Phoenix, AZ

Destination Location

  • 33.45, -112.0667:primary
  • 33.4342994689941, -112.012001037598:secondary
  • 33.307833, -111.655471:secondary
Hotel reviews summary
4.5

Our guest rating from 8 reviews

Overview

If you're seeking sun, then this chunk of the Sonoran Desert is a little piece of heaven, where the sun shines (pretty much) every day. Here, you can enjoy outdoor activities or just relax in the city of Phoenix, neighbouring Scottsdale and the surrounding towns in Maricopa County.

According to the 2010 U.S. census, Phoenix is the sixth-largest city in the U.S. You wouldn't necessarily think that based on the city's downtown core, which has the laid-back attitude of much smaller place.

With the city investing in a new Metro rail system to drive downtown development, you'll notice restaurants and bars, boutiques and galleries are all starting to take up residence in the historic mid-century buildings and bungalows. They bring an energy that suggests this city is ready for a renaissance, a cultural rebirth.

Bumping up against Phoenix's eastern edge, Scottsdale is the affluent neighbour, often described as Arizona's version of Beverly Hills. The designation is certainly fair if you include the adjacent town of Paradise Valley, nestled up to Scottsdale to the north.

The Scottsdale-Paradise Valley area's primary economic engine is the high-end tourism industry. It has developed into a destination known for five-star resorts, destination spas and golf courses. There's also an impressive restaurant and gallery scene built around a central pedestrian-friendly walkway.

Even at its most hectic, this is a place that seems to know how to relax, kick back by the pool, enjoy great restaurant meals, swing a golf club and enjoy a ballgame. The stressful urban lifestyle seen in other cities doesn't seem to exist in this corner of the Sonoran Desert. It must be all that sunshine.

Phoenix is a fantastic destination for:

  • golf
  • spa and wellness
  • shopping and dining

Destination basics

The climate in this desert city can be summed up in two words – hot and dry. When it rains, it doesn't rain for very long. (Scientifically speaking, a desert is any region that receives less than 25 centimetres of rain per year.)

During the coldest winter months, it's still warm enough to play golf – a big part of what attracts second-home owners from cooler climes to the region.

Spring is an absolutely delightful season to be in the area. The desert is in bloom and the days are summery, but not overwhelmingly hot. There's a pretty big difference in the day-to-night temperatures, but it's usually nothing a light jacket or simple shawl-style wrap can't handle.

Summers, on the other hand, are another story. During June, July and August the region experiences a dry heat that drives average temperatures above 30 C.

The midsummer months constitute the tourism industry's off-season, with many resorts and hotels offering heavily discounted room rates. To beat the heat, resorts have installed air-conditioning, misting devices and aeration systems to keep outdoor pools from warming up to bathtub-like temperatures.

Any time of year, don't leave home without your sun essentials, including sunscreen, a hat and sunglasses.

Average monthly temperature and average monthly rainfall diagrams for Phoenix, AZ

There's still a bit of the Wild West out here in Maricopa County. Scottsdale, in particular, has deliberately played up that aspect of its history in its Old Town quarter, where souvenir shops are labelled "trading posts" and the streetlights are adorned with spurs bearing the town's name – although you're unlikely to see any real-life ranch folk moseying around town.

The Wild West attitude is celebrated each February at the annual Parada del Sol, a free, family-friendly street festival with crowd-pleasing activities like trick-riding demonstrations and Old West gunfight performances. Many festival attendees get into the spirit as well, dressing up in hats and boots and other cowboy finery.

The modern Wild West exists a short drive north in the town of Cave Creek, a hub for motorbike enthusiasts and rodeo folk alike, with a central strip lined with rowdy roadhouses and saloons, such as the famous Buffalo Chip Saloon, which hosts live bull-riding events on the premises.

The hub of visual arts activity in the area is the Phoenix Art Museum, an 18,860-square-metre facility opened in 1959. In addition to the gallery displays, the museum is a cultural centre for film, musical performances and educational programming.

Native American culture and heritage also has a strong presence in Maricopa County, influencing everything from spa treatments to restaurant menus. Native artworks and jewelry designs are a major part of the fine art scene. To learn more about Native culture and history, check out the impressive Heard Museum in metropolitan Phoenix, a sprawling facility dedicated entirely to re-telling the ancient and modern stories of the southwestern Indian tribes.

