The Best Time to Visit Phoenix

Cactus in the hills above Phoenix Arizona
Matt Mawson / Getty Images

The best time to visit Phoenix is in the winter (December to February) or in the spring (March to May). This is when the weather is the most temperate, the desert is in bloom and you’re best able to take advantage of all the outdoor adventures Arizona is known for. Phoenix comes alive during these months, with locals venturing out-and-about after six months of being holed-up in the air conditioning.

Whenever you visit Phoenix, you’re virtually guaranteed sunny days and warm weather. So pack your sunscreen and prepare to soak-up lots of vitamin D. 

The Weather in Phoenix

Aptly known as “The Valley of the Sun,” Phoenix boasts 296 days of sunshine a year, making it the sunniest state in the U.S. No matter what time of year you visit, odds are it’s going to be warm and bright. Located in the Sonoran Desert, the landscape and weather can be harsh, but beautiful. The Sonoran Desert is actually the wettest desert in the world, so if you play your cards right you will find a landscape awash in blooming cacti and wildflowers.

During the day, the temperature can get as high as 110 degrees F in the summer months and as low as the 60 degrees F range in the winter months. Arizona is known for its “dry heat,” which is generally true. While the humidity is very low most of the year, extreme heat can still be quite dangerous. Keep in mind during the peak summer months, that temperatures can stay into the 90s F throughout the night—offering little solace after the sun goes down.

The majority of Phoenix’s annual rainfall occurs during the monsoon season, which runs from June through September. This means higher temps can also come along with seasonal humidity. The monsoon season brings with it the risk of flash floods and dust storms.

Peak Season in Phoenix

Peak season in Phoenix is winter (December to February) and spring (March to May). The most temperate months in Phoenix coincide with the coldest and wettest months elsewhere in the U.S., making it a tempting getaway for winter-worn travelers. Days in the mid-70-degree F range give way to cooler nights, making the weather a dream.

However, perfect temperatures and a low chance of rain make winter and spring the busiest times of the year for visitors. This means higher hotel prices, more traffic and steeper fees for local activities. Cold weather in the Midwest and East Coast also bring flocks of "snowbirds"—folks who call Phoenix home during the winter and spring seasons. This causes congestion not only on the freeways, but in restaurants and area attractions.

Spring

Spring can also bring rain to the Valley, so the weather isn’t quite as predictable as the winter months, but it’s still beautiful. Spring is the best if you’re coming to hike or explore the desert landscape, as the desert will be in bloom thanks to the monsoon season and occasional rainstorms. This season is also huge for baseball fans, so expect higher hotel rates throughout the Valley.

Events to check out:

  • February and March bring Cactus League Spring Training to the Phoenix area. Baseball fans flock to this warm-weather destination to see their favorite teams up-close-and-personal. Some of the more popular teams to call the Valley home during this time are the Chicago Cubs, Cleveland Indians, and Los Angeles Dodgers.
  • The Arizona Renaissance Festival comes to Gold Canyon in February and March. Whether you consider yourself a knight or not, it’s guaranteed to be a day of frivolity, food, and good weather.

Summer

If you want to live like a local, a visit in the summer will grant you a look inside this desert destination’s most extreme temperatures. If you’re willing to put up with the heat, there’s a lot of value to be had by visiting the Phoenix area during July-September. World-class resorts slash their prices and restaurants and businesses go above-and-beyond to tempt you out of the air conditioning.

Events to check out:

  • Summer is the season to experience resorts and activities you might not splurge on in the winter months. Book an early tee time at award-winning golf courses you would otherwise pay hundreds of dollars to play (like Troon North Golf Club) or reserve a spa package for a day of pampering poolside.
  • Enjoy the indoors and catch a professional sports game. The Arizona Diamondbacks’ Chase Field is air-conditioned and the WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury play ball throughout the summer.

Fall

Fall is an interesting season in Phoenix when extreme temperatures start to slope-off and locals can’t wait for cooler weather. There are still deals to be had, as local attractions and hotels haven’t yet hit their stride during the peak winter and spring seasons. The desert foliage will slowly begin to change with the ending of the monsoon season and the start of cooler nights.

Events to check out:

Winter

Anyone who visits Phoenix during the winter months will think they’ve died and gone to heaven. Sunny, temperate days give way to colorful sunsets and chilly nights. After months of hot weather, area locals will be buzzing; with restaurant patios filled to bursting and hiking trails packed with those anxious to stretch their legs. Wait times will be longer, the crowds larger and the traffic worse, but it’s worth it!

Events to check out:

  • Arizona is a world-class golf destination and the PGA Tour comes to Scottsdale for the Waste Management Phoenix Open. Known as the “Greatest Show on Grass,” attendance can swell to more than 600,000 over the course of the tournament. Weekend attendance records get shattered year-after-year with single-day numbers topping 200,000.
  • Classic car fiends will flip for the Barrett-Jackson car auction in Scottsdale. Collectors fly-in from around the world in January to be tempted by the auction block.
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