Phoenix

For other places with the same name, see Phoenix (disambiguation).

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, 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 and dry in the summertime, so always have sunscreen with you!

Districts


Overview of Phoenix districts
Downtown
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.
Midtown
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.
West Phoenix
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.
North Phoenix
Includes Deer Valley, Desert View, North Mountain, North Gateway, and New Village. The Phoenix Mountains are located here and offer a plethora of hiking and outdoor activities.
Camelback East
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.
South Phoenix
This area is home to South Mountain Regional Park, the largest municipal park in the country. However, the neighborhood at its base is fairly run-down and many sections are not safe. Laveen is a semi-rural area that is nonetheless seeing increasing development.
Ahwatukee
An upscale neighborhood, bordered on the north by South Mountain Regional Park, on the east by I-10 and the cities of Chandler and Tempe.

See also Greater Phoenix for destinations in the sprawling Phoenix metropolitan area.

Understand

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.

Warm 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 2014 estimate of 1,537,058 (with the metro area estimated at 4,489,109).

Climate

 Climate Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
 
Daily highs (°F) 65 69 74 83 92 102 104 102 97 86 73 65
Nightly lows (°F) 43 47 51 58 66 75 81 80 75 63 50 44
Precipitation (in) 0.8 0.8 1.1 0.3 0.2 0.1 1.0 0.9 0.8 0.8 0.7 0.9

Phoenix has an arid climate with long, hot summers and very mild winters. It has the highest average temperature of any metropolitan area in the States. The weather varies enormously from one season to the next. While it's not as cold as in the northern states during the winter, it does freeze sometimes, and temperatures in the 30s°F (that's around or slightly above 0°C) are not unheard of. In the summer, very hot and dry heat is the norm. On the hottest days, it can get up to 115°F (46°C) or more. Monsoon rains with lightning occur regularly from July to September during the late afternoon and evening, occasionally overnight also. April is the most ideal month. In some neighborhoods, cicada insects make loud sounds from sunset to sunrise.

Talk

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.

Get in

By plane

Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport (IATA: PHX) +1 602 275-4958 is the main air gateway to Arizona. It is at the southeast end of Downtown. It is a hub for American Airlines and Southwest Airlines. Terminals are numbered from 2-4. There is no Terminal 1.

Valley Metro #13 goes west to S 75th Ave along S Buckeye (via Greyhound depot) from Terminal 2. Likewise one can take the PHX skytrain over to the nearby 44th & Washington St Station to catch the #1 (west to the downtown Central Station and Priest & Washington in Tempe to the east along Washington St); #44 bus (north to the Desert Ridge Marriott Resort in Deer Valley along N 44th St & Tatum); and the light rail (east to Tempe & Mesa and to Midtown (along Central Ave) via downtown in the other direction).

Alternative Airports

By train

Due to a dispute among the Arizona Department of Transportation, the Union Pacific Railroad, and Amtrak, passenger train service to Phoenix has been discontinued, making it the largest city without Amtrak service in the US. Amtrak passengers may disembark at Maricopa, Arizona (25 mi/40 km south 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.)

By car

Interstate 10 enters Phoenix from the south 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.

By bus

There are multiple long distance bus lines and shuttles serving Phoenix from Los Angeles, Las Vegas, El Paso, Tucson, Sedona, Flagstaff & Nogales in the U.S. and from Nogales, Hermosillo, Puerto Peñasco and Cualican in Mexico. Each company has a stop or their own bus stations in different parts of town that are far from each other.

Get around

Renting a car like a local

The new Car Rental Facility for the Phoenix Airport is just west of the airport itself. National polls have shown that Phoenix is the 4th most expensive city in terms of surcharges in the nation. Car rental companies are required to add 29% (that's twenty-nine percent!) to your bill to pay for this state of the art building. Take a cab (or if possible public transit) to a local office of a car rental company. Do not tell them you are flying in. That way you are a "local rental" and do not have to pay some of the surcharges that are automatic if you rent at the car rental building at the airport. The surcharges finance everything from the local jails to the new Cardinals Stadium. The cab will likely be $25, but the surcharges for a $499 weekly rental will take your bill upwards of $650 and more. That cab looks a little cheaper now, doesn't it?

Alternatively, if you're doing a tour of the Southwest, consider flying into Las Vegas and renting your car there the taxes are much lower and doing a one-way drop off to Phoenix is generally not a problem.

Phoenix is a very car-centered city. 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 running roughly $3.50. So if you are in the United states without a car consider that. 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.

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. This also applies to the extended metro area, though addresses in places like Tempe and Mesa are not based on downtown Phoenix.

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 laws are 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.

See

Desert Botanical Gardens
Heard Museum Courtyard

Individual listings can be found in Phoenix's district articles

In Phoenix-proper, see:

Do

Professional Sports

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 at a cost of $357 million in 1999.

Spring Training Cactus League is a great way to see baseball players. Very relaxed and inexpensive. Games are in different locations in Mesa, Peoria, and Phoenix.

