Phoenix rises from the floor of the northern tip of the great Sonoran Desert and offers much more than just cacti. Once a sleepy western town, Phoenix is now one of America's fastest-growing urban centers, with a melding of 22 communities.
"The Valley of the Sun" as it's popularly known, or simply "The Valley," boasts more than 325 days of sunshine each year. Azure skies, warm temperatures, rugged mountains, endless outdoor activities, world-class golf, fine dining, and numerous Mobil Five-Star mega-resorts lure 13 million travelers to The Valley annually. More than 20 major air carriers serve Sky Harbor International Airport, which is located within 10 minutes of the heart of downtown Phoenix.
The Best of Phoenix
The flavor of some cities can be described in single "indoor" words such as museums, shopping, dining, theater, and the arts. Phoenix, on the other hand, has a smattering of each and is best described with "outdoor" words like golf, sports, relaxing, hiking, horseback riding, and generally enjoying the natural beauty of Arizona.
Phoenix is a new city as cities go, and with it comes a young, upbeat attitude and a touch of sass that's evident in the lifestyle. It's a vibrant city that's bursting at the seams.
Modern-day Phoenix lies just about in the center of Arizona. Once outside The Valley, no matter in which direction you head, you'll find the flavorings of the Old West. And since Mexican and Spanish culture has been part of Arizona and the Sonoran Desert for centuries, you'll also find Mexican art, architecture, entertainment, and eateries, too.
What's the big attraction? Millions of visitors each year will tell you it's the weather. Though it's hot in the summer, it is indeed a "dry" heat with humidity rarely climbing above the single digit mark. There are well over 325 days of sunshine each year and little rain. That means you can almost predict that you'll not be stuck indoors during your visit.
Resorts, spas, relaxation, and golf are favorite pastimes, and that all boils down to pure enjoyment. The resorts are some of the world's finest. The dining is modern, cutting edge, and fun. Shopping runs the gamut from funky souvenirs to world-class fashion and art.
Is there a best time to visit? Lots of folks are perennial "snow birds" arriving at the first hint of frost in the north and departing as soon as the first robin is sighted. No matter when you visit, there's plenty to enjoy whether you're an active family, a single seeking nightlife, or someone who just can't sit still.
Fast Facts & Info
Geography & landscape: Phoenix resembles a large gold miner's pan: flat in the middle, surrounded by mountains on three sides, with 22 contiguous communities bordering downtown Phoenix. Those wide-open spaces are disappearing rapidly, making way for the new residents flocking to the area. In the past decade, Phoenix has expanded in every direction right into the hills and mountains that attempt to physically constrain the growth -- somewhat.
Maricopa County covers 9,127 square miles. It's a young city so don't expect old town neighborhoods, markets, and genuine ethnic shopping. It's become upscale, prosperous, and hip. Communities such as Tempe, home to Arizona State University, and upscale Scottsdale have their own personalities. Most of the well-known planned retirement communities, such as Sun City, are located at the western end of The Valley.
Since Phoenix is located near the very heart of Arizona, it would be a shame to miss the great opportunities to explore the rest of the state, including the Grand Canyon, Tucson, Tombstone, Flagstaff, Lake Powell, Prescott, Jerome, Payson, the Superstition Mountains, Sedona, Canyon de Chelly, and the vast Navajo Reservation, to name but a few.
General orientation: Phoenix is divided into two east-west halves at Central Avenue, which runs north and south through the city. West of Central Avenue are the "Avenues," and the "West Valley;" East of Central Avenue are the "Streets" and the "East Valley." Each block further east or west of Central is one number higher. For example 7th Street is seven blocks east of Central Avenue, while 16th Avenue is 16 blocks west of Central Avenue.
In downtown Phoenix, the blocks are measured numerically from Washington Street -- thus, if you're at 3200 North 40th St, you are 32 blocks north of Washington and 40 blocks east of Central Avenue. If it helps, the city center is Central Avenue and Washington Street.
A word of caution is in order though; as you journey into surrounding communities, you'll find that there is often no continuity between street numbers within those communities and those numbers and distances that apply in Phoenix. It will be helpful if you have a map, which you can pick up at the tourist kiosk at the airport.
Safety: As in any city of this size, it's wise to stay in well-populated areas, especially at night. Most of the neighboring suburbs are pretty free of street crimes. Generally, you can feel at ease after dark where there are lots of people at clubs, shopping areas, and on the streets. Obviously, the resorts all have security personnel on duty around the clock.
Many folks visiting the desert for the first time underestimate the danger of dehydration. It's important to drink plenty of water -- up to a gallon a day in summer months. And keep a lookout for rattlesnakes if you're walking in desert areas. Some folks have lived in the region for years and have never seen one, but don't assume the same will happen to you. If you're hiking, be careful, wear high boots, and stay on trails as much as possible.
Population: The Phoenix metro area is one of the fastest growing in the United States and is recognized as the fifth largest city in the nation. The U.S. Census Bureau estimates the current metro population at nearly 4 million and growing rapidly. Between 1990 and 2000, the population in The Valley increased 45 percent.
Climate/weather: A desert climate with an altitude of just over 1,100 feet defines the warm and sunny weather in Phoenix. The sun shines brightly about 325 days each year, and about 90 percent of daylight hours are without significant clouds.
The 100 degree Fahrenheit temperatures often begin in early to mid-May, and the regional monsoons begin in mid-July and typically last until the end of August. The monsoons sweep up from Mexico bringing rain, increased humidity, thunderstorms, lightning, and sometimes dust storms. When it occurs, the area can receive two to three inches of rain in a short time.
Even though summer temps are hot, commonly above 100 degrees for weeks on end, the humidity is often measured in single digits, so Phoenix remains more pleasant than some warm cities with higher humidity. Average rainfall is just over 7.5 inches per year.
The yearly average temperature is 72 degrees Fahrenheit. Dress is universally casual, and you'll rarely need more than a light jacket or sweater November through March. April through July the desert comes alive with blooming cacti.
Before you visit Phoenix, take a look at the next page for tips on the best ways to get around this sunny city.
Navigating Phoenix is quite manageable, whether you decide to rent a car or take advantage of such public transportation options as DASH. The following are tips on getting to and from the airport, as well as on getting around Phoenix when you're ready to explore.
From the Airport
As the world's eighth busiest airport, Phoenix Sky Harbor International is a busy place around the clock, accommodating more than 555,000 take-offs and landings each year.
Rental car: Unless you're visiting only downtown Phoenix or attending a conference or convention, it's almost imperative to have a car, whether it's your own or a rental. The rental car facility is at an off-site location and accommodates all airport rental car companies, their rental counters, and vehicles.
Upon arrival, go to the airport curb at the baggage claim level. Look for the rental car shuttle pickup area and the complimentary multicolored rental car shuttle, which will take you to the rental center. Directional signs are posted throughout the terminal's baggage claim areas to guide you to the rental car shuttle service.
Public transportation: From Sky Harbor Airport, courtesy shuttles are provided to most of the resorts and Phoenix hotels. There are a number of ground transportation companies that provide shuttle service from the airport to other Arizona cities.
