Phoenix Travel Guide
Referred to as "L.A. without the Pacific," Phoenix combines high-end shopping, a flourishing restaurant scene and resort life in the Sonoran Desert. Instead of golden beaches and palm trees, you'll have vibrant red mountains and cacti-lined boulevards. Phoenix's setting is so attractive that the one-time ranch town has morphed into the sixth most populated city in the U.S. And with the development of palatial resorts, hundreds of golf courses, a burgeoning ... continue»
See all Top Things to Do in Phoenix»
- #1 The Canyon Suites at The Phoenician
- #2 Sanctuary Camelback Mountain Resort and Spa
- #3 The Phoenician, A Luxury Collection Resort
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The best time to visit Phoenix is November through April, when you'll sees blue skies with highs in the upper 60s, 70s and low 80s. But whenever you visit, keep in mind this desert city's seasons are harder to determine. The leaves don't change colors in fall, nor will flowers blossom in the spring. You will notice differences in temperature, however, particularly in the toasty summers when highs average above 100 degrees Fahrenheit. If you can bear this dry, formidable heat, you can take find great deals at luxury resorts.Best Times to Visit Phoenix»
Phoenix is located in central Arizona in the Valley of the Sun, surrounded by McDowell, Phoenix South, White Tank, and Estrella mountains. The Phoenix Metropolitan Area is comprised of several dozen cities, the primary ones being Scottsdale, Tempe, Mesa, Glendale, Carefree and Cave Creek.
Home to both city hall and the state capitol, Downtown Phoenix is a business, financial and government district. However, the downtown area is also where most of the city's sports arenas, museums and entertainment venues are located. The Orpheum Theatre, Symphony Hall and the Herberger Theater Center are all located in the downtown area, as well as the Phoenix Museum of History, Heritage Square, the Phoenix Art Museum and the Arizona Science Center. The heart of Downtown Phoenix, known as Copper Square, is filled with art galleries that feature contemporary works. This area is also home to several high-end hotels, as well as many budget-friendly lodging options. Consider finding a room in the downtown area to be close to the city's top things to do.
Located just north of Downtown Phoenix is the Biltmore District. The Biltmore District — also known as the Camelback Corridor because of its location on Camelback Road — is known for its abundance of upscale shopping centers. As well as the numerous shops along Camelback Road, shoppers will enjoy exercising their credit cards at the Biltmore Fashion Park shopping mall. The Biltmore District is also home to several hotels, namely the Arizona Biltmore Hotel.
Scottsdale is technically a separate city, though it is considered part of the Phoenix Metropolitan Area. Scottsdale reaches from Carefree in the north to Tempe in the south, a distance of more than 20 miles. North Scottsdale is characterized by numerous shopping malls and a lively restaurant scene, while downtown Scottsdale is home to popular sites. Old Town, the Main Street Arts and Antiques District, the Marshall Way Contemporary Arts District and the Scottsdale Waterfront all feature boutiques, restaurants and Native American crafts stores. Those who wish to stay in Scottsdale can live in the lap of luxury on Scottsdale Road, which has earned the nickname "Resort Row" due to the large number of resort hotels located there.
Because it shelters Arizona State University's Tempe campus, this area is very hip, with dozens of shops and plenty of nightlife locales. Mill Avenue is crowded with numerous interesting shops and an abundance of sidewalk cafes, making this street the center of attention in Tempe and a popular area for strolling. Just southeast of Tempe is Chandler, which has seen major economic growth in recent years and now offers plenty of dining and hotel options.
Mesa, an eastern suburb of Phoenix, is known for its large shopping malls and strips of inexpensive chain hotels. The area also features several popular small museums, including the Mesa Arts Center.
Northwest of downtown Phoenix, Glendale is characterized by its historic buildings and numerous antiques and collectibles stores. Those who visit Glendale can spend some time visiting the Bead Museum before catching a Phoenix Coyotes hockey game at the Jobing.com Arena or an Arizona Cardinals football game at the University of Phoenix Stadium.
Carefree & Cave Creek
Located on the northern fringes of the Greater Phoenix metropolitan area, experts say that the Carefree and Cave Creek neighborhoods represent the best of the Old and New West, respectively. Upscale Carefree is home to the renowned Boulders Resort & Golden Door Spa and el Pedregal Festival Marketplace, but Cave Creek identifies more with its Western heritage and features Wild West-inspired saloons, restaurants and gift shops.
Phoenix is a relatively new and constantly expanding metropolis. Although crime rates are not excessively high, you should still take extra precautions. Make sure to always lock your car doors, and keep valuables hidden from plain sight. Policemen in orange shirts patrol more touristy areas on foot and by bike, and you should not be hesitant to approach them for help.
There's a reason why it's called the Valley of the Sun: The Phoenix Metropolitan Area sees more than 300 days of sunshine every year, and its desert climate means the air is hot and dry. Visitors unaccustomed to this type of weather often suffer from heat stroke and dehydration, the symptoms of which include nausea, fatigue, headache and dizziness. To avoid heat stroke, drink plenty of water and wear a hat to shade your face. If you're hiking or biking in the mountains, take regular breaks. You should also apply sunscreen on a regular basis to avoid getting burned. Always carry sunglasses, especially when you are driving around sunrise or sunset: Wearing them will help improve your visibility and prevent an accident.
The desert is home to some creepy-crawlies for whom you should keep an eye out, particularly rattlesnakes and scorpions. It's unlikely you'll encounter these creatures within the city — or that you'll have problems if you do — but it's still wise to be extra cautious when out on the trails. If you're bitten or stung, seek medical attention immediately.
The best way to get around Phoenix is a car, especially as this ever-expanding metropolis rests neatly on a grid. A car is a necessity to reach the spread-out attractions, your hotel and food — not to mention the Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport (PHX). Walking outside for more than a few blocks is an easy way to be identified as a tourist. Phoenix has a public bus system, but you would hardly know it. It is unreliable and infrequently used even by residents. Smaller public shuttles, such as the Scottsdale Trolley and Downtown Area Shuttle, however, are useful to traverse those specific areas.Getting Around Phoenix»