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World Travel Guide > Guides > North America > United States of America > Arizona > Phoenix

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Phoenix Travel Guide

About Phoenix

The heart of the Sonoran Desert is an unlikely place for the fifth largest urban city in the US, but there sits Phoenix, a place bisected by freeways and boasting four distinct quarters, each with a different character.

Not that a passing glance would reveal it. At first glimpse, Phoenix looks like nothing so much as a collection of faux-adobe homes interspersed with clumps of saguaro cacti.

Delve a little deeper however and there’s much to like about Phoenix, not least its university-dominated Downtown. Here, you’ll find a slew of interesting museums, among them the excellent Heard Museum which charts the area’s Native American past, much of it dominated by the Navajo.

Then, there’s the Phoenix Art Museum, the largest in the south-western United States, which boasts a permanent collection of contemporary classics as well as a roster of ever-changing temporary exhibitions.

Downtown is also home to the Arizona Cardinals, based at the vast University of Phoenix stadium, and the equally popular Arizona Diamondbacks whose home is at the sprawling Maryvale Baseball Park. Close by is the Desert Botanical Garden, which showcases a cross-section of the local fauna, including yet more saguaro cacti.

Further natural beauty is to be found in Scottsdale; a ritzy suburb that meanders along the bottom of the beautiful Salt River Valley. Along with more than 200 golf clubs and resorts, the area is also home to a network of hiking trails as well as some of the city’s most upmarket bars. Scottsdale is bordered by Tempe, another major hub for drinkers that includes the buzzing Mill Avenue.

The final piece of the puzzle is Mesa, a short drive from Downtown Phoenix and famous for its museums and archaeological sites. The best-known of these is the Mesa Grande, a series of structures built by the Hohokam people from whom the modern Navajo, among others, are descended. It serves as a reminder, were one ever needed, that Phoenix, although ultra-modern at first glance, has more historical depth than most give it credit for.

Key facts

Population:
1601587 (2009)
Latitude:
33.447589
Longitude:
-112.071119