The Phoenix Hipster Travel Guide

phoenix hipster
Crikey! We've got hipsters in their natural habitat!
Phoenix hipster
Crikey! We’ve got Phoenix hipster scenesters in their natural habitat at Lux. Look at the plaid plumage on that specimen!

Hipsters should keep their trilby-wearing, Indie-loving, PBR-guzzling butts out of Phoenix. There’s nothing for them here, right” Just look at this city: Sheriff Joe Arpaio, the sad public transit, the dearth of a true creative class. But there’s also a glut of dive bars, indie music venues, thrift shops and espresso bars. Plus you can sound uber-ironic and contrarian by telling your DJ/mixed media artist/php developer buddies back home that you think Phoenix rocks. So maybe a traveling hipster can get something out of Phoenix.

Well, then, let me help you build your itinerary with my Phoenix hipster travel guide. Check out these four places, and you’ll get the real Phoenix hipster experience.

The Clarendon Hotel

If you visit Phoenix, you need a place to stay. Frequent rooftop parties, DJs and modern-retro styling make the Clarendon Hotel a perfect crash pad for visiting hipsters. And it’s a choice location – walking distance from a light rail station — the preferred hipster mode of transport aside from fixed-gear bikes. Consider this THE choice place to stay in the Phoenix Hipster Travel Guide.

Lux Coffee Bar

A way-too-serious DJ scowling at his Mac laptop like a submarine sonar operator listening for depth charges. A parking lot filled with beat-up cruisers, fixies and Scions. Shouting to be heard over the clamor.

Phoenix hipster travel guide
To get this rare shot of a hipster-free Oasis pool, the management at the Clarendon announced a 2-for-1 oversized sunglasses special in the gift shop. (SOURCE: The Clarendon Hotel via Wikimedia Commons)

This is Lux Coffee Bar. You can find far better espresso in Phoenix. But you can’t find more skinny jeans and awkward facial hair per capita anywhere. The menu has all the usual espresso suspects, plus trendy comfort food items. Finally, Lux has one of the most annoying, ill-functioning-on-all-browsers websites you’ll encounter.

FilmBar Phoenix

Looking for a film that doesn’t rely on explosions” You’re in luck – FilmBar is the place to find the old, the serious, the “so-bad-it’s-good” features that you’ll never see at a mega-movie megaplex. And there’s a genuinely impressive beer list featuring a smattering of Arizona-brewed items — FilmBar might lose hipster points for not having PBR on the list. But you can’t argue that showing some Ingmar Bergman and French films from the 1950s doesn’t even the score. No Phoenix hipster travel guide is complete without FilmBar.

The Lost Leaf

How hip is The Lost Leaf” It’s website extension is .org, not .com. Odds are, the band booked for the night will have a stand-up bass. It’s no strip mall bar, but a nicely renovated bungalow. That’s hip. There’s also 140 bottled beers, some sake, some wine and even a few non-alcoholic beverages. You may feel out-of-place if you have no odd piercings or tattoos. But you’ll satisfy your people-watching needs, along with the desire for a choice beverage.


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By Wandering Justin

Writer. Traveler. Gastronomic daredevil. Fitness fan. Homebrewer. Metal dude \m/. Cat and dog lover.


  1. I love that you have this section, I am moving back to Az from Denver for a job. I have to say I feel lost every time I visit my home state, more suggestions please! I love going to live shows but I don’t see that happening in Az (I could be wrong), unless the bands I like have a large following or if I drive to Tucson.

  2. Hey, Grace. If you tell me a few things that you like doing, I’ll come up with a post for you that has some suggestions. Are you an espresso drinker, foodie, reader, etc.? If you like live music, Phoenix still lags there. Thanks for your comment!

  3. I fancy punk, classical, and funk venues, eclectic to be laconic, and scour swap meets/flea markets/thrift stores like a fiend. Bit of a cineaste with an emphasized interest in mumblecore & foreign films. I also partake in amateur bouldering and am enamored with metaphysical jubilees & incantations. Might you have a few recommendations for me?

  4. I just mentioned you the other day in some Facebook post or some upcoming blog post. And yes, I had to mention your entertaining disdain for hipsters. Glad I’m not there to witness them.

    Will stick with the other beer and espresso joints and any art film houses you might otherwise recommend.

    Meanwhile, do hipsters refer to themselves as hipster? Hip? Hype? “Good people”? (The last one is one to loathe, no?)


  5. Heh. I’ve heard total hipsters refer to others – with disdain in their voices – to others as ‘some hipster’. I have to conclude they don’t recognize that they ARE hipsters. It starts with some skinny jeans. A bad haircut. A Mac that you only use for Facebook posts. Listening to bands nobody has heard of. Next thing you know, you’re on a fixed-gear bicycle wearing a fedora.

  6. Grace if you want to check out a great live show…check out a band called Saint Motel at the Rhythm Room on August 7th. Look them up on youtube or facebook if you want. These guys are from L.A. and have a large hipster following. They just released their debut album and its amazing!!!

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