Phoenix is the state capital of Arizona and known to many as the Valley of the Sun—the soul of the American Southwest. The greater Phoenix area is a large, sprawling city displaying a mix of modern high-rise buildings, Indian and Spanish colonial influences and a touch of the Wild West. The city offers abundant art and cultural attractions, historic neighborhoods, museums and a diverse art community. Many visitors also come to Phoenix to enjoy the outdoors. With approximately 300 days of sunshine, the Phoenix valley boasts warm, dry winters whereas summers are hot and dry with a gasp of fresh air in monsoon season, typically throughout July to September. Visitors can find reprieve from the high temperatures in pools, rivers and surrounding area lakes. There are also numerous pristine golf courses and three mountains near the city that provide opportunities for hiking, biking and climbing.
Downtown Phoenix offers near endless avenues of exploration and learning—below is a short synopsis of the top attractions. Begin at the Phoenix Art Museum to view a collection of the European Renaissance and Baroque, the Far East, and the American West. The museum also hosts live performances and films alongside exhibits of contemporary art and fashion design. On the other hand, the Heard Museum is devoted solely to the art and culture of the Southwest Native American peoples. Visitors can even wander through a sculpture garden on the outside of the museum walls. If you’re looking to keep the kiddos in your group entertained, take them to The Hall of Flame Fire Museum. Exhibits date back to 1725, including old fire-engines and various types of fire-extinguishers. To learn more about the history of Arizona, plan a visit to the Arizona State Capital Museum. A portion of Phoenix’s original town site, Heritage Square, is a popular tourist area with eight delicately restored houses from the city’s early days. Visitors can also dive into eclectic museums, unique shopping and rustic eateries within the square. If art is your passion, immerse yourself in the experience that is Roosevelt Row, home to galleries, mural-splashed business walls and a monthly self-guided art walk (First Fridays). Hop on/hop off free shuttles which circulate on three routes through downtown Phoenix’s art districts.
For a change of pace, check out The Arizona Science Center where hundreds of interactive exhibits span five galleries, each with a unique theme. Take a load off your feet and sit back in the IMAX Theater or 200 seat planetarium. At the Musical Instrument Museum (MIM), visitors can see, hear and even play instruments from every corner of the world in a one-of-a-kind collection. MIM also hosts a year-round concert series with more than 200 international acts. If you’re visiting between September and May, lend an ear to Arizona’s only full-time, professional orchestra at the Phoenix Symphony.
A quick drive out of the downtown hustle and bustle will take you to Papago Park—a 1,200-acre park offering fishing lagoons, cycling paths, nature trails and a golf course. Rabbits love to run around here and occasionally you can spot a bighorn sheep up on the hill. Located within Papago Park are the Phoenix Zoo, famed for its Sumatran tigers and orangutans, and the Desert Botanical Garden, best viewed in the bloom of springtime. There are a variety of trails throughout the garden so be prepared to spend a good amount of time walking. If you’d like a view overlooking Phoenix and the city lights, head to South Mountain Park, the largest city park in the United States covering over 16,000 acres of desert landscape. The miles of trails that run through the park are ideal for hiking, horseback riding and mountain biking. North Mountain Preserve is home to all sorts of hiking trails, with North Mountain standing at an elevation of 2,104 feet. Shaw Butte is the tallest mountain in the preserve, standing at 2,149 feet. This is a great area to experience the local flora and fauna, including the native saguaro cactus. Right in the heart of Phoenix stands Camelback Mountain, one of the most popular urban hiking spots in the city (expect trail traffic and consider hiking on weekdays). With a 1,200 ft elevation gain to the summit, prepare to have an intense hike. For expert guided adventures in the Sonoran Desert, check out Arizona Outback Adventures. With their customizable full-day tours, you can hit the trails on two legs or two wheels in the morning, then raft or kayak the Salt River in the afternoon.