Red Line and No. 13 buses provide transportation to and from the airport. You can pick up a copy of the Bus Book at the information desk in any terminal. A bus Trip Planner feature online will provide timetables and allow you to map your own itinerary. A typical bus fare is about $1.25.
When complete in 2008, the light rail system will link the airport with downtown Phoenix, Tempe, and Mesa.
Taxi: Three taxi companies are contracted with Sky Harbor Airport and can be found curbside outside the baggage claim areas. You may choose any taxi you wish from the waiting line. The three companies are AAA Cab (602-437-4000), Allstate (602-275-8888), and Discount (602-266-1110).
Fees are $5 for the first mile and $2 for each additional mile as well as a $1 airport surcharge. There's a $16 minimum fare and no extra charges for more than one in the party or for baggage. Travelers should be advised that cab fare from Sky Harbor to an outlying hotel might often exceed the cost of a daily car rental.
Rush hour: Rush hours tend to be between 7 to 9 am and 4 to 6:30 pm. Because of the summer heat, many construction workers begin before daylight. So, summer rush hours tend to be 11/2 to 2 hours earlier than in other metropolitan areas. With most workers commuting from outside the city, traffic into the heart of Phoenix can become very heavy in the early morning hours. Outbound traffic most days begins to get heavy around 4 pm.
Rules of the road: Sometimes there seems to be no rules, so drive defensively! Drivers here often speed, tailgate, and seem to forget about using turn signals. Be especially defensive for speeders on the Loop 101 and 202 expressways and on AZ 51. The 7.8-mile stretch of Loop 101 between Scottsdale Road and Shea Boulevard is particularly notorious for drivers exceeding 100 mph and photo radar has been installed to nab these reckless individuals.
On surface streets, yellow lights tend to be timed shorter than in other cities. Be ever alert for drivers slipping through a light that has just turned red!
In several communities, cameras are mounted on utility poles to photograph red light runners, and photo radar is commonly used by police in inconspicuous roadside vans hidden in the shrubs and low foliage; fines are stiff, and excuses are rarely accepted.
Public transportation, fares: The main Valley Metro Bus Station (302 N Central Ave) is located in downtown Phoenix on the north side of Van Buren Street between 1st Avenue and Central Avenue. From here, bus service is provided in and around downtown Phoenix and to the surrounding suburbs. Fares are generally $1.25, or for $3.60, you can obtain an all-day pass.
The free Downtown Area Shuttle (DASH) is a great way to explore downtown Phoenix, so look for the copper-colored DASH buses. A bus comes every six minutes at any of the DASH stops that are marked by special signs.
In Scottsdale, the Trolley is a free service traveling through Scottsdale's historic Old Town, Main Street Arts District, Marshall Way Arts District, Fifth Avenue Shops, and Scottsdale Fashion Square.
Taxis, on foot, or by bike: Taxi fees are unregulated in Phoenix, except at the airport. The area is so large that one-way fares can be very expensive. It's best to ask about fares before you get into the cab. Often, it's cheaper to rent a car.
You'll see very few bikes on the streets in Phoenix since there are few bike lanes. But, you'll see lots of riders in the surrounding mountain parks, on greenbelts, and in suburban trails doing long distance riding on weekends. Because Phoenix is so spread out, walking is realistic only if you are staying at a resort or in a specific area. If you decide to walk to any destination no matter how short, make sure to take a supply of water with you as a precaution.
While the special events and attractions in Phoenix are varied, one thing's for sure: Most of the best activities allow you to enjoy the beautiful weather. The next section offers tips on which attractions you won't want to miss during your visit.
Phoenix Special Events & Attractions
There's no end to what you can do and see in The Valley of the Sun. Because there's so much sunshine and so little rain, many activities take place outdoors year-round.
Come spring, visitors flock to the area to see the Cactus League: Major League Baseball spring training. In cooler months, The Valley is a mecca for golfers, hikers, horseback riders, and tennis players.
There's always a festival, art show, or concert happening, and Phoenix's cultural offerings and performing art groups are superb. The Heard Museum, Desert Botanical Garden, and Phoenix Zoo each have won international acclaim, while Old Town Scottsdale hosts incredible shopping and one of the hottest art markets in the country.
Add to this the Grand Canyon, Lake Powell, Native American reservations, and winter ski areas, all of which are only a few hours from downtown Phoenix.
Insider's Guide: The Best of Special Events & Attractions in Phoenix
For baseball fans, there's no better place than The Valley of the Sun. Baseball has become nearly a year-round activity beginning with spring training for the Cactus League in late February and continuing through the Arizona Fall League championships in mid-November.
The Cactus League consists of 12 major league teams (nine in The Valley and three in Tucson). Tickets are reasonable, around $8 for bleacher seats to $15 for reserved seats. The stadiums are more intimate than big-league parks, and often players will come up to the stands to sign autographs for fans. Tickets for some teams go on sale as early as December.
Phoenix also is home to four major sports teams: Arizona Diamondbacks baseball at Chase Field (401 E Jefferson); the Phoenix Suns basketball at America West Arena (201 E Jefferson); Arizona Cardinals football at the Cardinal's Stadium in Glendale (located just south of Glendale Avenue and Loop 101); and the Phoenix Coyotes hockey at Glendale Arena (9400 W Maryland Ave).
Boating on the desert? You betcha! Tempe Town Lake (80 W Rio Salado Parkway) offers a variety of water activities. Anglers will especially appreciate the stocked trout, and kids will enjoy the Splash Playground. You can rent a boat, take paddle classes, attend live concerts, and walk the trails around the perimeter of the lake. There's even a sunset boat ride that includes food, drinks, and music.
South Mountain Park (10919 S Central Ave, south of Dobbins Road) is considered the world's largest city park, with more than 16,000 acres. This amazing urban wilderness park offers picnic areas as well as miles of trails for horseback riding, hiking, and mountain biking. There's an environmental center with displays detailing the history of the park and the ancient Hohokam peoples who once lived here.
Keep your eyes open for lizards, rabbits, and many western birds that frequent the area, as well as rattlesnakes that are most active in springtime. This is a wonderful spot to view a Valley sunset and discover ancient petroglyphs (rock art paintings) created by the Hohokam.
Smack dab in the middle of Phoenix next to the Hohokam Expressway sits the Pueblo Grande Museum and Archaeological Park (4619 E Washington St). This is Phoenix's only national landmark and the site of a Hohokam Village, where more than 1,000 people lived until 1450 A.D. There are galleries where kids of all ages can enjoy hands-on exhibits and a 1/2-mile ruin trail where you can observe storage rooms, cemeteries, and even an ancient ball court.
Nearby community Tempe is the home to Arizona State University (University Drive and Mill Avenue) a 750-acre campus and the largest university in the Southwest. The ASU Visitor Information Center (826 Apache Blvd at Rural Road) has maps of a self-guided walking tour.
There is public art and innovative architecture throughout the campus, including ASU Sun Devil Stadium, the ASU Art Museum, and Grady Gammage Performing Arts Auditorium, which is the last public structure completed by architect Frank Lloyd Wright.
