Phoenix is the capital of the state of Arizona as well as the most populous city in the American Southwest and fifth largest city in the United States. Founded in 1871, it has become the region's primary political, cultural, economic, and transportation center. At an elevation of 1100 feet, it is situated in the biologically unique Sonoran Desert.
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. White settlers discovered the remnants of the Hohokam culture in the 19th century. The city's name reflects its history 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. Recent years are seeing a revival, and trendy hotels, bars, shops and restaurants are making it a place to be again.
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. As a result, a population of just 106,818 in 1950 has given way to a 2006 estimate of 1,512,986 (with the metro area estimated at 4,039,182).
English is the dominant language in Phoenix. However, like much of the Southwest with a large Hispanic population, Spanish is very widely spoken in Phoenix. Spanish is a language often used for day-to-day discourse in many places, although English is the language of preference, especially when dealing with businesses and government.
Phoenix has an arid climate with long, hot summers and very mild winters. It has the highest average temperature of any metropolitan area in the States. The weather varies enormously from one season to the next. While it's not as cold as in the northern states during the winter, it does freeze sometimes, and temperatures in the 30s (°F) are not unheard of. In the summer, very hot and dry heat is the norm. On the hottest days, it can get up to 115°F or more. Monsoon rains with lightning occur regularly from July to September during the late afternoon and evening, occasionally overnight also. April is the most ideal month. In some neighborhoods, cicada (locust-like insects) make loud sounds from sunset to sunrise.
Overview of Phoenix districts
Downtown This area spans approximately two to three square miles, with main arteries running along Central Avenue and Washington/Jefferson Streets respectively. Three out of the five tallest skyscrapers in Arizona are in Downtown Phoenix proper.
Midtown There are a handful of officially recognized and protected historic neighborhoods and a variety of cultural, performance, and sporting venues in this area of town.
West Phoenix Includes Maryvale and Estrella, this area has seen its better days and is suffering urban decline. However, a highlight in the area includes the Cricket Pavilion which is a great place to see a concert.
North Phoenix Includes Deer Valley, Desert View, North Mountain, North Gateway, and New Village. The Phoenix Mountains are located here and offer a plethora of hiking and outdoor activities.
Camelback East A very upscale area of town which contains the famous Biltmore Hotel, Papago Park, the Phoenix Zoo, and world class resorts. The surrounding area is also known to feature expensive office space, upscale stores, and luxury homes.
Ahwatukee An upscale neighborhood of Phoenix, Arizona bordered on the north by South Mountain Regional Park, on the east by I-10 and the cities of Chandler and Tempe.
See also Greater Phoenix for destinations in the sprawling Phoenix metropolitan area.
Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport (IATA: PHX) (602) 275-4958  is the main air gateway to Arizona. It is located in East Phoenix 3 miles from downtown. All major U.S. carriers serve Phoenix Sky Harbor with extensive flights to major cities across the country. Southwest Airlines and USAirways both have hubs at Sky Harbor.
Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport (IATA: AZA) 480-988-7600  is located east of Phoenix, in neighboring Mesa. It is served mainly by Allegiant Air, although Vision Airlines also offers service from North Las Vegas. Currently, this is a smaller sized airport but is in the process of being redeveloped into a major regional airport.
Phoenix Deer Valley Airport (IATA: DVT) 623-869-0975 , located just 15 miles north of Downtown Phoenix, is the busiest general aviation airport in the United States.
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. (Alternative: they may disembark at Flagstaff instead and take a bus into Phoenix from there. The Maricopa-Phoenix route, which uses taxi services, takes about an hour but one likely has to wait for the taxi after calling; the Flagstaff-Phoenix route takes three hours.)(Another alternative: disembark in Tucson and take a Greyhound bus into Phoenix; the Greyhound station in Tucson is about 5-6 blocks west of the Amtrak depot.)
Interstate 10 enters Phoenix from the south and west, and Interstate 17 comes in from the north. US Route 60 is also a major route into Phoenix from the east. Arizona State Route 87 comes in south from Payson.
Greyhound Bus Lines, 2115 E. Buckeye Rd., +1 602-389-4200, . This is a large bus terminal adjacent to Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport.
