Things to Do in PhoenixIn Phoenix, if you don't drink plenty of water, a golf stroke is promptly followed by heat stroke. Precious H20. Piped in from the Colorado, Salt and Verde rivers, it's what makes this ultrahot metropolis possible. Lush resorts, posh spas, superb museums and excellent local restaurants surrounded by a starkly beautiful landscape, Phoenix is Arizona's big city-vacation destination.
If your mental picture of Arizona is one of a Marlboro man riding merrily across the saguaro cactus-studded desert, that's here, too. Rising behind the downtown skyscrapers is Camelback Mountain, the go-to spot for desert-style hiking. East of the city, beyond the spill of cookie-cutter suburbs, are the rugged Superstition Mountains.
Of course, from late spring to late summer when daytime temps spike past the century mark for weeks on end, the only hiking you'll be doing is from Nordstrom to Neiman Marcus at the Scottsdale Fashion Square mall. Located about 10 miles northeast of downtown, Scottsdale—with its golf resorts, upscale eateries, hip nightlife and art galleries galore—is the state capital's tourist hot spot.
Downtown Phoenix, which has been spruced up over the past few decades, is where you can see the Arizona Diamondbacks turn double plays in their retractable-roofed stadium, listen to a Brahms concerto at Symphony Hall or watch a Phoenix Suns point guard hit an outside jump shot at PHX Arena.
The downtown core is loaded with restaurants, lively bars and fun places to go, especially in the streets surrounding sports venues. But unless you get a charge out of staring up at modern glass-and-steel towers inhabited by banks, this isn't exactly the stuff of walking tour brochures. A few exceptions include the 1929 Art Deco-style Luhrs Tower (at the corner of First Avenue and Jefferson Street) and Heritage Square, where the city's original Victorian brick buildings house small museums and a pair of popular restaurants.
Greater Phoenix, often maligned for its housing tracts full of stucco schlock, boasts many architectural jewels. Frank Lloyd Wright chose Scottsdale for the site of his gorgeous Taliesin West winter retreat, which started out as a rustic camp in the desert but over the remaining years of Wright’s life evolved into a renowned and exclusive architecture school. And as a consulting architect working with a former student, Wright also influenced the Mayan textile block design of the beautiful Arizona Biltmore, A Waldorf Astoria Resort, which opened its doors in 1929.
In the older neighborhoods surrounding the downtown core you'll take a trip down sunbaked boulevards lined with ranch-style homes and aging strip malls. In these areas you'll find several outstanding Mexican eateries and a handful of small joints dishing up cheap and tasty Native American food.
The Ancestral Desert People were the first to settle in the Valley of the Sun (as the Phoenix area is known). They built a network of irrigation canals, farmed the beautiful wasteland and created a great city. But around the mid-1400s, they mysteriously vanished. The 1860s saw a new frontier town begin to take shape atop the old site. This rebirth, like the mythical Phoenix rising from the ashes, is what gives the city its name.
Now crisscrossed by a network of wide L.A.-style freeways, the greater metro area is home to some 4.3 million residents, making it the largest city in the desert Southwest. One reason behind the explosive growth of the past 20 years is that the weather isn't always comparable to an oven set on broil. In the often warm, mild months of late fall, winter and early spring, Phoenix residents are wearing shorts and reserving tee times.
AAA’s in-person hotel evaluations are unscheduled to ensure the inspector has an experience similar to that of members. To pass inspection, all hotels must meet the same rigorous standards for cleanliness, comfort and hospitality. These hotels receive a AAA Diamond designation that tells members what type of experience to expect.
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.