Planning Your Time
- Where to Go
- The Best of the Valley of the Sun
- Wild West Adventure
- Let Scottsdale Rock Your World
- Finding Water in the Sonoran Desert
- Spring Training
- Arizona Family Road Trip
- Phoenix Points of Pride
- Southwestern Culture and Heritage
- Nocturnal Scottsdale
- Exploring Phoenix’s Architecture
- Unexpected Arizona
- Desert Chic
- Chilly Drinks and Cool Eats in Scottsdale
You’ll need at least three days to see Phoenix, balancing a few cultural sights with the bounty of outdoor activities. Consider a hike or round of golf in the morning and afternoon visits to the Phoenix Art Museum, Heritage Square, or the world-renowned Heard Museum, a rich repository of Native American art and artifacts.
However, you should really take a week to make the most of a trip to the Valley of the Sun. Phoenix, Scottsdale, and the surrounding suburbs each offer pockets of pedestrian-friendly neighborhoods to explore, and you’ll want to make sure you have plenty of time to relax and enjoy the sunshine.
Families, couples, and groups of friends won’t struggle to find activities that appeal to their tastes. Most of the year, kids spend morning, noon, and, yes, night, in the Valley’s pools and water parks, a recreational specialty found at many resorts. When the weather is a bit cooler, though, the Phoenix Zoo and the Old West–themed Rawhide Western Town can be fun diversions.
Adults, too, won’t mind spending time poolside, with a tasty beverage and good book in hand. Be sure to make some time to immerse yourself in the Sonoran Desert landscape, though. Hikers, mountain bikers, and horseback riders of all levels will appreciate the cactus-dotted peaks that rise throughout the city. You can even get a taste of this rugged landscape without leaving the city’s paved sidewalks at the Desert Botanical Garden and Papago Park.
The Valley of the Sun is huge, covering 2,000 square miles. The area’s four million residents crisscross the city daily thanks to a large web of freeways. Fortunately for visitors, many of the best sights, parks, restaurants, and shops are clustered in a central strip running from South Mountain through downtown Phoenix and Tempe to North Scottsdale. To explore the city, you’ll definitely need a car—and you’ll become quite familiar with the main commuter arteries: I-10, Highway 101 and Highway 202, and Central Avenue and Camelback Road.
The weather, in all likelihood, will shape what you do and when you do it. Phoenix is heavenly October through April, when warm days and cool evenings attract most visitors. It can even get a little cold in the winter, with the occasional nighttime temperature drop below freezing. Summer is a much different story. Count on triple-digit temps June through September, making a swimming pool or air-conditioned escape mandatory.
Don’t be frightened, though. The desert’s arid climate means you’ll actually be shivering when you emerge from a pool, and an early morning hike or round of golf means you won’t be trapped inside. It’s also the opportunity to indulge at luxury resorts for bargain prices.
© Jeff Ficker from Moon Phoenix, Scottsdale & Sedona, 1st edition