The Cardinals stadium is worth a visit, as it looks like a giant spaceship by the side of the freeway. It was built at the bargain price of $427 million in 2006 (roughly equal to $530 million in today's dollars). To put that number in perspective, the three most recently opened NFL stadiums all cost at least $1.3 billion in today's dollars.

Arizona Diamondbacks' swimming pool

College sports

Events

Learn

Buy

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.

Eat

Mid-range

Drink

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 Midtown or Downtown areas, while in the surrounding areas, Scottsdale offers a lively bar and club scene, 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.

Sleep

Budget

Mid-range

Splurge

Summer Travel Resort Deals

The major resorts all have $99/night deals (newer resorts will be $25 more) from Memorial Day thru Labor Day. Included perks, such as 2-for-1 in the hotel restaurants, or $50 hotel credit. Many have standard 2 room suites, and water parks. Highly recommended for families. Distance reference from Phoenix Sky Harbor airport.

  • [N6 mi] Hilton Pointe Squaw Peak Resort, 7500 N. 16th St. 2 room suites, lazy river, water slide, multiple pools, access to freeway (51), downtown Phoenix (5 miles). One of the Gosnell properties (also Pointe South Mountain - now AZ Grande - and Pointe Tapitao). Very popular with locals on summer weekends. Take my family at least one time each summer.
  • [SE5 mi] Arizona Grande Resort - nice water park, two room suites, water slide, multiple pools, AZ Mills (shopping 2mi), airport, Tempe (5 mi), downtown Phoenix (5 mi).
  • [SE10 mi] Sheraton Wild Horse - big fancy resort on far South side of Phoenix metro area. Water slides, lake, golf, Phoenix (12 mi). Built in 2005.
  • [NE10 mi] Hyatt Gainey Ranch - Scottsdale (3 mi), beach, multiple pools, dive-in movies, beautiful grounds.
  • [N12 mi] Marriott Desert Ridge - water slides, lazy river, multiple pools, Desert Ridge (shopping 1 mi), Phoenix (12 mi). Built in 2004.
  • [NE15 mi] Westin Kierland - water slide, lazy river, multiple pools, Kierland Commons (shopping), Scottsdale (4 mi). Built in 2005
  • [N5 mi] Phoenician - water slide (long), golf, Scottsdale (2 mi), airport (5 mi), Phoenix downtown (6 mi). ($35 resort fee)
  • [N5 mi] Biltmore hotel - water slide, Biltmore (shopping), golf course. ($35 resort fee).
  • [NW10 mi] Hilton Pointe Tapitiao - 10000 N 7th St, 2 room suites, nice pool, good hiking, downtown Phoenix (10 mi).

Stay safe

Despite being a nice vacation destination, Phoenix is a major American city and as such does contain a fair amount of violent crime. Some parts of the city (and even a few parts of some of the suburbs) should be avoided at night. Downtown Phoenix is safe during the day, but does have a problem with the homeless/transients, some of whom approach well-dressed office workers and tourists asking for spare change. South Phoenix can be unsafe in some areas.

Maryvale, a commercial/residential district on the west side of the city of Phoenix (extending north into Glendale as well), should be avoided at almost all times unless there is a specific reason to go there.

Most of the suburban areas are safe during day and night; however, parts of Mesa and Glendale can be dangerous at night. Some portions of Tempe, near the main campus of Arizona State University (ASU), have seen assaults in the recent past on a few university students. The ASU campus is equipped with several emergency call boxes.

The Sunnyslope area (north central city of Phoenix) has some homeless and other crime issues but a new police station was recently built at Peoria and 7th Ave which has dramatically reduced crime.

The town of Guadalupe (immediately west of Tempe and bounded by Interstate 10 on the west) is unsafe at night, but is an incredibly interesting Hispanic/Native American community to visit during the day. Be warned though that the speed limit suddenly falls from 40mph to 25mph as you enter the town.

In every portion of the Phoenix area, just use common sense and be aware of your surroundings.

Phoenix also has one of the highest car theft rates in the country, with a car stolen every 7 minutes. In addition, red light running is more common in Phoenix than any other city in the U.S. Use caution at every turn.

Speeding, tailgating and aggressive driving are common on the freeways.

Be aware of traffic and speed enforcement cameras at most major intersections. Always anticipate someone attempting to beat the amber light before it turns red to avoid being issued a very expensive traffic ticket (usually in the amount of $300 or more). If you see sudden braking, make sure you're going the speed limit. Sometimes, camera vans are set up on the side of the road to snatch speeders, especially in the Northeastern parts of the Valley.

Cope

Newspapers

Consulates

Honorary consulates are typically individual representatives of nations who represent the interest of certain business functions, and are not full-fledged national consulates. Their ability to assist you with individual legal or official matters may be limited.

Gay and Lesbian Travelers

The area around Central and Camelback in Phoenix has many gay residents and gay-friendly businesses.

Go next

Routes through Phoenix

Blythe Goodyear  W  E  Tempe Tucson
Flagstaff Glendale  N  S  END
Quartzsite Glendale  W  E  Tempe Socorro


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