Also known as the Valley of the Sun, the greater Phoenix area is the nation’s fifth largest city and one of the fastest growing regions. Encompassing 20 cities, it’s spread across 2,000 square miles, offering big city perks but with plenty of room to move and even more to see. Despite what many may think of the desert weather, Phoenix’s average annual temperature is a mild 72.6 degrees, even with it receiving more sunshine than any other metro area in the country. But with low humidity, even the sunniest of summer days are able to be enjoyed. Its great weather makes it the favored destination for almost any outdoor activity like golfing and hiking, a testament to the 16 million leisure visitors who make their way to the Valley of the Sun each year.
Time to Visit
While it goes without saying that the summer months are toasty, the remainder of the year offers the nation’s best patio weather, with winter and spring drawing the largest crowds. In fact, many midwest residents even spend the cold months living in Phoenix. To visit during the city’s most exciting time of year, plan to come late January through April when the mild weather is in full swing and popular sporting events like Spring Training and the Phoenix Open take place. For savings, summer is a great time to make a visit. The bevy of pools and resort deals make a five-star experience super affordable and since many locals flee town, there’s considerably less crowds. Late summer days brings Monsoon weather when you can expect the year’s highest humidity with rain showers and dust storms in the day and thunderstorms in the evening. During the fall months, don’t expect changing leaves, but instead pool-approved days with cooler evenings to balance it out. Even in winter, the highs only top out at an average 67 degrees with plenty of sunshine to go around.
Every January, Scottsdale is one of just four venues to play host to Barrett-Jackson, a week-long auction of vintage and exotic cars that draws spectators of all kinds. Perhaps one of the most unique events to Arizona and the world of golf, the Waste Management Phoenix Open is easily the most lively stop on the PGA Tour and like no other golf tournament you’ll ever experience. Most notably the 16th hole is a raucous party and has become an iconic bucket list item for locals. The tournament is complemented by the Coors Light Birds Nest, a lineup of nightly concerts from an eclectic mix of chart-topping artists. The Scottsdale Arabian Horse Show follows in February whose historic event held its first show at the Arizona Biltmore in 1965 and now takes place at Scottsdale’s WestWorld. The year’s most notable event to enjoy however is Spring Training, when the MLB’s Cactus League descends on the sunny state for more than a month of ball games. Other popular yearly happenings include the Scottsdale Polo Championships in the fall, NASCAR’s March and November events at ISM Raceway and the Fiesta Bowl, one of college football’s major bowl games held in Glendale.
Things To Do
Hiking is one of the most popular outdoor activities among locals and visitors alike. At the top of any list is Camelback Mountain, the iconic climb located in central Scottsdale. Golfing is also a major past time with nearly 200 courses to tee up at. Score killer deals on some of the state’s nicest courses during the summer months. Other great outdoor activities include hot air balloon rides, cycling and exploring desert trails. For a little rest and relaxation, Scottsdale is known for its great spa scene. Many of these desert oases infuse Southwestern ingredients and traditions into their treatments. And for retail therapy, guests will find shopping that rivals that of Rodeo Drive. Even architecture buffs will revel in Frank Lloyd Wright’s former winter home Taliesin West and the influence he had on some of the Valley’s most iconic structures and buildings. Phoenix also boasts all four Major League sports teams including the NFL’s Arizona Cardinals, NBA’s Phoenix Suns, MLB’s Arizona Diamondbacks and NHL’s Phoenix Coyotes, so there’s always a game to attend.
Where to Go
Since Phoenix encompasses so many cities, there’s plenty of options when it comes to choosing where to stay and play. Scottsdale is perhaps the most popular with something for every age and every type of trip. North Scottsdale particularly is where you’ll find the best golfing, five-star resorts and exquisite dining. Old Town Scottsdale, located in the center of the town offers a historic slice of the city, plus the state’s best nightclub and bar scene and luxury shopping including Scottsdale Fashion Square, a destination in its own right. Tempe is home to the Arizona State Sun Devils and offers a typical college town experience. For the best place to experience college game day, head to Mill Avenue, home to sports bars and Sun Devil hangouts. Downtown Phoenix is an urban destination where you’ll find the homes for the Phoenix Suns and Arizona Diamondbacks. The area is also becoming a hub for dining with some of the best chefs and mixologists opening must-visit venues. There’s plenty of speakeasy bars, local boutiques and endless art galleries and shops. This area is also great for LGBTQ travelers, with plenty of pride-friendly businesses, attractions and events. Central Phoenix is another great area to find local restaurants, boutiques and history, all with a neighborhood feel. Other major cities include Chandler, Mesa, Gilbert and Glendale, home to the Arizona Cardinals and Phoenix Coyotes.