With more than 300 days of sunshine a year, 200 golf courses, destination spas galore, and burgeoning culinary and arts scenes, the greater Phoenix area (which includes Scottsdale and Tempe) has something for everyone.
FOR NATURE LOVERS
Nature abounds here in the Valley of the Sun. Surrounded by the Sonoran Desert, the McDowell Mountain Range, and Camelback Mountain, it offers all kinds of recreation for locals and tourists alike. There are more than 180 miles of trails in Phoenix alone, 51 of them in the South Mountain Park & Preserve, where you can ride horseback, hike, and go mountain biking. The 145-acre Desert Botanical Garden has 50,000 plants, including 169 rare and endangered species. If you’re short on time, consider a balloon tour with Hot Air Expeditions for an expert-guided, bird’s-eye view of the entire valley.
FOR CULTURE VULTURES
Downtown Scottsdale has nearly 100 galleries. Head to Old Town for cowboy and Native American art and design, and visit the Scottsdale and Marshall Way Arts Districts for traditional and contemporary high-end art and antiques and an Art Walk every Thursday night. Not to be outdone, Phoenix hosts a First Friday art walk on Roosevelt Row that draws thousands. The Musical Instrument Museum is home to more than 15,000 musical instruments from some 200 countries around the world.
Architecture buffs must see Taliesin West, Frank Lloyd Wright’s winter home and school in the shadow of the McDowell Mountains. This could be followed by a quick stop at Cosanti, where visitors can see the home and studio of the late architect Paolo Soleri, and buy one of his iconic bronze wind bells—a favorite souvenir.
At Searsucker, Top Chef finalist Brian Malarkey has created a menu that changes daily. FnB, in downtown Scottsdale, serves up gastro.pub fare made with local organic produce, best enjoyed with the excellent artisanal cocktails or wine on tap. Chris Bianco still draws lines of diners eager to sample his legendary pizzas at Pizzeria Bianco—so many that he finally opened a second location. No visit to the area would be complete without sampling Mexican cuisine. Go straight to Phoenix’s Barrio Café, an art-filled establishment often cited as having the best Mexican food in town.
South Mountain Park & Preserve: phoenix.gov/parks/trails/locations/south/
Desert Botanical Garden: 1201 N. Galvin Pkwy., Phoenix; 1.480.941.1225; dbg.org
Hot Air Expeditions: 1.800.831.7610; hotairexpeditions.com
Scottsdale Art Walk: scottsdalegalleries.com
Phoenix First Fridays: artlinkphoenix.com
Musical Instrument Museum: 4725 E. Mayo Blvd., Phoenix; 1.480.478.6000; mim.org
Taliesin West: 12345 N. Taliesin Dr., Scottsdale; 1.480.627.5375; franklloydwright.org
Cosanti: 6433 E. Doubletree Ranch Rd., Paradise Valley; 1.800.752.3187; arcosanti.org/cosanti
Searsucker: 6900 E. Camelback Rd., Scottsdale; 1.480.664.3777; searsucker.com/scottsdale
FnB: 7125 E. Fifth Ave., Scottsdale; 1.480.284.4777; fnbrestaurant.com
Pizzeria Bianco: 623 E. Adams St., Phoenix, 1.602.258.8300; and 4743 N. 20th St., Phoenix, 1.602.368.2112; pizzeriabianco.com
Barrio Café: 2814 N. 16th St., Phoenix; 1.602.636.0240; barriocafe.com