The Phoenix-Scottsdale area is also culturally significant for its contributions to mid-century modern architecture. Frank Lloyd Wright built his visionary Taliesin West compound at the foot of the McDowell Mountains in Scottsdale. Wright protege Paolo Soleri continues to work from his Cosanti studio-gallery and residence site in Paradise Valley.

In 2010, Scottsdale erected a footbridge of Soleri's design as a public art initiative in the Waterfront district bordering the Arizona Canal.

Following an US$80-million renovation in December 2005, downtown Scottsdale's mid-century modern landmark Hotel Valley Ho, designed by architect Edward L. Varney, is the focus of all things hip these days. It has regained its cool from the days when it drew a celebrity clientele that included Bing Crosby, Robert Wagner and Natalie Wood.

There's a distinct sense of classic Americana here as well that lingers in the old-school ice cream parlours, the love for the game of baseball and the vibrant community of vintage car collectors and aficionados.

As with all American destinations, it is recommended to use U.S. dollars for general expenses. For entertainment and shopping, your credit card will give you the exchange rate at the time of purchase. There are also numerous ATMs inside banks and public spaces where you can withdraw funds at your convenience. Just be aware that transaction fees vary by ATM.

The Valley of the Sun has always been considered more of a wasteland in regards to culinary innovation rather than a food paradise. However, over the years many new and exciting restaurants have opened their doors with a focus on local food and sustainability here in the desert. Outside of the popular and classic restaurants El Chorro Lodge and T. Cooks, most dining options for Phoenicians over the years were either in strip malls or at an upscale resort.

Then in the 80’s, many restaurants including the creative Vincent Guerithault on Camelback, opened and started a paradigm shift in how chefs approached food in the greater Phoenix area. Now, local chefs in Phoenix and Arizona in general have started to gather many awards. Try something especially unique to Phoenix, the Native American flavors at Kai, located in the Sheraton Wild Horse Pass Resort have transformed the city into a bizarre, yet serendipitous setting for nouveau-cuisine.

Downtown
The Arizona Center located on Van Buren St. offers everything from fast-food to swanky clubs and bars within the borders of downtown's main nightlife district Copper Square. While you are downtown, most of the activities center on the sports arenas for basketball and baseball. If you are here for such an activity, you can pop into Phoenix's Irish pub, Seamus McCaffrey's, in the Hotel San Carlos. Phoenix Suns fans, and sometimes players, often frequent Majerle's Sports Grill, opened by former Suns star Dan Majerle.

In the mid-section of Central Phoenix, you'll find a super selection of comfortable neighborhood spots. Mexican food is ubiquitous in Arizona and some are obviously better than others, one that is more salient is Barrio Cafe where they have created their own niche in the city's dining scene. Two other popular spots in this area are Tutti Santi for great Italian and Durant's for classic mobster steakhouse.

Downtown Scottsdale
Scattered among the galleries in the downtown arts district are restaurants that feature both traditional and modern kitchens. For traditional comfort, Don & Charlie's and the Pink Pony have been dining fixtures in the neighborhood for years. Some of the hottest clubs are also located here, including the cosmopolitan Madison's. A local music scene thrives here with many bars that provide the sound, if it is Big-Band era music you dig, then go to the Famous Door or catch some blues at the Cajun House.

AAlong the main drag of Scottsdale Road you'll find that it is truly a parkway for the palate and Scottsdale Fashion Square offers tons of restaurants including the popular P.F. Chang's. Since the valley is so hot, there are tons of resorts here that provide pool parties, one of the most popular is the Hotel Valley Ho. The award-winning pizzaiolo Pomo Pizzeria is one of the best places in Arizona to have a pizza created in the Neopolitan style, and they have the certification to prove it (look for the placard of the little clown holding a pizza). Right across the street is the ultimate upscale steakhouse, Fleming's Prime.