Springtime in Arizona means one thing—baseball spring training! Teams in the Cactus League practice between February and April in Arizona. Of the 15 teams who train in Arizona, the Cubs, Angels, Brewers, Giants and A’s have their own home stadiums. Other teams such as the Arizona Diamondbacks, White Sox, Reds, Indians, Rockies, Royals, Dodgers, Padres, Mariners and Rangers share stadiums throughout spring training.
In the nearby town of Scottsdale, Taliesin West was the home and architectural school of the world-famous architect Frank Lloyd Wright. Open year-round, the romance of this space comes to life during a magical evening tour, the Night Lights Tour. This special site is Scottsdale’s only National Historic Landmark. Old Town Scottsdale showcases Southwestern arts and hip eateries, a popular destination for Greater Phoenix shopping and nightlife. If you’re hunting for a souvenir, you’ll find your fill of old-fashioned flair (think cowboy hats and turquoise jewelry) alongside upscale art galleries and trendy boutiques in the 5th Avenue District. Over 35 eating establishments are within a five minute walk of Old Town’s famous Bob Park’s Horse Fountain, one of Arizona’s most photographed spots. A list and description of Old Town’s 10 Best Restaurants can be found here.
Similar to Downtown Phoenix, Old Town Scottsdale hosts a self-guided Artwalk Thursday evenings. The historic Art District, in the heart of downtown Scottsdale, is a pedestrian-friendly stretch, home to many of Scottsdale’s 70 galleries and museums. Another crown jewel of the area is Scottsdale’s Museum of the West, a Smithsonian Affiliate, which is only steps away from the galleries on Main Street. In addition to the aforementioned art attractions, Scottsdale is home to numerous arts festivals throughout the year, you can find more information here.
The area is also a hot spot for after-dark dancing, lounging and libations. Check out this article outlining “A Bar for Every Night of the Week”. As for America’s favorite cocktail, the margarita wins the crown. Scottsdale is the perfect place to enjoy the classic margarita complete with poolside cabanas, Sonoran Desert sunsets and the many wonderful Mexican restaurants. Find a hand-picked list of ten favorite spots to enjoy this festive libation, from traditional to creative, here. Local favorite distillery Outrageous Homebrewers Social Outpost (OHSO) brews vodka, gin and rum in house to mix-up with fresh, local ingredients for some of the best cocktails around!
The surrounding Scottsdale area is a great place to get your shopping fix! From upscale outdoor malls to air-conditioned multilevel plazas, you’re sure to find exactly what you’re looking for. Scottsdale’s top picks for shopping (and dining) can be found at the Kierland Commons, Scottsdale Quarter, Fashion Square and Desert Ridge Marketplace.
Smack dab in the corner of Phoenix and Scottsdale lays Tempe—home to Arizona State University and the Sun Devils! Step into a culturally diverse community vibrant with the college crowd as well as others looking for a piece of the spirited lifestyle. Kayak or SUP at Tempe Town Lake, watch spring training baseball games at Tempe Diablo Stadium; experience a live performance at ASU Gammage theatre or Tempe City of the Arts; take a hike or bike around town on the many paths and trails; hike up “A” Mountain; take a stroll in Downtown Tempe’s Mill Avenue for shopping, eating and dancing delights. Visit Arizona Mills Mall for great shopping, dining and attractions like SEA LIFE Arizona Aquarium. Check out 10 Best Restaurants in Tempe for some local favorites.
When it comes to golf, the city of Phoenix finishes second — and a distant second at that — to the almost ridiculous surplus of top-10 courses in north Scottsdale. If you would like to golf in the footsteps of pros, head to TPC Scottsdale’s Stadium Course, also the site of the Waste Management Phoenix Open, the PGA Tour’s most-attended event each year and home of the famously raucous 16th hole. Other top choices for golf in Scottsdale include Talking Stick Golf Club and Camelback Golf Club.
