Arizona Travel Guide + Tucson Gem Show Experience

Arizona is one of the prettiest places I have ever seen, the geography is just immaculate. I am slightly obsessed with the culture, warm weather, and western lifestyle down there. I will mention right off the bat that if you plan on going here, you’re going to need to bring some lotion because phew, it’s as dry as the Sahara desert out there. Literally.

This blog is going to be broken up into 3 different portions based on the three different locations we stayed at in Arizona – Phoenix, Scottsdale, and Tucson. In each section I’ll touch on where we stayed, what we ate, and what we did at each location and as always, I’ve included all the outfits I wore. I am also going to dive a little bit into the business side of my life as I attended my very first Tucson Gem Show for my jewelry business, Taylor Soul Designs.

If you are looking for just a specific section, I’ve included anchors to each one so you can go and jump ahead:

I’ve only been to Arizona once before and it was for a work trip. We didn’t get to do too much when I came because of WORK, so I was super super exited to be able to come here again and get to do some exploring of my own. A little story behind this trip… Jared actually chose this spot for his birthday and I was NOT mad about it. I pretty much had an entire trip planned and ready to be booked for St. Johns, but Jared miraculously came across this freaking awesome mansion-like Airbnb in Arizona that was available for five days only. We figured that it must have been a previous reservation that someone had suddenly cancelled. We looked into it and there is usually no availability ever, but somehow we had magically found it at the right time. And suddenly, BOOM, we instantly had a trip booked to the beautiful, Arizona!


First things first, we rented a car because we knew we were going to be doing a ton of driving, plus we had a pretty big crew with us. I would say that this is definitely the most efficient way to navigate through Arizona, especially if you plan to adventure around and sight see.

Where We Stayed

Our first stop, and where we flew into, was Phoenix. We knew only had the “mansion”, as we called it, for five days and we didn’t want to waste any time, especially with the two hour time change. We took an entire day to travel and get ourselves situated and settled in so we could be ready to enjoy the house – just because we’re extra like that. We stayed our first night at this rental place which was a cute little Airbnb in Phoenix. It had a pool, hot tub, and was so cutely decorated on the inside. Phoenix is more of a fast pace, city vibe, with a lot going on. It looked a little more towards the run-down side of town where we were but still had a lot going on around us.

What To Eat

Our first and only meal in Phoenix, of course, had to be Mexican food. We went to Ajo Al’s Mexican Cafe and it totally exceeded my expectations. Their Happy Hour is all day Monday, and 3pm to 6pm Wednesday through Friday, and Tuesdays is Taco Tuesday! The margaritas were ABSOLUTELY DELICIOUS. And I couldn’t get enough. Paired it with a bean burrito and my hangry-ness/jet lag was instantly cured.

What To Do

Shop! They have tons of shopping places here. We were more in the outskirts of Phoenix so we didn’t get to see much of the main area although they had a ton of shopping and restaurants. Of course you can never go wrong with any sort of Mexican food here because they do it right and it is so DELICIOUS. Previously when I came here for a work trip, we did a UTV tour.

While we spent just a short time in Phoenix, I was excited to get to see some more of Arizona. We packed up the next day and headed to our next destination!

Other Things To Do In Phoenix:

  • Phoenix Zoo
  • UTV Tours
  • Hiking
  • Visit Rooftop Bars
  • Festivals


As we began to drive into Scottsdale the scenery immediately changed which instantly made me feel like this may or may not be my new favorite place in the world. The mountains start to emerge into, what looks like, right into the road and it is full of such breath taking beauty. It’s like every turn you take is a new mountain or a big open space full of a ton of cacti.

Where We Stayed

As you know, I’ve already talked about how we found this place, but let’s talk about how beautiful it was. This Airbnb was UNREAL. I totally, totally recommend checking it out if you ever get the chance/if it ever becomes available again. Coolest and BY FAR the biggest place I have ever stayed at. They had a lazy river, mini golf course, pool house (a literal second house), and basketball court. Basically I was living my dream life for a short five days. It’s fine, I’m fine. There were endless things to do and as you can tell, we didn’t even really need to leave the house at all if we wanted to.

This was also such a beautiful area to stay in and I would recommend checking it out if you’re looking for a good place to stay in Scottsdale. It was in the perfect location and not too close but not too far from everything. There grocery store was about 5 minutes away, as well as some good shopping spots.

What To Eat

Mastro’s City Hall – This is the restaurant we came to when I was here on my work trip the first time around, and I just had to include this in here because it was probably one of my favorites places ever. They have live music where I met singer Tori Matthieu (she’s amazing and you should check her out). The food was so savory.

