Your Trip to Phoenix: The Complete Guide

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The fifth largest city in the country is none other than Phoenix, and it makes perfect sense as the vast desert provides endless opportunities for growth. The beauty of Phoenix is that other incredible cities and towns, all easily accessible by car, surround it. The Phoenix Metropolitan Area includes Phoenix, Mesa and Scottsdale and is one of the fastest growing major metropolitan areas in the country. And with Phoenix’s central location, visitors have direct access to the incredible destinations within the state of Arizona like Tucson, Flagstaff, Sedona and the Grand Canyon.

Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport has more than 1,200 aircraft arriving and departing on any given day with about 120,000 passengers coming and going each day. The airport is a convenient hub with many direct international flights, and is located within minutes of downtown. 

Top Things To See & Do

Phoenix has incredible opportunities to experience the great outdoors, with some of the most popular hiking trails only minutes from downtown. The iconic Camelback Mountain can be seen throughout the valley and is one of the most popular trails where hikers gain 1,200 feet in elevation to the summit, which looks over the city as well as the Phoenix Mountain Preserve.

Papago Park, home to the red rock buttes looped with trails is another top-rated attraction, as the red rocks glow so beautifully in the endless sunlight. And with more than 50 miles of trails through 16,000 acres of the Sonoran Desert, South Mountain Park and Preserve provides skyline views blended with the Sonoran Desert flora.

The Phoenix Desert Botanical Garden, made up of winding paths through 50-acres of desert garden as well as the Phoenix Zoo, one of the nation’s largest non-profit zoos, home to more than 1,400 animals, are both great options that will keep you outdoors.

In addition, the city’s arts and culture scene is larger than one might expect. Roosevelt Row, near the downtown area, is home to galleries, endless wall murals and a monthly art walk that attracts thousands of locals and visitors. Nearby, the Phoenix Art Museum is the Southwest’s largest fine art museum that features a collection of contemporary work and global masterpieces.

One of the newer museums in Phoenix is the Musical Instrument Museum, which allows visitors to take a world tour of cultural instruments and pop culture artists. The museum also has the MIM Music Theater, a year-round concert series which hosts more than 200 international acts. And of course, there’s Taliesin West, Frank Lloyd Wright’s winter home, which is open for tours, allowing visitors to walk through rooms, gardens, walkways and Wright’s entertainment pavilion on the grounds.

Desert Weather

Yes, it’s true the desert can get pretty hot, but don’t let the summer heat scare you, as summer in Phoenix can provide some really great rates, as it’s not typical tourist season. The dry heat comes with low humidity, which means a 100-degrees feels more comfortable than 80-degrees with high humidity. Average temperatures in June-August reach 104-106 but can spike into the teens every now and then. Fall is typically a bit later as the summer days linger in Phoenix with September still seeing temps in the high 90’s.

By October, the days are warm and the nights start to cool off.

During the winter, Phoenix skies stay blue with high temperatures in the 60’s and 70’s. Nights and mornings can get cold, but the temperatures rarely drop below freezing. Phoenix’s springtime weather is perfect for blooming cacti and wildflowers, which brighten the desert. Daytime temperatures loll around 80-degrees while the evenings are comfortably cool. 

Eating & Drinking in Phoenix

The Phoenix food scene has exploded over the past decade, making it one of the fastest growing in the country, and attracting kitchen talent from all over. The city is filled with top-rated eateries; some are the creations of easily recognizable celebrity chefs, while others are local gems that serve Southwestern and Mexican dishes crafted from homegrown ingredients. And beautifully mixed in between you will find flavors from parts all over the world in addition to wine bars, top breweries and Phoenix’s famous steakhouses.

When in Phoenix though, one must dive into the taco scene as the options are plentiful. Joyride Taco House has a bit of California beach vibe, laid-back atmosphere, and tacos range from carne asada and carnitas to crispy fish and ahi tuna. Taco Guild, housed inside a historic Bethel Methodist Church in central Phoenix is perhaps one of the more unique taco spots as it showcases both "Old World" and "New World tacos" — for the latter, think chipotle-cherry steak as well as Peking duck tacos.

But Phoenix is not only known for its incredible Mexican food scene. Oddly enough, it's a pizza capital as well. The New York Times food critic Ed Levine once wrote that Chef Bianco’s Pizzeria Bianco, “might just be the best pizza in the world.” And since that nod, the competition for Phoenix’s best pizza spot commenced, flooding the valley with drool-worthy pizza restaurants like Cibo, Forno 301 and La Piazza PHX.

And when it comes to bars, Phoenix is no stranger to some top-notch experiences. Everything from craft cocktails in speakeasies to budget beers in dive bars, there’s never a shortage of places to pick from.

Where to Stay

Whether you want to crawl between the highest thread-counts of luxurious sheets inside a Five-Diamond resort, sip cocktails in an eclectic lounge of a boutique hotel, or simply be more budget conscious in a standard, yet conveniently located, hotel room, Greater Phoenix has an option for you.

Tucked away in the mountain slopes and canopied by palm tress, the resorts that surround Phoenix are among the best in the country. Their gorgeous swimming pools, golf courses and fine-dining restaurants rank them at the top of their game. The iconic Arizona Biltmore, A Waldorf Astoria Resort, known as the “Jewel of the Desert” provides an oasis on 39 acres covered with lush gardens, swimming pools and Frank Lloyd Wright inspired architecture.

The Andaz Scottsdale Resort & Spa is one of the newer luxury resorts, located on 22.5 acres with stunning views of Camelback Mountain. Hotel Valley Ho is a true icon in historic Old Town Scottsdale. Built in 1956 and fully resorted, this boutique hideaway is where mid-century modern architecture meets cool and contemporary.

Also in the heart of Old Town Scottsdale is the Bespoke Inn Scottsdale, a boutique inn with a 43-foot long infinity lap pool and a James Beard Foundation nominated restaurant; Virtù. Or for a budget friendly downtown experience, consider the Hilton Garden Inn Phoenix Downtown, housed in a building originally built in 1932 featuring original Art Deco design and a grand lobby with restored columns and marble touches.