Further north along the corridor of Bell and Scottsdale roads, visitors will find the popular Sonoran-style Mexican restaurant, Carlos O'Brien's. For adventurous eaters, try the rattlesnake at the Golden Belle Steakhouse & Saloon and for upscale in Paradise Valley, go to Tarbell’s or the classic El Chorro Lodge. Other new and exciting eating establishments include Restaurant Oceana, which offers fresh fish to eager desert dwellers. For seafood, the Salt Cellar takes you underground for some of the freshest lobster in the city.

Downtown Tempe
You can always count on a college town to have an active party scene and Tempe is no exception. Mill Avenue and University Drive are ground zero for the East Valley's nightlife. Gordon Biersch Brewing Company is popular for its people-watching just as it is for the microbrews. True to its name, The Bash on Ash is a warehouse-sized "animal house", that serves cheap drinks and cheap thrills. Despite the glut of dive bars and fast-food establishments, nutrition and environmentally conscious people will find a variety of different eateries, including macrobiotic munchies at N Counter Café.

East Valley
Mesa, Chandler and Gilbert form the "bedroom communities" of the East Valley, but in terms of dining they are by no means sleepy. A whole world of ethnic cuisine awaits visitors, including the vaunted Native American kitchen at Kai Restaurant in the Sheraton Wild Horse Pass Casino, German food at Zur Kate and innovative Italian at Postino’s. 

Centered at 24th Street and Camelback, the Biltmore Fashion Park is home to the renowned Che Bella. As you head east, several standout steakhouses—Ruth's Chris and Omaha Steakhouse both of which allow you to gorge on red meat until your heart’s content.

West Valley
This is the place where you'll find simple, satisfying food at bargain prices generally within strip-malls. As most of the West Valley is residential, most food is focused on families. However, there are some standouts like the Greek restaurant Golden Greek; this is the spot to go for the best gyro in the city. Another that deserves some merit is Dillon's, it is one of the Valley's younger restaurants, but it has already garnered a huge following which comes for their serving of fine Iowa corn-fed pork.

For country music and country cooking, kick up your heels and "Electric Slide" on over to Mr. Lucky's, one of the Valley's authentic cowboy dance clubs. Mr. Lucky's even has live bull riding in an outdoor rodeo arena for those who dare.

Phoenix, known as the "Valley of the Sun" for its 300 plus days of sunshine each year, is a fragmented city sprawling into many other towns and suburbs which surround it. Visitors first notice the sprawling low profile of the valley ensconced cozily within several mountain ranges on its border.

Downtown Phoenix
The downtown area has changed dramatically since its tired days of the 70's and 80's. With the construction of the US Airways Center for Phoenix Suns basketball and Chase Field for the MLB's Arizona Diamondbacks, these two teams have brought life to downtown. If you are attending the symphony or seek something a little more upscale, you can visit the nearby Arizona Center or CityScape, both located in the neighborhood known as Copper Square. The square has several coffeehouses, restaurants and bars that bring people downtown for a drink or a bite before the show.

Phoenix is also trying to revitalize the urban center with more residential living and amenities which serve the people who live here. Two great restaurants that serve them are Pizzeria Bianco by locally adopted son, Chris Bianco or Durant's down Central Ave. for those who seek more tradition.

Incorporating the themes of Phoenix's early history with culture and local events, Copper Square is a full square-mile hotspot for activities and action. Downtown attractions include the Arizona Science Center and the Phoenix Art Museum.

West Phoenix
The bedroom communities of Glendale and Peoria include moderately priced homes largely developed in the 1970s and they primarily remain residential areas. Most people find their entertainment and shopping needs at the Westgate City Center. This entertainment complex hosts the arena where the Arizona Cardinals play football alongside the ice-rink where the Phoenix Coyotes play hockey. For concerts and fairs, the Cricket Pavilion offers an open-air amphitheater all year, even in the summer! 

The growing west side continues to spread outward into other communities such as Buckeye and Surprise, however the town with the most charm would be Glendale. Most visitors go to Historic Downtown Glendale and its neighborhood Catlin Court for first-rate antique shopping opportunities. The newer Arrowhead Towne Center Mall offers newer wares and different dining choices.

South Phoenix
Largely comprised of low-cost housing and shared lots with the farming industry, the area of South Phoenix has somewhat of a reputation for violence and poverty. However, the upscale community of Ahwatukee is a notable exception. Ahwatukee residents are mostly older adults and urban professionals who shuffle around the city for work, and as such there is not a tremendous amount of attractions here.

