Downtown Phoenix used to be a place where the lights winked out at 5 p.m., but today the district is wide awake. Thanks to an influx of energy over the past dozen years—a light-rail, a bike share program, and a spate of restaurant and gallery openings—the walkable hood now pulses with life at all hours.
The area's quirky spirit pervades Art Detour (mid-March), a fest that celebrates the creatives who paint and sculpt in local warehouses and storefronts. You never know what you'll see here: past offerings have included a pop-up gallery in a shipping container and the Mutant Piñata Show, featuring an eyeball, a yellow submarine, and other wild creations.
Chef Silvana Salcido Esparza planted her 28-seat Barrio Café Gran Reserva in a glass-fronted former pie factory, where the menu mixes favorites from her flagship eatery, Barrio Café (pomegranate-tinged guacamole), and vegan dishes (Tarahumara-inspired corn, bean, and squash pozole).