Getting Around Phoenix
The best way to get around Phoenix is by 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 restaurants – not to mention the Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport (PHX). A car will also come in handy if you're planning to take daytrips to nearby hot spots, such as Sedona. Plus, there are plenty of scenic drives within a short distance of downtown, such as Doobins Lookout and the Piestewa Freeway.
Walking outside for more than a few blocks is an easy way to be identified as a tourist. Smaller public shuttles, such as the Scottsdale Trolley and Downtown Area Shuttle, however, are useful to traverse those specific areas.
|Car||Phoenicians love their cars, and you'll see why. This city is easy to navigate (the road grid is only interrupted by the mountains) and parking is abundant and convenient, so you should consider renting a car for your visit. Having your own set of wheels could especially come in handy to get to the spread-out attractions. However, you'll soon see that Phoenicians love their cars (traffic can be brutal; vacate the major freeways for the side streets during rush hour), and they like to drive fast (going slower than the speed of traffic will enrage locals).|
Valley Metro operates city buses that travel along the main traffic arteries. They are also relatively inexpensive ($2 per ride; $4 for an all-day pass).The major issue is how to cover more than 400 square miles of city adequately. The system has yet to figure this out, so renting a car is a must, unless you plan on relegating yourself to the confines of your resort (which is a common choice among visitors).
Several cities in the greater Phoenix area offer free shuttle service for touring the downtown areas. The Scottsdale Trolley runs circular routes in Old Town Scottsdale, a popular shopping, restaurant and nightlife district. The Downtown Area Shuttle (a specific bus route of Valley Metro) services Downtown Phoenix, which contains many attractions, sports venues and bars. Tempe's Free Local Area Shuttle (FLASH) operates buses around the Arizona State University area. Each service runs according to its own schedule. Many resorts will also offer free shuttle service to nearby shopping districts and mountain trails.
As the lines extend farther into the city's suburbs, this tourist-friendly option will become more and more appealing. The Metro light-rail system currently operates one, 26-mile line that connects Phoenix to Tempe and Mesa, and includes stops at top attractions, such as the Phoenix Art Museum, the Heard Museum, Chase Field, Talking Stick Resort Arena and Tempe's Mill Avenue District. It also makes a stop at the airport, if you're looking for a cheap way to get into downtown Phoenix (fares cost $2 per ride; $4 for an all-day pass).
If you're not planning to stray too far from your resort, you could rely solely on taxis, though fares will add up quickly since the metropolitan area is so spread out. However, taxis will come in handy if you're planning to take advantage of the area's nightlife scene. Ride-hailing services, such as Uber and Lyft, also operate in the Phoenix area.
Though it would be impossible to get around the entire city by bike, there are certain concentrated areas that can be viewed on two wheels, such as downtown's Roosevelt Row Arts District. There is a bike-share program that makes it easy to explore, with stations in Phoenix, Mesa, Tempe and Scottsdale. Bikes can be reserved for $7 an hour.
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