MaricopaXpress, a commuter service offering two morning inbound trips from the town of Maricopa and two afternoon outbound trips. Fares are $3.00 and under.
ProSedan. 480-203-1235 Taxi, Limousine, Bus, and Town Car Service. Authorized Phoenix airport livery service.
TUFESA Bus Lines, Bus service to/from Mexico.
Silver Spur Tours'928.226.7212 or 800.600.4006 Shuttle service to and from Flagstaff, Sedona, Williams, Grand Canyon. Mercedes built Sprinter Vans for luxurious comfort, chilled water, sodas and snacks always included. guided tours available. Guided tours, VIP pick up and tours. Luxury and Style alwas Standard.
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's 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?
Alternatively, if you're doing a tour of the Southwest, consider flying into Las Vegas and renting your car there — the taxes are much lower and doing a one-way drop off to Phoenix is generally not a problem.
Due to the high level of suburban sprawl in the city, getting anywhere on foot is almost an impossibility (especially in the hot summer). The limited options for public transportation mean that using a car will be a necessity in Phoenix.
Valley Metro. Extensive metropolitan bus system, and light rail line. The light rail line runs from north-central Phoenix, along the Central Avenue corridor, through downtown, past the airport, and to Tempe and Mesa. Passes are good for unlimited rides on light rail and buses.
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. Unless you plan to stay downtown or in a single location elsewhere, you will find that a car is very convenient in Phoenix. Surface roads in Phoenix are usually easy to navigate. The area's roads are designed around a grid system, where most roads are numbered based on their distance from the city center. Addresses also conform to the numbering of the roads around them. Nearly all streets run with the compass directions, and there's a major thoroughfare every mile in each direction. This also applies to the extended metro area, though addresses in places like Tempe and Mesa are not based on downtown Phoenix.
Heard Museum Courtyard
Individual listings can be found in Phoenix's district articles
In Phoenix-proper, see:
Arizona Science Center, 600 E. Washington St., +1 602-716-2000, . Science and Technology, along with a planetarium and IMAX theatre. Be sure to stop in and see one of the many renowned traveling exhibits that make a stop here.
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, . World famous museum celebrating Native American cultures and arts, especially those of Arizona and New Mexico. Be sure to check out the amazing collection of Hopi Kachina dolls.
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. Very fascinating look into the ancient inhabitants of the Phoenix area.
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. Free on the first friday evening of every month.
Ro Ho En Japanese Friendship Garden, 1125 N. 3rd Ave, ☎ 602-256-3204, . Tu-Su10am-3pm. Japanese-style garden with koi pond and tea house. Closed in the summer due to heat.Adults $5, Student/Senior/Military $3, Under 12 Free.
Arizona Grand Spa, 8000 S. Arizona Grand Parkway, ☎ 602-431-6484, . 9AM-8PM. Rejuvenate your mind, body & soul with a wide variety of spa treatments from this spa. Services include a salon, relaxing body treatments, hydrating facials, & “just for kids” treatments.
Arizona Grand Golf Course, 8000 S. Arizona Grand Parkway, ☎ 602-431-6480, . Awarded the Four Star Award by Golf Digest, Arizona Grand Golf Course is one of the most challenging golf courses in the Phoenix area and blends desert target golf with traditional links.
Arizona Grand Athletic Club, 8000 S. Arizona Grand Parkway, ☎ 602-431-6484, . Arizona Grand Athletic club is one of the top fitness facilities in Arizona with weight rooms, fitness classes, a heated lap pool, indoor racquetball court, golf instruction and personal training instruction.
Piestewa Peak, 2701 E. Squaw Peak Ln., (enter off of Lincoln Dr., just west of S.R. 51), . Daily 5AM-11PM (Formerly Squaw Peak) Right in the middle of Phoenix lies Phoenix Mountains Park. The park offers a strenuous one to two hour hike to the top of Piestewa Peak (elevation 2,610 feet), offering fantastic 360 degree views of the city and its surrounding environment. Especially during the hot summer months (up to 110-115 degrees F in the afternoon), use caution and bring lots of water and a hat. There is no shade and parts of the trail can be quite steep and rocky. The Park also has several picnic areas.
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., Mesa, +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!
