Located in the heart of the beautiful Sonoran desert, Phoenix and the surrounding areas are collectively known as “The Valley of the Sun,” or as the locals call it, “the Valley.” Though it’s ringed by impressive mountain ranges, the Valley is growing at an incredible rate – approximately 2.9% each year. The moderate winters and endless sunny days make the Valley the perfect place to call home – and many visitors wind up staying for good.
The 22 smaller towns surrounding Phoenix include Paradise Valley, Carefree, Tolleson, North Scottsdale, Ahwatukee, Fountain Hills, Gilbert and Peoria, among others. These towns help make Phoenix America’s sixth largest city, and a place where you can do, see, taste and experience just about anything you like.
One visitor favorite is golf, which is a key part of the Valley lifestyle thanks to the sunny days. Some visitors come strictly to hit the greens on one of more than 200 golf courses in Phoenix. Fans of other sports can enjoy a number of professional sporting arenas, including the Bank One Ballpark, home to the Arizona Diamondbacks; America West Arena, home to the Phoenix Suns, The Phoenix Mercury and the Arizona Rattlers; Sun Devil Stadium, home to the Arizona Cardinals; and Glendale Arena, home to the Phoenix Coyotes. Phoenix is also home to the Oakland A’s, the Seattle Mariners and the San Francisco Giants during Spring Training.
If the sport of choice is shopping, what Phoenix offers is unparalleled. Vintage modern furniture is nestled into quiet midtown storefronts while exclusive designer boutiques showcase their wares in urbane outdoor malls. From Fifties kitsch to modern art, terrific shopping venues can be found in all corners of the Valley. Glendale is home to rows of antique shops; North Scottsdale features upscale furniture emporiums; Scottsdale proper is a mecca of funky but pricey home-accessory stores and clothing boutiques; and Phoenix proper is the place to go for urbane, lifestyle stores.
Year-round, Phoenicians live like they’re in a resort town. Comfortable clothes are key – locals dress up for the Arizona Opera, the Phoenix Symphony and the plethora of society balls and benefits, but overall you’ll find most Phoenicians outfitted in relaxed gear. Lightweight cotton clothing is a must-have, especially from June to September, when temperatures hover around 100 degrees. Sunscreen, water bottles and UV-protecting sunglasses are also necessary, especially if one is visiting from a cooler clime.
Of course, the best way to cool off in Phoenix is in a swimming pool. The sheer number of swimming pools is astounding, and the cool water is a decadent respite from the summer heat. Resorts and hotels keep their pools immaculate and inviting year-round.
Even if they’re not poolside, Valley residents and visitors spend as much time as possible outdoors – whether on the driving range, a tennis court, or hiking one of the many urban trails that dot the cityscape. It may be a surprise to some, but Phoenix is an outdoor enthusiast’s dream – imagine hiking to a desert mountaintop with a 360-degree city view or water-skiing on one of the nearby lakes – both on the same day. In Phoenix, it can be done.
Phoenix is also home to a thriving art scene – whether one’s interests lie in local theater, modern museums or original art by bohemian artists. The diversity rivals any big city: professional ballet dancers, hip-hop dance troupes, performance artists, musicians, painters, sculptors – they all live, work and play in the Valley.
Which leads us to another one of the Valley’s best features – the dining and nightlife. When the sun goes down, the air cools, and the clubs and restaurants heat up. Exotic ethnic food is easy to find: Ethiopian, Vietnamese, Turkish and Thai cuisines beckon adventurous taste buds. Barbecue, sushi and steakhouses join vegetarian, slow-food and fusion restaurants. After the dinner hours, celebrities, visitors and locals mix poolside at beautiful resorts, on the dance floors of hip clubs and on the rustic patios of high-desert hideaways. No matter how glamorous she can be, Phoenix still has a bit of the cowboy in her – though now the ride is a Harley instead of a horse.