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Phoenix

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Travel Guide North America USA Western United States Arizona Phoenix

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Introduction

Phoenix, Arizona, is the heart of the Greater Phoenix area and includes Scottsdale, Tempe, Mesa, Glendale, Chandler and Peoria. Phoenix is the state's capital and largest city, and includes fine dining, many museums and an active nightlife. Phoenix boasts a large number of golf courses, and has become a primary resort destination for those looking for dry weather and 18 holes. The Phoenix area is home to the NFL's Arizona Cardinals, the Phoenix Suns NBA team and the Arizona Diamondbacks Baseball team. Arizona State University is located in Tempe. In the heart of the desert region in the southwest of the state, the temperature is usually warm in the winter and downright hot in the summer with little rain.

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Neighbourhoods

  • Downtown Phoenix is a major and modern area. The Phoenix Convention Center holds many events. Chase Field is home to baseball's Arizona Diamondbacks. US Airways Center is home to the NBA Phoenix Suns. The Orpheum and Dodge Theatres as well as the Herberger Theatre Center and Symphony Hall can fulfill the art lovers needs. The State Capitol building is just to the west of Downtown.
  • Glendale is sports-lovers paradise, home to the Arizona Cardinals NFL team, as well as the NHL Phoenix Coyotes. Sunday afternoons during the NFL season provide a chance to take part in the American football tradition of tail-gating, where football lovers get together to drink beer, barbeque food and watch the pre-game show on mobile TVs with satellite dishes.
  • Tempe is home to the Arizona State University, with the associated bars, restaurants and clubs that come with any university town. Sun Devil Stadium is a venue for major concerts as well as the home to the ASU Sun Devil's football team.
  • Downtown Scottsdale includes the Old Town, a collection of shops and restaurants with an old west theme. Next to Old Town is the Museum of Contemporary Art.

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Sights and Activities

  • SEA LIFE Phoenix Aquarium - Gaze at an amazing array of marine life at this 26,000-square-foot indoor aquarium at the Arizona Mills mall. Featuring more than 5,000 different species and attractions like a touch tank for curious hands. Address: 5000 S Arizona Mills Cir #145, Tempe, Phone: 480-478-7600

Phoenix is known as a destination to come golfing. There are a large number of golf courses, both public and private, in the Phoenix area.

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Events and Festivals

  • The Tostitos Fiesta Bowl is held in every year in Glendale at the University of Phoenix Stadium. The game is held in early January and is one of many college football bowl games held every year to determine the national champion. In addition to the game, there is a large celebration that accompanies the game, including a parade that offers a delightful pageantry of floats, glorious helium balloons, marching bands and spirited specialty and equestrian units.
  • "Cactus League" baseball is the name given to the spring training games for the Major League Baseball teams that occur in March and April. Spring training games held in the Phoenix and Tucson area include the Angels, Diamondbacks, Cubs, White Sox, Rockies, Royals, Brewers, Athletics, Giants, Padres, Mariners and Rangers. The games are usually much easier to get tickets to and are much less expensive that attending regular season games.
  • The Festival of the West is held annually in March in North Scottsdale. The festival offers attendees a chance to see rodeo, cowboy poetry, country music and other wild west events and displays.
  • October sees the Arizona State Fair, with hundreds of thousands of attendees coming to the fair to sample the new foods, exhibits, and entertainment offerings.

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Weather

Phoenix has a subtropical desert climate, typical of the Sonoran Desert in which it lies. Phoenix has long, extremely hot summers and short, pleasant winters. The climate is arid, with plenty of sunshine and clear skies. Average high temperatures in summer are the hottest of any major city in the United States. On average, there are 107 days annually with a high of at least 38 °C including most days from late May through early October. Highs top 43 °C an average of 18 days during the year. On June 26, 1990, the temperature reached an all-time recorded high of 50 °C.

Unlike most desert locations which undergo drastic fluctuations between day and nighttime temperatures, Phoenix's diurnal temperature variation is limited by the urban heat island effect. As the city has expanded, average summer low temps have been steadily rising. The daily heat of the sun is stored in pavement, sidewalks, and buildings, and it is radiated back out at night. The daily normal low remains at or above 27 °C for an average of 67 days per summer. On July 15, 2003, Phoenix set its record for the warmest daily low temperature, at 36 °C.

The city averages approximately 300 days of sunshine, or over 85% of daylight hours per year, and receives scant rainfall. Tthe average annual total at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport being 204 mm. Precipitation is sparse during most of the year, but the North American Monsoon brings an influx of moisture during the summer. When active, the monsoon raises humidity levels and can cause heavy localized precipitation, flash floods, hail, destructive winds, and dust storms, which can rise to the level of a haboob in some years. July is the wettest month of the year (27 mm), while June is the driest (0.51 mm).

