Phoenix is the state capital of Arizona, but it’s also the cultural, financial, and historical center of the Southwest, thanks to its prime location that has made it a meeting point for the different cultures and peoples of the American Southwest.
It’s also home to some sites that are unique to Phoenix, and one that requires travelers to go off the beaten path.
Weird and Wonderful Architecture
Phoenix is a crossroads of sorts for many Native American cultures in the Southwest, which has given residents of the city an incredibly unique blend of different architectural styles from modest homes to upscale mansions. But beyond this uniquely Phoenix architectural design, this mixing of art styles and cultures encouraged Phoenix residents to be a little moreâ¦creative.
One of these weirdly unique buildings is the Mystery Castle. Built by the equally mysterious man named Boyce Luther Gulley, the Mystery Castle is said to be held together by a combination of mortar, cement, and strangely enough, goat’s milk. Boyce disappeared from his family for three years before ending up in Phoenix, where he decided to build Mystery Castle as if on a whim, not stopping until his death 15 years later.
If that’s not weird enough, then you can also check out Governor Hunt’s Pyramid tomb. That’s right; it’s a tomb for a governor. The Pyramid serves as the final resting place of Governor W.P. Hunt, Arizona’s first Governor. Even by modern standards, “Old Walrus” (as he was called) was a kind, progressive man who championed the under-represented and was well-liked by pretty much everyone in the state. When he died, he requested to be buried beneath a tomb that he designed himself, following Freemason symbolism.
Quirky Shops and Amazing Food
There is no shortage of one-of-a-kind restaurants and unique stores in Phoenix, thanks to its long history of being a center for culture and trade in the Southwest. As people from all over the Americas gathered and passed by what-is-now Phoenix, they brought with them a vast array of food and goods, some of which exist only in, or originated from, Phoenix.
One of these unique finds is called Fry Bread, a bread unique to the region and made famous by the Tohono O’odham Nation. In 1992, members of the Tohono O’odham Nation opened a restaurant in downtown Phoenix called Fry Bread House which started serving this tasty yet little known snack to everyone in the city. It became so popular that it even won a James Beard award back in 2012!
And if you want a slice of Americana history, look no further than the MacAlpine’s Soda Fountain. This traditional American diner has retained much of its aesthetics and equipment since it first opened in 1938. It started as a pharmacy in the late 20s, operating until 1938, when Fred MacAlpine acquired it. He then ran the store as a full-service pharmacy and a beverage shop until 1991, when they replaced the pharmacy with a restaurant. Most interestingly, though, is that the diner retained the original soda fountain and malt machine that Fred installed back in 1938, giving customers an authentic taste of history.
With this information in mind, you can decide which exciting places to visit if ever you end up in Arizona’s state capital. You can learn more about its uniqueness through these sites.