It wasn't long ago that Downtown Phoenix used to be thought of as a ghost town. Although home to various bank headquarters, law firms, and government buildings, at 5PM weekday evenings the place became quite deserted as all of the folks who worked downtown would head home. This is still relatively the case, with traffic seldom being a problem, and streets often being empty.
Downtown Phoenix is clean, with wide streets and tall, modern, solidly built buildings. At night, the stylist lighting gives the place a futuristic aura, especially around the winter holidays when the trees are lit up by electric light garlands. On the downside, shops and other small commercial establishments are rare when compared to the downtowns of San Francisco or Manhattan.
Sports anchor the scene downtown, with the Suns and Mercury playing basketball, Diamondbacks playing baseball, and for those culturally inclined, the Herberger Theatre Center, Symphony Hall, and the Arizona Science Center are all within walking distance.
Downtown Phoenix can be accessed most directly via I-10 Freeway. Drive your car to a parking lot and go it by foot from then on.
By Light Rail
The Valley Metro Light Rail runs through downtown along Central/First Ave., and along Washington/Jefferson. From Sky Harbor Airport, take the free shuttle to the light rail and then the light rail into downtown.
Downtown Phoenix is served by the highly convenient DASH buses that circle the area connecting the major attractions. DASH buses run approximately every 5-10 min until 11PM and are free.
- Arizona Science Center, 600 E Washington St, ☎ +1 602 716-2000, . 10am-5pm. This center features 350 permanent hands-on exhibits as well as regularly hosting nationally acclaimed traveling exhibits. Also features a 5-story IMAX threater and Planetarium.
- Orpheum Theatre, 203 W Adams St, ☎ +1 602 262-6225, . Be sure to take a walk around this amazing piece of historic architecture set in downtown Phoenix. Built in 1929 in the Spanish Baroque style, this building feature intricate murals and moldings.
- USS Arizona Memorial at the Arizona State Capitol, 1700 W Washington, . Pay your respects to the victims of Pearl Harbor at the Arizona State Capitol's memorial to the USS Arizona. One of the two 19,585-lb anchors of the Arizona is displayed.
- The Gallery at City Hall, 200 West Washington Street (Corner of 2nd Avenue and Washington Street), . 10AM to 2PM Monday to Friday. Free art gallery on 1st floor of Phoenix City Hall with over 1000 pieces of art on display from the city of Phoenix Municipal Art Collection which began in 1915. Free.
- Cityscape, One East Washington, ☎ 480-947-7772, . Mixed use urban project which includes retail, shopping and entertainment such as a pub, comedy club, bowling alley and various restaurants. During the holidays there is a holidays ice skating rink called Cityskate which has an admission fee which includes skate rental.
- FilmBar, 815 n 2nd Street (near Roosevelt and 2nd street), ☎ 602-595-9187, . Mon-Thur 5PM to 12AM, Friday 5PM to 2AM, Sat-1PM to 2AM, Sun-1PM to 12AM. A microcinema (70 seats) and lounge for those aged 21 and older showing mostly independent and foreign movies for $8 per ticket. The bar (no entrance fee) has 30 craft beers and 15 wines available. Tickets available online or at the bar. Listed in the Phoenix New Times as the Best Neighborhood Bar in Downtown Phoenix for 2012. $8.
The cultural, governmental, and business center of the city is Copper Square. Quickly becoming one of the southwest's most distinctive urban centers, Copper Square was built around the original Phoenix historic town site. It's boundaries extend from Fillmore to south of Jackson Street, 7th Street to 3rd Avenue. Recent and planned revitalization in Copper Square, including more than $4 billion in public and private sector development, increased arts, cultural and entertainment activity, and the presence of two state universities (ASU and U of A) and new convention center are resulting in significant physical and economic growth for the Phoenix downtown area.
Roosevelt Historic District
This area has retooled itself from a run-down, drug infested area to the epicenter of the Central Phoenix art scene. This emerging neighborhood has become home to artist live/work spaces, gallery spaces and studio spaces. Since 1994 the monthly First Friday's artwalk has grown to become the largest monthly artwalk in the U.S. Increasing interest in this area has prompted Rooselvelt Row to becoming more pedestrian-friendly and is supportive of small local independent businesses that give downtown Phoenix character.
Downtown and Central Phoenix are home to several historic neighborhoods. These range from turn of the century Victorian to mid-century modern architecture. Some of the more well-known districts include Coronado, Encanto-Palmcroft, FQ Story, Willo and Woodlea. The historic homes in these districts are private residences and not normally open to the public, but the neighborhoods are very pleasant to walk around. Some districts hold annual home tours when several houses in a neighborhood are open to the public, all covered by one ticket usually costing about $10. For example the FQ Story home tour is normally held shortly before Christmas.
- Arizona Diamondbacks, 7th St 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 decent tickets for $12.50.