It's hard to believe there are so many varieties of cacti, but you'll see them all at the Desert Botanical Garden (Papago Park, 1201 N Galvin Parkway). This site contains 150 acres of more than 4,000 different species of cacti, trees, flowers, and succulents as well as a butterfly pavilion.
The gardens opened in 1939 to showcase desert ecology and have grown to be one of Phoenix's premier tourist attractions. A stroll through this lovely place is a wonderful respite from the hustle and bustle of the big city.
Papago Park (625 N Galvin Parkway) is an urban park with red craggy hills, lagoons, and streams. There's plenty of hiking here, and you can climb to Hole-in-the-Rock, a natural observatory used by the Hohokam to devise a calendar system.
Phoenix Greyhound Park (3801 E Washington St) offers betting on live greyhound racing seven nights a week beginning at 7:30 pm and wagering on simulcasts from racetracks across the country beginning daily at 4:30 pm. Pari-mutuel betting is allowed, which means you bet among others and not against the house. The clubhouse features a second-floor viewing and concessions area, where you can watch races on individual monitors at most tables.
Thoroughbred horse racing is allowed at Turf Paradise (1501 W Bell Rd), which is about 18 miles north of the Sky Harbor International Airport. Generally, live horse races are held every day except Wednesday and Thursday.
The arts and culture scene in Phoenix is quite impressive. See the next section for information on the Heard Museum, the Orpheum Theatre, and more.
Phoenix Arts & Culture
In the 1950s, Phoenix was known for the state's four Cs: copper, cattle, cotton, and climate, with a rough and tumble "cowboy" bar thrown into the mix.
Today, due to The Valley's rapid growth, new art and culture venues are increasing as fast as the population. There are opera, ballet, theater, and a world-class symphony. Museums abound, and the art district in Scottsdale is one of the best Western American art markets in the country, on a parallel with Santa Fe, New Mexico, and Jackson, Wyoming. Interestingly enough, one of the oldest art venues in The Valley also is one of the best -- the Heard Museum.
Insider's Guide: The Best of Arts & Culture in Phoenix
The Heard Museum (2301 N Central Ave) houses one of the most impressive collections of Southwestern art in the world. Exhibits include rooms filled with pottery, katsinas (a carved doll in the costume of a particular Hopi spirit), textiles, jewelry, and art. There's even a Navajo hogan and an Apache wickie-up (a Native American structure, much like a lean-to, made from leaves, twigs, and branches covered with animal hides) on display.
The museum hosts annual events including the World Championship Hoop Dance Contest and the Guild Indian Fair & Market. The Heard's gift shop is a wonderful place to browse and to find authentic, high-quality Native American art, pottery, and jewelry.
Phoenix Art Museum (1625 N Central Ave) is best known for its Western American Collection, which includes sculptures by Frederic Remington and paintings by Georgia O'Keefe. There's usually something special going on, since the museum hosts more than 25 significant exhibits annually.
Phoenix Museum of History (Heritage and Science Park, 105 N 5th St) features exhibits from the 1860s (when the first Anglo settlements began here) through the 1930s.
You can travel through the human body, pilot a simulated airplane flight, and take part in hundreds of hands-on exhibits at the Arizona Science Center (600 E Washington St).
Thank goodness Phoenix renovated the Orpheum Theatre (203 W Adams St), a 1929 movie palace. After 12 years of restorative work, the Orpheum is a venue for live ballet, concerts, and lectures. Guided tours of this jewel box are free, but you must make reservations by calling 602-262-7272.
Just down the street the Herberger Theatre (222 E Monroe St) is a two-stage house that features Broadway plays, ballet, and popular theatre.
The Herberger College Performing Arts Department at Arizona State University is one of the best-kept secrets in town. During the school year, ASU has some type of performance nearly every night of the week, many of which are free. From opera, to recitals, to big band, to theatre, to dance -- ASU has a superb music and performing arts college on the level of professionalism you'd expect to see on Broadway, but without the sting to your wallet.
The Main Street Arts District and Marshall Way Arts District in Old Town Scottsdale feature gallery after gallery displaying artwork, jewelry, porcelains, sculptures, and paintings. For art collectors and appreciators, there are two signature events.
The Scottsdale galleries host a weekly ArtWalk open house each Thursday evening from 7 to 9 pm. The downtown Phoenix galleries host a similar Artlink on the first Friday of each month from 6 to 10 pm. Don't be too disappointed if you miss these events: There's plenty of gallery gazing and grazing going on every day of the week.
While Phoenix isn't the place for early Western relics, you can enjoy some unique architecture and landmarks, including Frank Lloyd Wright's Taliesin West. Learn more in the next section.
Phoenix Architecture & Landmarks
If you're expecting to find Phoenix filled with early western homes and architecture, you're in for a disappointment. Phoenix and The Valley don't boast early western territorial architecture, nor do they have rows and rows of Civil War-era brick homes, since the city virtually grew from nothing as the American Civil War was taking place.
As matter of fact, one of the earliest existing homes is the Rosson House, built in 1895. It's now a museum depicting life in the early days of the community. It's situated in the heart of downtown in Heritage Square at 6th Street and Monroe. The park offers other examples of structures from the original town site.
Insider's Guide: The Best of Architecture & Landmarks in Phoenix
Insider's Guide: The Best of Architecture & Landmarks inPhoenix
As its name implies, South Mountain lies at the southern boundary of The Valley. South Mountain Park, the world's largest city park, has a piece of truly happenstance architecture known as Mystery Castle (800 E Mineral Rd, 602-268-1581). At the foot of the mountain, this curious structure was built by Boyce Gulley, who created his "castle" from rocks, debris, and curious artifacts found in the nearby desert. Gulley left his family and came to the desert seeking a cure for his tuberculosis. Before setting out, as the story goes, he promised to build his young daughter, Mary Lou, a castle.
His completed castle consists of 18 rooms, 13 fireplaces, a grotto tavern downstairs, and a true "rollaway bed" framed by a mining cart. When the Castle is open Thursdays through Sundays from October to mid-June, Mary Lou conducts the tours personally.
Located in the heart of downtown, Chase Field (formerly Bank One Ballpark), home of Major League Baseball's Arizona Diamondbacks, is a significant structure that dominates the skyline. From far out in the suburbs, it's easy to see if the mighty retractable roof is open or closed to the heat and elements. Tours are available, highlighting many of the one-of-a-kind amenities included in this modern ballpark.
On Central Avenue, the most significant contemporary architecture in downtown Phoenix is undoubtedly the Burton Barr Central Library (1221 N Central Ave) designed by Will Bruder. The copper exterior is perfectly suited for Arizona, one of the world's leading copper-producing areas.
Glass walls, mirrors, and skylights create magical lighting effects within the Crystal Canyon, a five-story glass atrium. The largest reading room in North America is located on the top floor and is covered by a cable-suspended steel ceiling.
