Phoenix is located in an area with a rich history and stunning natural beauty. These five day trips will help you take advantage of them.
1. Go Grand: The South Rim of the Grand Canyon is open all year; the North Rim is open May through October. The colors on the walls of the canyon are as varied and beautiful as the size of the canyon is imposing and awesome. Your recreational opportunities are nearly unlimited. You can hike or take a mule ride into the canyon or simply drive around the edge and stop at lookout points. White-water rafting on the Colorado River is available most of the year. Bring your camera or your water colors if you’re artistic. The Grand Canyon is a 4.5-hour drive from Phoenix, so plan an early start and a long day. It will be worth it!
2. Hop over to the Hassayampa River Preserve: This nature preserve is much closer to Phoenix and gorgeous in its own way. This 100-mile long river flows underground for most of its course, but emerges in the preserve with crystal-clear purity. It forms an oasis in the desert and a lush spot for wildlife. The Hassayampa River Preserve is a picturesque setting for a casual stroll or a vigorous hike. Scouting for wildlife will yield an abundance of results. The preserve is home to a rich diversity including lizards, skinks, mule deer, bobcat, javelin and mountain lions. More than 250 species of birds live in the preserve or stop by during migration. This is a great day trip for nature enthusiasts of all ages, and its less than an hour from Phoenix.
3. Take the posse to Prescott: The whole gang will enjoy a trip to this town that was founded in the heyday of gold mining in the 1860s. It soon became a major ranching area in the Southwest. The city served as the first permanent capital of the Arizona Territory, and you can learn all the history at the Sharlot Hall Museum complex. The governor’s mansion and the restored Bashford House are other historical points of interest. The blocks around the central town square are rich with antique shops, dining for every taste and budget and the famous Whiskey Row section that got its name during the mining days when the street was lined with saloons. The saloons have been replaced by boutiques, art galleries and other fun shops. Prescott is a two-hour drive from Phoenix.
4. Sample native art in Sedona: Art lovers and collectors know all about the art galleries of Sedona. They are some of the best places to find authentic Native American and Southwestern arts and crafts of the highest quality. Tlaquepaque is a village that features shops with wonderful, locally made glassware. Sedona is nestled near the Oak Creek Canyon and the canyon’s amazing red-rock buttes form an amazing backdrop to the city. You’ll find plenty to do in a day in Sedona and the surrounding area. It’s a two-hour drive from Phoenix.
5. Take in the trees at Boyce Thompson Arboretum: The arboretum consists of 320 acres filled with gardens and natural areas. Walking trails lead through the gardens where desert plants including cacti and succulents thrive. You’ll discover arid-land plants from all over the world with special sections dedicated to plants from the Sonoran and Chihuahuan deserts. Ayer Lake is within the arboretum and attracts many species of birds including a large number of hummingbirds. If you’ve got energy left after touring the arboretum, excellent hiking opportunities await at nearby Picket Peak and the Peralta Trail in the Superstition Mountains. The Boyce Thompson Arboretum is just one hour from Phoenix.
1. Tee it up: Phoenix is home to hundreds of great golf courses. Green fairways and putting surfaces are surrounding by native grasses, cacti, sand and rocks. There are courses for players at all handicap levels. Some of the favorite public courses are Ravens, Villa De Paz, Maryvale Muni, Papago and Lookout Mountain. The area is home to almost 200 championship courses for the big hitters. If golf isn’t your thing, the climate of the Valley offers opportunities for all kinds of sports. Local residents enjoy tennis, swimming, horseback riding and much more.
2. Get away from it all: The desert offers solitude and a break from the grind. Make sure you have plenty of water, great maps and quality hiking shoes before you take to one of the many trails into the hills around the city. If you want to go a bit faster, rent a mountain bike or bring your own. Best hiking/biking areas include Camelback Mountain, Shawn Butte, Deem Hills East and West, the Mormon Trail, Thunderbird H-2 and Tom’s Thumb.
3. Root, root, root for the home team: Phoenix is a great sports town. The area is home to teams in all major sports, and tickets can be had for most games. Here’s a roster of the local teams.
- Football: The Arizona Cardinals (NFL) and the Rattlers (Arena)
- Baseball: The Arizona Diamondbacks
- Basketball: The Phoenix Suns (men’s) and the Phoenix Mercury (women’s)
- Hockey: The Phoenix Coyotes
In addition, exhibition baseball is big in the area during February and March, with 12 major league team’s doing their spring training in the Cactus League. NASCAR, Formula One, WTA, PGA and LPGA events are also held at area venues each year.
4. Go hunting with your camera: Photography is popular here because of the many natural subjects – mountains, cacti, wildlife, permanent and migratory birds, amazing cloud formations – and many architectural points of interest including historic Old West buildings, cemeteries and mines.
5. Wet your whistle: It’s dry and dusty in the Valley of the Sun. Favorite local watering holes reflect an eclectic mix of styles from Old West to sports to hip. The best include Draw 10 Bar & Grill, Seamus McCaffrey’s, Roscoe’s Sports Bar, Kobalt, the Jade Bar, Suede, MercBar, Kazimierz World Wine Bar, the Lost Leaf and the Switch Restaurant and Wine Bar.
6. Peruse the native plants: The Desert Botanical Garden is a 50-acre garden in Papago Park. It is home to 10,000 desert plants native to the area. Locals enjoy the peaceful setting and the blooms of more than 1,800 varieties of cacti.
7. Take in a performance: The performing arts community is thriving, in part due to the young population of the area. Your opportunities include the Phoenix Center Youth Theater, CityJazz Dance, the Phoenix Children’s Chorus the Little Theater and the Centre Dance Ensemble. The local Symphony Orchestra and Opera also have their share of enthusiasts.
8. Indulge your appetite: A day of golf, hiking or sightseeing will make anyone hungry. Phoenix offers a wide variety of fantastic food spots. For French food, the Vincent Market Bistro is the top choice. Soul food is king at Lo-Lo’s Chicken & Waffles. Gallo Blanco Café and Carolina’s serve up some of the best Mexican dishes. The Italian sandwiches and pizza at Pane Bianco are very tasty. The Green New American is unsurpassed for vegan and vegetarian delights. Dick’s Hideaway serves up American and Tex-Mex favorites.
9. Celebrate local traditions: Many happenings throughout the year pay homage to the area’s history. These include the Heard Museum Guild Annual Indian Fair and Market in March, the Desert Botanical Garden’s Cactus and Succulent Show in April, Cinco de Mayo in May and the Arizona State Fair in September and October. Other festivals include St. Patrick’s Day, the Way Out West Oktoberfest and the APS Fiesta of Light parade in December. The annual New Year’s Day Fiesta Bowl features a pageant of bands and a parade in addition to the college football game.
10. Cool off in cool shops: When it’s 100+ outside, strolling through shops that are cool in all the right ways is huge with the locals. You might start your search for the best shopping experience at the Arizona Center downtown, Biltmore Fashion Park, or the Tower Plaza Mall. In cooler weather, the open-air Town & Country Shopping Center is a winner. Dotted around the city are lots of very cool specialty shops featuring the creations of local craftsmen and artisans.
Founded in 1871, Phoenix is the capital city of Arizona & the 5th largest city in US. The metro area, called The Valley of the Sun, or just “The Valley”, encompasses the cities of Tempe, Scottsdale, Glendale and Mesa. A major cultural, economical & political center, Phoenix’s fast paced vitality opens a plethora of activities to its visitors. At over 500 square miles, the city of Phoenix actually exceeds the land area of the Greater Los Angeles area!