The little shopping plaza on Central Avenue just north of Camelback Road has some good retail: Central Barbershop, Curious Nature, Cheese N Stuff — and the original location of Cowtown Skateboards. Though additional shops are found in Glendale, Tempe, and Litchfield Park, this central Phoenix storefront is the reason why the skate shop can support the slogan, "Skateboarding Only Since 1997." Decks, parts, tools, apparel, shoes, magazines, DVDs, and attentive employees pack the mini skateboard market (it's so easy to just get things online, you know?), and brands range from AZPX, Brixton, Huf, Birdhouse, Pizza, Slave, Toy Machine, and Girl to big shots like Nike, Adidas, and Levi's. There's even Cowtown's own in-house brand. The people here also put in some major legwork to host the annual PHXAM skateboarding tournament and event held at the skateboards-only (seems like a theme here) Desert West Skateboard Plaza.

Cowtown skateboards

Landis Cyclery has a lot riding on its history. Landis has four locations now — but at one time, way back in 1912, the year Arizona became a state — it was the only shop around. Benjamin Harrison opened Arizona's first bicycle store in 1912, capitalizing on the newfangled sport of bike-racing. His sons, Dick and Ben Landis, took the handlebars after him, and now Harrison's grandkids, Dick Jr. and Bob Landis own the business. They intend on being here another century, clearly, from their huge product displays and warm staff. Bicycling has changed over the years, and Landis keeps up the pace. You'll find some of the priciest, highest-quality metal steeds at their stores for road- and mountain-biking needs, a few cheaper utility bikes, and an impressive midrange of, well, everything: fixies, kid bikes, fat-tire cruisers, and the right accessories for most anything you want to do on two wheels. Service is outstanding and reasonably priced. You can trust a bicycle shop that's as old as Arizona to treat you right.

Long gone are the days of being ashamed of spectacles or risking names like "Four Eyes." Finally, the style tides have turned, glasses have become fashionable, and all those plagued by less-than-perfect vision can rejoice. And since daily eyewear frames your face, you know, every day, doesn't it only make sense to ensure your specs are eye-catching? Take one step into Framed Ewe and you'll see why this shop is known for the coolest, most unusual, and absolutely show-stopping eyewear in town. Plus, at this one-stop glasses shop, you can get your eye exam, step into the modish showroom, and tap into the style expertise of one of Framed Ewe's helpful, chic associates. Whether you're looking for new readers or a fresh pair of sunglasses, you won't leave with anything less than the perfect pair of frames just for you.

costco

Street art meets nail art in the work of Jimmy Nguyen, whom you might know better by his Instagram handle, @buddhasnails. The Phoenix native is just as capable of decking your fresh set of stiletto acrylics with Old English lettering as he is of painting a playful homage to Japanese fashion label Comme des Garçons on your natural square tips. Which is to say, Nguyen's range and technical proficiency are, to use a technical term, totally bananas. This is a special-occasion manicure you're going to want every two weeks. The artist is available by appointment only at Stash House AZ, Phoenix's nail art mecca located in the Windsor Square Historic District.

Sanctuary Camelback Mountain Resort & Spa Hotel Review

We trust Beyoncé implicitly. So the fact that she and Jay-Z honeymooned at Paradise Valley's own Sanctuary Resort in 2008 is basically an ad infinitum endorsement of the luxury spot. And since the power couple stayed at Sanctuary, the spot's made several upgrades, including freshening up its world-class spa. The Asian-inspired facilities have indoor and outdoor treatment rooms, a meditation garden, and a pool reserved for the practice of watsu, a form of aquatic therapy. We're partial to the Wild Lime-Blossom massage and the Wakai facial. While we can't say what Bey's faves happen to be, we do know that the spa also offers nail treatments, a massage specifically for golfers, and watsu sessions paired with facials. Surfborts not included.

Juniper botanical spa

Camelback Inn, A JW Marriott Resort & Spa, Scottsdale

Not to nitpick, but there's no such thing as a Sonoran rose. Yes, roses can grow in the Sonoran Desert. And there's such a thing as a desert rose. But it's called adenium, and while lovely and vaguely Seussian, the flower is native to the Arabian Peninsula and Africa. Like we said, though, not nitpicking. Because Camelback Inn's so-called Sonoran Rose Facial delivers relaxation and our favorite floral note to such a degree that it calms our skin as well as our know-it-all tendencies. Seriously. The combination of glycolic acid and rose oil paired with a hand and foot massage make for quite the chill, mind-mellowing experience. Call it whatever you want. We're on board.

Between the year-round shedding and the worrisome "What did you just roll in?", dog groomers are the unsung heroes, saving us from what could easily be an entire morning of coaxing, sudsing, and, heaven forbid, nail-clipping. Fortunately for us and our four-legged friends, the best canine coiffures in town don't come at a cost that will leave us howling. Doggy Daze offers a variety of all-inclusive services for pooches big and small, from self-service washes to double-coat de-shedding — all of which come with the complimentary "royal treatment" (ear-cleaning, nail-trimming, and yes, even gland-checking). As an added bonus, the pet parlor also features a retail area for purchasing dog food, treats, and toys, so you can do your one-stop shopping while Spot gets the salon treatment.

The jackalope — jackrabbit meets antelope — is a mythical creature, but now you can make your very own if you're lucky enough to nab a spot in a Curious Nature taxidermy class. This Central Phoenix shop celebrates all things scientific, particularly if they're hip, and what's hipper than taxidermy? The best part of the classes — all materials are included, and no animals are harmed. So put down your gun, and don't call PETA. This is all about preserving and enjoying nature. If that's your kind of thing.

The wooden floors, blue walls, and large dome ceiling of 17,500-square-foot The Ocean Floor are meant to make you feel like you're in a shipwreck, or at least a cool aquarium store. It works. This place has it all, starting with a reptile section behind the massive aquariums for sale. Then, take the bridge over the little koi pond for over 150 aquariums stocked with freshwater to tropical and saltwater fish — everything from rare fish to the standard red and blue bettas in little cups on a shelf. Admire the tenants of the Reef Tank, then check out the Swim Tank. There are also supplies of fish food, aquarium filters, lights, gear, barrels of colorful rocks and decor, corals, about 2,200 gallons of real harvested seawater, and plenty of kids with faces and hands pressed against the glass.

Bizarre Guitar & Drum

Anyone who's ever stepped foot in a big-box guitar store knows what a hellscape the place can be. Imagine it: dozens of wannabe shredders workshopping their pinch harmonics while uninterested sales people consider what they might have to do to make a commission. Bizarre Guitar isn't like that at all. Filled to the brim with vintage gear, new axes, amps, and best of all, a chill staff, the shop feels homey and stress-free. Whether you're browsing for a stomp box, picking up strings, or even looking to trade up for something new, the locally owned Bizarre Guitar makes it clear that instrument stores don't have to suck — the corporate competition doesn't even come close.

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