Otherwise, each community offers its own architectural style, depicting the era of its primary development. As land values have skyrocketed, many of the post-war homes in prestigious sections of North Phoenix and Scottsdale have already been demolished for large contemporary housing construction. If time allows, drive north on Central Avenue and take a few minutes to wander off a few blocks to some of the pleasant communities north of the downtown area.
Often associated with Phoenix, architect Frank Lloyd Wright exerted his influence most significantly at his studio at Taliesin West (13195 West Chenango Ave), his dramatic desert masterpiece in north Scottsdale. In 1937 Wright chose 600 acres of Sonoran Desert land at the McDowell Mountain foothills for his permanent winter residence.
The site, a National Historic Landmark, is open to the public for a variety of guided tours. The home, studio, grounds, and gift shop are a very popular stop with visitors.
The famous Mobil Three-Star Arizona Biltmore Resort and Spa (2400 E Missouri Ave) is located just north of the Camelback Corridor in Phoenix. Often mistakenly credited to Wright himself, the Biltmore was actually designed by his colleague, Albert Chase McArthur. Nonetheless, the Wright influence is strong, and the hotel certainly is one of Phoenix's architectural highlights.
If you visit the hotel, be certain to look up the hill to another well-known landmark in Phoenix, the Wrigley Mansion (2501 E Telawa Trail), the former home of the chewing gum magnate.
East of Phoenix in Apache Junction are two unique sites that link Phoenix to one of America's greatest mysteries, the legend of the Lost Dutchman Mine. Somewhere in the vast 160,000 acres of Superstition Mountain Wilderness is hidden an unclaimed treasure that has eluded "Dutch Hunters" for more than a century.
The Goldfield Ghost Town (1 N Highway 88) on Mammoth Mine Road has been rebuilt on the site of a rich gold strike in 1892. The town reached a population of nearly 4,000 residents almost overnight and then dried up when the mines flooded. Today, a renewed effort is under way to pump the mines dry and continue the quest.
On Highway 88, those interested in the legends and lore of the Lost Dutchman head right for the source of the best information available, the Superstition Mountain Museum (4087 N Apache Trail, Apache Junction). Located in the very shadow of Superstition Mountain, the museum offers artifacts from the mines that once bore vast amounts of gold and loads of memorabilia from the era.
North of the city on Interstate 17 is the Deer Valley Rock Art Center. Contrary to what its name implies, it is not a shrine to modern musicians but a concentration of some 1,500 petroglyphs (rock art paintings) left behind by the ancient cultures that lived here during the past 1,000 or so years. The 1/4-mile path offers a great insight to the past and people of this region. If you have youngsters in your group, they'll love this tour stop and the next.
The Pioneer Living History Museum (3901 W Pioneer Rd) is located just a few miles further north on Interstate 17. Here, you can stroll among a collection of more than two dozen original and reconstructed buildings from throughout the Arizona Territory.
There's an old bank, schoolhouse, opera house, print shop, and blacksmith shop. Arizona was the last of the 48 original contiguous states to join the United States, and in some respects, there is a sense that it's still a territory -- part of the old Wild West.
Shopping is an adventure unto itself in Phoenix. Check out the next section for tips on where to find some of the best shops and specialty boutiques.
There are so many chic and upscale shops and shopping areas throughout The Valley, especially in Scottsdale, that perhaps the term "shop 'til you drop" was born here. You'll find that although there are traditional malls, most of the better shopping is found in non-traditional settings and outdoor "urban village" settings.
Old Town Scottsdale, for example, has blocks and blocks of shaded and curvy streets lined with galleries, eateries, clothing boutiques, and specialty shops. Glendale, on the other hand, at the western side of The Valley, proclaims itself the Antiques Capital of Arizona, with many of the shops being located in post-World War II converted homes.
If you're on the lookout for some good western duds and perhaps a Stetson, the shops in Cave Creek (about 30 miles north of Phoenix) are a good bet, as well as the shops in Old Town Scottsdale.
Insiders' Guide: The Best of Shopping in Phoenix
Insiders' Guide: The Best of Shopping inPhoenix
Arizona Center (455 N 3rd St) is located in the heart of Phoenix near the Herberger Theater and the Convention Center. This two-story, open-air building has lush landscaping, a Cineplex, sports bars, and about 40 shops and restaurants.
West of downtown Phoenix in Glendale, more than 70 shops and restaurants are located in century-old bungalows. Antiques predominate in the shops at the Glendale Old Town and Catlin Court (59th & Glendale aves). Browsing through the charming shops here is a fun way to spend an afternoon.
Scottsdale Fashion Square (7014 N Scottsdale Rd) is the largest mall in the southwest with more than 225 retailers and many unique shops as well as Nordstrom, Neiman Marcus, Macy's, and Dillard's, where you'll find lots of Kate Spade accessories -- she attended ASU. There's a huge food court, many excellent restaurants, and a large Cineplex all under one retractable roof.
Old Town Scottsdale 5th Avenue Shops comprise several city blocks filled with unique boutiques, kitschy souvenir shops, art galleries and lots of eateries. You can easily spend an entire day here wandering through the fascinating shops.
In the heart of the Camelback corridor near the Mobil Four-Star Ritz-Carlton Phoenix and the Mobil Three-Star Biltmore Resort sits in Biltmore Fashion Park (2502 E Camelback Rd), an outdoor mall with posh shops such as Gucci, Saks 5th Avenue, and Cartier. There are lots of good restaurants here, too, many of which offer outdoor dining.
Kierland Commons (15044 N Scottsdale Rd) is one of the newer shopping venues featuring an outdoor pedestrian mall with fountains, gardens, and restaurants. Among the stores here are J. Crew, Tommy Bahama, Crate & Barrel, and Restoration Hardware.
The Borgata of Scottsdale (6166 N Scottsdale Rd) is another outdoor mall recreated to look like a 14th-century Italian village of San Gimignano. Here you'll find more than 40 unique and upscale shops and some very nice restaurants mixed in with beautiful buildings and landscaping.
El Pedregal Festival Marketplace (34505 N Scottsdale Rd) is about one hour north of Phoenix in Carefree. This exquisite outdoor mall sits at the base of a 250-foot boulder formation and is adjacent to the famous Mobil Four-Star Boulders Resort and Golden Door Spa. One-of-a-kind shops are the rule here, and there's also a satellite museum (with gift shop) of the downtown Heard Museum.
Spanish Village (7204 E Hum Rd, Carefree) has a bell tower, fountains, and winding alleyways where 30 or so shops and restaurants are tucked away in courtyards.
Looking for bargains? Arizona Mills (5000 Arizona Mills Circle, Tempe) features 200 outlet stores including Off 5th-Saks 5th Avenue, Kenneth Cole, and Neiman Marcus Last Call. This is a busy, bustling place, so be prepared.
Phoenix has plenty of great spots for night owls, including entertainment venues at area resorts. Learn more about the nightlife and entertainment options in Phoenix on the next page.
Phoenix Nightlife & Entertainment
As with any other large metropolitan area, there are lots of trendy upscale clubs and eateries that come and go with predictable regularity: a good many of them in the suburban shopping areas within traditional shopping malls. Naturally, all of the resorts cater to nightlife with lively piano bars, entertainment, and dancing.
