June 1, 2020
Due to travel restrictions, plans are only available with travel dates on or after
Due to travel restrictions, plans are only available with effective start dates on or after
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“Huge” and “hot” may be the first two words that come to mind when you think of Phoenix — and that’s not wrong. But this sprawling city in southern Arizona is a joy to explore, with outstanding restaurants, charming neighborhoods and stunning desert scenery all around.
Spring and fall are the best times to visit Phoenix, when the weather’s balmy; if you go in summer, bring a hat and sunscreen and prepare for 106-degree days. Here’s our five-minute guide to the best things to do, see and eat in Phoenix.
1. Wander the Sonoran Desert. At the Desert Botanical Garden in Papago Park, five winding trails take you through a wonderland of cacti, wildflowers, bees and butterflies. Check out the Music in the Garden concert series if you visit in the spring; during the holidays, don’t miss “Las Noches de las Luminarias,” when the garden glows with more than 8,000 luminaria bags.
2. Shop Roosevelt Row. Famous for its colorful murals, the Roosevelt Row Arts District (RoRo) in downtown Phoenix is a collection of modern art galleries, boutiques and restaurants. Fuel up at Matt’s Big Breakfast, flip through vinyl at Revolver Records, and play Ms. Pac-Man at the Cobra Arcade Bar. In the summer, many shops stay open until 9 p.m. for “vampire hours.”
3. Visit one of Frank Lloyd Wright’s favorite places. “Taliesin West is a look over the rim of the world,” architect Frank Lloyd Wright said of his Arizona summer home, which he began building in 1937. Today, Taliesin West is a National Historic Landmark and one of the top Phoenix attractions for lovers of modern architecture. Take a tour and see Wright’s office, private home and drafting studio.
4. Hit the trail. As big as the city is, nature is never far away. Hiking is one of the best things to do in Phoenix, whether you want a leisurely stroll through the desert or a challenging climb up Camelback Mountain. One popular, fairly easy walk is the Waterfall Trail in White Tank Mountain Regional Park, which takes you to see saguaros and ancient petroglyphs — though don’t expect to see the waterfall unless it has recently rained.
5. Watch an Old West shoot-out. East of Phoenix is the Goldfield Ghost Town, an old mining town on the Apache Trail that has been resurrected as a tourist destination. Pan for gold, ride the train and see gunfighters stage a showdown every hour.
If you’re vacationing in Phoenix or neighboring Scottsdale, we say: Why stay in a hotel when you can enjoy the desert resort experience? One of the best resorts in the Phoenix area is the Canyon Suites at the Phoenician Scottsdale. Standing at the base of Camelback Mountain, the Canyon Suites are the epitome of desert luxury. Practice morning yoga. Lounge by the pool. Or borrow the hotel’s acoustic Martin guitar and sing a cowboy serenade.
Lovers of history should book a room at the Arizona Biltmore, a Waldorf Astoria resort in Phoenix. Built in 1929, the Biltmore is where Marilyn Monroe loved to swim and Ronald and Nancy Reagan honeymooned. Enjoy eight pools, seven tennis courts and a lavish spa.
If you’re traveling with kids, delight them with a stay at the Pointe Hilton Squaw Peak Resort, an all-suites hotel with a four-acre water park: pools, waterfalls, a lazy river, a waterslide and miniature golf.
Want to escape the city altogether? Book an adobe casita at the Boulders Resort & Spa, a luxury getaway about 33 miles north of Phoenix. The Boulders is known for its menu of outdoor adventures — rock climbing, horseback riding, stargazing with a professional astronomer — and its award-winning golf courses.
If you’re only in Phoenix for a weekend, where should you eat? For a quintessentially Arizonan meal, we recommend Kai, a fine-dining restaurant inspired by the cuisine of the Pima and Maricopa tribes that uses ingredients farmed by the Gila River Indian Community. On the menu you might find buffalo, rabbit, cholla buds and nopales.
If you’re more in the mood for a steak, Durant’s has been a Phoenix favorite for more than 65 years. Durant’s has a certain mobster-chic vibe about it — diners enter through the kitchen door and are seated in a dim, red-wallpapered dining room.
On the other end of the price spectrum is Carolina’s Mexican Food, a little counter-service spot beloved as one of the best places to eat in Phoenix. People rave about the green chicken burrito and the buttered tortillas.
Dreaming of your desert getaway? Don’t forget your travel insurance. Trip insurance is invaluable even for short domestic trips, protecting you in case of flight delays, lost luggage and covered trip cancellations. Find the plan that’s right for you!