There are so many little things that make Phoenix special: the architecture, the surrounding desert, its cultural institutions, and its laid-back, fun-loving atmosphere, just to name a few. Capture moments that make exploring Phoenix so memorable with pictures at these iconic sights and favorite spots across the Valley of the Sun!
A major factor that makes Phoenix so special is its setting in the Sonoran Desert. The city’s Desert Botanical Garden is the best place to learn about the abundant variety of plant life in the Sonoran Desert and arid regions around the world. Several trails wind through the garden’s collection of more than 4,000 species and 27,000 individual plants. Looks at human interaction with the Sonoran are woven among the cacti, succulents, and wildflowers. Plus, rotating art exhibitions and other displays keep locals and tourists alike coming back.
Whether you're looking for a relaxing brunch in a stunning setting, late afternoon drinks and bites, or a special dinner, head to El Chorro. This Phoenix landmark has been operating since the late 1930s, and it's remained a favorite locale ever since. It’s most famous for its decadent sticky buns, killer happy hour deals, and breathtaking garden patio.
For a truly incredible view of the desert, lace up your hiking boots and take on Camelback Mountain. The mountain’s two trails—Echo Canyon and Cholla—are relatively short but intense climbs to the 2,704-foot summit. The sense of accomplishment you’ll feel once you reach the top is unbeatable. The panoramic views of the desert don't hurt, either! Remember to bring plenty of water along for the hike.
For a more low-key, but equally delicious meal while in Phoenix, head to Carolina's Mexican Food. The food isn't fancy, but it's fresh and made with love. The machaca plate, fresh tortillas, green chile sauce, enchiladas, and horchata are all mouthwateringly delicious local favorites. Don't worry if there's a line when you get here-- it'll move quick, and it's definitely worth the wait.
When it comes to accommodations in Phoenix, it doesn't get more classic than the Arizona Biltmore, A Waldorf Astoria Resort. Built at the end of the 1920s and designed by a student of Frank Lloyd Wright, it's been the standard for luxury resorts in Phoenix for decades. Presidents and other celebs frequent the Arizona Biltmore, and it's not hard to see why. There are eight swimming pools, each more stunning than the next, golf courses right next door at the country club, a variety of onsite dining options, a full-service spa, and luxurious suites and villas to rent.
Pro tip: The opulent Jazz Age theme goes beyond the décor—there's a speakeasy hidden in the hotel! You can get details on where to find it online and the password, which changes weekly, can be found on the resort's Twitter feed.
For another stunning view of Phoenix that's a little easier to access than Camelback Mountain, head to Dobbins Lookout. You make the 5.5-mile trek to the top in your car along a winding scenic drive, or hike up Holbert Trail. From the lookout 2,330 feet up, you get sweeping views of the valley. It's especially lovely at sunset, with the colorful sky lighting up the red rocks of the desert.
Phoenix's past is another feature that's shaped the city. You can get a look into the past at the Pueblo Grande Museum and Archaeological Park, which is built around the remains of a 1,500- year-old Hohokam village. Start at the museum, which takes a look at the Hohokam tribe and the archaeological methods used to gather what we know about them. Then, set off on the park's outdoor trail to see the actual archaeological site, along with some re-creations of what the village would have looked like 1,500 years ago.
For a unique view of the city, head to Papago Park's Hole-in-the-Rock. The sandstone formation has had holes eroded through it, and a climb to the hole itself is a fun activity. Plus, the hole frames a picture-perfect view of Phoenix, and there's evidence that the Hohokam tribe used the rock to determine the position of the sun and various seasons. Another scenic overlook that's best viewed at sunset, it's a quick stop you can make after checking out everything else that Papago has to offer; the park is known for hiking, mountain biking and fishing.
As you explore these Phoenix icons, you'll find yourself getting a great feel for what makes the city so special. Enjoy the sights, history, culture, and cuisine that give the city its distinctive atmosphere and make it so worth visiting!
It's time to go beyond. Follow trails that reveal mighty mountaintops. Wander among iconic landscapes beneath picture-perfect skies. Let the Sonoran Desert be your guide to limitless adventure.