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Phoenix, Arizona

Local Details

Learn more about Phoenix, Arizona using the City Guide below. Plan a trip, find local shopping centers, or just discover what makes Phoenix, Arizona so great!

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City Guide

Founded in 1871, Phoenix is the capital of the state of Arizona. At an elevation of 1100 feet, it is situated in the biologically unique Sonoran Desert.

Understand

Why would anybody want to start a city in the middle of a desert? The answer is, surprisingly, agriculture. The Salt and Verde Rivers of central Arizona were exploited for large-scale agriculture by Native Americans as early as the 11th century. The area that now encompasses Phoenix was a center of the Hohokam culture, which built large canal systems and a network of towns and villages, whose remains may be viewed in the city to this day. The city's name reflects its status as a city "reborn from the ashes" of the previous settlement.

Anglo-American settlement of the area commenced in the 1860s, and in 1911 the completion of the first of several large reservoirs in the mountains north and east of Phoenix insured its success as a center for irrigation-based agriculture. Many tens of thousands of acres were planted in citrus and cotton and other crops, and for many years intensive, year-round irrigated agriculture formed the basis of the economy.

Climate Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Daily highs (°F) 65 69 74 83 92 102 104 102 97 86 73 65
Nightly lows (°F) 43 47 51 58 66 75 81 80 75 63 50 44
Precipitation (in) 0.8 0.8 1.1 0.3 0.2 0.1 1.0 0.9 0.8 0.8 0.7 0.9

Warm and sunny winter weather also ensured a thriving tourism industry, and encouraged many easterners and midwesterners to relocate to Phoenix. High-tech industry began to flourish after World War II, and since that time the growth of Phoenix has been explosive, rising from a population of just 106,818 in 1950 to today's figure of well over 1,300,000 and metro area of over 3,250,000.

The Arizona Republic is Phoenix's major daily newspaper. Besides news, it provides detailed community info, including an events calendar.

Get in

By plane

Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport (PHX) serves as a hub for Southwest Airlines and US Airways; is also served by Air Canada, Westjet, British Airways, American Airlines, Midwest Airlines, jetBlue Airways, Hawaiian Airlines, Northwest Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Frontier Airlines, Sun Country Airlines, Continental Airlines, United Airlines, Alaska Airlines, and Great Lakes Aviation.

By train

Due to a dispute among the Arizona Department of Transportation, the Union Pacific Railroad, and Amtrak, passenger train service to Phoenix has been discontinued. Amtrak passengers may disembark at Maricopa, Arizona (25 miles south of Phoenix) and arrange their own travel into the city. No regular shuttle service currently exists.

By car

Interstate 10 from the south and west, and Interstate 17 from the north. US Route 60 is also a major route into Phoenix from the east. The AZ Route 87 comes in from Payson.

By bus

  • Greyhound Bus Lines, 2115 E. Buckeye Rd., +1 602-389-4200, This is a large bus terminal adjacent to Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport.
  • TUFESA Bus Lines, Bus service to/from Mexico.

Get around

Renting a car like a local

The new Car Rental Facility for the Phoenix Airport is just west of the airport itself. National polls have shown that Phoenix is the 4th highest city in terms of surcharges in the nation. Car rental companies are required to add 29% (no decimal point, that is twenty nine percent) to your bill to pay for this state of the art building. Take a cab to a local office of a car rental company. Do not tell them you are flying in. That way you are a "local rental" and do not have to pay some of the surcharges that are automatic if you rent at the car rental building at the airport. The surcharges finance everything from the local jails to the new Cardinals Stadium. The cab will likely be $25, but the surcharges for a $499 weekly rental will take your bill upwards of $650 and more. That cab looks a little cheaper now, doesn't it?

  • Valley Metro Extensive metropolitan bus system, soon to be supplemented by a light rail system.
  • Freeways. Extensive network of freeways, most built since 1987. Caution: Heavy construction on some segments and interchanges continues. Check construction schedules and closures in the local media.
  • Car rental is the most convenient form of transportation for visitors, with local companies offering better prices but national chains offering more convenience vis-a-vis return policies and times.

Car rental companies include:

  • Alamo Rent A Car, Toll free: 1-800-462-5266,
  • Avis Rent A Car, Toll free: 1-800-331-1212,
  • Budget Rent A Car, Toll free: 1-800-527-0700,
  • Dollar Rent A Car, Toll free: 1-800-800-3665,
  • E-Z Rent-A-Car, Toll free: 1-800-277-5171,
  • Enterprise Rent-A-Car, Toll free: 1-800-261-7331,
  • Hertz Car Rental, Toll free: 1-800-654-3131,
  • Thrifty, Toll free: 1-800-847-4389.

