What Makes Greater Phoenix so great: Sophie Kanabay

Published: 07/22/2021

How old are you?


How long have you lived in Greater Phoenix?

Three years

What city do you currently reside in?


Where are you originally from and why’d you decide to move to Arizona?

I am originally from Merced, California, known as the Gateway to Yosemite, or more recently, the home of UC Merced. Before moving out here three years ago, I came to visit two of my best friends who had moved out to the Phoenix metro area two years earlier. I fell in love with the area and all the opportunities and experiences available.

If you graduated from college, where did you attend and what was your degree?

I am currently in my last year at the University of Arizona (go Wildcats!) where I am getting my undergraduate degree in Sustainable Built Environments with an emphasis in Real Estate. I am due to graduate May 2022.

Where do you currently work and what is your title?

Recently, I was working as the Executive Assistant to Gretchen Wilde, the owner and founder of Airpark Signs & Graphics, an architectural sign company which has served the Phoenix metro area for over 35 years. Currently, I am in summer school, working as a Bartender at ReWined, and as a Business Development Intern at GPEC.

What do you like to do in Greater Phoenix on the weekends?

When it is not too, hot I enjoy hiking many of the local trails; kayaking at Tempe Town Lake; seeing live shows whether it is music, comedy, ballet or theatre; hanging out with friends, trying out different restaurants; and spending quality time with my boyfriend and our two cats.

What’s your favorite restaurant and why?

Oh, this is a hard one – there are so many great restaurants!

  • Barrio Café on 16th is definitely a favorite
  • Glai Baan
  • Little Miss BBQ (the original)
  • Tacos Huichos
  • Lucky Boy – love me a little dive burger
  • ATL Wings is where it’s at for sure

I’m a sucker for food in general, but food that is cooked perfectly, has incredible flavor, wonderful staff, and has a bit of a homemade feeling to it secures a special place in my heart.

What’s your go-to staycation spot and why?

My go-to staycation stop is FOUND:RE. This place is phenomenal! The art they have throughout the hotel is breathtaking. I love to walk around and soak in the different visuals and emotions contained within each art piece.  The rooms are spectacular, the beds are so comfortable and you have a great view of the city. Plus, you are in downtown, so you can walk or Uber to other fun spots!

How do you stay “cool” in the Arizona summers?

I drink a ridiculous amount of water. Hydration is the best way to stay cool. However, I will also say swimming, spending time on or in the river, a good fan, and AC are helpful.

What do you like about our winters and why?

I love that the winters do not have monsoons or haboobs because they terrify me. But most of all, I love that the winters are pretty mild so I can do things like hike during the day and enjoy a bonfire at night with friends.

What do you love most about living in Greater Phoenix?

What’s not to love? I love that there is always something new to do or go. I love the people – everyone I have met since coming here have all been wonderful. I love the farmers markets, mom and pop stores, First Fridays, sense of community, vast amount of opportunity, and beauty of the landscape. I love everything about this area – that’s why I chose to come out here!

Please include anything else you’d like to share about what makes Greater Phoenix so great.

Having lived in several other states and big metropolitan areas such as Los Angeles, I think it is so wonderful how Phoenix and the surrounding cities are like one big family. In many other places I’ve lived, it is as if neighboring communities are always trying to compete with each other rather than trying to lift each other up and take care of one another. But Greater Phoenix isn’t like that, at least not to me. Everyone wants to grow and prosper together, and I think it’s wonderful.

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