The energetic capital of Arizona, Phoenix offers a whole lot more than its world-renowned golf courses and almost year-round sunshine. The beating heart of the Valley of the Sun, this city boasts vibrant nightlife, resort spas on every corner and a great outdoors that is simply begging to be explored. This sprawling desert metropolis is a melting pot of Spanish and Indian influence, with a dash of the Wild West thrown in for good measure.
There’s certainly no shortage of things to do in Phoenix, with historic neighbourhoods, cultural attractions and outdoor activities served up in spades. Kick things off with a trip to the Heard Museum. Committed to the authentic portrayal of Native American history and culture, the museum is one of the most popular attractions in the city. Move on to the Phoenix Art Museum, which exhibits an excellent collection of American and international art and provides a welcome respite from the afternoon heat.
If the great outdoors is more your thing, take to the city’s hiking and biking trails, golf courses and climbing ranges. The Desert Botanical Garden offers a wonderful representation of regional plant life and makes for a great family day out. For some truly striking natural beauty, take a day trip from Phoenix to Sedona to check out Red Rock Country. For something closer to home, the network of parks that comprise the Phoenix Mountain Preserve offers hikes and trails for all abilities.
Eat and Drink
Make a beeline for the Old Town in Scottsdale for a great range of casual bars and restaurants, or head to the district of Biltmore for upscale dining. Fancy a slice? Downtown Phoenix is the place to find the city’s best pizza.
Trying a famous Sonoran hot dog (also known as a Mexican hot dog) at least once is mandatory. Composed of a hot dog wrapped in bacon and smothered with beans, onions, tomatoes, mayonnaise, cream sauce, jalapeno sauce and mustard, the Sonoran hot dog is a southwest condiment-heavy cultural institution.
After dark head to Mill Avenue, which is widely regarded as the top neighbourhood for watering holes. The drink specials at the bars in this area mean it’s constantly buzzing. For something different, head to the downtown hipster haven of Roosevelt Row.
Where to Stay
As the historic and cultural hub of Phoenix, the downtown precinct will put you close to many of the city’s main attractions, restaurants and bars. It’s also a great choice if you’re travelling on a budget, as this area boasts the city’s best selection of wallet-friendly hotels. Scottsdale, with its stunning boutique hotels and luxury resorts that are easily accessible from downtown, is the place to go if you’ve got a bit more cash to splash. Camelback Mountain draws outdoorsy types for its cacti-lined hiking and biking trails, and there’s a brilliant range of accommodation options in the area too.
To browse designer labels and rub shoulders with the well heeled, Biltmore Fashion Park should be first on your agenda. Boasting names like Macy’s and Saks Fifth Avenue, as well as a contingent of local boutiques, it’s a prime destination for high-end fashion.
Phoenix Premium Outlets in the metro area offers the pick of the bunch in high street fashion brands, while the Tanger Outlets in West Phoenix are known for designer brands and big savings.
The Melrose district boasts some of the best antique and vintage shopping in the southwest, and is home to dozens of specialty shops and one-off independent boutiques.
Phoenix Like a Local
Spend an afternoon strolling along Roosevelt Row to check out its numerous street art displays and boutique galleries. When you’ve had your fill of art and culture, go market hopping and stock up on some curious goodies. The city is home to Mexican, Pakistani, Jewish, European, Italian, Japanese and Eastern European markets, so it’s sure to make for an interesting shop.