- Phoenix Suns, 201 E Jefferson St, ☎ +1 800-4NBA-TIX, . Very popular NBA team featuring players such as Eric Bledsoe, Alex Len and Caron Butler. From $25.
Note that convenience stores are few and far between. For example, the closest Safeway to the Sheraton hotel is one mile away. The local equivalent to 7-11 is called "Circle K". There are some Walgreens and CVS stores, but generally, the downtown area is not very shopper friendly.
- Lawn Gnome Publishing, 905. N Fifth Street, ☎ 602-682-5825, . 10 AM to 10PM Mon thru Sat and Sun Noon to 6PM. Used bookstore that specializes in zines located in a building from the 1930's which also is a venue for open mic night every Monday from 8PM to 10PM, Storytelling every Wednesday from 8 to 10PM and poetry slam every Thursday from 8PM to 10PM. Located across the street from Lost Leaf bar.
- Alice Cooper'stown, 101 E Jackson St, ☎ +1 602 253-7337, . Alice Cooper themed sports bar with rock music and plenty of merchandise. $10.
- Pizzeria Bianca, 609 East Adams Street (SW Corner Heritage Sq, 7thSt/Monroe), ☎ (602) 528-3699, . Winner of numerous awards. The chef, Chris Bianco, no longer cooks all pies (asthma...), but is on premises most of the time. Small restaurant, expect lines at popular eating times (6:30-8pm Fri/Sat). Review at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pizzeria_Bianco. $$.
- Majerles Sports Grill, 24 N. 2nd street (located by 3rd St / Washington light rail station), ☎ 602-253-0118, . Daily from 11AM to 2AM. Sports grill and lounge owned by former pro basketball player Dan Majerle serving standard American food with happy hour from 3PM to 7PM Monday to Friday and reverse happy hour from 10PM to close with lots of tv's to watch sports.
- Portlands Restaurant and Wine Bar, 105 W Portland Street (Located by Central/Roosevelt Light Rail Station), ☎ 602-801-1652, . Mon: 430 pm - 9:00 pm, Tue - Thu: 11:00 am - 2:00 pm, 430 pm - 9:00 pm, Fri: 11:00 am - 2:00 pm, 430 pm - 12:00 am. Casual fine dining establishment serving classic American cuisine with a wine list available. Happy hour 430PM to 630PM (Mon-Fri) featuring 2$ off all glasses of wine,4$ pints of craft beer and 5$ appetizers.
- The Duce, 525 South Central Avevue, ☎ 602-866-3823, . Sunday-10AM to 6PM, Tues-Thurs 4PM to 12AM, Fri-Sat 10AM to 1AM, Closed Monday. Large warehouse with vintage design that contains a restaurant (food served from 1965 streamline trailer) serving traditional American food, soda fountain, bar serving beer and cocktails, ice cream shop, boxing ring and clothing shop.
- The Breadfruit, 108 E Pierce Street, ☎ 602-267-1266, . Monday thru Thursday 5PM to10PM Fri and Sat 5PM to 11PM for food ( 12AM for drinks). Serving Jamaican food for dinner and also has a rum bar. Happy hour Monday to Friday from 5PM to 7PM
- Matt's Big Breakfast, 825 N 1st Street, ☎ 602-254-1074, . Tuesday thru Sunday 6:30AM to 2:30PM-Closed Monday. Very popular breakfast restaurant in downtown Phoenix. In 2010 the Phoenix New Times named it the Best Breakfast in Central Phoenix.
- Uno Mas Mex1can Grill, 114 W. Adams Street, ☎ 602-252-2556, . 7 a.m.-3 p.m. weekdays. CLOSED as of 6/27/2013 Fast casual Mexican food served at budget prices in downtown Phoenix.
- My Mom's Thai Kitchen, 20 W Adams Street (between Adams and 1st Avenue), ☎ 602-252-3873, . Mon - Thu: 11:00 am - 9:00 pm, Fri - Sat: 11:00 am - 12:00 am, Sun: 4:00 pm - 9:00 pm. Serving Thai food for lunch and dinner with lunch specials Monday to Saturday from 11AM to 3PM and happy hour food specials with appetizers for 5$ from 4PM to close.
- Nobuo at Teeter House, 622 E Adams St, Phoenix, ☎ (602) 254-0600, . Tuesday thru Sunday 11am-4pm and 5:30pm-Close. Highly regarded Japanese restaurant in a renovated historic building in downtown Phoenix. The master chef is a James Beard award winner. Named as Best Japanese restaurant in 2012 by the Phoenix New Times. Serving lunch and dinner Tuesday through Sunday. Closed on Mondays.
- Squash Blossom, 705 N. 1st Street, ☎ 602-253-4606, . Cafe serving traditional American food for breakfast and lunch like Pumpkin Pie pancakes and AZ Chipotle Chicken salad. Sunday brunch is 10$ and all breakfast and lunch items listed on menu are 10$ or less.
