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Arizona is noted for spectacular sunsets, highlighting the city skyline

Phoenix's Light Rail network connects downtown with Mesa and Tempe

Children find plenty to wonder at in the Arizona Science Center

The Squaw Peak Resort typifies Phoenix's luxury with mountain backdrop

Phoenix has all the vibrant nightlife you'd expect from any big city

The Heard Museum is the city's number one must-see attraction

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Arizona's biggest city offers museums, resorts, golf, and a gateway to the Grand Canyon

 

Phoenix is the biggest city in Arizona and, with almost 1.5 million people in the city itself, is the 6th largest city in the United States. It is also one of the most rapidly growing, and merges seamlessly with several adjoining city-suburbs including Scottsdale, Mesa, Tempe, and Chandler. Many visitors arrive by flying into Arizona's largest airport, Sky Harbor International, and whether you arrive by day or night you will see the contrast between the large expanses of desert surrounding it and the bustle and bright lights of the city itself.

 

The desert which surrounds it is the Sonoran Desert, and when planning a visit you should take this desert climate into account. The good side is that Phoenix benefits from about 300 days a year when it is either sunny or partly cloudy, with only 30-35 days in the year when you see any rain. Most of these occur in the monsoon season, which usually starts about mid-July and lasts for a few weeks. The bad side of the climate is that Phoenix is much lower in elevation than, say, Tucson further south, and in the summer temperatures easily reach 100F (38C) for lengthy periods. This still leaves long stretches of the spring and fall, and even the winter, when the weather is beautiful, though winter nights can be cold.

 

If spending a few days in Phoenix, there are several museums worth visiting, including two that will appeal to families: the Children's Museum of Phoenix and the Arizona Science Center. Adults will also find two outstanding attractions: the Phoenix Art Museum and the Heard Museum. The Heard Museum has one of the finest collections of Native American items in the world. And everyone will enjoy the Phoenix Zoo.

 

Like neighboring Scottsdale, Phoenix has a number of world-class resorts with top spas and restaurants, and championship golf courses. It does make a good, central base for exploring much of Arizona, with places like Sedona, Flagstaff, Tucson, and even the Grand Canyon within 2-3 hours drive. However, the best way to explore is to spend a few days in each of those places, rather than drive to and from Phoenix each day. Because of its size and rapid growth in recent years, the traffic in Phoenix is extremely busy, especially at either end of the working day. There is a light-rail system but it isn't very extensive yet, and after a few days of driving in Phoenix, anyone will be ready to hit the open road and explore the wide open spaces of Arizona.

 

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