Phoenix, known as the "Valley of the Sun" for its 300 plus days of sunshine each year, is a fragmented city sprawling into many other towns and suburbs which surround it. Visitors first notice the sprawling low profile of the valley ensconced cozily within several mountain ranges on its border.
The downtown area has changed dramatically since its tired days of the 70's and 80's. With the construction of the
Phoenix is also trying to revitalize the urban center with more residential living and amenities which serve the people who live here. Two great restaurants that serve them are
Incorporating the themes of Phoenix's early history with culture and local events,
The bedroom communities of Glendale and Peoria include moderately priced homes largely developed in the 1970s and they primarily remain residential areas. Most people find their entertainment and shopping needs at the
The growing west side continues to spread outward into other communities such as Buckeye and Surprise, however the town with the most charm would be Glendale. Most visitors go to
Largely comprised of low-cost housing and shared lots with the farming industry, the area of South Phoenix has somewhat of a reputation for violence and poverty. However, the upscale community of Ahwatukee is a notable exception. Ahwatukee residents are mostly older adults and urban professionals who shuffle around the city for work, and as such there is not a tremendous amount of attractions here.
This area is mostly residential, with upscale apartments that coexist with middle class housing. For some of the best views of Phoenix, be sure to take the
North & Northwest Phoenix
Further north, visitors can find the tranquil towns of Cave Creek and Anthem. And further northwest, you will find Peoria and the communities of Sun City, Sun City West and Surprise. Most of these towns are filled with golf courses and retirees. However, for other recreation, hikers will enjoy the White Tank Mountain Regional Park.
Bordering Phoenix to the east is the neighborhood of Paradise Valley, which draws middle to upper class residents because of its beautiful desert location in the foothills of
Located south of Scottsdale, Tempe is primarily a college town and the home of
Continuing east we find Mesa, Chandler and Gilbert. All bedroom communities that are primarily filled with families and strip-malls. Most of the area aside from Mesa remained largely agricultural communities until a growth spurt of housing which began in the 1980s and continues to this day.
While many of our American counterparts are shoveling snow and battling the flu, Phoenicians are attending outdoor concerts, strolling around neighborhood art and wine festivals, and barbecuing poolside. It is for these reasons that the winter is considered "high season" by resorts and hotels in Phoenix. Accommodations range from luxury to budget, with most offering pools and whirlpools. The highest concentrations of resorts in the Phoenix area are located in three areas: Downtown Phoenix, Scottsdale and North-Central Phoenix near the Metrocenter Mall.
Downtown Phoenix, primarily a financial and government district, is the home of City Hall. Cultural activities and night life are centered in Copper Square and the Arizona Center. Home to some of the most luxurious accommodations in Maricopa County, the Crowne Plaza is the best place to stay downtown. The Mediterranean theme extends from the public areas to each one of the elegantly appointed guest rooms. Room appointments are aimed at making life easier for business people. Facilities include a fitness room, swimming pool and a jogging track. Another good choice downtown is the Hotel San Carlos. This beautiful Italian Renaissance style hotel offers European luxury. Hollywood's Golden Age movie icons are said to have frequented this posh spot with its rooftop swimming pool.
The Hyatt Regency's sky-high rooms offer incredible views of Arizona sunsets combined with the excitement of downtown city lights. Fine American cuisine is available at the on site Compass Restaurant, which features an outstanding 360 degree view of the city below. Following along Interstate-10 near Tempe, you'll find excellent accommodation at the Radisson Hotel at University with its six-story waterfall. Other facilities with freeway access include the Buttes or the Pointe South Mountain Resort which offer both lovely views and elegant dining experiences.
The area along Camelback Road between 24th Street and 44th Street is Phoenix's upscale shopping, business and residential district. It is home to the Biltmore Fashion Park shopping mall, an upscale enclave of shopping and dining choices. The history and sophisticated elegance of the Arizona Biltmore Resort and Spa places it head and shoulders above all of the hotels and resorts in the Phoenix area. Reminiscent of Frank Lloyd Wright's style, resort rooms are large and delightfully comfortable and include patios or balconies. Tee off on the 18-hole golf courses, or take to the water in one of five swimming pools.
Other first rate accommodations in the east valley include The Ritz-Carlton Phoenix, the lovely Royal Palms and the Embassy Suites-Phoenix Biltmore, widely recognized for its gorgeous pink exterior. A few miles to the east you'll find the premium facilities at the Phoenician Resort, complete with golf and fine dining.
Near the Metrocenter Mall, off Interstate 17, you'll find a host of lodging located near shopping and dining. Choose the Four Points by Sheraton or the newer Sheraton Crescent Hotel, both of which offer many amenities and a convenient location. If you need a longer stay, try the new Hawthorn Suites or the SpringHill Suites, which have services suitable for extended accommodation.
