Phoenix Jewelry Attractions

I will be in Phoenix at the beginning of May, so-- what should I not
miss? Are there nearby rockhounding opportunities? I will have a car,
but relatively short free time periods, no whole days free. Best
food? Best galleries, shops, museums… Best touristy shopping fun?


Hi there!

I saw that you’re teaching at the Bead Expo in Phoenix. It was kind
of cool to see a “friend” from Orchid in their class catalog.

There’s the Mining & Mineral Museum and the AZ Science Center nearby

  • the Science Center is the closest, literally only a couple of
    blocks away. It’s more of an activity/hands on type museum, but it’s
    got some cool exhibits on geology/mining, including a demo of how
    copper plating works. The Mining& Mineral Museum is a little further
    to the west, near the Capitol. There’s also a kind of neat museum IN
    the Capitol. Backtracking a bit, there is the AZ History Museum near
    the Science Center. It used to be almost a “grandma’s attic” kind of
    place, but since it’s moved, it’s improved considerably.

There’s the Heard Museum (Native American history and artifacts)
also closeto downtown, with the Phoenix Art Museum also in the
downtown area. Further afield (west), there’s the Bead Museum in
Glendale. Lots of galleries, etc in Scottsdale.

If you are interested in geology and natural history, I could really
overload you with sources from my days as a “Paleo Babe”. To the
east, there are museums in Tempe (ASU has a decent - but small -
geology museum). Mesa has the Arts Center and the Mesa Southwest
Museum in downtown Mesa. The Mesa Southwest Museum (MSM) is arguably
one of the best little natural history museums in the west. They
have a good collection of mineral specimens and meteorites as well
as a “flash flood” and dinosaurs, too. I have “friends” at both
places - at ASU is the partial skeleton of what I fondly call the
4th of July Mammoth that my son and I helped the ASU team & other
volunteers to excavate about 10 years ago. At MSM are “Little Tooth”
(a raptor) and his friend Zuniceratops from NM. I held “Little
Tooth’s” skull literally seconds after it was found and a few months
later, one of my daughters found some of his hand bones. I could
bore you to tears with “namedropping” all of the critters I’m well
acquainted with at MSM. Back in my Paleo Babe days, I did a lot of
behind the scenes volunteer work at MSM and in the field.

If you have time for a drive, you can go east on the Apache Trail.
There’s the Dolly - a steamboat cruise on Canyon Lake. Or, you could
visit Goldfield - which used to be a big gold producing mine.
Goldfield is a little “tourist trappy”, but it’s kind of neat - they
have mine tours and train rides as well as a museum about the Old
West’s ladies of the evening! If you don’t get as far as the Dolly,
there is also the Superstition Mountain museum. There is all kinds
of memorabilia there - from the chapel that was in an Elvis Presley
movie to blocks of marble from the construction of Roosevelt Dam.
(Teddy Roosevelt stuff, too.)

You can do rockhounding just about anywhere in the state - except on
the reservations. The Native American police don’t care for
rockhounds (pot hunters to them) at all! The only things that are
absolutely off limits in AZ are Native American artifacts (no pot
shards, no points, no charred bone) and vertebrate fossils, and, of
course, the entire Petrified Forest and Grand Canyon. There might be
restrictions in the National Parks and Forests as well as BLM land -
it’s been so long since my Paleo Babe days, things might have
changed drastically since then!

If you head far enough east to get to Apache Junction, PLEASE stop
by and see us at our bead store - AZ Bead Depot. We’ve only got
1,000 sq ft, so we don’t have a big store, but we have a lot of
stuff. The coffee pot is always on and I might even be persuaded to
break out some ice cream bars or popsicles! Besides, DH Mike and I
would welcome a chance to “pick your brain” for suggestions about
adding a metal working studio if/when our plans to expand come to

If you have any questions, please feel free to give us a call!

Deb & Mike Weller

Debra made a great list of local places. A couple of additional
notes. The Phoenix Art Museum currently (through May 11) has a small
exhibit of east Indian classic gold jewelry - very nice pieces. The
Heard Museum currently has an exhibit of silver and gold jewelry by
contemporary Native American jewelers and an exhibit of small silver
containers - seed pots. I haven’t seen the Heard exhibits yet but the
reviews have been excellent.

Teri Jo Kinnison
Chandler, AZ

So, where would you go for the best of local cuisine in Phoenix? What
IS local cuisine in Phoenix? Mexican? Sorry, I’m an ignant
midwesterner. Other great food? (You don’t need to answer, Joan, I’ll
ask you in person!) I’m planning to go to the Heard Museum, maybe the
Phoenix Art Museum. Best galleries? Best Southwest-style shopping? (I
am a tourist there, and don’t mind admitting it). Really nearby


Hi Noel,

I found a place for you to go rockhounding. It’s just east of
Phoenix. This looks great, and easy to get to:

It’s got photos you can print out and take with you to find the
exact spots of the agates.

