Written by: Tami

Ever since we met and discovered that we both went to school in Arizona, Phil and I have been planning a trip to the desert. Although we are rivals (Go Sun Devils!),  we know how much our college towns mean to each other and when sharing stories really do have a lot in common. Phil is an avid college sports fan and keeps up with his teams (both football and basketball), so we knew there would have to be a game in our plan. I continued living in Phoenix for a total of ten years, and Arizona will always have a very special place in my heart. It was important to me to not only share my college experience with my husband and baby but to paint the full picture of my time living there as well as visit a few friends. We are truly “a house divided” and will say whenever we get the chance that the school our spouse went to is their only flaw (LOL), but I can say now that I have been properly introduced to Tucson … I get why he has so much pride for his alma mater! I hope Phil would say the same. I think we both had an amazing time showing each other around. For our own memories, and to provide a few tips for those of you planning a trip to AZ, I have broken this post down into three categories (for each of our college towns) … After all, what else is there besides a great place to stay, what to do and see, and delicious things to eat? Enjoy! 

By the way, did I mention we drove with an eight month old baby? Some may call us crazy, but I enjoyed having all of her stuff with us at all times (it was A LOT) and being able to go wherever / whenever we wanted. Road trip!

Tucson: Where to Stay

First stop on our travels was Phil’s college town … Tucson, Arizona home of the U of A Wildcats! We stayed right on campus in the middle of the action as we did not want to miss a thing! This allowed us to walk right out of our hotel and tour all of Phil’s most memorable spots …

… attend a football game …

… and even have a drink and some green fries at his favorite bar (Frog & Firkin)! 

Tucson: Where to Eat

Lunch spots in college are all the rage! My husband and I were reminiscing over those days and realized we didn’t make it out for breakfast hardly at all. The Hot Omar at Sausage Deli was one of his favorites. 

Another place he went often (so we of course had to go) was Bison Witches. The bread they use for their sandwiches and to house their chowders was beyond soft and amazing! I loved every second of this meal!

Chips, salsa, shredded beef tacos, and a chicken enchilada from Rosa’s! You really can’t go wrong with any Mexican food in this state!

One last stop on our way out of town … Eegee’s!

Tucson: What to Do / See


As I mentioned, the main attractions of this leg of the trip was our tour of the campus and going to the game. Right before leaving California, we both got brand new phones and were anxious to use the majorly updated cameras on this model. You can see why! Gates Pass was stunning, and anyone who says the desert is not beautiful is totally wrong! I am so happy we took this extra little drive and got our photo op!

Phoenix: Where to Stay

Old Town Scottsdale is centrally located and has so many fun shops, restaurants, and bars to visit. I love the mix of old southwestern flair and new local art you can find there. What a perfect location for us to stay! While walking around, we even came across this fun art installation for Dia de los Muertos. This piece was made all of plastic plates and utensils. So cool!

Phoenix: Where to Eat

One place I knew I had to take Phil while in Arizona was my favorite breakfast spot, US Egg. The food was just as amazing as I remembered!

I literally visited this sandwich shop weekly for a while when I lived in Arizona. Phil enjoyed Cheba Hut just as much as I did!


My all time favorite place to eat in Arizona and the number one meal I had to have was Oregano’s. Lawrence’s Original pizza, Alfredo the Dark pasta, and the original Pizzookie … To die for!


We decided to have a fancy meal out just for fun one night and chose The Mission for its ambiance, delicious tapas style dishes like these short rib barbacoa tacos, and glasses of homemade sangria.

Phoenix: What to Do / See



For me, the biggest attraction in this part of town was my alma mater … Arizona State home of the Sun Devils! I gave Phil a full tour of the campus complete with Palm Walk, the dorm I lived in, my place of work for three and a half years (the Student Recreation Complex), and one of my favorite bars (The Mill Cue Club).

A House Divided

I hope you have enjoyed this look into our family trip to Arizona. Although we are “a house divided” we both truly loved getting a feel for what the other experienced in their college town. We brought home some fun souvenirs for ourselves and for Joie too! Don’t worry (if you are an ASU fan) … I still vow to never put anything U of A ever on my body! If you find yourself in Tucson or Phoenix any time soon feel free to use my helpful tips for where to stay, eat, and what to do / see. 


We are so excited to once again share our monthly inspiration with all of you! Each month, we look forward to getting the chance to sit down and really think about what’s inspiring us, make predictions for the month ahead, and reflect on the past month. As usual, we have each selected a photo that represents our overall inspiration and have paired it with two interior shots and two events that coordinate with its color scheme and overall concept. In addition, we have provided you with our designer tips to keep you on trend for the month ahead. 

Tami’s inspired: It has been over eight years since I moved back and have always been a girl with strong California roots, but after living in AZ for ten years, a little piece of my heart will always be there. I did love the desert, living in a “fun” college town (Go Devils!), and can certainly appreciate a slower paced way of life. This month, I get to finally share the town that is near and dear to me to those I love most. My husband, Phil went to my rival school … Boo! No, but seriously, it has always been our plan to take a trip to Arizona together and hit up all our favorite places. Can’t wait! 

What’s my designer tip this month? Stay true to the maroon and gold! Also, a little southwest goes a long way! I wasn’t always into this design concept but love how people have been mixing those southwestern patterns these days into the bohemian style. An aztec rug in the right colors can be fresh and hip. Make sure to mix in some flavors of the southwest to your dinner party too.

Lauren’s inspired: Someone I seriously admire wrote this quote, and she has been motivating me so much lately. This month, I plan to focus on how thankful I am for all the great things in my life and continue to work hard to become the best me I can be. If you don’t know of Rachel Hollis … You should! I am completely obsessed with her podcast right now, and I urge everyone to check it out. It is seriously amazing! 

What’s my designer tip this month? Fall head over heels for your space! If you are loving the color army green right now as much as I am, don’t be afraid to use it. Your space will thank you. Do something unexpected, and don’t always try to follow someone else’s path. When creating your tablescape this Fall, use some unique foliage. A mixture of textures and rustic details will tie it all together.

Here at Side by Side Design, we look forward to an exciting month including a fun trip to the desert, the official start of the holiday season, and finally some finished interior spaces! Don’t forget to check out our next Get Inspired post on December 7th for all new looks and inspiration!