A sweltering city on the northern edges of the Sonaran Desert, Phoenix is a great city of diversity, art and culture that routinely hits over 100 degrees in the summer months.
In close proximity to the Grand Canyon – one of the most incredible natural formations on earth – the city itself is ideal for exploring as a single traveller, couple or family. And if you don’t care for the heat, you can be reassured by the fact that this city is home to more air conditioning units than perhaps anywhere else on the planet!
However great Phoenix is to visit, the Grand Canyon itself throws a shadow over anything else the city has to offer. Located just a three and a half hour drive away, this 277 mile long, up to 18 mile wide canyon carved by the Colorado River is truly one of the most extraordinary things you will ever see. The simple scale of it has to be seen to be believed. Despite its massive size, activities such as rafting, hiking and running can easily be found, although the sheer spectacle of it all when viewed from the 7,000ft above sea level South Rim is often enough for most.
Phoenix itself was originally settled by Native Americans, and their culture is presented extensively in the city’s museums. In particular the Heard Museum just north of downtown features a full Navajo Hogan settlement, as well as countless other native artefacts amongst its extensive collection and community spaces. To learn more about the native people of Arizona, the Pueblo Grande Museum and Cultural Park on Washington Avenue is home to numerous ruins and other sites of interest.
The Pheonix Art Museum is also a major attraction for visitors and also locals. Dedicated as a community centre for over half a century, the museum offers a year-round programme of activities and exhibitions as well as a dedicated, interactive space for children called PhxArtKids. If Science is more your thing, the Arizona Science Centre is well worth a visit, as is Phoenix Zoo which is proud to be America’s largest not-for-profit zoo and home to in excess of 1,300 fascinating animal exhibits including a petting zoo.
Whilst it might surprise some in a town that’s not afraid to be slightly rough and ready, Phoenix is home to a bourgeoning art scene. Developing mainly in the last decade or so, this movement is perhaps best expressed in Janet Elchelman’s ground breaking sculpture – ‘Her Secret is Patience’ – a netted design suspended above the Phoenix Civic Centre that makes the desert winds visible to the naked eye.