Arizona Diamondbacks, 7th Street and Jefferson, +1 602-514-8400, . Take in a baseball game at this unique stadium. Formerly known as Bank One Ballpark (The BOB), the home of the 2001 World Champion Arizona Diamondbacks, capacity 49,033, with a retractable roof and air conditioning. You can get really decent tickets for $12.50.
Phoenix Suns, 201 East Jefferson Street, +1 800-4NBA-TIX, . Very popular NBA team featuring all-stars such as Shaq and Steve Nash. Tickets start at $25.
Arizona Cardinals, 1 Cardinals Drive Glendale, +1 623-433-7100 , . Check out the newest NFL stadium in the country named by Business Week as one of the 10 “most impressive” sports facilities on the globe due to the combination of its retractable roof and roll-in natural grass field.
Phoenix Coyotes, 9400 Maryland Avenue Glendale, +1 623-772-3800, . NHL Hockey team. Maybe you can see the world famous Wayne Gretzky since he is involved in team management.
Cactus League Spring Training Baseball, Phoenix and Surrounding Cities, . Annually February - March the Phoenix Metropolitan Area hosts 9 Major League Baseball teams for their spring training activities and exhibition games. A great way to spend the afternoon on a beautiful Arizona Spring day.
First Fridays Artwalk, Free parking at Burton Barr Central Library 1221 N. Central Ave., . On the first Friday of every month, hundreds of local art galleries, venues, and shops open up free to the public. This local tradition has been going strong since 1994 and has become the largest art walk in the United States. A great place to see and be seen.
Phoenix Film Festival, 7000 E. Mayo Blvd., Scottsdale, . The celebration takes place annually(April) in the city of Phoenix, Arizona. The festival began as a showcase for feature films made for under $1 million and short films made for under $50,000, however, it is quickly climbing its way into elite status in the film circuit due to its first class treatment of filmmakers.
Matsuri Festival, Heritage and Science Park at 7th St/Monroe ,. Annual festival each spring in downtown Phoenix celebrating Japanese culture. Martial arts, taiko drumming, bonsai, cosplay, food, fashion, music, and more.
Time-honored souvenirs from Phoenix are scorpion bolo ties and saguaro-cactus salt and pepper shakers. Look for them at various gift shops in Terminal 3 and 4 of Sky Harbor International Airport. These gift shops are also known to stock the ever-popular Cactus Candy and a wide variety of hot sauces.
Phantom Horse Grill, 8000 S. Arizona Grand Parkway, ☎ 602-438-9000, . This bright and airy American Grill at Arizona Grand Resort offers breakfast, lunch and dinner daily and features an adjacent sports bar with satellite televisions for the sports fanatic.
For cheap eats, look out for many 24-hour Mexican food places -- Filiberto's, Raliberto's and other restaurants offer a burrito the size of your forearm for less than $4.
Phoenix is a huge city, so all individual listings should be moved to the appropriate district articles, and this section should contain a brief overview. Please help to move listings if you are familiar with this city.
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.
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.
In The Scene Limousine, 645 W 24th Street Suite 102, Tempe, AZ 85282, ☎ 602-996-5466, . 24/7. If you are going out to enjoy the nightlife of Phoenix, remember that we have some of the toughest DUI laws in the entire nation - and that it is risking your life and the lives of others on the road. Order a limo, party bus sedan or SUV before you drink and drive.$66+.
Phoenix is a huge city, so all individual listings should be moved to the appropriate district articles, and this section should contain a brief overview. Please help to move listings if you are familiar with this city.
The Lodge at Sun Ridge, 12129 West Bell Road, Surprise, 1-800-337-6667, . Near Phoenix, 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. www.wikipedia.org/liger
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.
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.
Hyatt Regency Phoenix, 122 North Second Street, . Downtown hotel offering a panoramic view of the state capitol from its revolving restaurant – The Compass.
MainStay Suites at Phoenix MetroCenter, 9455 N. Black Canyon Highway, +1 602-395-0900 (fax: +1 602-395-1900), . A pet-friendly extended stay hotel located near downtown and the University of Phoenix Stadium.
The Legacy Golf Resort, 6808 South 32nd St +1 602-305-5500, . 328 luxuriously appointed oversized condominiums, all with fully equipped kitchens or sleek kitchen-bars and washer/dryers.