This area is mostly residential, with upscale apartments that coexist with middle class housing. For some of the best views of Phoenix, be sure to take the South Mountain Park Scenic Drive while you are here. Fabulous sunsets are the pride of Arizona and best enjoyed from a desert wilderness vantage point. If the traveler prefers more shopping, it can be found at the Arizona Mills Mall near the outlaw little township of Guadalupe.

North & Northwest Phoenix
Further north, visitors can find the tranquil towns of Cave Creek and Anthem. And further northwest, you will find Peoria and the communities of Sun City, Sun City West and Surprise. Most of these towns are filled with golf courses and retirees. However, for other recreation, hikers will enjoy the White Tank Mountain Regional Park.

East Valley
Bordering Phoenix to the east is the neighborhood of Paradise Valley, which draws middle to upper class residents because of its beautiful desert location in the foothills of Camelback Mountain. Shopping is available at the upscale Paradise Valley Mall and Scottsdale Fashion Square. On the border of PV (as residents call it), lies Scottsdale, Arizona's most luxurious and coveted area. Highly sought after for its real estate and vacations, this area provides top-notch restaurants and entertaiment with renowned restaurants like El Chorro Lodge or Tarbell's. For some of the best pizza in the city, visit Pomo Pizzeria, a genuine pizzaiolo made in the old tradition of Napoli.

Located south of Scottsdale, Tempe is primarily a college town and the home of Arizona State University. There is plenty to see and do in Tempe, from sports to recreation. For water activity, visit the Tempe Town Lake or climb Hayden Butte, and for entertainment, this suburb is the spot for local festivals such as Fall Festival of the Arts. The University is located in the center, ringed in by family and student housing.

Continuing east we find Mesa, Chandler and Gilbert. All bedroom communities that are primarily filled with families and strip-malls. Most of the area aside from Mesa remained largely agricultural communities until a growth spurt of housing which began in the 1980s and continues to this day.

As the sixth largest city in the nation, Phoenix offers a diverse mix of entertainment options for its swelling population. If you enjoy gourmet restaurants, championship golf courses or rocketing in circles on a double-loop roller coaster, this city will not disappoint you.

Sports
Arizona is a state of contrasts, from the bizarre and beautiful saguaro cactus scattered throughout to the snow capped peaks of Flagstaff and the awe-inspiring vistas of the Grand Canyon. However, the state does have a particular fondness for sports and the Phoenix metro area offers a varied cornucopia of exciting attractions and sports venues. While downtown, the focal point of is the lively and quaint Copper Square. This area encompasses a full square-mile of entertainment with venues such as US Airways Center, which showcases the Phoenix Suns. Chase Field offers Arizona Diamondback games and features a retractable roof to protect from the debilitating summer heat. If you seek the cool greens of one of Phoenix's many world class golf courses like the elegant Tournament Players Club of Scottsdale or Troon North, then you must take out your clubs. For an adrenaline rush, hop in a car and drive the fastest one-mile oval in the world at the Phoenix International Raceway.

Visitors can also take in the great Arizona outdoors with a scenic hike up Echo Canyon Trail on majestic Camelback Mountain. Further east in the Superstition Mountains, you can take an excursion to Goldfield Ghost Town where you can try to unravel the secrets of the Lost Dutchman's Mine. Visit ancient Indian cliff dwellings at the five-story pueblo, Montezuma's Castle further outside of town or saddle up for a real cowboy experience at Trail Horse Adventures and hit the trail on horseback. If your idea of the Wild West requires a gunfight, hitch your pony at Rawhide Western Town where Roughriders still tote six-shooters and settle differences with a fast draw.

Museums & Galleries
There is a varied art scene and culture in Phoenix, which results in an eclectic mishmash. The internationally acclaimed Heard Museum showcases the heritage and art of the Southwest's various Native American tribes. For a more participatory view of the city's early days, visit the Pioneer Arizona Living History Museum, a 90-acre pioneer town where costumed interpreters recreate life in the Arizona Territory of the mid 1800s.