Culinary Dropout – This was the first place we stopped at when arriving to Scottsdale. This is an AMAZING spot with AMAZING food and drinks. This is definitely and Instagramer spot too. I was dying over their Cali & Tay Spicy Margarita. Do you get it… like “caliente”… “hot”… okay good, because it took me an hour to piece that one together. Anyways, this was such a cool spot and I would absolutely go back here again.

Francine Restaurant – This is the restaurant you’ll see all the influencers at. It’s so freaking cute in there and not to mention the food was immaculate. Purely incredible. Noubu is also located right next to it and it’s located in such a cute little area.

Hash Kitchen – We didn’t end up making it here but it was on our list and I have heard great things about this place. They are known for their Mega Glitter Bomb which is the Biggest Mimosa in Arizona and it’s totally on my bucket list for next time.

Butters Pancakes and Cafe – Bangin’ breakfast food and a perfect brunch spot. I will not get over how delicious and huge their pancakes were.

Taco Night Private Chef – On our first night, we had a chef come and cook us MORE MEXICAN FOOD!! WE had homemade tacos and they were unreal. I can’t even describe it, just fresh homemade tacos with queso and all the good stuff you crave.

Medicated Chef – For Jared’s birthday I thought it would be cool to do something different. So I hired a Medicated Chef to come and cook a THC infused meal, and this was quite the experience. If you are into something like this and are in the area, Dan and his team were freakin amazing, knowledgable, and super professional but yet super cool and fun. It was such a fun time and I’m so glad we did this. I would recommend doing this if it’s something you’re comfortable trying.

What To Do

Shopping In Scottsdale

Old Town Scottsdale – This place is a must! It’s a fun daytime activity with tons of shopping and eating. It’s small enough where you’re not overwhelmed, but big enough to conquer in a few hours depending on how fast you shop! I was in jewelry heaven here.

There is also a few food spots here! We ate at Belle’s Nashville Kitchen and the food and drinks were amazing.

Rare Earth Gallery – One year Jared went here and brought me back the absolute most stunning jewelry. I didn’t get to experience this for myself but I follow their Instagram and obsessed isn’t even the word. They have some HUGE crystals so if you’re in the market for some unique pieces check them out.

What We Did

Top Golf – Oh gosh here we go! If you’ve read my previous blogs then you know the obsession we have with Top Golf, and of course we had to hit it in Arizona and it never disappoints.

TPC Golf – Of course we played a round of regular golf at TPC Scottsdale where they host the PGA Tour and THIS was a super cool thing to do if you (or your lovely golf obsessed boyfriend) are into golf like that. If you’re into golf I would totally recommend getting in a round here. Beware the prices are a bit up there but it’s for the sake of the super nice and professional course.

Although we didn’t hit them all, there are so many more things you can do!

Other Things To Do:

  • Horseback Riding
  • Culinary Classes
  • UTV Tours
  • Hike – This is an absolutely gorgeous place to go hiking and find some of the worlds most hidden gems!
  • Visit Grand Canyon


The Tucson Gem Show

Arizona is a breeding ground for some of the most beautiful crystals and minerals in the country. I have always wanted to go to the Tucson Gem Show. I used to hear about it all the time and especially when I got into crystal healing and opened my jewelry business. What I have learned is that the OFFICIAL Tucson Gem Show is one weekend only in February. However, they have a TON of events and shows going on that happen during the entire months of January and February. I’m sad that we didn’t make it to the actual one, but the experience was just as good in my opinion! This has been a dream of mine for a while so when Jared had included this into our plan, I was over the moon excited. I knew I had a ton of planning to do so I want to share some of my top tips and suggestions for those who also would love to go one day!

Here is the 2022 Tucson Gem Show Schedule.

Tips + Where We Went + Requirements For Each

Top 5 Tips For The Tucson Gem Show:

  • HAVE A PLAN – Figure out which shows you want to go, where you are going to be staying, how long you plan to spend at each show, how much you plan to spend, if you plan to ship things, if you are not shipping them do you have a big enough vehicle/suitcase to put them in? It’s the little things to prepare for that will really make a difference!
  • KNOW WHAT YOU WANT – Know what you are looking for and stick to that. Begin with a plan. I made a list and planed out everything I was hoping to find while I was there. Of course I saved some room for some extra finds but stuck to my list which helped a ton. Once I walked in I was starstruck. I’m one of those people who needs to take it all in so having a list seriously helped keep me on track. I was specific as color schemes, to what shapes of crystals, to types metals I wanted. There is an overwhelming amount of things you will see at these shows. It can’t crazy but if you prepare before and know what you need and are looking for, it makes it a lot less stressful. I knew this was my first show and told myself to not get too overwhelmed, I know I will come back again and now also have a better idea of what I want to get.
  • KNOW WHAT TO BRING – Your Tax ID Number, Water, Snacks, Comfy Shoes, Business Cards, Suitcase or Backpack. A lot of places on the schedule will tell you if there are restrooms, how long it takes to circle each show, etc. which is very helpful too.
  • MAKE CONNECTIONS WITH VENDORS – I cannot stress this enough. It’s so important to make those connections. It will only help you and your business in the long run. One thing I forgot and was so p*ssed at myself for was to bring business cards with me, people will as and I was practically in tears when I realized I hadn’t brought any. It’s okay I will be back and better prepared.
  • CIRCLE EACH PLACE ONCE – This is my best tip. Again it can get so overwhelming so Jared came up with the great idea to circle each place once and then get ideas of where you want to shop and go from there. It helps with budgeting, planning, and crossing off the places you know you don’t need to worry about.

