Arizona, United States
Breaking away from its always-sunny, suburban ways, Phoenix now offers unexpected perks: world-class resorts in Paradise Valley, Southwestern culinary treasures, gay-friendly bars in converted Central Phoenix banks, and native American culture.
Getting Around Phoenix
The best way to get around Phoenix is by car. The city covers more than 400 square miles, and though it is possible to navigate the city using public transit, a car is most convenient. Parking is plentiful, with garages and metered spots enforced Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Freeway rush hours are generally between 7 a.m.-9 a.m. and 4 p.m.-6:30 p.m. Summer rush hours trend 1 1/2-2 hours earlier due to road construction that generally begins when it's dark outside to avoid summer heat.
Nearby Airports
  • Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport-PHX
Airport Taxis
  • $20
Things to Do and See in Phoenix
Paradise ValleyTempeDowntown PhoenixCentral Phoenix
Ritzy Paradise Valley is home to world-class resorts tucked along Camelback Mountain between Phoenix and Scottsdale. There is no commercial or business district in Paradise Valley, but there is a reason that the median home price is over $1 million: this is one of the most scenic towns in Arizona. All-inclusive resorts offer golf, tennis, fine dining, and swimming pools with valley views. Food Network fans may recognize Beau MacMillan, the star chef of Elements at Sanctuary on Camelback Mountain. Historic Camelback Inn is located at the base of Mummy Mountain, with bungalows that make it feel more like an exclusive community than a hotel. Paradise Valley is a quiet town at night, but for those looking for shopping or nightlife, Scottsdale is only a ten-minute drive away.
The main attractions for visitors east of Phoenix are Tempe's Mill Avenue and Tempe Town Lake. Tempe is the home of Arizona State University's main campus, so expect throngs of college students when school is in session. Tempe Town Lake is a man-made reservoir on the Salt River lined with high-rise buildings on the shore. Boating and fishing are permitted on the lake and nearby Beach Park is popular with cyclists, volleyball players, and joggers. Mill Avenue bars get busy on weekend nights. Twice a year, Mill Avenue is closed to vehicle traffic to accommodate the free Tempe Festival of the Arts, one of the Southwest's largest arts and crafts festivals. Visitors can sample food and beer, hear live music, or purchase work from local artisans.
Before the Arizona Diamondbacks and Phoenix Suns arrived, there was little to keep people Downtown after 5 p.m. But times have changed. While the nightlife scene is still smaller than other cities of this size, the new Arizona State University downtown campus has introduced bars, restaurants, and a second-story bowling center at Lucky Strike Lanes. Some of the city's best cultural venues are here, including the Phoenix Art Museum, the Heard Museum of Native Culture and Art, and the Orpheum, a former vaudeville theater. The Phoenix light-rail system runs through Downtown and provides a connection to Tempe's Mills Avenue. Parking can be a challenge, but the light rail is a welcome alternative and easy to navigate.
It was not long ago that most locals did not give Central Phoenix a second thought, but it has been experiencing a bit of a revival over the past few years. Now, some of the best local restaurants can be found here, many of which are in newly refurbished buildings that were banks or office suites in former lives. The majority of Phoenix's gay and lesbian bars are in CenPho, although they tend to be spread around the area as there is no official gay neighborhood in Phoenix. For funky vintage shops, furniture stores, and other things retro, visit the Melrose District along 7th Avenue between Camelback Road and Indian School Road. Central Phoenix is also dotted with independent coffee shops, almost all of which have free wi-fi. Do not be surprised to see four-legged creatures sharing patio space with you, as Central Phoenix residents are crazy about their dogs.