Insider Guides

Ask a Local: Marshall Shore

If you want to know what makes Arizona such a special place to visit, ask a local — so we did. Join us as we explore Phoenix with Marshall Shore, Arizona’s Hip Historian.

Ask a Local: Marshall Shore
Marshall Shore at Taliesin West. Credit: Claudia Johnstone @dasfotohaus

Tell us about yourself.

As Arizona’s Hip Historian, my passion is uncovering the weird, the wonderful and the obscure treasures from our past: the semi-forgotten people, places and events that have made us who we are today. I like to use storytelling magic, found film footage, old photographs, ephemera and artifacts to bring our state’s heritage to life in entertaining and educational presentations. I share history through in-person events, tours and virtual events — every Thursday night at 7 p.m. is Arizona History Happy Hour, a free virtual Arizona theme variety show.

How long have you lived in Phoenix?

I relocated here more than 20 years ago from New York City. I arrived in 2000 and began working in at Phoenix Public Library’s Harmon Library. From that first day, my introduction to Arizona and Phoenix was through the library’s oral stories about the evolution of the different neighborhoods; for example, the still-standing Sacred Heart Church and how it was saved by the community as the sole reminder of the Golden Gate Barrio.

What was your expectation of Phoenix and how was that expectation flipped, if at all?

When I first arrived, people said to me: “There is no history here.” That was soon dispelled since every adventure I’ve taken has uncovered stories about amazing people, places and events in Phoenix. I began talking to local folks, researching their stories, adding more context and retelling those histories to others.

Favorite place for a cocktail in Phoenix?

I love pulling up to the Googie-style building that was once a laundry and now houses Modern Manor and Valentine restaurant, then walking around the side to Bar 1912. It’s a nuevo speakeasy set in monochromatic adobe with sublet accents and niches. The bar gives a nod to classic cocktails, but with added influences from across our state to make each glass a sublime beverage that evokes conversation and an experience.

Ask a Local: Marshall Shore
Phoenix Skyline. Credit: An Pham

Must-see cultural attractions in Phoenix?

S'edav Va'aki Museum (formerly Pueblo Grande Museum) is a hidden gem of a museum where you can learn about the Huhugam culture and how Phoenix’s location and name is linked to these original communities. And if you’re wondering how Indian School Road got its name, stop by the visitors center at Steele Indian School Park to investigate.

Tourist spot in Phoenix that’s worth the visit?

The Musical Instrument Museum. Be sure to give yourself plenty of time to wander the exhibits, listen to the calliope and get your hands on a variety of instruments in the all-ages playroom, including a chance to play a theremin.

A friend is coming to Phoenix for the first time... describe the perfect weekend itinerary.

Start the day by freshening up with locally handmade vegan bath products from Strawberry Hedgehog. Maybe even sign up your friend for the Soap Club — think wine club, but with soap. Then caffeine and carbs at JL Patisserie with their delicious baked goods and tasty vanilla iced coffee.

Ask a Local: Marshall Shore
Credit: Musical Instrument Museum

Next: The Phoenix Art Museum to check out the current fashion exhibit, and of course, the museum’s other art. Afterwards, stop by local eyewear shops: Ray Glasses, Central Eyeworks and Urban Eyecare. See what looks good on you and discover the latest eyewear trends, from shapes to tints.

Ask a Local: Marshall Shore
Phoenix Art Museum. Credit: Nate Ellis, Alltraverse

When the sun is about to set, head to South Mountain Park and Preserve to drive by Scorpion Gulch on your way to Dobbins Lookout, the highest point in the park, for a gorgeous view. Follow this with dinner at Tratto, located in the old Roland’s Market. Enjoy handmade seasonal cuisine before ending the evening in a blissful food coma.

The next day, scoot over to downtown Phoenix’s evolving Grand Avenue, which is steeped in unique and quirky character at places like Hawk’s Salvage with its unexpected curation of vintage, artful objects and the plant collection at the lush nursery Pueblo.

Best place to get out in nature in Phoenix?

I suggest Rio Salado Audubon Center. It has a year-round walking path with plenty of photo ops.

Your favorite time of year in Phoenix, and why?

Springtime. The days can be toasty, but the spectacular sunsets give way to cool evenings, the perfect time to explore, join a tour or sit on a rooftop patio with friends for a few beverages.

Best Phoenix souvenir and/or local shop?

Hazel & Violet, a letterpress shop that offers classes, stationery and personalized gifts.

Finish this sentence: “Don't leave Phoenix without...”

Learning about some cool history.



Phoenix is the capital city of Arizona and is located in the central region of the state. People may know it for its year-round sun, desert...

Leisure & Relaxation

Shop Local in Phoenix

Forget drone deliveries and big-box greeters. Phoenix is bristling with indie boutiques that sell everything from locally made cocktail mixers...

Arts and Culture

Another Side of Arizona: Art, History, and Culture

Only one thing is better than an outdoorsy visit to Arizona, and that's an outdoorsy visit with some art and culture added along the way!...

Insider Guides

Mister Phoenix Pride 2018 on What He Loves About Phoenix

If you want to know what makes Arizona such a special place to visit, ask a local — so we did. Join us as we explore Phoenix with Mister Phoenix...

About the Author

Jessica Dunham

Jessica Dunham is a travel, food and fitness writer whose work has been published in PHOENIX Magazine, Runner's World, Phoenix New Times, Valley Guide, Phoenix Travel Guide, Modern Luxury Scottsdale and more. She is passionate about all things Arizona, especially spontaneous Saturday daytrips around the state. She can be reached at

Recommended Partners

Nature & Wildlife

Audubon Arizona

Audubon Arizona is the state office of the National Audubon Society and a 501 (c) 3 nonprofit organization, with the mission of connecting...

Galleries & Museums

Musical Instrument Museum (MIM)

Explore the world through music at the Musical Instrument Museum (MIM). This unique museum, which displays instruments and objects from...


Cities & Regions

From the abundance of Saguaro cactuses and unique wildlife in the Sonoran Desert to the high country and forests of the White Mountains to the breathtaking Grand Canyon, Arizona’s regions are full of experiences that don’t disappoint.