Phoenix is the capital of the state of Arizona as well as the most populous city in the American Southwest and sixth 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 ft (335 m), it is situated in the biologically unique Sonoran Desert. Over time it has merged with the neighboring cities of Scottsdale, Tempe, Glendale, Peoria, Mesa, Chandler, and Gilbert to form the Greater Phoenix Metropolitan Area. Currently exurbs such as Apache Junction, Fountain Hills, Queen Creek, and Sun City are becoming part of this metropolitan area as well. Phoenix is extremely hot in the summertime, so always have sun screen with you!
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.
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.
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.
Includes Deer Valley, Desert View, North Mountain, North Gateway, Norterra/Happy Valley, and New Village. The Phoenix Mountains are located here and offer a plethora of hiking and outdoor activities.
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.
This area is home to Southwest Mountain Regional Park, the largest municipal park in the country. However, the neighborhood at it’s base is fairly run-down and many sections are not safe. Laveen is a semi-rural area that is nonetheless seeing increasing development.
An upscale neighborhood of Phoenix, Arizona bordered on the north by Southwest Mountain Regional Park, on the east by I-10 and the cities of Chandler and Tempe.
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.
European-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.
Mild 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 over 100,000 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. It is considered polite or welcomed if you speak Spanish in Hispanic places of business or parts of town where Spanish is spoken more often. However, if you’re not sure it is best to simply start with English. Don’t assume that someone speaks Spanish based on their appearance as Arizona is a diverse state with a complex history. Arizona is home to a diverse range of Native American tribes with members of all living in Phoenix, most of whom speak English fluently.
Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport (IATA: PHX) +1 602 275-4958 is the main air gateway to Arizona. It is in East Phoenix 3 mi (5 km) from downtown. It is a hub for American Airlines and Southwest Airlines. Terminals are numbered from 2-4. There is no Terminal 1.
There is also an airport shuttle bus going out to a remote car rental terminal (west of the I-10/17 junction) from the airline terminals too. (recommended if possible).
Both Phoenix Sky Harbor and Phoenix-Mesa Gateway airports are serviced by Skoot Airport Shuttle, which is a low-cost shuttle company that will get you to or from the airport to anywhere in the Phoenix metropolitan area.
The The Phoenix Metropolitan Area is home to some of the busiest general aviation fields in the United States, and there are more than 20 airports located within 50 nautical miles of Phoenix, AZ. Deer Valley Airport is the most popular choice for business jets; it’s also the busiest private airport in Arizona, and one of the most important business jet hubs in the country. Air charter companies including Valley Jet and Phoenix Jet Charter can arrange private flights with access to charetr planes based at all airports in the Phoenix-area. Other popular airports for private aviation include:
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 mi/40 km southwest 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 southwest 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 from the northeast from Payson.
Unfortunately, there is no central bus terminal nor are they located next to each other in the same area. Each company have their own stop(s) or station all over the city. Major operators include:
Phoenix is a very car-centered city. With the notable exception of the Light Rail (useful if you are staying in the Tempe/downtown Phoenix corridor, with a stop at the airport) public transit is rubbish and unreliable but if you have no other recourse it is do-able. If you plan to stay or visit any of the cities on the periphery of the metro area, a rental car will likely be required. However, if you plan to stick to the Tempe-Downtown Phoenix area, the Light Rail is a viable option, with an all-day adult pass costing $4.00. Trains run every 12 minutes during peak periods and every 15 or 20 minutes during non-peak periods and weekends. The last train of the day starts its last trip of the day around 11:00PM on most days(finishing its run around 12:00) and 2:00AM on Fridays and Saturdays (finishing its run around 3:00AM). As DUI laws in Arizona are the strictest in the nation, its a good idea to take advantage of “the West’s latest running train” when frequenting the bars and clubs in Downtown Phoenix or on Mill Avenue for some weekend fun. Taxis are typically fairly easy to find in proximity to major Light-Rail stops and in popular areas, and will run you from $10-15 for a fairly local trip to well over $100 for a ride to a distant suburb.
