Phoenix, the largest city in the southwest of Arizona, is surrounded by the vast Sonoran Desert. The landscape and the climate invite you to outdoor activities and excursions that range from rugged adventure to lofting in hot-air balloons to bus tours. The eternally warm weather makes booking a flight to Phoenix an easy choice for holidaymakers from the UK.
The name of the city, Phoenix, acknowledges its rise from the ashes of the long-vanished Hohokam peoples, who had developed an elaborate and complex irrigation network. The ancient Indian village is now a major metropolitan area and, when combined with neighbouring towns, the nation’s third-largest silicon valley.
While booking flights to Phoenix and organising the trip, adventurous travellers should also add a few side trips to their itinerary. One trip that can’t be missed is a few days exploring the Apache Trail. Just an hour’s drive east of Phoenix this winding gravel road is dotted with some interesting attractions including the Lost Dutchman State Park, the Goldfield Mining Town (a ghost town) and Canyon Lake which is perfect for camping and picnicking.
Phoenix averages 300 days of sun and 18cm (seven inches) of precipitation annually.Summer in Phoenix is May to September. In June and July the average temperature is just under 40 degrees Celsius, and the temperature exceeds 37 almost daily. July is the hottest month, with average temperatures more than 40. The heat drops off in October, and the nights are cool. It rarely rains, but when it does, expect thunderstorms, flash floods, and then a spectacular show from the desert flora.Winter, September to May, is the best, sunny and warm. The winter temperatures rarely drop below 18, and it’s usually warm enough to lounge at the pool during the day and cool enough to wear a jacket at night.
When to fly to Phoenix
The high-travel season for flights to Phoenix is November through April. Rates for hotels and airfare are always higher during those months.
True bargain hunters can get deals on flights to Phoenix during the summer, but the city comes to a cultural standstill during the searing heat.
Getting around Phoenix
You’ll need a car to get around Phoenix. Parking is free outside downtown Phoenix, although it may take you a while to find a spot in Old Scottsdale or popular shopping areas. Make sure you read the fine print when you’re renting your car. Taxes and surcharges can increase your rental rate by nearly 50 per cent. Get around town for free on the city’s Downtown Area Shuttle (DASH) service. These free buses cover downtown routes during the week from 6:30am to 5:30pm. DASH is meant for downtown commuters, not tourists, but the buses do go by Heritage Square and the Arizona Capitol Museum. The public buses, Valley Metro, are more useful for commuters than it is for tourists.
Phoenix insider information
- The Pueblo Grande Museum is located at the ruins of a 1,500 year-old Hohokam village. You can explore the ruin of a platform mound possibly used by the Hohokam for ceremonies, an excavated ballcourt, full-scale reproductions of Hohokam homes, and some of the last remaining intact Hohokam irrigation canals. The Phoenix Museum of History showcases the city’s growth from a dusty desert town to a modern metropolis.
- Heritage Square is the section of downtown Phoenix where Victorian homes have been preserved and are now used as shops and museums. Two highlights of the square are the stick-Eastlake Rosson House built in 1895 (guided tours are available) and the Arizona Doll and Toy Museum in the bungalow of the Stevens House.
- Phoenicians love their professional sports and March is a great time to see them in action — the Suns, the Coyotes, ASU basketball and baseball, and the Safeway International LPGA Tournament. And, of course, many major-league baseball teams know that it just doesn’t get better than March in Phoenix for spring training.
- The red rocks of Sedona are an awe-inspiring sight. There are trails for exploring the canyon (you might even see javelinas), eclectic shops and galleries, and always the spectacular scenery. Sedona is about two hours from Phoenix.