Generally speaking, Phoenix only has one day per year where the low temperature drops to or below 0 °C. However, outlying portions of the greater Phoenix metropolitan area frequently see frost in the winter. The all-time lowest recorded temperature in Phoenix was -9 °C on January 7, 1913, while the coldest daily high temperature ever recorded was 2 °C on December 10, 1898. Snow is a very rare occurrence for the city of Phoenix. Snowfall was first officially recorded in 1898, and since then, accumulations of 0.1 inches (0.25 cm) or greater have occurred only eight times.

JanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Avg Max18.8 °C21.5 °C24.2 °C29.2 °C34.2 °C39.7 °C41.1 °C39.8 °C36.8 °C31.2 °C23.8 °C19 °C
Avg Min5.1 °C7.1 °C9.3 °C12.9 °C17.7 °C22.7 °C27.2 °C26.2 °C22.7 °C16 °C9.4 °C5.4 °C
Rainfall17 mm17.3 mm22.4 mm5.6 mm3 mm3.3 mm21.1 mm24.4 mm21.8 mm16.5 mm16.8 mm25.4 mm
Rain Days2.72.83.21.10.60.533.22.322.33.1

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Getting There

By Plane

The Phoenix area is served by Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport (PHX), which along with being one of the coolest named airports in America, also bills itself as America's friendliest airport. The airport is made up of 3 terminals, labelled terminals 2, 3 and 4. There is no terminal 1. Shuttle buses run between the terminals, and out to the Rental Car Center, which contains all the rental companies and is about a 15-minute ride from the airport. The airport is served by bus and light rail into Phoenix. To get to the light rail stop, take a free airport shuttle out to 44th street and Washington. Buses run into the airport. For any questions, look for volunteers at the airport dressed in purple jackets, or check out the Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport website.

There are a number of smaller airports in the Phoenix area, but most of these not served by scheduled or charter airlines.

By Train

Phoenix is not served by passenger rail, however Amtrak does have service into Phoenix by offering a connecting bus service from their train stop in Flagstaff.

By Car

Phoenix is well connected to other parts of the USA via the interstate highway system. Major routes into Phoenix include:

By Bus

Greyhound offers service from across the USA into the Phoenix Bus Station, at 2115 E. Buckeye Road, near the airport. TUFESA Bus Lines offers service from Mexico.

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Getting Around

By Car

Roads in Phoenix are well maintained. Highway 10 runs through the southern part of town before heading south towards Tucson. Highway 101 rings Phoenix and Scottsdale on the north of highway 10. Highway 202 has a partial ring in the southern area of the greater Phoenix area, serving Tempe, Mesa and Chandler. Highway 17 and highway 51 provide north-south routes through Phoenix.

Right turn on red lights are allowed, unless there is a sign indicating otherwise. A number of streets in downtown are one-way, so look before turning at an intersection. Phoenix and all of Arizona does have unmanned speed cameras, so be careful about speeding.

If you are renting a car, consider not renting at the airport. The newly constructed airport car rental center has a 29% surcharge to pay for the building. Travellers can take public transit into town, and rent a car at an in-town rental area to save some money.
Many international rental companies have a wide selection of rental cars and these include Hertz, Avis, Dollar, Thrifty, Enterprise, Budget and Alamo/National. Most companies will require you are at least 25 years of age, although younger people might be able to rent cars at slightly higher rates and with some insurance differences as well. A national driver's license is usually enough, but an additional international one is recommended. Also note that it usually costs more to include lots of other extra things. For example extra drivers, GPS, the first full tank, SLI (Supplemental Liability Insurance), PAI (Personal Accident Insurance, usually covered already at home), road assistance/service plan, and drop-off costs for one-way rentals.
If you want to book a car, it is recommended that you book your car before arriving in the USA. This is almost always (much) cheaper compared to just showing up. Also, try and book with a so-called 'broker', which usually works together with a few or many car rental companies and can offer the best deal. Some examples include Holidayautos, Holidaycars and Sunny Cars. Some of the cheapest deals to book from Europe, includes Drive-USA, which also has a German version.

For more information and tips about renting cars and campers, additional costs, insurance, traffic rules, scenic routes and getting maps and fuel it is advised to check the USA Getting Around section.

By Public Transport

Valley Metro Transit provides public buses and light-rail in Phoenix.

Buses can be boarded with a pass, or exact change. The farebox accepts exact change in $1 and $2 bills and all forms of US coins (except 50 cent pieces) in good condition.

The light-rail uses a proof-of-payment system. Pass cards or paper passes must be activated at station platforms before boarding a light-rail train, or when entering a bus.

Fares for adults are:

  • 1 ride $1.25.
  • All day pass $2.50 (passes expire at 2:59am on the following day).
  • 3 day pass $7.50.
  • 7 day pass $17.50.
  • 31 day pass $45.

Reduced fares are available to children five years old and under, youths ages 6-18, seniors 65 and over, and persons with a disability. A system map can be found at the Valley Metro site. Routes 15, 13 and 40 serve the airport, along with a light-rail line.