See

The touristy core of Phoenix is the Old Town, to the east of Scottsdale Rd between Camelback Rd and Osborn Rd. It's undeniably kitschy, with well over half the shops being gift shops, but fun enough for a browse in a Disneyland-y way. Across the road to the west of Scottsdale Rd is the Scottsdale Art District, chock-a-block with art galleries selling art not just from Phoenix, but all over the world.

  • Arizona Science Center, 600 E. Washington St., +1 602-716-2000, Science and Technology, along with a planetarium.
  • Desert Botanical Garden, 1201 N. Galvin Pkwy., +1 480-941-1225, Plant life of the Sonoran Desert, and of arid lands around the world.
  • Heard Museum, 2301 North Central Av., +1 602-252-8848, Celebrating Native American cultures and arts, especially those of Arizona and New Mexico.
  • Pueblo Grande Museum and Archaeological Park, 4619 E. Washington Street, +1 602-495-0901, M-Sa 9AM-4:45PM, Su 1PM-4:45PM. The US's only city-operated archaeological site, exploring and interpreting the pre-Columbian Hohokam civilization.
  • Phoenix Art Museum, 1625 N. Central Avenue, +1 602-257-1222, Tu-Su 10AM-5PM (Th until 9PM). 16,000 artworks with an emphasis on American, Asian, Latin American, and modern and contemporary.

Do

  • Piestewa Peak, 2701 E. Squaw Peak Ln., (enter off of Lincoln Dr., just west of Rt. 51), Daily 5AM-11PM (Formerly Squaw Peak) Right in the middle of Pheonix lies Pheonix Mountains Park. The park offers an easy one hour hike to Piestewa Peak, offering fantastic 360 degree views of the city and its surrounding environment. The Park also has several picnic areas.
  • Chase Field, 7th Street and Jefferson, +1 602-514-8400, Formerly known as Bank One Ballpark (The BOB), the home of the National League Arizona Diamondbacks, capacity 49,033, with a retractable roof and air conditioning. You can get really decent tickets for $12.50.
  • Arizona Science Center, 600 East Washington St., +1 602-716-2000, Hands-on science for kids and grown-ups, modeled on San Francisco's Exploratorium.
  • Phoenix Symphony, 455 North 3rd Street, +1 602-495-1999, The city's classical and pops orchestra, presenting a 25-week season of concerts.
  • Arizona Opera, 4600 North 12th Street, +1 602-266-7464, Presenting a season of five grand opera productions, with emphasis on Verdi, Puccini, and Mozart.
  • Arizona Theatre Company, Professional theater in downtown Phoenix's Herberger theater complex.
  • Mesa Arts Center, 1 East Main St., +1 480-644-6500, Visit the newly constructed and award winning MAC. Home of contemporary art displays and studios, as well as the Southwest Shakespeare Company and the Mesa Symphony Orchestra.
  • Desert Storm Hummer Tours, 1-866-374-8637, Since 1995, Desert Storm Hummer has specialized in Sonoran Desert adventures. If you are truly adventurous, experience the dark side of the desert. Night vision tours let you witness desert life after dark!

Learn

  • Arizona State University, Located in the eastern suburb of Tempe, with three branch campuses around the Phoenix metro area, ASU is one of the largest public universities in the United States and is noted for its engineering, business, music, and creative writing programs. It's law program is currently ranked around 43 in the nation.
  • Maricopa Community Colleges, Largest system of community colleges in the United States, with 10 campuses in the metro Maricopa County area; numerous community and adult education programs.
  • Phoenix School of Law, New law school, relatively open admissions policy.

Work

Buy

Time-honored tchotchkes from Phoenix are scorpion bolo ties and saguaro-cactus salt and pepper shakers. Look for them at the various airport gift shops.