Swanky accommodations are also available a little further east on Resort Row in Scottsdale, which is known as "the West's most Western town." Resort Row is the name given to the portion of Scottsdale Road that extends between Indian School Road and Shea Boulevard. Excellent shopping can be found at the distinctive Borgata. Stay in top notch accommodations at Scottsdale Plaza Resort or Marriott's new Renaissance Cottonwoods. Premium lakeside facilities, as well as golf with a view, can be enjoyed at the Regal McCormick Ranch.
The Inn At The Citadel has managed to distinguish itself among its counterparts. The antique and original art in each of rooms gives visitors the feeling that their room was designed especially for them. The large bathrooms are marbled, with lace shower curtains. Additional resorts, also with superior surroundings and amenities include the Doubletree La Posada Resort and the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess in Scottsdale. The Scottsdale Princess features tennis courts and extensive conference facilities. Play at the beautiful TPC course here, which is home to the annual Phoenix Open Golf Tournament.
As one of the fastest growing cities in the nation, Phoenix offers a constantly changing mix of entertainment for its swelling population. Whether your tastes run to gourmet dining, championship golfing or rocketing in circles on a double loop roller coaster, this city will not disappoint you.
Arizona is a state of contrasts, from the saguaro dotted desert to the snow capped peaks of Flagstaff to the awe-inspiring vistas of the Grand Canyon. Likewise, the area offers a virtual cornucopia of exciting attractions. The focal point of downtown Phoenix is Copper Square. Encompassing a full square mile of entertainment with venues such as US Airways Center, which offers exciting sporting events featuring local teams such as the Phoenix Suns and Coyotes. Chase Field offers Diamondbacks games and features the only retractable roof in the world. Seek the cool green of one of Phoenix's many world class golf courses like the preeminent Tournament Players Club of Scottsdale. Float high over the valley on a hot air balloon from the Unicorn Balloon Company or for a more rapid pace visit the fastest one-mile oval in the world at the Phoenix International Raceway.
Enjoy the Arizona outdoors with a scenic hike up Echo Canyon Trail on Camelback Mountain. Take an excursion to Goldfield Ghost Town where you can try to unravel the secrets of the Lost Dutchman's Mine. Visit ancient Indian cliff dwellings at the five-story pueblo, Montezuma's Castle or saddle up for a real cowboy experience at Trail Horse Adventures and hit the trail on horseback. If your idea of the Wild West requires a gunfight, hitch your pony at Rawhide Western Town where Roughriders still tote six-shooters and settle differences with a fast draw.
Museums and Galleries
If culture is what you seek, Phoenix's museum circuit is as diversified as its population. Internationally acclaimed Heard Museum showcases culture and art of the Southwest's various Native American tribes. The Phoenix Museum of History explores the city's early days, from its rise in the 1860s through the fight for statehood. For a more participatory view of these early days, visit the Pioneer Arizona Living History Museum, a 90-acre pioneer town where costumed interpreters recreate life in the Arizona Territory of the mid 1800s.
Browse through abundant galleries showcasing the talents of artists around the globe. Visit the Phoenix Art Museum where significant art pieces from a variety of cultural styles are displayed with remarkable innovation. View the exquisite bronze sculptures highlighting a trip to the Legacy Gallery in Old Town Scottsdale. Then the Musical Instrument Museum (MIM) has a collection of 10,000 musical instruments as well as multimedia exhibits.
The performing arts are alive and well in Blockbuster Desert Sky Pavilion which features hillside seating and hosts concerts. The beautiful Herberger Theater Center offers a refreshing mix of dramas, comedies, and musicals. The Phoenix Symphony performs over 160 concerts a year and the historic Orpheum Theater showcases a variety of performing arts throughout the year.
If your idea of theater involves popcorn, the thrill of IMAX technology is rarely equaled for quality, or go for quantity at the gargantuan AMC Deer Valley 30. For a nostalgic experience, pull into the Scottsdale 6 Drive-In and snuggle up with your sweetheart.
For kids of all ages there are roller coasters and video games galore at Castles and Coasters. Across town, Gameworks pushes the technological envelope with the latest in interactive video games. Jeepers has rides, games and challenges for the smaller tykes, while bigger folk can indulge in shoot 'em up action with a sci-fi twist at Stratum Light Speed Entertainment Center.
Adult gamers might prefer the action at the brand new Casino Arizona, featuring slots and Las Vegas style entertainment. Dogs they've got; at Phoenix Greyhound Park or bet the ponies at Turf Paradise. If you can't make it to the track, try the off-track betting and great beer at Padre Murphy's. Or chalk up your stick and head north to Pink E's, an adult only pool hall with more games than you can shake your cue at.
If shopping is more your style, Phoenix can accommodate that as well. At the Arizona Center, you will find dining, dancing, and superb shopping! The Biltmore Fashion Park features world class shopping with such stores as Neiman Marcus, Gucci, and Saks Fifth Avenue. Shop in style at the upscale Scottsdale Fashion Square or seek forgotten treasures in the gargantuan Brass Armadillo.