By Foot

The downtown area of Phoenix is small enough to walk around, but in general the greater Phoenix area is very large and can get incredibly hot in the summer months. Not many people walk, unless they are taking advantage of one of the many hiking opportunities in Phoenix. Ironically, most people get into their cars and drive to the hiking areas to walk.
Those looking to hike should check out the listing of trails on the City of Phoenix website.

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Eat

For cheap eats, look out for many 24-hour Mexican food places such as Filiberto's, Raliberto's and other restaurants offer a burrito the size of your forearm for less than $4.

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Drink

Phoenix as a metropolitan area offers a considerable amount of nightlife, though with the fact that the city is so spread out it can be difficult and dangerous to attempt traversing the city on a big night out. Generally, the nightlife is centered around the sub-cities of the metro area. Within Phoenix itself bars tend to cluster within the Midtown or Downtown areas, while in the surrounding areas, Scottsdale offers a lively bar and club scene, Tempe is popular with students given the proximity to the University, and the city centers for Chandler and Glendale both offer some good options if you're in the suburbs. Downtown Mesa lacks any appreciable nightlife given its strong ties to the Mormon church.

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Sleep

Budget

HI has a hostel at 1026 N 9th St with beds for US$18.00 a day.

PropertyAddressTypePopularity
Days Inn Metrocenter2735 w Sweetwater Ave(I-17 bwtween Thunderbird & CHOTEL89
Americas Best Value Inn-Downtown Phoenix424 W. Van Buren StreetHotel-
Motel 6 Phoenix Airport - 24th Street214 S 24th Street PhoenixHotel-
Best Western InnSuites Hotel & Suites1615 E Northern Avenue PhoenixHOTEL-
Holiday Inn Phoenix West1500 N 51st Ave. Phoenix, AZ. 85043Hotel-
Howard Johnson Airport Downtown4120 E. Van BurenHotel-
Comfort Inn Phoenix North2641 West Union Hills DriveHotel-
Super 8 Bell17211 North Black Canyon HwyHotel-
Quality Inn 2781550 S. 52nd Street TempeHotel-
CamelBackpackers Hostel1601 North 13th Avenue Cross Road McDowellHOSTEL-
Hostelling International Phoenix1026 North 9th StreetHOSTEL-
Days Inn Phoenix Airport2900 E. Van BurenHOTEL-
Best Western Metro8101 N. Black Canyon HwyHOTEL-
Phoenix Affordable Room Rentals2536 East Nisbet RoadApartment-
Phoenix Practical Room Rentals18 EAST VOGEL AVEApartment-

Upscale

Phoenix has a large number of very upscale resorts, specifically catering to the golf and spa crowd.

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Learn

Phoenix is home to Arizona State University (ASU), one of the major schools in the USA, with an enrollment of over 67,000 students. ASU has 4 campuses across Greater Phoenix. It is one of the premier research schools in America.

In addition to ASU, Phoenix has a number of campuses for colleges and universities. The University of Phoenix is just one of the examples.

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Keep Connected

Internet

There is a very small internet bar/cafe culture in the USA. Even then most of the internet bars/cafes tend be located in major urban centers. Accessible WiFi networks, however, are common. The most generally useful WiFi spots are in coffee shops, fast-food chains, and bookshops, but also restaurants and hotels more and more have a network to connect on. Some of them might require you to buy something and you might need a password too, especially in hotels.

Phone

See also International Telephone Calls

The general emergency phone number is 911. The USA has a great landline phone system that is easy to use. The country code for the U.S. is +1. The rest of the telephone number consists of 10 digits: a 3-digit area code, and a 7-digit number. Any small grocery store or pharmacy has pre paid domestic or international phone cards. These phone cards are very cheap and offer good rates. The once ubiquitous pay phone is now much harder to find. Likely locations include in or near stores and restaurants, and near bus stops. The cellphone network in the states is slowly getting better but is still not as good when compared to other western countries. Cell phones tend to operate using different frequencies (850 MHz and 1900 MHz) from those used elsewhere in the world (2100 MHz). This used to prevent most foreign phones from working in America. Phones must be tri- or quad-band to work in the U.S. Fortunately, technology has meant that most phones should now be able to pick up one of the U.S. networks. Prepaid phones and top-up cards can be purchased at mobile phone boutiques and at many discount, electronics, office supply and convenience stores. A very basic handset with some credit can be had for under $40.

Post

The US Postal Service is a very good and well priced mail system. There are post offices in every small and large town for sending packages internationally or domestically. Although some might keep longer hours, most are open at least between 9:00am and 5:00pm. If wanting to send a letter or postcard it is best just to leave it in a blue mail box with the proper postage. First-class international airmail postcards and letters (up 28.5 grams) cost $1.10. There are also private postal services like FedEx, UPS, TNT and DHL, which might be better value sometimes and are generally very quick and reliable too.

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Quick Facts

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Coordinates
  • Latitude: 33.448263
  • Longitude: -112.073821

Contributors

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This is version 35. Last edited at 9:45 on Sep 27, 16 by Utrecht. 81 articles link to this page.

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