The Light Rail is always a much cheaper option than a cab for traveling to central Phoenix or Tempe from the Airport (cabs charge a flat $15 to make the trip). Take the new Skytrain (free)from your terminal to the Sky Harbor stop. Note that the terminal 3 stop is not yet open so you will have to take a shuttle buss. A single ride pass is $2.
As a tourist, the bus line you are most likely to find useful is the 72 which directly connects downtown Tempe and downtown Scottsdale. It runs frequently throughout the day and can be caught from the Tempe transit center (Tempe->Scottsdale) or anywhere on Scottsdale Road (Scottsdale->Tempe).
Surface roads 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. the road running east & west as Washington St divides the addresses & streets from “North” & “Southwest” while the road going north & southwest as Central Ave divides the addresses & streets from “East” & “West”. The numbered streets running north and southwest are “Avenues” (such as N 7th Ave) west of Central Ave and “Streets” (such as N 7th St) are east of Central Ave. This also applies to the extended metro area, though addresses in some of the other cities OUTSIDE the Phoenix city limits like Tempe, Avondale, Goodyear, Chandler, Gilbert and Mesa have their own grid system within their own city limits and not based on downtown Phoenix or each other.
There is an extensive network of freeways, most built since 1987. Note: Heavy construction on some segments and interchanges continues. Check construction schedules and closures in the local media.
Drinking and driving is very heavily enforced in Phoenix, especially in Scottsdale and Tempe. Harsh DUI laws & police traps ensure you will most likely be pulled over during peak bar hours 11PM-2:30AM. Mandatory jail time and extremely heavy fines make drinking and driving a very unwise decision in Maricopa County.
Individual listings can be found in Phoenix’s district articles
Unfortunately professional sports events are pricing themselves out of the pocket of the average traveler. There are still $10 seats at the Diamondbacks games, not available until 2 hours before the game. Definitely not the best seats, but worth visiting the downtown Phoenix ballpark- which was built at a cost of $357 million in 1999.
Spring Training Cactus League is a great way to see Major League Baseball in a relaxed atmosphere. 15 teams prepare for the regular season at 10 stadiums across the valley. Teams typically report for their first workouts around the second week of February; games happen daily typically late February through late March.
The Arizona Fall League hosts some of the best young minor league baseball players receiving additional experience after their regular season ends. Played at spring training stadiums in Mesa, Scottsdale, Salt River, Peoria, Glendale, and Surprise. Considering the advanced level of baseball talent on display, tickets are a bargain at $8 per person, or $85 for a season pass which gives a fan access to every game. Early October to mid November.
University of Phoenix Stadium (home of the National Football League’s Arizona Cardinals and the annual Fiesta Bowl college football game, among other events) is worth a visit. Originally designed to resemble a coiled snake, it looks more like a giant spaceship by the side of the Loop 101 freeway in Glendale. Built at the bargain price of $427 million in 2006.
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.
The major supermarket chains in Phoenix are Fry’s (which is owned by Kroger), Safeway, WinCo, Albertsons, and Bashas’. In addition the nation’s largest discount store chain, Walmart, has several stores in Phoenix most of which are also open 24 hours and some WinCo and Fry’s stores in Phoenix are also open 24 hours as well. In addition many specialty and organic supermarkets such as Whole Foods Market, Sprouts Farmers Market, and Trader Joe’s can also be found throughout the area.
Individual listings can be found in Phoenix’s district articles
For cheap eats, look out for many 24-hour Mexican food places such as Filiberto’s, Raliberto’s and other restaurants offer a burrito the size of your forearm for less than $4.
Individual listings can be found in Phoenix’s district articles
Phoenix as a metropolitan area offers a considerable amount of nightlife, though with the fact that the city is so spread out it can be difficult and dangerous to attempt traversing the city on a big night out. Generally, the nightlife is centered around the sub-cities of the metro area. Within Phoenix itself bars tend to cluster within the Uptown, Downtown, and Roosevelt areas, while Scottsdale offers a lively bar and club scene and Tempe is popular with students given the proximity to the University. and the city centers for Chandler and Glendale both offer some good options if you’re in the suburbs. Downtown Mesa lacks any appreciable nightlife given its strong ties to the Mormon church.
Individual listings can be found in Phoenix’s district articles
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