The city of Phoenix provides a flourishing focal point in the sparse Sonoran Desert, a city boasting an exploding population, a thriving arts scene and an enthusiastic athletic community. Located at the Salt and Gila rivers, within the Valley of the Sun, this urban hotspot is not only the political, cultural and economic center of the Southwest, but it also offers ambitious tourists a variety of indoor and outdoor pursuits.
REASONS TO GO:
- Points of Pride: See how many of these 33 attractions—chosen as the city’s best features—you can fit into your itinerary. Relax at the Japanese Friendship Garden, marvel at the stained glass collection at St. Mary's Basilica and enjoy a show at the Orpheum Theater.
- Arts Scene: From Symphony Hall to the Heard Museum to Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin West home, the creative arts are on display throughout the city. Downtown, don’t miss Her Secret Is Patience, a stunning net sculpture featuring seasonally changing lighting at night.
- Hiking: Pack your water bottle and hit the trails to discover unique desert formations like Hole-in-the-Rock or take in the best city view from Piestewa Peak. Avoid the sun with a visit to Pinnacle Peak, offering astronomy talks and night hikes beneath the glittering stars.
- Archaeological Adventures: You can view petroglyphs at the Deer Valley Petroglyph Preserve, explore 1,500-year-old village ruins at the Pueblo Grande Museum & Archaeological Park, and hike to the Hohokam hill-forts in Tonto National Forest.
- Professional Sports: When you’re in one of the only U.S. cities that hosts four major professional sports leagues, it’s easy to catch a game. Get your tickets for an Arizona Diamondbacks baseball game, an Arizona Cardinals football game, a Phoenix Suns men’s basketball game or a Phoenix Mercury women's basketball game.
- Mall Hopping: If you love shopping, you’re in luck: Phoenix is home to Biltmore Fashion Park, Arizona Mills, Kierland Commons and IKEA. For boutique browsing, head to downtown’s Arizona Center.
WHEN TO GO:
Arizona is paradise for people who don’t like the cold; summers are long and hot, while winters are short and mild.
Visit in March to attend Cactus League spring training games and go hiking amid blooming wildflowers and cacti. Summer is considered the off-season due to the heat, but it’s a great time to see Phoenix and save a few dollars if most of your planned activities include indoor attractions.
During the fall, you can experience the “Duel in the Desert,” a heated rivalry between the Arizona State University Sun Devils and the University of Arizona Wildcats.
For a uniquely wintery activity in the desert, join the fun at CitySkate in December. You can rent skates and take a few laps around the ice rink, conveniently located at downtown’s Cityscape center.
When you’re scheduling your itinerary, especially flights, be aware that Arizona doesn’t participate in daylight saving time. The Navajo Indian Reservation in the state’s northeast corner is the only area that participates in DST.