I’m like most Phoenix natives. When summer hits and temperatures rise above 100 degrees, I have an escape plan – one that sweeps me away from the blistering heat. For some, it’s a weekend getaway to Flagstaff or Sedona and for others, it’s a houseboat on one of Arizona’s many lakes. For me, it's the White Mountains.
I’ve always loved Pinetop but only thought of it as a city to pass through or, at best, a one-night stop to get to Sunrise Mountain. In fact, I think most Phoenicians overlook this quaint town and don’t realize all it has to offer.
I was guilty of this until about five years ago, when I married into a family that has a cabin on the border of Pinetop and Lakeside. The first time I headed up for a weekend, I couldn’t wrap my head around the fact that I wouldn’t be going skiing during the day. What was there to do in Pinetop?
Plenty, I soon found out. For starters, it wasn’t the quiet sleepy town I had stereotyped it as. The city girl in me loved how Pinetop wasn't only limited to outdoor activities. Antique shopping is big in Pinetop, as well as nearby Show Low, so it is always in order when visiting.
The town also has tons of great dining options. For a classic and casual steakhouse experience, I’d recommend Charlie Clark’s Steakhouse, one of the most popular restaurants in town. Darbi’s Café is a must-visit for breakfast, and features traditional breakfast options with a southern, small-town ambiance. Independent coffee shops are also easy to find, and I love stopping by Cup A Joe, a drive-thru only coffee house, for a mean Mocha Joe Freeze.
Of course, when I’m really looking to shun city life for a few days, summertime in Pinetop is the perfect place to enjoy a hike, kayak in one of the many scenic lakes, bicycle or just take in the beautiful scenery of pine trees, mountains and cool climate. On nearly every trip, I’ve spotted at least one bald eagle flying across the water or perched high in tree, an unforgettable sight each time.
When it comes to ideal summer getaways, Pinetop truly has it all. Whether you’re looking for a weekend getaway with a little culture or an adventurous retreat, I promise, if you visit, you won’t be disappointed.
Jennifer Lawhead is a native who remembers when Phoenix had all of the characteristics of a smaller city before it transformed itself into a wonderful major metropolitan that it is today.