You'll also find many shopping areas and resorts, like the Mobil Three-Star Hyatt Regency Scottsdale (7500 E Doubletree), occasionally feature Native Americans dressed in traditional costumes performing hoop dances, storytelling, or other entertainment.
There's a great deal of nighttime activity in downtown Tempe, especially along the Mill Avenue corridor, as the ASU students are an active and energetic group. Meanwhile, clubs like Cajun House in downtown Scottsdale are widely known and popular with trendy socialites and celebrities.
North of Phoenix in Cave Creek you can still get a feel for the real west at the Buffalo Chip Saloon and Harold's Corral, where you might see a horse tied up next to a Mercedes in the parking lot.
In the Pinnacle Peak area, Greasewood Flats is the ultimate outdoor burger joint. But get to Greasewood fast, for it soon may be gone to make way for more expensive homes turning up in this quaint area.
The Best of Nightlife & Entertainment in Phoenix
The Rhythm Room (1019 E Indian School Rd) is a local hangout for great jazz and blues in a small, low-key, unassuming setting. It's not in the best neighborhood -- but it's safe to walk to your car; just keep it locked and don't leave valuables in plain sight. No food -- just drinks and good sounds with a small dance floor.
Alice Cooper is alive and well in Phoenix and oft makes appearances at his downtown haunt, Alice Cooper's Town (101 E Jackson St). There's a beer garden and lots of good barbequed eats. This is one of the most happening places in downtown Phoenix and just three blocks from Chase Field.
Wi-Fi, billiards, lots of flat-screen TVs, and creative dishes by one of Phoenix's premier chefs, Eddie Matney, are the stars at Stoudemire's Downtown (3 S 2nd St). Just a few steps from the U.S. Airways Center (formerly America West Arena), this is the kind of place that is helping Phoenix "rise from the ashes" once again.
In Scottsdale's Old Town area there are many sleek lounges and clubs some with live music, some with DJs. Here are some of the best to see and be seen: Martini Ranch (7295 E Stetson), Drift (4342 N 75th St), Suede (7333 E Indian Plaza), Myst & Ballroom (7340 E Shoeman Lane), Six (7316 E Stetson), and Axis-Radius (7340 E Indian Plaza)
Relaxation has been taken to a new level in Phoenix, where resort spas offer dozens of rejuvenating treatments and golf courses beckon at every turn. Learn more about relaxing and unwinding in Phoenix on the next page.
Relaxing & Unwinding in Phoenix
Relaxing in and around Phoenix is all about the outdoors and the town's amazing spas. Some spas, like the one at the Mobil Four-Star Four Seasons Resort Scottsdale at Troon North, offer such special relaxation activities as yoga at sunrise as the desert landscape surrounds you.
You can also relax with endless games of golf, admire the beautiful variety of desert flowers and cacti on a late afternoon bike ride, or try your hand at river rafting. There's an activity for every season.
And, believe it or not, there's some good skiing and snowboarding near Flagstaff just three hours north of Phoenix. But you won't head for Arizona just to ski, unless you just want to say that you did it.
The Best of Relaxing & Unwinding in Phoenix
The Best of Relaxing & Unwinding inPhoenix
Golf, golf, golf! Beginning January 1, you can play a round at a different course every single day in The Valley and you won't start repeating courses until at least late July. Some of the country's most beautiful and challenging courses are situated here. As you might imagine, prices for a single round can be pricey in the winter months. They, of course, come back to earth during the high heat months of summer, when golfers vie for the very earliest tee times.
Needless to say, there are virtually hundreds of public and private golf courses throughout The Valley. The Phoenician Golf Club (6000 E Camelback Rd) is a 27-hole, par-70 private course. The three 9-hole courses are each named for the surrounding landscape. The Tournament Players Club of Scottsdale (17020 N Hayden Rd, Scottsdale) is a 36-hole course designed by Tom Weiskoph and Jay Morris. It's also home to the Phoenix Open. For a more affordable round, try the ASU Karsten Golf Course (1125 E Rio Salado Parkway, Tempe). This is the Arizona State University 18-hole golf course where NCAA champions train. Fees are about $90 for 18 holes.
Go where the Phoenicians go and get wrapped in desert nectar honey at the famous Mobil Three-Star Marriott Camelback Inn Resort Golf Club & Spa (5402 E Lincoln Dr). Or, get wrapped in seaweed for a skin-detox at Asian-inspired Mobil Three-Star Sanctuary Spa on Camelback Mountain(5700 E McDonald Dr). After your treatment, meditate in the beautiful Zen garden.
You can also just relax at the many resorts, most of which have special activities for the kids as well. Outside of the metro area, in the Tucson area and around Wickenburg, are a number of top-notch guest ranches; these all offer a great variety of activities. Here you can play "city slicker," take a breakfast rail ride, yodel around the evening campfire, or just lull around the pool.
Go north for about one hour from Phoenix, don your best western duds, and enjoy first class amenities and a ranch experience you'll always remember at Rancho de los Caballeros (1551 S Vulture Mine Rd, Wickenberg). This 20,000-acre property has it all, including horseback riding, a golf course, tennis courts, pools, and lots of stars to gaze at in the night sky.
The Valley is a wonderful spot for hikers. In the heart of the city, it's almost a ritual to climb Piestewa (Squaw) Peak for a commanding view of the city. Then drive to South Mountain Park billed as the nation's largest public park. Here you can rent a horse, a bike, or provide your own two feet for some real exercise.
Throughout The Valley, there are virtually hundreds of parks, greenways, and mountain trails for hiking. A gentle reminder and word of caution, though, especially in summer months: Don't overexert yourself in the mid-day heat, and be certain to carry plenty of water.
Now, everyone's heard about the dangerous critters that inhabit the desert. First, let's share a word about rattlesnakes. Some folks have lived in the region for years and have never seen one. But if you're hiking, wear high boots and stay on trails as much as possible. Most rattlers will leave you alone and will be just as happy if you offered them the same courtesy.
Then, there are scorpions, but again, you'll probably never encounter one. However, if you're camping, it's always good advice to shake out your boots in the morning before you put them on. Even if you happen to be stung by a scorpion, they're almost never fatal.
In the event of a bite or a sting, it's best that you report to a medical facility. Don't let the threat of an encounter spoil your holiday. Just watch where you sit and where you put your hands when you're in the desert. If you have an emergency situation, your best bet is to call 911.
If you have the time, a visit to the Grand Canyon is a must-do experience. The canyon is 228 miles north of Phoenix, or four hours driving time. It is possible to "see" the canyon in a day -- but it's not practical. To fully appreciate the experience, two days are okay, but three days are much better.
There are plenty of motels and hotels in Tusayan near the park entrance on the South Rim. But be advised; if you're traveling in summer months, rooms book up fast and reservations are imperative, sometimes two years in advance!
From desert jeep tours to hot air balloon rides, Phoenix offers a wide variety of organized ways to explore The Valley. Learn more on the next page.
