit outside and enjoy the view.

  • I wish I’d known you were around. I live in central Phoenix and love downtown as well as all the surrounding areas. Phoenix is a lovely city and the desert is gorgeous. There are so many parks, trails, restaurants, resorts, attractions and close to so many other beautiful places in AZ. Glad you liked it.

    • Oh heck! We love meeting our online friends in the flesh….always so much to talk about. FYI if you follow us on Facebook its more of a “real-time” update vs. the blog which takes weeks to put together.

  • Awesome post! …and, gotta love the food trucks! I’ve been reading your blog for awhile now and I have such a huge desire to do a long-term RV trip at some point. Thanks for all the information you provide!

  • We loved Mesa. Thank you for the photos to remind us how beautiful it is! And you are right, farmers markets in any town are awesome!


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