For more contemporary art, visit the Phoenix Art Museum, where modernity is the focus and artwork from a variety of eras is displayed in an interesting building. Head north to the town of Cave Creek and visit the Musical Instrument Museum (MIM) which has a collection of 10,000 musical instruments as well as multimedia exhibits.

In the suburb of Scottsdale, visitors can browse through the abundant galleries which feature the talents of artists around the globe, most focus on Native American art, however there are some contemporary exhibitions as well. Here also, you can view the exquisite bronze sculptures highlighting a trip to the Legacy Gallery or view abstract designs at the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art. 

Theater
The performing arts are alive and well at the Cricket Pavilion which features hillside seating and hosts concerts. The beautiful Herberger Theater Center offers a refreshing mix of dramas, comedies, and musicals. The Phoenix Symphony performs over 160 concerts a year and the historic Orpheum Theater showcases a variety of performing arts throughout the year.

Cinema & Games 

If your idea of theater involves popcorn, the thrill of IMAX technology is rarely emulated, but if you seek smaller confines go to any of the many cool theaters in heat-stricken Phoenix.

For those traveling with kids, there are roller coasters and video games galore at Castles and Coasters located in West Phoenix. Jeepers has rides, games and challenges for the smaller tykes, while bigger folk can indulge in shoot 'em up action with a sci-fi twist at Stratum Light Speed Entertainment Center.

Adult gamers might prefer the action at the brand new Casino Arizona, featuring slots and Las Vegas style entertainment. Dogs they've got; at Phoenix Greyhound Park or bet on the ponies at Turf Paradise. If you can't make it to the track, try the off-track betting and great beer at Padre Murphy's. Or chalk up your stick and head north to Pink E's, an adult only pool hall with more games than you can shake your cue at.

Shopping
If shopping is more your style, Phoenix can accommodate that as well since there are so many strip malls. Downtown at the Arizona Center, you will find dining, dancing, and some shopping. However, most fashionistas will find themselves at the Biltmore Fashion Park which features world class shopping at Neiman Marcus and Gucci. For more affordable style, shop at the upscale Scottsdale Fashion Square or seek forgotten treasures in the gargantuan Brass Armadillo.

Besides the trendy mall scene, Phoenix is ripe with specialty shops and independent stores. Wander through Juttenhoops, a unique gift shop that claims to carry "everything fun." Looking for adventure? Sort the treasure from the trash and see what kind of deals you can barter at the Phoenix Park and Swap. Search through a sea of bargain imports such as Belgian Chocolates and Bali Basketry at the Cost Plus World Imports.

Phoenix has something for everyone, from world-class resorts and golf, to scenic vistas and sunsets, a veritable city that has risen from the ashes.

Phoenix

State: Arizona

Country: United States of America

Phoenix by the Numbers
Population: 1,563,025 (city); 4,574,531 (metropolitan area)
Elevation: 1117 feet / 340 meters
Average Annual Rainfall: 8 inches / 20 centimeters
Average January Temperature: 57°F / 14°C
Average July Temperature: 95°F / 35°C

Quick Facts
Electricity: 110 volts, 60 Hz; standard two-pin plug

Time Zone: GMT-7

Country Dialing Code: +1

Area Code: 602, 623 and 480

Did You Know?
Phoenix's South Mountain Park is the largest municipal park in North America, covering 20,000 acres.

Phoenix hosts Spring Training for 15 different Major League Baseball teams, known as the Cactus League.

Orientation
Phoenix sits in the Sonora Desert, in the south-central portion of the state. Phoenix is located about 110 miles (177 kilometers) north of Tucson.

Phoenix is located in central Arizona, in Maricopa County, and is the sixth-biggest city in the U.S., with a population of approximately 1.4 million. With few geographical barriers to hem in the city's borders, it's also one of the biggest cities, area-wise, with a low population density compared to other cities of a similar size.

The perimeters of Greater Phoenix are outlined by mountains and Native American lands. The McDowell Mountains lie to the northeast and the Superstition Mountains further east. The iconic Camelback Mountain, a popular hiking locale, marks the point of intersection between Phoenix, Scottsdale and Paradise Valley.

Aside from the mountains, the most striking feature of the landscape in this area is the native saguaro cactus (pronounced sah-WAHR-o), which grows wild everywhere.