This that doesn’t mean Phoenix is bereft of quality 18-hole layouts. In fact, golfers can still play terrific venues and not have to shell out nearly as much money as they would to play one of north Scottsdale’s finest. In fact, rates at some of Phoenix’s best golf courses can be had for as low as $50 in the winter and $20 in the hot summer months. Any discussion of the Phoenix golf scene has to start with the Raven Golf Club near South Mountain. It’s one of the unique golfing experiences in the Valley. More than 7,000 pine trees were imported to give the course a parkland feel, and the Raven’s diversity of holes are as great as any club in the Valley. Phoenix has more than its share of resort courses, including three nine-hole layouts at The Phoenician, the easy-to-get-around Adobe Course at the Arizona Biltmore, and the quirky Arizona Grand, which features three par 5s, five par 3s and a par-71 course that measures 6,288 yards from the tips. The suburbs of Phoenix are awash in possibilities. On the west side, golfers can test the elevation changes at Raven Verrado, the 83 steep-faced bunkers at The Golf Club of Estrella in Goodyear, or stay-and-play at the Wigwam Resort, which has three 18-hole courses. The East Valley features a bevy of beauties, from Dinosaur Mountain in Gold Canyon — it’s arguably the most underrated golf course in Arizona — to Superstition Mountain, former site of an LPGA tournament, and Ocotillo Golf Resort in Chandler, which features water on 23 of its 27 holes. On the northwest side, head out to Quintero Golf Club. Once a private club, Quintero has the best collection of par 3s in the state. Weekend hackers can enjoy as well: The Greater Phoenix area has some quality municipal layouts, including Dobson Ranch and Grand Canyon University Golf Course.
Greater Phoenix is also home to teams in all four major American sports leagues: The NFL’s Arizona Cardinals, NBA’s Phoenix Suns, MLB’s Arizona Diamondbacks and NHL’s Arizona Coyotes. In addition to the Big Four, Greater Phoenix is home to Indoor Football League’s Arizona Rattlers, the WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury, and the United Soccer League’s Phoenix Rising Football Club. No game happening while you’re here? No problem. Go behind the scenes of the Cardinals’ University of Phoenix Stadium or the Diamondbacks’ home, Chase Field. Both venues offer public tours throughout the year.
Live out your racing fantasies by getting behind the wheel at Bondurant School of High Performance Driving. The schools offer a variety of heart-pounding driving programs that can last from one day to several. If unpaved roads are more your style, join Desert Wolf Tours, Arizona Outdoor Fun or click here for a list of guided tours and sightseeing opportunities through the desert.
Arizona Day Trips out of Phoenix
In addition to the aforementioned attractions and hot spots, there is a ton of adventure awaiting you right outside of Phoenix city limits. Day trips to the following destinations allow you to explore Arizona for the day and be back in town by night. Home to one of the world’s seven natural wonders, the Grand Canyon’s south rim is open year-round. The North Rim is open from mid-May through October, dependent upon weather conditions. The Grand Canyon can be experienced via shuttles and tours from Phoenix, air tours, guided hikes, rafting the Colorado River, by rail and at Skywalk at Grand Canyon West.
The cultural community of Sedona is a mecca for both art lovers and outdoor enthusiasts. Surrounded by the towering red sandstone cliffs of Oak Creek Canyon, Sedona’s deep red-rock buttes provide a beautiful backdrop to boutiques and art galleries selling authentic Native American and Southwestern arts and crafts. While in Sedona, you can see the land in a myriad of ways: air tours, winery tours and off-road tours.
Once the territorial capital of the state, Prescott is rich with history embodied in its world famous Whiskey Row and abundant historical landmarks. Nestled at an elevation of 5,200′ feet above sea level amongst the largest stand of ponderosa pine forests in the U.S., Prescott’s perfect weather provides an average temperature of 70 degrees, and breathtaking landscapes complete with granite mountains, lakes, streams, and rolling meadows filled with wildlife. Here you’ll find many things to do including horseback riding, golfing, kayaking, fishing, hiking, camping, mountain biking, local breweries, restaurants, shopping, and a hometown feel that keep visitors, young and old, coming back year after year.
Up in the mountains at approximately 7,000 ft, Flagstaff is home to the Coconino National Forest, Northern Arizona University and Lowell Observatory, where Pluto was found back in 1930. Flagstaff offers year-round outdoor adventure from hiking, climbing and festivals in the warmer months to skiing and a North Pole Experience in the winter. For additional day trip ideas and information, please click here.