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.
Quality Inn and Suites Downtown, 202 East McDowell Road, +1 602-528-9100, . This hotel is conveniently located in the central business and arts district.
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 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.
Sleep Inn, 9455 N. Black Canyon Highway, +1 480-967-7100 (fax: +1 480-921-7400), . A Phoenix hotel near Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport.
Sleep Inn, 18235 N. 27th Ave, +1 602-504-1200 (fax: +1 620-504-6100), . A North Phoenix hotel near Deer Valley Airport.
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 the 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.
Arizona Grand Resort, 8000 S. Arizona Grand Parkway, +1 602-438-9000, . A luxury resort located in a desert oasis at the base of South Mountain Preserve in Arizona. This family friendly vacation resort features a championship golf course, a luxury spa, vacation villas, dining at six restaurants and The Oasis Water Park.
Royal Palms Resort & Spa, 5200 East Camelback Road, +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.
Hilton Phoenix East, 1011 West Holmes Avenue, Mesa, AZ 85210, ☎ 480-833-5555 (fax: 480-649-1886), . Welcome to the Hilton Phoenix East in Mesa – a dramatic, atrium-style hotel with a resort flair. Gently enveloped by desert terrain, our Phoenix Arizona hotel provides convenient accessibility to the many engaging activities of the Valley of the Sun. Situated in the heart of the city's fastest growing corridor, our hotel offers an equally ideal setting for business and leisure travel.
Despite being a nice vacation destination, Phoenix is a major American city and as such does contain a fair amount of violent crime. Some parts of the city (and even a few parts of some of the suburbs) should be avoided at night. Downtown Phoenix is safe during the day, but does have a problem with the homeless/transients, some of whom approach well-dressed office workers and tourists asking for spare change. If visiting downtown at night (such as a Diamondbacks or Suns game), always go with a group. South Phoenix can be unsafe in some areas.
Maryvale, a commercial/residential district on the west side of the city of Phoenix (extending north into Glendale as well), 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; however, parts of Mesa and Glendale can be dangerous at night. Some portions of Tempe, near the main campus of Arizona State University (ASU), have seen assaults in the recent past on a few university students. The ASU campus is equipped with several emergency call boxes.
The Sunnyslope area (north central city of Phoenix) has some homeless and other crime issues and should be avoided at night.
The town of Guadalupe (immediately west of Tempe and bounded by Interstate 10 on the west) is unsafe at night, but is an incredibly interesting Hispanic/Native American community to visit during the day.
In every portion of the Phoenix area, just use common sense and be aware of your surroundings.
Phoenix also has one of the highest car theft rates in the country, with a car stolen every 7 minutes. In addition, red light running is more common in Phoenix than any other city in the U.S. Use caution at every turn.
The Arizona Republic, 200 East Van Buren St., +1 602-444-8000, . The city’s main newspaper that is read throughout the city and state.
La Voz, 200 East Van Buren St., +1 602-444-8000, . A popular Spanish language newspaper published by The Arizona Republic.
The New Times, 1201 E. Jefferson., +1 602-271-0040, . A great source of independent news and information about events, music, food, etc. The closest thing Phoenix has to New York's Village Voice (and the two have recently come under common ownership).
Asian American Times, 668 N. 44th St., Suite 343,. Excellent Chinese-American newspaper with articles printed in English and Chinese.
Arizona Business Gazette, 200 E. Van Buren St., +1 602-444-7304, . Arizona business news, published weekly.
Arizona Capitol Times, 1835 W. Adams St., +1 602-253-7636, . Reports on Arizona government, politics and legislative news.
British Honorary Consulate, 2425 East Camelback Rd., Suite 1020, +1 602-515-1029
Canadian Consulate, 2415 E Camelback Rd., +1 602-508-3572
Guatemalan Consulate, 4747 N. 7th St. Suite 410, +1 602-200-3660
Honduran Consulate, 4040 E Mcdowell Rd., +1 602-273-0547
Italian Consulate, 2525 East Camelback Rd., Suite 840, +1 602-956-3334
Mexican Consulate, 1990 W Camelback Rd., Suite 110, +1 602-242-7398
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.
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