Best three places to take a break downtown

The Japanese Friendship Garden. (Hope O'Brien/DD)

Life in the big city can be crazy and stressful, but downtown Phoenix offers a variety of local hangouts to take a break from the fast pace.

Japanese Friendship Garden

Established in 1996, the Japanese Friendship Garden is located at 1125 N. Third Ave.

The garden provides a step away from the high-rise buildings of the concrete jungle. After stepping through the entrance, guests are greeted with a walking path around a large koi pond as well as a three-and-a-half-acre garden.

Guests can stroll through the garden along gravel paths, where they can feed the koi or simply sit at one of the garden’s many benches to relax and enjoy the greenery.

According to Reiko Reavis, the executive director of the Japanese Friendship Garden, the garden is the best place in the city to leave stress behind. She believes that a walk through the garden can refresh the mind and relax anyone who visits.

“Japanese gardens are places of relaxation and contemplation,” Reavis said. “You can leave stress and worries behind when you cross through the gate.”

Entry to the garden is $10 for general admission with discounted prices for students, seniors and those in the military, as well as free entry for children six and under. Guests with a membership have free entry at any of the times the garden is open to the public.

Songbird Coffee and Tea House

Songbird Coffee and Tea House opened in 2012 in a historic house originally built in 1904. It is located at 812 N. Third St.

The beige and green coffee and tea house provides a contrast to the towering buildings of downtown. Customers can order from a variety of food and drink options to enjoy while relaxing either at one of the shop’s indoor tables or the picnic benches located out front.

For downtown residents like Terry Peterson, a local software engineer, the Songbird is a regular stop that provides a comforting atmosphere compared to chain businesses.

“I like this kind of business as opposed to a chain type of establishment,” Peterson said. “It has that comfortable neighborhood feel to it.”

Hours: 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. every day.

Heritage Square

Heritage Square contains historic buildings at 113 N. Sixth St. that are surrounded by benches to relax on while enjoying history.

A short walk through Heritage Square will lead you to sights of blooming roses and historic buildings. Guests are able to wander the square, which contains a variety of activities.

They can take a walk through the Heritage Gallery, which has exhibits about downtown Phoenix’s history, or opt to take a tour of the Rosson House Museum, a refurbished Victorian-era house from downtown’s past.

For downtown residents like Denise Wiegand, an Arizona State University employee, Heritage Square is a much-needed step away from modern buildings and society.

“I appreciate the greenery and historic buildings,” Wiegand said. “We live in a hectic, fast-paced society and the smallness here brings peace.”

Heritage Square and Gallery are free to visit, and tours of the Rosson House Museum can be purchased for $10 with discounted prices for seniors, students, and children.

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