For a comprehensive event calendar, please visit the Phoenix Event Calendar.
For an entire list of yearly special events in Arizona, click here
Raven Golf Club – 3636 E Baseline Rd. – (602)-243-3636
Phoenician Golf – 6000 E Camelback Rd – (480)-941-8200
Arizona Grand Golf – 8000 S Arizona Grand Pkwy – (602)-431-6480
Arizona Biltmore Golf – 2400 E Missouri Ave – (855)689-2878
Golf Club of Estrella – 11800 S Golf Club Dr – (623)-386-2600
Raven Verrado Golf – 4242 N Golf Dr – (623)388-3000
Wigwam Arizona Golf – 300 E Wigwam Blvd – (623)-935-3811
Ocotillo Golf Resort – 3751 S Clubhouse Dr – (480)917-6660
Superstition Mountain Golf – 8000 E Club Village Dr – (480)983-3200
Dinosaur Mountain Golf – 6100 S Kings Ranch Rd – (800)-827-5281
Grand Canyon University Golf – 5902 W Indian School Rd – (623)-846-4022
Dobson Ranch Golf – 2155 S Dobson Rd – (480)-644-2291
Quintero Golf Club – 16752 W State Route 74 – (928)-501-1500
Camelback Golf Club – 7847 N Mockingbird Ln – (480)-596-7050
Talking Stick Golf Club – 9998 E. Talking Stick Way – (480)-860-2221
TPC Scottsdale – 17020 N Hayden Rd – (480)-585-4334
The majority of these grocery store chains can be found all over the valley. Try a google search to find the one nearest to you.
Sprouts Farmers Market – 8040 N 19th Ave – (602)864-6130
Safeway – 340 E McDowell Rd – (602)-252-3379
Sunshine Market – 2302 N 12th St – (602)-253-8952
Fry’s Food – 4724 N 20th St – (602)-263-0766
CVS Drugstore – 50 W Jefferson St – (602)-296-7611
Trader Joe’s – 4821 N 20th St – (602)-912-9022
Market Joe’s Coffee and Groceries – 11 S 12th St Ste 1125 – (602)-374-3856
Los Altos Ranch Market – 1602 E Roosevelt Rd – (602)-253-6874
Phoenix Area Attractions
Scottsdale Fashion Square – Shopping – 7014 E Camelback Rd – (480)941-2140
Scottsdale Quarter – Shopping/Dining – 15059 N Scottsdale Rd Ste 205 – (480)-270-8123
Kierland Commons – Shopping/Dining – 15205 N Kierland Blvd Ste 150 – (480)-348-1577
Desert Ridge Marketplace – Shopping/Dining/Entertainment – 21001 N Tatum Blvd – (480)-513-7586
Tempe Marketplace – Shopping/Dining/Entertainment – 2000 E. Rio Salado Pkwy – (480)-966-9338
Arizona Mills Mall – Shopping/Dining/Entertainment – 5000 S Arizona Mills Cir – (480)-491-9700
ASU Gammage – Theater – 1200 South Forest Avenue – (480)-965-3434
Wet’n’Wild Phoenix – Waterpark – 4243 W Pinnacle Peak Rd – (623)-201-2000
Big Surf – Waterpark – 1500 N McClintock Dr – (480)-994-2297
Oasis Water Park – Waterpark – 8000 Arizona Grand Pkwy – (602)-438-9000
Golfland Sunsplash – Waterpark – 155 W Hampton Ave – (480)-834-8319
Tempe Town Lake – 80 E Rio Salado Pkwy
Segway of Scottsdale – Segway Tours – 7330 E Earll Dr Suite #R – (480) 306-4801
Restaraunts in Phoenix/Scottsdale
Phoenix and Scottsdale have a plethora of dining establishments; below are some hand-picked choices from four local chefs…For an extensive list of establishments in Phoenix by category, please click here. For the dining directory of Scottsdale, please click here.
