Phoenix On a Budget
SightsPhoenix is home to many sights, both indoors and out. For those seeking refuge from the hot southwestern sun, check out some of the city's best museums. The Arizona Science Center features a planetarium and IMAX theatre, the Heard Museum celebrates local Native American cultures and arts, and the Phoenix Art Museum hosts a collection of about 16,000 works of art in American, Asian, Latin American, and modern and contemporary styles.
For those who don't mind the heat, Phoenix has a plethora of outdoor attractions as well. The Phoenix Zoo is the largest privately owned, non-profit zoo in the United States, placing an emphasis on animal conservation, often breeding and reintroducing endangered species back into the wild. Next to the zoo, visitors can also see the Phoenix Botanical Gardens, acclaimed worldwide for their exhibits and educational programs, with the largest collection of arid plants in the United States. South Mountain Park is another great stop for experiencing a preserved desert mountain environment.
Pueblo Grande Museum and Archaeological Park is also of interest for anyone wanting to channel their inner Indiana Jones. It is the only city-operated archaeological site in the U.S., showcasing ancient pre-Columbian Hohokam inhabitants of the area. There are too many sights within and around the city to name them all, but a few additional items of note include the Japanese Friendship Garden, Historic Heritage Square, Phoenix Mountains Park, Tovrea Castle, Camelback Mountain, Hole in the Rock, Mystery Castle, St. Mary’s Basilica, Taliesin West, and the Wrigley Mansion.
NeighborhoodsGreater Phoenix is divided into seven districts: Downtown, Midtown, West Phoenix, North Phoenix, South Phoenix, Camelback East, and Ahwatukee. Downtown is the center of activity, especially for visitors, spanning 2-3 square miles and a few main thoroughfares-Central Avenue and Washington and Jefferson Streets. Midtown is home to a number of historic neighborhoods as well as several cultural, performance, and sporting venues. West Phoenix has seen some urban decline except for its Cricket Pavilion concert venue, while North Phoenix is a good home base for hiking and outdoor activities. South Phoenix is another district that has seen decline, but is home to South Mountain Regional Park-the largest municipal park in the country. And finally, both Camelback East and Ahwatukee are upscale districts, with Camelback East being home to the Phoenix Zoo and world class resorts.
ActivitiesBeing the largest, most populous city of the general area, Phoenix is host to a wide range of activities both within and without. The arts and entertainment scene is alive with opportunities to enjoy opera, symphony, theatre, and a number of festivals held throughout the year. Historic sites and museums are abundant, as are opportunities to get outdoors and enjoy hiking in a unique desert environment.
There are also many sites of interest just outside the city, some of which include National Monuments like Agua Fria, Casa Grande Ruins, and Organ Pipe Cactus, as well as other destinations like Lost Dutchman State Park, Montezuma’s Castle, and Montezuma’s Well.
Phoenix is also often a starting point for popular southwest locations like the Grand Canyon, Painted Desert, Tombstone, Sedona, Meteor Crater, Lake Havasu, and the Petrified Forest.
Plenty of hotel options can be found in the Phoenix area at all price ranges. The central area of downtown tends to have the highest priced hotels. Cheaper accommodation can be found on the outskirts of the city. Another option is to find an AirBnB in Phoenix, too.
Food and DiningLike much of Arizona, Phoenix is known for its huge spicy plates of Southwestern food. Most dishes are based in a spicy sauce made from red or green chili peppers, or a mix of both. Typical dishes of the American southwest that most people are familiar with include items like burrito, chimichanga, enchilada, fajitas, nachos, chili con carne, chili con queso, quesadilla, stuffed peppers, tacos, and tostados, many of which are often served with sides of rice and beans and salsa or guacamole. Arizona is actually the home of the chimichanga-a deep-fried burrito. Cactus is also popular, either fried or in salads. When in Arizona it's best to take advantage of the abundance of authentic southwestern food, though there are additionally plenty of standard chain restaurants and other fare in Phoenix for the less adventurous palette.
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