Doing yoga poses against an amazing rocky landscape
Trail leading into the Superstition Mountains in Lost Dutchman State Park
Dusk at the Scottsdale Waterfront complex facing the Arizona Canal
Mountain biking on trails through the rocky terrain
Saguaro cactus and a hillside road sign
Colorful mural outside a downtown bicycle shop
The remains of the day casting long shadows over the city skyline
Horseback riding through the Sonoran Desert
- Major Airports:
- Phoenix Sky Harbor (PHX)
Outdoor adventures and cosmopolitan vibes in the desert
Desert Scenery and Adventure
If you climb Scottsdale’s Camelback Mountain – a favorite spot for runners, hikers and bikers – you’ll be rewarded with spectacular views of the valley floor and the nearby mountains lining the Mogollon Rim. South Mountain Park, the largest municipal park in the USA, is another recreation mainstay that horseback riders particularly love. At Phoenix’s Desert Botanical Garden in Papago Park, you can learn about the environment and see such sentinels as agave, yucca, ocotillo, palo verde, mesquite and saguaro cacti.
Soul of the Southwest
On any trip to Phoenix, you shouldn’t miss the Heard Museum to see its immense collection of Native American artifacts and to hear docents explain how native people thrived in the harsh desert environment. East of downtown, the Pueblo Grande Museum and Cultural Park preserves remnants of Hohokam culture, along with platform mounds and irrigation canals.
From its eclectic neighborhoods, such as Roosevelt Row, to the campus of the Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture outside Scottsdale (also known as Taliesin West), and Paolo Soleri’s Arcosanti, the Phoenix area embraces culture in all its forms.
You can visit modern Native American art galleries in Phoenix and Scottsdale in the morning, then tour downtown Phoenix’s St. Mary’s Basilica and its soaring Spanish Colonial architecture in the afternoon. Don’t miss the Queen Anne and Victorian architecture in downtown’s Heritage Square.
Dozens of museums, including the striking Phoenix Art Museum and the 15,000-item Musical Instrument Museum, feature world-class collections.
It’s this embrace of the world that lends an air of sophistication to the Valley of the Sun. While cowboy culture is still prevalent – visit Heritage Square in Old Town Scottsdale for a taste of the Old West – it coexists with the vibrant dining and rooftop nightlife scene in downtown Phoenix’s CityScape.
With its large Hispanic population and proximity to Mexico, several local restaurants are known throughout the area for authentic and delectable dishes. People from across the world live in the area, and you'll find everything from mouthwatering pierogis and pasta to Vietnamese, Brazilian and fine French cuisine.
The area also knows all about relaxing and enjoying life in the sun. Recreation activities like the Big Surf water park and Rainbow Ryders Hot Air Balloon excursions are never hard to find.
Hundreds of manicured resorts and emerald golf courses snake through desert sands, and world-class spas are scattered throughout the valley, drawing thousands of visitors to this oasis in the northern Sonoran Desert.