Matt’s Big Breakfast – Brunch – $$ – 825 N. 1st St. – (602) 254-1074
Essence Bakery – Café – $$ – 3830 E Indian School Rd – (602)-296-4958
Pane Bianco – Sandwiches/Italian – $$ – 4404 N Central Ave – (602)-234-2100
Flower Child – American (New)/Salad/Vegetarian – $$ – 5013 N 44th St – (602)-429-6222
The Parlor – Wood-fired Pizza/Pasta – $$ – 1916 E Camelback Rd – (602)-248-2480
Quiessence at The Farm – American (New)/Italian/Wine Bar – $$$$ – 6106 S 32nd St – (602)-276-0601
Elements at Sanctuary on Camelback Mountain– Breakfast/Brunch/Asian Fusion – $$$ – 5700 E. McDonald Drive – (480) 607-2300
Richardson’s – Breakfast/Brunch/Mexican – $$ – 6335 North 16th Street – (602)-265-5886
Dick’s Hideaway – New Mexican Cuisine – $$ – 6008 North 16th Street – (602)-241-1881
Binkleys – American (New)/Bar – $$$$ – 2320 E Osborn Rd – (602)-388-4874
Nobuo at Teeter House – Japanese/Tea Room – $$$ – 622 E Adams St – (602)-254-0600
Cafe Lalibela – Ethiopian/Gluten-free/Vegetarian – $$ – 849 W University Dr – (480)-829-1939
Los Reyes De La Torta – Mexican/Seafood – $ – 9230 N 7th St – (602)-870-2967
Kai Restaurant – Southwest Cuisine – $$$$ – 5594 W Wild Horse Pass Blvd – (602)-385-5726
Los Dos Molinos – New Mexican – $$ – 8646 S Central Ave – (602)-243-9113
Delux – Late night/Burger/Sushi – $$ – 3146 E Camelback – (602)-522-2288
The Clever Koi – Asian Fusion – $$ – 4236 N Central Ave #100 – (602)-222-3474
Cafe Ga Hyang – Korean/Late Night – $$ – 4362 W Olive Ave – (623)-937-8550
Pepe’s Taco Villa – Mexican/Family Friendly – $ – 2108 W Camelback Rd – (602)-242-0379
Oreganos – Pizza/Family Friendly – $$ – 1008 E Camelback Rd – (602)-241-0707
Barrio Café – Upscale Mexican – $$ – 2814 N 16th St – (602)-636-0240
Vincent on Camelback – High-end French – $$$ – 3930 E Camelback Rd – (602)-224-0225
Cowboy Ciao – Southwestern influence/Extensive wine list – $$ – 7133 East Stetson Drive – (480)-946-3111
Chula Seafood – Poke/Seafood – $$ – 8015 E Roosevelt St – (480)-621-5121
Simon’s Hot Dogs – Colombian – $ – 4280 Drinkwater Blvd Ste 200 – (480)-426-9218
Cafe Monarch – American (New)/Dessert/Wine Bar – $$$ – 6934 E 1st Ave Ste 102 – (480)-970-7682
Mucha Lucha Taco Shop – Mexican – $ – 7620 E McKellips Rd – (480)-636-8619
Sugar Jam Bake Shop & Bistro – Bakery/BBQ/Brunch – $$ – 7950 E Redfield Rd – (480)-948-6210
Scapegoat Beer and Wine – Bar/American (New) – $$ – 7150 E 5th Ave Ste 100 – (480)-292-7605
Mastro’s City Hall – Upscale steakhouse – $$$$ – 6991 E Camelback Rd – (480)-941-4700
Pig & Pickle – Comfort Food/Gastropub/Late night – $$ – 2922 N Hayden Rd – (480)-990-1407
Snooze an AM Eatery – Breakfast/Brunch/Sandwiches – $$ – 15054 N Scottsdale Rd Ste 110 D18 – (480)-664-3133
Breakfast Club – Breakfast/Brunch – $$ – 4400 N Scottsdale Rd – (480)-222-2582