Phoenix Organized Tours Overview
Two of the very best ways to explore The Valley and the great Sonoran Desert are by desert jeep tour, and from above, by hot air balloon.
You can rent your own Jeep from Adventure Jeep Tours and explore some four-wheel trails in the desert and backcountry, or you can take an interesting Jeep tour and gold panning session with Apache Trails and Superstition Mountain Adventures.
A hot air balloon shortly after sun-up is an exhilarating way to start your day, especially when you celebrate your journey with a glass of crisp cold champagne upon landing. Try the Unicorn Balloon Company.
There's also the Dolly Steamboat that plies the waters of Canyon Lake along the Apache Trail. They offer daily nature cruises and twilight dinner cruises, enjoyable for the whole family.
For two- or three-day day tours of Sedona, the Grand Canyon, and Tombstone, contact Detours.
Whether you're ready to spend the big bucks at a luxury resort or you're a budget-conscious family that simply needs a place to sleep at night, you'll find plenty of lodging options in Phoenix. See the next section for our hotels guide.
Phoenix Hotels Guide
While the Valley is world famous for its Mobil Four-Star resorts and luxury hotels, there are an equal, if not larger, number of motels suited for families and budget-conscious travelers. For some reason, however, the area is short of bread and breakfasts. The Valley of the Sun is justly known for wonderful scenic resorts that will rival any on earth, each with its own flavor and theme.
If you need a place to stay, the following hotels are some recommendations: Mobil Four-Star Four Seasons Resort Scottsdale at Troon North (10600 E Crescent Moon Dr), Mobil Three-Star Arizona Biltmore Resort (2400 E Missouri Rd), Mobil Four-Star The Phoenician (6000 E Camelback Rd), Mobil Three-Star Royal Palms (5200 Camelback Rd), Mobil Four-Star The Ritz-Carlton Phoenix (2401 E Camelback Rd), and Mobil Three-Star Hyatt Regency Scottsdale at Gainey Ranch (7500 E Doubletree Ranch Rd).
During big sports periods such as the Fiesta Bowl and FBR Open, you'll want to make reservations far in advance as hotels and resorts can be bursting at the seams. And, don't forget, the rates are considerably less during the hot summer months.
You won't find that great little Old World Italian joint in Phoenix, but you will be able to enjoy other types of topnotch dining spots. See the next page for a restaurants guide.
Phoenix Restaurants Guide
While there are no truly old ethnic restaurants in The Valley, there are certainly some great dining spots. Local chefs pride themselves on cutting-edge creations, often blending old-world cuisine with modern recipes and indigenous southwestern spices and ingredients. The resorts boast wonderful dining. You'll not go hungry here, no matter what your taste buds dictate.
Monti's La Casa Vieja (100 S Mill Ave at Rio Salado Parkway, Tempe) is a historic pioneer home, dating back to 1871. You'll get large, reasonably priced steaks, chops, and chicken. It's not fancy, but the atmosphere is pleasant.
AZ 88 (7353 E Scottsdale Mall, Old Town Scottsdale) features fresh flowers, linen napkins, and great burgers with waffle fries and fabulous salads. The martinis are stupendous, too. You can dine indoors or outdoors on the patio overlooking the Scottsdale entertainment area. If you're not a great burger fancier, try Elsa's chicken, a breast grilled with peppers, pecans, and honey mustard.
Pinnacle Peak Patio (10426 E Jomax Rd) lets you step back in time to the Old West to savor mesquite broiled steaks, cowboy beans, and a brownie roundup. You can dine on the patio looking out onto the desert landscape or indoors near the collection of the area's largest neckties. Live country western music and dancing are featured nightly.
Mobil One-Star Los Sombreros Mexican Cafe and Cantina (2534 N Scottsdale Rd) is definitely not your typical Mexican fare. This is classic Mexican dining in a cute house in South Scottsdale with indoor and outdoor dining. The menu is nicely varied and fresh, and save room for the flan.
Mobil Four-Star Mary Elaine's at The Phoenician (6000 E Camelback Rd) is formal, elegant, and the service is near perfect. It offers seasonal international French-inspired cuisine with dramatic city lights views to match. There's also an extensive wine cellar, making this is a good spot for that very special occasion.
Mobil Three-Star Lon's at the Hermosa (5532 N Palo Cristi Dr) is quaintly situated in a traditional hand-built adobe hacienda in the shadow of Camelback Mountain, once owned by well-known cowboy artist Lon Megargee, who created the famous Stetson Hat logo. This secluded mini-resort offers great dining indoors or on the shaded patio. There's lots of cowboy memorabilia and art, too. A favorite here is the wood-grilled filet mignon over Gorgonzola mashed potatoes. Fresh vegetables come from the on-property garden.
China Chile (3501 N Central Ave) isn't your typical Chinese eatery -- the exterior is far from upscale, but the food is fresh and flavorful. Try the boiled won tons in a very spicy Szechwan peanut sauce as a starter. The chicken in a crisp potato nest with crunchy veggies and bean sauce is a real palate pleaser.
The Grill at the TPC at the Mobil Three-Star Fairmont Scottsdale Princess Resort (7575 E Princess Dr) serves an unforgettable steak. The prime steaks, both dry and wet aged, can be cut and eaten with your fork. Fresh seafood is flown in daily from both Atlantic and Pacific markets, and the service matches the cuisine.
The average rate of tipping in Phoenix is 15 to 20 percent, which is typical of everywhere.
With so much to see and do, you won't want to miss a beat while visiting Phoenix. See the next page for suggested itineraries to help you plan your days and nights in this incredible city.
Suggested Itineraries for Visiting Phoenix
Phoenix is constantly changing, as snow birds continue to flock to this sunny valley. But one aspect of this city always remains the same: There are plenty of fun things to do in Phoenix, regardless of your interests. The following itineraries will provide focus to your plans, offering suggestions on what to do for stays that last one, two, or three days.
Special Events & Attractions in Phoenix
Special Events & Attractions in Phoenix
Most of Phoenix's special events and attractions involve the outdoors, so be sure to pack good walking shoes and plenty of sunscreen. These suggested itineraries will ensure that you don't miss the must-see attractions in Phoenix:
1 day: It's nearly impossible to get around Phoenix in one day. But, if that's all the time you have, start at Pueblo Grande Museum and Archaeological Park (4619 E Washington St), which gives you a good orientation to the area's geology and history.
From there it's a short jaunt by car to the Desert Botanical Garden (Papago Park, 1201 N Galvin Parkway). Make sure to stroll among the 1/4 mile long Plants and People of the Sonoran Desert trail, and take a break for lunch at the garden's outdoor patio cafe, where you can enjoy the bird watching as much as the food. Try the Strawberry Salad or the Roasted Tomato and Goat Cheese Sandwich, and don't forget to keep an eye out for the Road Runners waiting to catch a treat.
From here visit the Phoenix Zoo (Papago Park, 455 N Galvin Parkway), where meerkats, Arabian oryx, and spectacled bears are among the more exotic sights. If you have time or energy left, visit nearby Papago Park and climb up the trail to Hole-in-the-Rock, which affords commanding views of the Phoenix skyline, especially at sunset.
