Spring is upon us (finally!), which means that weekly trips to the beach, fruity cocktails and outdoor adventures will soon be returning to our daily lives. Perhaps the most exciting staple of spring is the multitude of music festivals coming in 2022.
One of the first festivals in the spring lineup is M3F – a non-profit festival in downtown Phoenix, Arizona, taking place March 4-5. The two-day event, which donates 100% of proceeds to charity, will feature performances by ZHU, Leon Bridges, Kaytranada, Jungle, Parcels, Spafford, ARIZONA, Bryce Vine, Surf Mesa and a whole host of other highly recognized artists.
It’s safe to say that M3F is worth doing the weekend in Phoenix on its own. But if you’re visiting the “Valley of the Sun” for the festival and looking for the best things to eat, do and see while you’re in town – you know, when you’re not rage to deafening music in a crowd – read on below. Spafford, a Phoenix-based band on the M3F lineup, give you a look at their favorite local (and adjoining local) gems.
Brian Moss – Guitar
I was lucky enough to live across the street from Salazar Bros for many years and have probably eaten more burritos from this hole in the wall than any other since I moved to Arizona in 2003. Their food has always summer of great quality, ultra-fast and very delicious.
Go for the California burrito – sour cream on the side and orange fanta. Ask for the red salsa.
Salt River is one of my favorite places to go when I need nature fast. There are many stops and recreation areas leading all the way down the river with beautiful views of the surrounding mountains. My family’s favorite place is Coon Bluff. It is ideal for hiking, fishing and swimming. There is a good chance that you will also encounter wild horses!
Highly recommended if you’ve never been there.
Childs-Irving Generating Station
When you really want to get out and beat the heat or spend a few days camping near hot springs, there’s no place like Fossil Creek and the old Childs-Irving Generating Station. It’s a bit of a drive from Phoenix but worth it on a hot summer day.
Incredible waterfalls, a trip to a hot spring, what’s not to love?
Chicken and Waffles from LoLo
One of my favorite memories is going to LoLo’s Chicken and Waffles down the street from Last Exit Live before the shows. Being a South Tennessee boy, it’s hard for me to turn down fried chicken and Kool-Aid! I suggest the Tre Tre with a large jar of Red Kool-Aid.
Nick Tkachyk – Drums
Cartel Roasting Co.
If you want a delicious homemade pick-me-up and a trendy, modern environment, Cartel Roasting Co. is the place to be. It’s in the heart of downtown Tempe with all the cool kids to watch and espressos to empty your throat.
What I love about Kiwanis Park is how huge it is. It’s like three parks in one! It’s full of active people doing active stuff. There’s even a lake with ducks and fish!*
*You could very well spend an entire afternoon at Kiwanis Park. With sports facilities like baseball field, basketball courts, batting field, football fields, softball fields, swimming courts, tennis courts, city fishing grounds and volleyball courts -ball, you will never run out of things to do. Not to mention that the picnic tables and open lawns provide a great place to have lunch before heading to the M3F music festival.
Worth taking away
You must try the Crispy Chicken Sandwich and Banana Pudding at Worth Takeaway! It’s a family run sandwich shop in downtown Mesa stocked with its own merchandise. You can see me wearing their “kindness club” t-shirt.
Andrew “Red” Johnson – Keys
Chino Bandido is one of the BEST restaurants in the valley! It’s a perfect blend of Asian and Mexican cuisine. Don’t forget a snickerdoodle for dessert!*
* The restaurant’s blend of traditional flavors from Mexican and Asian cuisines – with menu items like jerk fried rice, burritos, and combo rice bowls – are praised for being deeply satisfying. Sounds like the ultimate festival hangover cure.
Desert Vista Trail
My favorite hike in the valley is the Dixie mountain loop from the Desert Vista trailhead. This is about a five mile loop and if you go mid-week you usually have the trail all to yourself. If you are lucky, you may be able to spot the owl in its nest.
One of the best places in Phoenix to watch the sunset is Dobbins Lookout, at the top of South Mountain. The drive up is a little sketchy, but the views are so worth it!