Eat

Budget

  • La Fonda Mexican Food, 1126 N. Scottsdale Rd., Tempe, +1 480-966-8001. La Fonda is a great restaurant if you're looking for Mexican food. The problem with posting this restaurant in the budget section is that many will instantly assume that the food is mediocre. The food is excellent, and the atmosphere is friendly; good pricing is an added benefit, not a factor.
  • Guedo's Taco Shop, 71 E. Chandler Blvd., Chandler, +1 480-899-7841. Located in one of the eastern suburbs, Guedo's boasts a fanatical following... and for good reason. It's a simple formula -- superb soft tacos and Mexican beer, served in a hole-in-the-wall place with plenty of character. A salsa bar offers a choice of scratch-made and bottled sauces, ranging from mild to torrid. The cooks may sing Mexican ballads or pop songs while going about their work; your name will be called out when your order is ready. Some locals maintain that they have no interest in going to heaven if it doesn't include Guedo's.
  • Pete's Fish and Chips, 22 S. Mesa Dr., Mesa, +1 480-964-7242, Eight other locations in the Phoenix Valley. Forget the tartar sauce -- "Pete's special sauce" is to die for. Family owned and operated since 1947. Only cash is accepted.
  • Also look out for many 24-hour Mexican food places -- Filiberto's, Raliberto's and other restaruants offer a burrito the size of your forearm for less than $4.

Mid-range

  • Los Dos Molinos, 8646 S. Central Ave., (602) 243-9113. Sonoran-style dominates Phoenix-area Mexican cookery, but Los Dos celebrates the cuisine of the Rio Grande Valley -- which means lots of very hot chiles. This long-established and highly regarded restaurant is a must for all true chile-heads. Reservations not accepted.
  • Matta's, 932 E. Main St., Mesa, +1 480-964-7881. The Mexican restaurant on the east side of town since 1953, hosted by the Matta family. Nice atmosphere with strolling mariachis in the evening.
  • Old Town Tortilla Factory, 6910 E. Main Street, +1 480-945-4567, Modern Southwest cooking with Sonoran touches. Try the Red Chile Pork Chop, with an unlikely but tasty ancho-raspberry sauce. Patio seating, heated in winter, misted in summer. Daily 5PM-11PM, but reservations only accepted for groups of 6 or more, so prepare to wait (preferably in the adjacent tequillaria). $30.
  • Phoenicia Cafe, 616 S. Forest Ave., Tempe, +1 480-967-8009, (From central Phoenix, take AZ 202 -- the Red Mountain Freeway -- east to the Scottsdale Road exit, make a right on Scottsdale Road, which becomes Rural Road once you cross the bridge. Make a right on University Ave., then a right on Forest Ave. The cafe will be on the left just past Sixth Street.) Delicious Mediterranean and Middle Eastern food. Relatively small and often packed, esp. while the university nearby is in session. Try the baba ghannouge (eggplant dip) and the baklava, made from scratch. There is also an attached small Middle Eastern grocery that has great prices, especially on spices, Middle Eastern/Mediterranean deli items, and bulk olive oil. Very good service and friendly atmosphere. Restricted hours June to September, call ahead to check. $15.

Splurge

  • Mastro's Steak House, 8852 E. Pinnacle Peak Rd., Scottsdale, +1 480-585-9500, is actually located in north Scottsdale, but if you're willing to spend the money, you're probably willing to drive as well. Mastro's also has a restaurant in Beverly Hills, with a plethora of well-known visitors that frequent it. Call ahead, as you'll most likely need a reservation.
  • Eddie V's Edgewater Grill, 20875 N. Pima Rd., Scottsdale, +1 480-538-8468. Eddie V's is very close to Mastro's (about 10 minutes), meaning it's also in Scottsdale. The food is great, and Eddie's has something for everyone, in comparison to the meat-centrism of common steakhouses. (try the Parmesan encrusted sol... mmmmm.) Call ahead for a reservation.

Drink

  • Casey Moores, 850 S. Ash Ave., Tempe, +1 480-985-9935. Situated in an older ASU residential neighborhood, this oyster joint serves a plethora of food and brews. $3 draft specials every night. While most nights will be fairly busy, expect weekends to be especially crowded. Popular with young 20-somethings and smartly academic types.

Sleep

Budget

  • The Lodge at Sun Ridge, 12129 West Bell Road, Surprise, 1-800-337-6667, The Lodge at Sun Ridge, near Phoenix, Arizona, is conveniently located between the three Sun Cities in the Northwest Phoenix valley, offers an unbelievable opportunity to enjoy the splendor of Arizona at incredibly affordable prices.
  • HI-Phoenix (The Metcalf House), 1026 North 9th Street, +1 602-254-9803, Beds start at $18 per night. Closed during the months of July and August.