2 days: Start your day at the Arizona State University Visitor Information Center (826 E Apache Blvd at Rural Rd) in Tempe and pick up maps for a self-guided walking tour through the campus. There's lots of art, sculpture, and great architecture to see.
Take a stroll down bustling Mill Avenue and visit the bookstores and funky shops. Along the way, duck into one of the many beer joints and try a local microbrew. Monti's La Casa Vieja (12025 N 19th Ave) is an old adobe hacienda and is a satisfying stop to enjoy a good steak.
Staying out late? Check out the comedy routines at Tempe Improv (930 E University Dr). Rise and shine early the next day and head for Tempe Town Lake (80 W Rio Salado Parkway) to enjoy a day of boating, fishing, and concerts. End the day with a sunset cruise on the lake that includes food, drinks, and music.
3 days: For a three-day excursion that you'll always remember, head east to the Superstition Mountains and the Apache Trail. Portions of AZ 88 follow the original route carved out of rock in 1906 to move supplies to build Roosevelt Dam, which lies at the end of the drive. President Theodore Roosevelt called this 150-mile drive "the most awe-inspiring and most sublimely beautiful panorama nature ever created."
From the town of Apache Junction, take AZ 88 until you reach Tortilla Flats, a small town that was once a stagecoach stop. This is a fun, touristy place and a good resting and lunch spot for a burger and an ice cream cone before you hit the narrow dirt road, switchbacks, and drop-offs that take you into Fish Creek Canyon.
After "white-knuckling" 89 miles or so, you'll end up in Globe, Arizona, which is a mining town known for North America's richest copper deposits. There are some nice spots to spend the night here, including Noftsger Hill Inn (425 North St), a 1907 schoolhouse turned into a bed and breakfast.
The next day tour historic Globe, especially the Gila County Historical Museum and the Cobre Valley Center for the Arts. On the Southeastern side of town visit Besh-Ba-Gowah Archaeological Park, which will transfer you back 800 years to the days of the Salado, who occupied this site during the 13th and 14th centuries.
Arts & Culture in Phoenix
Arts & Culture in Phoenix
The highlight of Phoenix's arts and culture is perhaps the excellent collection of Native American art at the Heard Museum. That's just the beginning, however. Check out many more highlights by following the itineraries below.
1 day: Begin the day at the Heard Museum (2301 N Central Ave). One could easily spend an entire day here viewing the staggering collection of Native American art. Don't miss the gift shop if you're interested in taking home some authentic, high-quality treasures.
Wander down the street to the Phoenix Art Museum (1625 N Central Ave) for a peek at the work of art legends Georgia O'Keefe and Fredrick Remington. That evening, take in a performance at the Herberger Theatre (222 E Monroe St) or Orpheum Theatre (203 W Adams St). Check ahead for schedules.
2 days: Wear some good walking shoes and spend two glorious days in historic Old Town Scottsdale. Wander through Scottsdale Mall (2nd St and Wells Fargo Ave). Festivals, art shows, and music venues are often happening at the mall.
Across the mall is the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art (7374 E 2nd St), where free tours are conducted on Thursdays. The five galleries here and the spacious outdoor sculpture garden emphasize contemporary art and design.
For lunch or dinner, dine al fresco at stunning AZ 88 (7353 E Scottsdale Mall), which serves the best hamburgers in town and a wonderful shrimp ceviche.
That night, listen to live jazz at J. Chews (7320 Scottsdale Civic Center Mall) or take in a performance at Scottsdale Center for the Arts (7380 E 2nd S). The next day, visit the galleries on Marshall Way and Main Street. Take advantage of the free trolley that runs through the area.
Stop in at the Sugar Bowl Ice Cream Parlor (4005 N Scottsdale Rd) for a malt or sundae. Valley resident Bil Keane, creator of the comic strip "Family Circus," has many of his cartoons on display here.
3 days: Though they're located at the end of The Valley, it's worth a trip to take in some truly western culture. Up north at Cave Creek, you'll find lots of fun things, places, and shops.
There are some wonderful, wacky shops that offer some fun decorative items like chili ristras (chili peppers tied in a string for hanging on a door or wall), barbed wire art, rustic furniture, and Mexican pottery, to old spurs, boots, and other duds to make you feel more comfy. Cave Creek also has many private art studios and galleries.
If you're here at the end of the day, stick around for some western music and grub at either Harold's Corral (6895 E Cave Creek Rd) or the Buffalo Chip Saloon, located at both ends of a dirt parking lot in Cave Creek.
Architecture & Landmarks in Phoenix
Architecture & Landmarks in Phoenix
Whether you have one day or several days to explore Phoenix and its surrounding areas, the following itineraries will help you see the best of its architecture and landmarks.
1 day: Heritage Square and Park is the natural place to begin your historic quest of Phoenix. Several residences from the late 1800s have been renovated for touring. Head north on Central Avenue and take some short side diversions along the way to take a look at some of the more interesting communities landscaped with lovely citrus trees and tall palms.
As you reach Lincoln Avenue, head east and into Paradise Valley in the Shadow of Camelback Mountain. Continue to the east and you'll soon find yourself in Scottsdale with its manicured roadways, greenways, and gardens. Many of the communities bear the names of the original ranches that were ultimately sold for the development that exists today. There's virtually no litter, nor is there any graffiti to be found in these ultra clean communities.
If you head north on Scottsdale Road, you'll pass some high-end gated communities and a few stretches of undeveloped desert land. Take a close look, because it won't be there too much longer. Sadly, not much land is set aside for future open space. If you're returning downtown, Route 101 eastbound is a beltway that will take you to the Piestewa Parkway south (AZ 51).
2 days: A wonderful second day trip will take you up to the small former mining town of Wickenburg. Route 17 north intersects with the Carefree Highway westbound (Route 74) past Lake Pleasant. That road intersects with Route 60 into Wickenburg. This is 56 miles one way -- about a two-hour round-trip drive from Phoenix.
This community on the Hassayampa River is a great place for a short stroll before visiting the Desert Caballeros Western Museum (21 N Frontier St). This is truly a first-class museum, just a little over an hour from Phoenix. The vast mountainous desert landscapes along the way offer lots of roadside photo ops.
If time permits, head west out of Wickenburg to the old Vulture Mine. Though the mine closed more than 50 years ago, you can take a self-guided tour through safe but faltering buildings of this once rich gold mine.
3 days: It would be hard to leave The Valley of the Sun without touring Frank Lloyd Wright's Taliesin West (12621 Frank Lloyd Wright Blvd, North Scottsdale). In reverently quiet tones, the docents speak of Mr. Wright as if he were in the next room wishing not to be disturbed but delighting in the nice things being said about him. Interior tours include living quarters, a drafting studio, two theaters, a music pavilion, and small apartments. The gift shop abounds with Wright-inspired gifts and keepsakes.
