It’s hard to pinpoint a favorite aspect of Arcadia and what makes this place oh-so unique and enchanting. Maybe it’s the small-town “everyone knows your name” culture that’s been cultivated within a city of 4.3 million people. It’s the easy downtown accessibility, while still being located just far enough – with the Arizona Canal and Camelback Mountain as natural bookends – that it’s shielded from heavy traffic.
Foot traffic, however, is a different story. Arcadia’s walkability factor is certainly a big part of its charm. It’s a place where bikes often outnumber cars. Runners take to the canal that winds its way throughout the neighborhoods. And friends regularly bump into one another on the corner.
Many of these friends are often also neighbors. The community bond in Arcadia is strong, and this local pride can be seen in the myriad neighborhood associations. Much of Arcadia was developed in the 50s and 60s, and such organizations help preserve the area’s rich local history. This history includes its famous citrus groves, which have brought a lushness to the area that isn’t commonly seen in the desert. Its farming past has also meant unique large lots for homebuyers, proving to be a favorite amongst young families in particular.
One-of-a-Kind Arcadia Local Businesses
Arcadia has many unique characteristics, but one thing is for sure: Local businesses play a major role in the thriving community. You’ll find many housed in retrofitted buildings that combine vintage charm and modern sensibility. There’s always a fun new concept making its debut in the neighborhood. Post offices have become wine bars. Coffee is served in garages. And craft beer can be found in attics. Yes, all of these examples happen to be eateries… but it’s hard not to mention the bustling restaurant scene when you mention Arcadia. There’s outdoor cafes with twinkling Al Fresco lighting at every turn and new culinary talent popping up all the time.
Here are a few local favorites:
- Beckett’s Table. Speaking of culinary talent, Chef Justin Beckett — who was nominated for Best New Chef by Food & Wine Magazine – opened his iconic, farm-to-table restaurant in the area.
- Postino Arcadia. Known for its ambiance, wine and bruschetta, Postino is an Arcadia staple – so much so that its creators, Upward Projects, have developed other local concepts that are equally as unique and delicious.
- Arcadia Tavern. This could be considered Arcadia’s version of the “Cheers” sports bar — where you’ll find families and sports fans alike gathering for the big game or diving into a made-from-scratch dish.
- The Little Woody. Spot the owl on the building and you might just find the door to this hidden gem. Once inside, restaurant-goers can play all arcade games all night long and enjoy classic speakeasy spirits.
- Madison Improvement Club. This bright, airy space offers health food and juices. Not to mention, there the high-energy “Party on a Bike” spin classes and all kinds of yoga.
- UrbAna: From push-pop confetti to Match Pewter serving bowls, you’ll find something at this locally focused boutique to celebrate any occasion. The proceeds from select items even go toward Arizona nonprofits, like Homeward Bound.
(There’s so many local spots to discover! Find more favorites on Local First Arizona’s Small Wonders Map. )
Keeping Dollars In the Arcadia Community
Not only do local businesses drive a sense of community in Arcadia, they also add to the local economy. For every $100 spent at a local Arcadia shop, approximately $43 stays in the community, according to the Indie Impact Study Series promoted by Local First Arizona. In addition, another study showed that local restaurants — something Arcadia is known for — provide even more economic benefit: 79 percent of revenue is recirculated as opposed to 30 percent from chain dining.
Locally owned businesses are key to a sustainable economy, and they’re certainly a driving force in Arcadia’s continued prosperity. With an ideal location, setting and so much more, Arcadia has always been a desirable area. Its future looks as bright as the café lights twinkling from its citrus trees.