The tree-sized cacti (the largest in the U.S.) are older than most of the residents and even buildings in the area. Most grow for at least 75 years before even sprouting just one of the arms that give them their iconic shape. They can live to be as much as 200 years old and can reach a height of up to 18 metres.

This particular area in the Sonoran Desert has been inhabited for over 1500 years and its remnants can be seen in the Pueblo Grande Ruins, a preserved archaeological site that provides information about the Hohokam Indians. These early indigenous settlers developed the infrastructure for an irrigation system that consisted of canals which tapped into the nearby Salt River, providing much needed water. Mysteriously, this ancient civilization disappeared in the 1400s, with a severe drought being the most widely accepted cause for their demise.

It was not until 1867 that the seeds for modern day Phoenix were planted. Traveling on horseback, Jack Swilling from the nearby town of Wickenburg stopped to take a rest, looked out upon the vast expanse of desert, and somehow envisioned a farming community in this inhospitable, arid climate. The lack of available water was the primary obstacle, so he organized the Swilling Irrigation Canal Company to divert water to the Valley's land. In 1868, the first harvest arrived at fledgling markets and a small colony named the Swilling's Mill was formed four miles east of modern day Phoenix. The name for the tiny settlement arose from the idea that, just as the legendary Phoenix rises up from the ashes, the new town would spring from the ruins of a former civilization.

The late 1860s and 1870s brought continued growth to the area with the addition of a post office and steam mill, which blared the horn for entrepreneurship and an emerging farming industry. With the continued influx of pioneers, by 1870 Phoenix became a trade center of the Southwest and earned a reputation as a wild, lawless, western town. The first county election held in 1871 resulted in a gun battle between candidates. The two men, J.A. Chenowth and Jim Favorite, engaged in a shooting match resulting in Favorite's death and Chenowth's withdrawal from the race. Tom Barnum became the first sheriff of Maricopa County, which was formed when Yavapai County was divided.

The town site was officially recorded on February 15, 1873 and incorporated in 1881. The beginnings of a bustling city could be seen, complete with the first electric plants in the West located here. Transportation progressed with the first horse-drawn streetcar line built along Washington Street in 1887, and strides in transportation would be the primary factor in the growth of the city. The long anticipated arrival of the Southern Pacific Railroad rolled into the station soon after. The next few years brought with them triumphs and tragedies with the installation of the first telephone system and the worst flood in Valley history. The 1902 signing of the National Reclamation Act made it possible to build dams on western streams, and the Salt River Valley Water Users' Association was formed to manage the city's most precious commodity, its water supply.

Arizona gained its statehood with the approval of President William Howard Taft on February 14, 1912. Thus began a new era; the farming community declined and Phoenix became a booming metropolis. Within eight years Phoenix boasted a population of 29,000, a total of 1,080 buildings had been constructed and the Heard Building, Arizona's first skyscraper, loomed over the city.

Fueled by the declaration of war, the first true economic boom in Phoenix history occurred in the 1940s. Home to Luke Field, Williams Field, Falcon Field and the giant training center at Hyder, Phoenix became the temporary home to thousands of military men. Having been smitten with the Arizona lifestyle, many of these men returned with their families after the war. Determined to continue the economic rise, local economic boosters targeted companies like Motorola, General Electric and Reynolds Aluminum, describing Phoenix as the "new modern city of the West." Banks issued loans freely and newspapers praised the Valley as a great place to live. The opening of Sky Harbor Airport and the newly affordable air conditioning systems in homes, businesses and cars gave a major boost to the tourism industry, which still flourishes today.

The 1950s brought with it the beginning of a cultural community, with the Heard Museum, Phoenix Art Museum and the Phoenix Symphony at its core. The community supported the growth of a small teachers college into what is now Arizona State University in Tempe, another important step in the Valley's expansion.

Migration to the Valley continues to earn Phoenix the distinction as one of the fastest growing areas in the country. Each year golfing enthusiasts converge in droves, earning Phoenix a reputation as a premier golfing location. Arizona is one of the few states in the country to host a major league team in all sports. Following the happenings of local teams is an integral part of the Phoenix lifestyle. The Arizona Cardinals, tracing their roots to 1898, have the distinction of being the oldest continuously run professional football franchise in the nation. The Phoenix Suns burst onto the scene in 1968 and have entertained Valley residents for decades with their superb skills on the court. The new franchise known as the Phoenix Coyotes debuted in 1996, and the long awaited dream of having a baseball team became a reality in 1998 with the Arizona Diamondbacks. Residents and visitors alike enjoy the new Chase Field, a cool sports facility in the desert that features a retractable roof and and indoor swimming pool.