- The Lost Leaf, 914 N. 5th Street-, ☎ 602-258-0014, . 5pm to 2am. Bar that features art and live music nightly with no cover charge. A large variety of beer and wine selections available. In 2011 the Phoenix New Times named The Lost Leaf as the best neighborhood bar in downtown Phoenix.
- The Turf Irish Pub, 705 N. 1st Street (1st Street, between Filmore and Roosevelt), ☎ 602-296-5043, . Irish pub with food and and 12 beers on tap and large variety of Irish whiskeys and single malt scotches. Happy hour Mon-Fri (4-7PM) with 1/2 off appetizers and 3.50$ well drinks, 20 ounce imperial pints for 4$ and 5$ house wine. Live music Wed thru Fri night.
- Rose and Crown Pub, 628 East Adams Street, ☎ 602-256-0223, . British pub with over 50 local and import beers and English and American food. In 2011 the Phoenix New Times named it the Best English pub in Phoenix.
- Angels Trumpet Ale House, 810 North Second Street, ☎ 602-252-2630, . Tuesday - Thursday: 3:00 pm - 12:00 am, Friday - Sat: 11:00 am - 12:00 am Sunday: 11:00 am - 11:00 pm Closed Monday. Bar and restaurant with 31 rotating craft beers on tap serving lunch and dinner. 3,000 foot patio with a diverse menu with snacks, flatbreads and and sandwiches. Listed as Phoenix's best brewpub in 2012 by the Phoenix New Times. Located 1 block from Roosevelt/Central light rail station.
- Hanny's, 40 North First Street (Southwest corner of Adams and 1st Street), ☎ 602-252-2285, . Monday through Friday, 11 a.m. to 1 a.m, Saturday and Sunday, 5 p.m.to 1 a.m.; bar open daily until 1:30 a.m.. Swanky and stylish bar and restaurant located in a historic Phoenix building constructed in the 1940's serving food such as pizza, sandwiches and salads and a variety of cocktails. 5$ classic martinis served all day.
- Bar Smith's Rooftop Lounge, 130 E. Washington St., ☎ 602-229-1265, . Mon - Thu: 11:00 am - 2:00 pm, Fri: 11:00 am - 2:00 pm, 9:30 pm - 2:00 am, Sat: 9:30 pm - 2:00 am. Downtown Phoenix bar and restaurant with Phoenix's only rooftop dance floor that attracts a young crowd. Nightclub is open Wed thru Sat.
- Crescent Ballroom, 308 N 2nd Ave, ☎ 602-716-2222, . Monday 11AM to 1AM, Thursday and Friday 11AM to 2AM, Sat 5PM to 2 AM, Sunday 5PM to 1AM. A 7000 square foot lounge, restaurant and music venue in a red brick warehouse built in 1917 which hosts live music every day. Happy hour is Monday thru Thursday from 3 to 6PM and Friday from 11AM to 6PM with 2$ PBR, 3$ wells and and 3$ local drafts. One block west of Van Buren light rail station.
- Quality Inn and Suites Downtown, 202 E McDowell Rd, ☎ +1 602 528-9100, . $50-70.
- Hyatt Regency Phoenix, 122 N Second St (&th St & Van Buren.), . Very central, across street from Convention Center. Glass elevator to 13th floor popular with locals for views. Rotating restaurant on top floor ($$$$). $100-130.
- Courtyard Phoenix Airport, 2621 S 47th St, ☎ +1 480 966-4300, . $70-120.
- Wyndham Phoenix, 50 E Adams St, ☎ +1 602 333-0000, . checkin: 4PM; checkout: noon. $80-130.
- Hostelling International Phoenix (The Metcalf House), 1026 N 9th St, ☎ +1 602 254-9803, . Office hours 8AM-10AM and 5PM-10PM; 24 hour access once checked in. Wifi available for $1. Closed during July. $21 dorms, $35-45 privates. Non-HI members charged an extra nightly $3 fee.
- Hotel Palomar, 2 East Jefferson Street, ☎ 602-253-6633, . Boutique hotel at Cityscape shopping and entertainment center with all 242 rooms having city and mountain views. 3rd floor outdoor pool and lounge which is open all year offers views of downtown Phoenix. Located 1 block from Phoenix light rail station. 119$ to 340$ (depends on time of year).
- Residence Inn Phoenix Airport, 801 North 44th Street, ☎ 1-602-273-9220, . The Residence Inn Phoenix, AZ Airport Hotel offers the convenience and comfort you need when planning an extended stay in the Phoenix Scottsdale area. We enjoy a location mere minutes from Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport with free shuttle service and downtown Phoenix is just a short drive away.
- Take the light rail to Tempe for nightlife and shopping along Mill Avenue.