Mid-range

  • AmeriSuites Phoenix North, 10838 N. 25th Ave, +1 602-997-8800, Located just north of downtown Phoenix and a short distance from the new Glendale Arena and Cardinals Football Stadium.
  • Embassy Suites Biltmore Hotel, 2630 E. Camelback Rd., +1 602-955-3992, Next to the Biltmore Fashion Park offering over 70 shops and 14 restaurants. The Phoenix Airport is just eight miles away.
  • Phoenix Inn Suites, 2310 E Highland Ave, +1 602-956-5221, All suite accommodations with complimentary breakfast buffet, high speed internet, and 24 hr. business center.
  • Phoenix Vacation Homes, S.W. Phoenix, +1 480-221-4776, Condo and Golf House accommodations with all the luxuries of home, 52" Big Screens, Granite Tops, in the Heart of the city. Starting at $150 per night depending on season.
  • Ramada Plaza Hotel at Phoenix MetroCenter, 12027 N. 28th Drive, +1 602-866-7000 (fax: +1 602-866-7000), A 170-room hotel by Phoenix MetroCenter Mall. Features wedding reception packages, conference room floor plans and Phoenix area guide and tours.
  • Sheraton Crescent Hotel, 2620 W. Dunlap Ave., +1 602-943-8200. Located in the heart of Phoenix's bustling high-tech commerce corridor and 30 minutes from Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport, the Sheraton Crescent Hotel is also close to the MetroCenter Mall, NHL hockey at the Glendale Arena, and baseball spring training at the Peoria Sports Complex.
  • SpringHill Suites Downtown, 802 E. Van Buren St, +1 602-307-9929, All-suite hotel with microwave, fridge, free wired/wireless internet in every room. Pool, small gym, free breakfast, free airport shuttle. From $150.
  • Wyndham Phoenix Hotel, 50 E. Adams St., +1 602-333-0000, Only a short walk from Phoenix's convention center, shops and restaurants at the Arizona Center and Collier Center, America West Arena, Bank One Ballpark, the Herberger and Orpheum Theaters, Symphony Hall, and the Dodge Theatre.

Splurge

  • Scottsdale Vacation Homes, Old Town Scottsdale, +1 480-221-4776, 2 to 3 Bedroom Condo and Golf House accommodations with all the luxuries of home, 52" Big Screens, Granite Tops, Knotty Alder doors, Brazilian Slate Stone tile, in the Heart of the city. Starting at $199 per night depending on season.
  • Fairmont Scottsdale Princess, 7575 E. Princess Dr., Scottsdale, +1 602-585-4848. The Princess is an excellent hotel/spa for anyone. Pools a plenty, and much to do; swimming, fishing, golf, tennis, or enjoying time at the spa -- you can't go wrong at the Princess. The area that surrounds it is also very nice, in close proximity to Mastro's and Eddie V's restaurants. $200-400.
  • Pointe South Mountain Resort, 7777 South Pointe Parkway, +1 602-438-9000, A luxury resort located in a desert oasis at the base of South Mountain Preserve in Arizona. The family friendly vacation resort features championship golf, athletic club & spa, dining at six restaurants and The Oasis Water Park.
  • Royal Palms Resort & Spa, 5200 East Camelback Road, Phoenix, +1 602-840-3610, The resort is situated at the base of Camelback Mountain, between the Biltmore area and downtown Scottsdale, 7 miles from Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport. The luxury resort features 119 rooms in a variety of configurations: casitas, luxury guest rooms, spa suites, and villas. The resort also features a luxury spa, dining options and meeting & event facilities.

Stay safe

Despite being a nice vacation destination, Phoenix does contain a fair amount of violent crime. Some parts of the city should be avoided at night. Downtown is safe during the day, but does have a problem with transients. If visiting downtown at night (such as a Diamondbacks or Suns game), always go with a group. South Phoenix has a gang problem and can be unsafe in some areas (though there is not much to see anyway). Maryvale in the west valley and should be avoided at almost all times unless there is a specific reason to go there. Most of the suburban areas are safe during day and night. Parts of Mesa and Glendale can be dangerous at night. The Sunnyslope area (north central Phoenix) has some issues and should be avoided at night. The town of Guadalupe is unsafe at night, but is an incredibly interesting hispanic community to visit during the day. Just use common sense and be aware of your surroundings.

Cope

The Phoenix Public Library is available to satisfy your reading jones.

Get out

If you would like to visit areas outside of the Phoenix metropolitan area, you might want to check out Tucson, Las Vegas, or San Diego. For cooler weather, head up to I-17 to Flagstaff or Sedona.

A good option for a day trip, or longer, out of Phoenix is a drive north to Sedona. If you have three days or more, head out to Las Vegas via Monument Valley and the Grand Canyon.

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Goods & Services in Phoenix, Arizona.

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