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With sweeping desertscapes, cacti bigger than your head, and towering mountain peaks, Phoenix is one of the most desirable cities in the country for its unique landscapes, hot hot heat, and endless bouts of sunshine. Indeed, the Southwest is one of the most intriguing parts of America with a plethora of things to do from foodie finds to natural wonders to entice intrepid travelers. And while there’s something to be said for visiting where everyone wants to retire, you don’t have to succumb to Arizona’s famed R&R just yet (unless of course, you’re into that). Here are a few of the most unique attractions and where to stay in the Valley of the Sun.
Where to Stay in Phoenix, AZ
As one of the biggest cities in America, Phoenix has plenty of good areas to stay in, but which to choose really depends on what the type of vibe you’re going for. Of course, downtown is a convenient base for explorations, but if you’re looking for more luxe accommodations, try the Biltmore, Paradise Valley, or Scottsdale areas. Personally, Midtown is my favorite neighborhood for it’s hip and trendy restaurant and bar scene.
Desert Botanical Garden
Desert Botanical Garden is home to over 50,000 plants spread across 140-acres in sprawling Papago Park and the best place to get acquainted with the Sonoran landscape. With nearly perfect winter hiking weather, the winding garden trails will introduce you to wildflowers, medicinal plants, more cacti than you could possibly imagine, plus 300+ rare and endangered species of flora and fauna native to Arizona.
Meet the Locals
Native American history is a big part of Arizona’s cultural landscape with the Heard Museum an immersive way to educate yourself on tribal life through art and storytelling. The Pueblo Grande Museum and Archaeological Park is a prehistoric Hohokam village where you can walk through ancient adobo homes and interpretive exhibits. Or, if you’d like to snag a unique souvenir or art for your home, the River Trading Post is a great place to peruse handcrafted baskets, pottery, and jewelry.
Take Me Out to the Ballgame
Throughout February and March, Phoenix becomes baseball city, with fifteen major league teams coming out for spring training to practice under the desert sun. Called the Cactus League, more than 200 games are played over the span of a month with fan favorites like the Cubs, Giants, and Dodgers putting on hitting clinics and exhibition games as excited onlookers root for their favorite teams.
If Arizona had a state sport, it would undoubtedly be golf. With over 200 courses, more than half of which are open to the public, you could hit a new green every weekend of the year. Phoenix also regularly hosts major PGA, LPGA, and Champions Tour events if you prefer your putting a spectator sport. One of the most popular weeks of the year is the Waste Management Open in late January, better known as the “Greatest Show on Grass,” that’s as much an annual tournament as it is an excuse for a city-wide party.
First Friday in downtown Phoenix is one of the largest monthly art walks in the United States. A complimentary trolley ushers you around Roosevelt Row, where a majority of the galleries and murals reside. Scottsdale is also a hub of creativity with evocative sculptures scattered around Old Town.