Arizona's Big-City Destination
Splashy resort and spa websites gush with words like “posh” and “pampered.” “South Beach meets the Sonoran Desert” sums up the nightlife and shopping. And there are more than enough golf courses here (250-plus at last count) to keep Tiger Woods out of trouble. Phoenix, once known as little more than a tanning salon for traveling retirees, has become the Arizona desert's big-city vacation oasis for all ages.
The downtown core, while pleasant enough with fun things to do, isn't going to knock your socks off like, say, the flashy Las Vegas Strip or historic Santa Fe, New Mexico. But that's not what you're here on vacation for. It's those plush resorts (and the fancy-schmancy places to eat inside them), the outstanding museums, the top-flight pro sports venues, the culture (from art galleries to symphony concerts) and, most importantly, the ideal fall-to-spring weather you've come to experience.
Don't forget the desert. Rising behind the downtown skyline are the twin humps of Camelback Mountain, a choice spot for desert-style hiking close to your hotel. East of the city, beyond the spill of cookie-cutter suburbs, are the rugged, saguaro cactus-strewn Superstition Mountains. That's just the tip of the iceberg. And if you think an iceberg could withstand 3 months of 100-degree-plus Phoenix heat (June to August), there's a vortex up in Sedona we'd like to sell you.
By CarMajor highways make Phoenix readily accessible from all directions. The main route from Flagstaff and other points north is I-17, while the main route from the south and southeast is I-10. US 60, coming from the east, joins I-10 just north of Baseline Road.
In Phoenix I-10 intersects I-17 at 20th Street and leads west to Los Angeles. West of Phoenix, SR 85 intersects with I-10 and continues south to Gila Bend; I-8 can then be followed to Yuma and San Diego.
Street SystemThe streets in Phoenix form an orderly grid. Numbered streets run north and south, intersected by named streets going east and west. The axis is formed by Washington Street, which divides the city north and south, and Central Avenue, which determines the east and west sections. All avenues run west of Central; all streets, east.
Unless otherwise posted the speed limit on most streets is 25 mph. A right turn on red after a complete stop is legal unless otherwise posted. During rush hours the center turn lanes of 7th Avenue and 7th Street are reverse traffic flow lanes: morning rush hour one way into the city and evening rush hour one way out of the city. Try to avoid rush hours, 7-9 a.m. and 4-6 p.m.
ParkingParking is regulated by meters, which are enforced daily 8 a.m.-10 p.m. with an hourly rate of $1 to $1.50. Most parking meters accept credit and debit cards as well as coins. During business hours and in the downtown area certain one-way streets have restricted parking hours. Rates at public lots start at $1.50 per hour.
In-person hotel evaluations are unscheduled to ensure the inspector has an experience similar to that of members. All hotels must meet the same basic requirements for cleanliness, comfort and hospitality to be AAA Approved. A rating of one to five AAA Diamonds tells members what type of experience to expect, from no-frills to highly personalized.
The statewide sales tax is 5.6 percent; an additional 2.3 percent is added in Phoenix and an additional 0.7 percent is added in Maricopa County. There is a hotel/motel tax of 12.57 percent. Rental cars incur a 15.1 percent tax, plus an 11.11 percent concession fee. There is a stadium tax of 3.25 percent. Airport parking includes a daily surcharge of $4.50.
Banner Estrella Medical Center, (623) 327-4000; Banner—University Medical Center, (602) 839-2000; Maricopa Integrated Health System, (602) 344-5011; St. Joseph's Hospital and Medical Center, (844) 369-5479.
125 N. 2nd St., Suite 120 Phoenix, AZ 85004. Phone:(602)254-6500 or (877)225-5749
Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport
At the airport, Hertz, (602) 267-8822 or (800) 654-3131, offers discounts to AAA members.
Greyhound Lines Inc. has terminals at 2115 E. Buckeye Rd., (602) 389-4200, and 2647 W. Glendale Ave., (602) 246-0907 or (800) 231-2222.
Taxi companies serving the greater Phoenix area include Yellow Cab, (480) 888-8888; Discount Cab, (602) 200-2000; and VIP Taxi, (602) 300-3000.
Valley METRO Light Rail connects downtown Phoenix to the neighboring communities of Tempe and Mesa. To reach Sky Harbor International Airport, get off at the station at 44th and Washington streets. From there, the free PHX Sky Train connects to the East Economy parking area and Terminals 3 and 4. At Terminal 4, shuttle buses provide transportation to Terminals 2 and 3.