Where We Went + Requirements:

JOGGS – My favorite show by far. Anyone is welcome. Businesses will honor your TAX ID, but anyone can shop. Awesome show, probably my favorite one we went but also very overwhelming at first here is their website. Biggest one we went to. Very similar to what I picture the actual one to be like. Lots of people.

We circled the entire thing once, to get a good idea as to where I wanted to go and spend. Then we circled back I would say probably about 6 more times. You can leave and go back in. They do have a food truck outside. We would drop stuff off to the car as we went.

There is a shipping center in here and I would totally recommend using them (which we did not do) but they offer better shipping prices because they know you’re shipping tons of rocks! As far as airports go – they obviously see this all the time, they know there are gems shows going on. However, I read so many different things and my biggest concern was I didn’t know how big of crystals I could bring back on the plane. I shipped anything bigger than my hand or looked like it could be considered a “weapon” and flew with the rest and didn’t have any problems.

Casino Del Sol – Colors of the Stone – Anyone is welcome to this one as well but I do believe they have a max capacity so we just secured our spot with an online ticket. This was oddly enough right at our casino, although we did not plan it that way! It was super convenient to be able to just walk downstairs to the show. This show was more of a craft show with beads and handmade goods, however there were still a few crystal related things.

Enter The Earth – This place was STRICTLY Wholesale Only. Although I was dying to go and see what is was all about we did take a peep arounds. They actually have two locations, one in AZ and the other in NC? This is the place which you may or may not have seen, the famous, Rose Quartz Walkway. This was a GORGEOUS shop on the inside so many beautiful crystals. It was strictly crystals and they all go by weight.

Here is another Gem Show Blog with some great tips that I had read while I was there and wanted to include in here!

Where To Stay

Casino Del Sol – This is where we stayed in Tucson. They have a ton of restaurants here but in my opinion the food was pretty average. Their casino is pretty small, there are only penny slots unless you go to the high rollers and there was only one roulette table open and it was always full.

Hacienda Del Sol – This is another place we considered stay and almost went here for dinner one night. The places around here get booked up pretty fast this time of year because of the gem show.

There are also tons of other places located right around the airport which we also looked at. Airbnbs are amiable but they are much further than they hotels. This is their busiest time of year and everything is always booked up fast – sometimes years in advance. I would suggest to definitely be prepared early if you ever plan to go to the Gem Show!

Where To Eat

Tucson is the Mexican capitol of the world. There are endless Mexican places to eat at here and It’s always so freaking good every single time.

Taqueria Pico De Gallo – AMAZING Fruit Cup

First Watch – Breakfast. We pulled up here and it was a two hour wait. I was so disappointed because I’ve heard great things about this place and it was clearly good considering how many people were outside sitting waiting the two hours.

Casino Del Sol Restaurants:

We went to three of the restaurants here. They were pretty average. I would consider this the type of food you would get at an ‘all inclusive resort’. Not anything mind blowing, but definitely fun to try.

PY Steakhouse –

Bellissimo –

One Asian Cuisine Sushi –

What To Do

Shopping – There is tons of shopping to do in Tucson. You can find some pretty unique things here. I enjoy the hunt to find crystal and jewelry shops.

Oldest Building – This was cool to see, I think you can walk all around it. We didn’t get out of the car because it had looked closed or like there was work being done on it, however there were a few people walking around. But super cool to see something so historical in action.

Art Museum – Jared is an art collector so it’s always fun when he finds these hidden gems. I love to see all the different types of are being created in every place that we visit.

Hike/Sight See – There are so many stunning places you can go to hike and site see in Arizona.

Other Things To Do:

Other than that, we had packed up our bags, shipped my crystals off home, and headed to the Tucson airport; back to good ole Connecticut.


If you made it to the end, I love and appreciate you, thank you so much for reading! If you have any other questions regarding this trip or about my business, please feel free to reach out and send me a DM on Instagram!


Taylor Onze

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