Just as the mythical bird rose from the ashes of its funeral pyre, so has this city grown from a lost civilization to a major economic, cultural and entertainment center in a short span. There is no indication that the present migration to the Valley of the Sun will be slowing any time soon, as the climate continues to lure snowbirds and businesses. Today's new pioneers owe a debt of gratitude to their counterparts who so graciously paved the way to the magnificent modern day city we now enjoy.

Home to some of the sunniest golf courses and most beautiful stretches of urban desert, getting around Phoenix is always a pleasure. When vacationing here, it's usually best to rent a car. Just remember to book in advance as car rental dealerships book up quickly during the warmer months.

Downtown, you'll be able to quickly and easily get around on foot. But you'll definitely want a car to travel between the scenic surrounding communities at the edges of town. Just keep an eye out for changing lane directions near downtown during rush hour. The city switches high-traffic roads to one-ways during rush hour to help control traffic flow.

If you're looking to visit other regions of Arizona, check out the Amtrak train schedule. You can also check out the new Valley Metro light rail system that travels from Phoenix to Mesa. These trains stop at many tourist destinations, including the museums downtown and Arizona State University. Not to mention, local light rail and bus fare is just US$2.50 per day.

If you're simply looking to explore downtown, Phoenix offers a convenient FREE Downtown Area Shuttle (known as DASH).

Unlike many large metropolises, taxi fares in Phoenix are unregulated – with the exception of set rates to and from the airport. Due to expensive rates (about US$1.50 per mile), travel by taxi is not recommended.

Arrival

Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport is a large airport with a state-of-the-art automated shuttle called the Phoenix Sky Train. The full Sky Train route is not yet complete, but by 2020 it will connect all airport terminals with the rental car center, as well as the Metro public transit lines.

Since you pass through U.S. Customs before your departure from Canada, all you'll need to do when you arrive is pick up your bags. Once you've got all your belongings and exit the airport, you'll see many transportation options take you to your hotel.

SuperShuttle offers blue vans that will accept up to seven passengers at a time. Fares are reasonably priced at US$13 a person to downtown Phoenix or US$20 to the Scottsdale area.

Departure

When departing, a friendly WestJet staff member will be ready to assist you at the WestJet check-in counters, beginning three hours prior to departure. You can also check in and select your seat ahead of time using WestJet's convenient Web check-in service.

With its consistently warm and dry weather, the Greater Phoenix area has attracted a significant community of "Snowbirds." These are the retired and semi-retired folks hailing from frostier regions, especially Western Canada and the U.S. Midwest, who take up residence during the winters to soak up the sun. This flock then returns home during the summer months when the temperatures start to climb.

The Phoenix area is a leisure playground, with good shopping, great restaurants, gorgeous spas, lush golf courses and a wide variety of pro sports teams such as the NBA’s Phoenix Suns and MLB's Arizona Diamondbacks. The NHL's Phoenix Coyotes, another of the area's pro sports clubs, play out of their home arena in Glendale, just northwest of Phoenix.

That's not to say it's all leisure in Phoenix. The area is hugely popular for conventions, drawing companies and corporate groups from all over North America to its many hotels and meeting facilities.

The area is also a draw for artists of all disciplines, which has, in turn, led to an impressive number of galleries. Phoenix's Roosevelt Row Arts District is where the edgier, younger art crowd gathers. Scottsdale's gallery district draws a more conventional crowd to its pedestrian-friendly mall. Both locales host bustling ArtWalk events, which take place Thursday evenings in Scottsdale and on Friday evenings in Phoenix.

Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport is a large airport with a state-of-the-art automated shuttle called the Phoenix Sky Train.

As with all American destinations, it is recommended to use U.S. dollars for general expenses.

Home to some of the sunniest golf courses and most beautiful stretches of urban desert, getting around Phoenix is always a pleasure.

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