If you head east to Scottsdale Road and turn north to Carefree Highway, you'll enjoy a shopping and/or dining visit to El Pedregal Festival Marketplace (34505 N Scottsdale Rd, Scottsdale), a unique two-level shopping area with an outdoor courtyard stage designed for occasional nighttime performances. Huge boulders piled high by nature surround the facility. Behind the shopping center is the world famous Mobil Four-Star Boulders Resort and its Three-Star Golden Door Spa.
Shopping in Phoenix
If hiking or horseback riding isn't your bag, you can still enjoy the outdoors in Phoenix while shopping till you drop. Here are some of the can't-miss shops, both indoors and out:
1 day: Start your day at the Arizona Center (455 N 3rd St) in downtown Phoenix: Browse the shops, talk to the open-air vendors, and have lunch al fresco at one of the fine restaurants while enjoying the lush plantings and fun people-watching at this inner-city location.
Drive west 30 minutes to Glendale and the antique district at Glendale Old Towne & Catlin Court (59th and Glendale). Here, charming, colorful bungalows listed on the National Register of Historic Places have been turned into one-of-a-kind specialty and antique shops.
Stop for tea at Aunt Pittypat's Kitchen (7123 N 58th Ave), which is housed in an 1895 Victorian home. Tour Cerreta's Candy Factory (5345 W Glendale Ave, Glendale) and make a stop at the Bead Museum (5754 W Glenn Dr).
2 days: Mosey on down to Old Town Scottsdale and make use of the Trolley to carry you around town. Be on the lookout for high-end resale shops, which abound in this area. You may just find a Dior for a pittance of the original cost.
When you're tired of the outdoors, wander over to Scottsdale Fashion Square (7014 E Camelback Rd). There are loads of good restaurants here, too, and you might want to take in a movie at the Cineplex.
The next day take Scottsdale Road north and stop at the Borgata of Scottsdale (6166 N Scottsdale Rd). Across the street is Hilton Village (6137 N Scottsdale Rd), another upscale shopping area. There are many resorts in this area, and they are another source of shopping. Most have at least two good shops offering a wonderful array of swimsuits and golf attire and those hard-to-find gifts.
If you're still in a shopping mood, travel a bit further north on Scottsdale Road to Kierland Commons (15044 N Scottsdale Rd), where a world of shopping choices abound on every corner.
3 days: Head about 30 miles north of Phoenix to Carefree and Cave Creek, two towns that rest in the Sonoran Desert. Cave Creek is still trying to maintain its small-town persona, but new subdivisions and businesses are over-running the desert at a rapid pace. There's lots of shopping here, including Frontier Town and, a few miles down the road, El Pedregal Festival Marketplace is located in the more upscale town of Carefree. Take a tour of the famous Boulder's Spa and Resort. During the off-season (May-August) you can stay here for almost half the normal cost.
ightlife & Entertainment in Phoenix
ightlife & Entertainment in Phoenix
From trendy nightclubs to western bars, Phoenix has a variety of nightlife venues to suit all tastes. Here are some highlights:
1 day: Enjoy the jumping nightlife in downtown Phoenix at Stoudemire's (3 S 2nd St) and Alice Cooper's Town (101 E Jackson St), then wander over to the Hyatt Regency (112 N 2nd St) for a nightcap and view of the city lights at the revolving Compass Bar atop the hotel.
Or, you might choose to head to Tempe and stroll down lively Mill Avenue. Four Peaks Brewing Company (1340 E 8th St) has a dozen different brews on tap and serves the typical pub grub. One of the best comedy spots in the Valley is Tempe Improv (930 E University Dr) where better-known comics appear.
2 days: Swank and sexy...sleek and chic: this describes the club scene in downtown Scottsdale. There are lots of clubs within walking distance of one another. Most have dance floors with live entertainment or DJs. The best places to be seen are Martini Ranch, Drift, Axis-Radius, and the Myst & Ballroom. You'll definitely need more than one night to hit all the clubs in this area. You can also take in some stand-up talent at the Comedy Spot (7117 E 3rd Ave).
3 days: Put on your boots and jeans and head up to North Scottsdale and Cave Creek for some real western fun. Start out at Greasewood Flats (27500 N Alma School Pkwy). Everything here is outdoors, and the place is downright dilapidated. The burgers are delicious, and there's live entertainment and a dance floor. In winter months, fires burn in halved oil drums to keep diners warm.
From Greasewood, head west a few miles to Cave Creek and do some two-stepping to live music at the Buffalo Chip Saloon (6811 E Cave Creek Rd). Directly across the parking lot is Harold's Cave Creek Corral (6895 E Cave Creek Rd) for more live music, dancing, and billiards.
1-, 2-, and 3-Day Suggested Itineraries for Relaxing & Unwinding in Phoenix
Phoenix golf courses -- those are three words that go hand in hand. But there are many other ways to unwind, too. Check out the following itineraries to come up with a game plan:
1 day: Chances are, if you came to The Valley for relaxation and recreation, you came to golf. So, go for it! With so many courses to choose from and so few days to play them, check with your concierge, a good golfing friend, the free Official Phoenix Golf Guide (877-225-5749), or the American Golf Corporation (480-962-GOLF). They'll set you up and confirm tee times up to 60 days in advance.
One prime course to check out is the Camelback Golf Course (7847 N Mockingbird Lane), which is a 36-hole championship course with a 36,000-square-foot pueblo-style clubhouse. There are many beautiful and challenging courses here, so get an early start and play two full rounds, one on each of two different courses.
2 days: This may be the day to get out western style. It's a great day for the kids, too. Start your day by heading east on US 60 to Apache Junction (300 E Superstition Blvd, and visit Goldfields Ghost Town; admission is free. It's the site of a very rich gold strike in the late 1800s, and lots of mining memorabilia is still here. Most of the town has been reconstructed, and many of the old buildings contain shops and snackeries. There's a saloon and restaurant, as well as train rides, shootouts on the street, mining tours, and plenty of photo ops. The owners are currently in the process of pumping out the original mines, which flooded more than a century ago.
From here, find your way to Ron Feldman's OK Corral (2665 E Whiteley St, Apache Junction). Ron and his family will take you out on horseback for an hour, a day, or even an overnight or two into the mysterious Superstitions. Reservations are required for daylong or overnight pack tours.
3 days: By this time your poor body is bound to need some TLC, so head for a rejuvenating day spa today. There are numerous day spas scattered throughout The Valley, and the resorts here are virtually world renowned for their "pampering places."
Where to start? That's a matter of choice. But, among the options are Native American-inspired healings, with herbal-aromatic extracts designed to relax and help you release negative energy, or a Blue Coyote Wrap, which is a Shegoi aroma facial. You can have a private session among the boulders or receive a mud bath or a cedar-sage-oil full-body massage. There are dozens of choices, but each and every one is designed to relax and make you want to come back for more.
Come for the sun, stay for the fun. Phoenix has dozens of unique attractions for visitors, from incredible art museums to a plethora of first-class golf courses. Even better, the huge number of resorts will provide the utmost in pampering, so a long day of sightseeing won't seem so tiring after a full-body massage or therapeutic wrap. Book your trip to Phoenix today, and prepare yourself for a valley's worth of a good time.