Besides the trendy mall scene, Phoenix is ripe with specialty shops and independent stores. Wander through Juttenhoops, a unique gift shop that claims to carry "everything fun." Looking for adventure? Sort the treasure from the trash and see what kind of deals you can barter at the Phoenix Park and Swap. Search through a sea of bargain imports such as Belgian Chocolates and Bali Basketry at the Cost Plus World Imports.
As late as the 1980s, the Valley of the Sun was considered more a culinary wasteland than a capital of cuisine. Outside of a few upscale resort eateries, dining options for desert dwellers were mainly of the steak and potatoes variety. In 1986, a revolutionary restaurant, Vincent Guerithault on Camelback, started an evolution in eating in Greater Phoenix. The work of local chefs, including Lenard Rubin's medley of Mediterranean and Arizona flavors at Medizona, have transformed the city into a unique dining haven.
The Arizona Center, in downtown's Copper Square, offers everything from a fast food court and clubs to more upscale offerings at Lombardi's and A League Of Our Own. For a pint of porter, pop into downtown's original Irish pub, Seamus McCaffrey's, at the Hotel San Carlos. Phoenix Suns fans, and sometimes players, often frequent Majerle's Sports Grill, opened by former Suns star Dan Majerle. Alice Cooper'stown is a mind-blowing mix of rock 'n roll revelry and sports bar, and features regular live concerts.
In Midtown, you'll find a super selection of comfortable neighborhood places to dine. Barrio Cafe offers award winning Mexican cuisine and has created its own niche in the city's dining scene. Tutti Santi is another great dining choice, with great Italian.
Scattered among the galleries in the downtown arts district are some true dining treasures. Don & Charlie's has been a fine dining fixture in the neighborhood. Some of the hottest clubs can be found here too, including the glitzy, high energy Axis/Radius, Madison's and Martini Ranch. Go back to the big band era at the Famous Door or catch a live musical act at Cajun House.
Along the main drag of Scottsdale Road you'll find a "parkway for the palate." Scottsdale Fashion Square offers several fine restaurants including P.F. Chang's popular Chinese. Cosmopolitan cowboys seek out Rancho Pinot Grill, hidden away in a plaza at Lincoln and Scottsdale Road. At the Bastille-like Borgata, award-winning Chef Donna Nordin serves up Arizona edibles at Cafe Terra Cotta. Right across the street is the ultimate upscale steakhouse, Fleming's Prime. La Locanda, touted as one of the best Italian restaurants in all of Scottsdale, and Seasons is a find for its ever-changing menu and super selection of Sonoma wines.
New restaurants springing up at Bell and Scottsdale roads include a second helping of Carlos O'Brien's popular Sonoran-style Mexican cuisine and Coyote Grill, an attractive and appetizing southwestern cafe. Ambling on, plan to spend a few hours at Rawhide Western Town and try the rattlesnake (yes, it's really rattlesnake) at the Golden Belle Steakhouse & Saloon. Further north, new and exciting eating establishments include Restaurant Oceana, which offers fresh fish to eager desert dwellers. Michael Monti's specializes in top quality steaks and seafood and the Cantina del Pedregal offers dramatic views and a lively atmosphere.
You can always count on a college town to have an active party scene and Tempe is no exception. Mill Avenue and University Drive are ground zero for the East Valley's nightlife. The subterranean Beeloe's is a combination cafe, gallery and concert venue with live music. Gordon Biersch Brewing Company, named the 1998 Valley's Best Brew Pub by the Phoenix New Times, is as popular for its people-watching as its microbrews. True to its name, The Bash on Ash is a warehouse-sized "animal house." Nutrition and environment conscious noshers will find a variety of eats available, including macrobiotic munchies at In Season Deli, Israeli at Sabuddy and Ethiopian at Cafe Lalibela.
Mesa, Chandler and Gilbert form the "bedroom communities" of the East Valley, but in terms of dining they are by no means sleepy. A whole world of ethnic cuisines awaits visitors, including Arisoo Korean, Zur Kate German cuisine and more appetizing options. For fine dining, Mahogany Run in Gilbert has quickly become an acclaimed destination.
Centered at 24th Street and Camelback, this could be called the culinary vortex of the Valley. Many of the area's top restaurants are located here. Biltmore Fashion Park is home to the renowned Bamboo Club and Che Bella. As you head east, several standout steakhouses—Ruth's Chris, Omaha Steakhouse and Harris'—can be found. Marco Polo and Havana Café will take you on a whirl-wind world tour of upscale ethnic food.
This is the place where you'll find simple, satisfying food at bargain prices. Try triple-decker sandwiches at the New Yorker or aromatic dolmathes at the Golden Greek. Dillon's, one of the Valley's younger restaurants with an already huge following, serves up fine Iowa corn-fed pork.
Country cooking and country music go hand in hand. Kick up yer heels and "Electric Slide" on over to Mr. Lucky's, one of the Valley's authentic cowboy dance clubs. Mr. Lucky's even has live bull riding in an outdoor rodeo arena.