It’s very hot here. Even if it’s only 90 something in the shade, it
will be 100 something in the sun. Remember to take a couple of
gallons of water with you in your vehicle, a canteen to carry with
you, and a pair of tweezers for cactus needles. It is so dry here,
you dehydrate before you know it. You’re breathing in superdry air,
and breathing out moist air. Drink even when you’re not thirsty. (I
just looked at the weather page - the humidity is 2% here right

Wear sturdy shoes, like hiking boots, if you have them, and a hat.
This is rattlesnake season. I almost stepped on one myself years
ago. It was stretched out straight across a trail, and looked like a
stick. My mom was visiting and she reached in a bush to pick up some
trash, and an angry rattler rattled at her from in there! She jumped
about 5 feet.

Don’t reach in crevices, or under rocks with your hand. Poke with a
stick or move the rock with your boot. There may be a baby rattler
under there (or a scorpion, but they’re not usually fatal). I like
to pick up a long stick and poke through bushes where I’m going to
walk, if I don’t have a clear view of the ground. Rattlers don’t
always rattle to announce themselves. I don’t mean to scare you,
just make you cautious. I’ve been here 27 years and have never been

As far as places to eat, for breakfast in downtown Phoenix, Matt’s
Big Breakfast is great.

Phoenix is huge, the 5th largest city in the US. It has grown into
many surrounding towns including Scottsdale, Mesa, Tempe, Glendale,
and others so that it’s one huge metropolitan area. If you tell me
where you’ll be staying, I’ll narrow down some eating choices. And
Phoenix does have great Mexican food.


What IS local cuisine in Phoenix? Mexican? Sorry, I'm an ignant
midwesterner. Other great food? 

Sadly, I think we have better food in Chicago than Phoenix. (any
locals, please correct me if I’m wrong, send me to the right

In my experience, we can get better tortillas here in Chicago, from
our local factories, than one can get in Phoenix.

I agree that the Heard Museum is very good, and you might visit the
Bead Museum if you’re nearby.


Phoenix is huge, the 5th largest city in the US. 

I didn’t realize it is so big! I’m teaching downtown in the
convention center, staying in Chandler, but I don’t mind driving
(exploring) in an unfamiliar city. I’d love to find really good
Mexican food, something beyond the high-fat standards that are
available everywhere invluding Chicago. I found a review for a
Mexican/Phillipine fusion place, which sounds interesting! I love to
explore new food, just can’t handle a lot of fat.Thanks for the
help, Lauren!


For really good Mexican, you’re probably after ‘really good New
Mexican’. If you really mean Mexican you’d probably have to go to
Mexico; for New Mexican, green chile enchiladas, posole, etc, Santa
Fe. Even in New Mexico it’s hard to find.

California has good food of that type at bars in the central valley.
Phoenix is more like an extension of southern CA.


I'd love to find really good Mexican food 

For really good Mexican food, hit up Morenos Mexican Grill in Mesa
(760 E Broadway Rd, Mesa) Its a tad bit out of the way, but probably
the best mexican joint ive been to in the phoenix area and it is well
worth the drive. Get the Cevichi Tostada for good measure, and the
hot dogs fully loaded (late night) are to die for.

Near downtown is Cherry Blossom (914 E Camelback) an
Italian/Japanese Fusion place that is really good if your wanting
something different.

The Norman Sandfield Seed Pot Collection at the Heard Museum is a
cool exhibit, kind of ironic that Norman is from Chicago as well.

And again, drop by Halo (10 W Camelback) for an amazing collection
of body jewelry, both current and ancient, you wont be dissapointed.
Say hello to the crew there for me :wink: If you run into Glen (one of
the owners) ask him about good eats, he knows all the little holes in
the wall places around town that are awesome.

Good Luck and have fun in the sun!!!

Dear Noel

Local big jewelers are Molina’s, Coffin and Trout, Gautier. These
offer place holders for wealth, but high quality craftsmanship.

French Jewlery shows art jewelry.

If you are here at the right time you may catch an amazing workshop
with Michael David Sturlin, at the Mesa Art Center, or something
special, like Lisa Solvis at Metals Edge.

Metals Edge - Carol Burger Taylor 480-425-0026, offers studio space
and equipment rental by the hour.

The Mesa Art Center has a full glass blowing studio, and an amazing
metal studio, headed by Polly Smith MFA.

Hope this helps
Jerell Skirboll

The Norman Sandfield Seed Pot Collection at the Heard Museum is a
cool exhibit, kind of ironic that Norman is from Chicago as well.

If you happen to visit this excellent collection of art work called
seed pots look for the seed pot I created. It is truly an honor to
have a piece of pottery in this collection in the finest Indian art
museum in the country.

Mexican food:


Macayos: Check out any of the Baja style dinners. To die for.

Arribas: Don’t ask for the super hot meal unless you know you can
take it. They serve the hot hot sauce separately so you can check it
out before you scorch you mouth. The regular meals are great.
Fajitas: a unique experience. You crate your own small burros with
fresh made tortillas, chicken, beef or shrimp, cheese, sour cream
and hot sauce.

That did it!!! I know where I am going tonight. Baja Beef tamale
with rice and refried beans after hot sauce and chips. Can’t wait.

Lee Epperson

Los Olivos Mexican Restaurant in Old Town Scottsdale recently
celebrated their 50th anniversary - still run by the family. Skip
their second restaurant in North Scottsdale.

Jamie King