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CityTips Guide to Phoenix

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Phoenix - a desert oasis rising from the ruins of an ancient people, like its legendary namesake. A top resort and spa destination, this sprawling metropolis attracts the modern pioneer, ready to embrace the casual lifestyle in the Valley of the Sun.

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Local Overview

Phoenix, known as the "Valley of the Sun" for its 300 plus days of sunshine each year, is a fragmented city sprawling into many other towns and suburbs which surround it. Visitors first notice the sprawling low profile of the valley ensconced cozily within several mountain ranges on its border.

Downtown Phoenix

The downtown area has changed dramatically since its tired days of the 70's and 80's. With the construction of the US Airways Center for Phoenix Suns basketball and Chase Field for the MLB's Arizona Diamondbacks, these two teams have brought life to downtown. If you are attending the symphony or seek something a little more upscale, you can visit the nearby Arizona Center or CityScape, both located in the neighborhood known as Copper Square. The square has several coffeehouses, restaurants and bars that bring people downtown for a drink or a bite before the show.

Phoenix is also trying to revitalize the urban center with more residential living and amenities which serve the people who live here. Two great restaurants that serve them are Pizzeria Bianco by locally adopted son, Chris Bianco or Durant's down Central Ave. for those who seek more tradition.

Incorporating the themes of Phoenix's early history with culture and local events, Copper Square is a full square-mile hotspot for activities and action. Downtown attractions include the park at Patriots Square, the Arizona Science Center, the Phoenix Museum of History and the Phoenix Art Museum.

West Phoenix

The bedroom communities of Glendale and Peoria include moderately priced homes largely developed in the 1970s and they primarily remain residential areas. Most people find their entertainment and shopping needs at the Westgate City Center. This entertainment complex hosts the arena where the Arizona Cardinals play football alongside the ice-rink where the Phoenix Coyotes play hockey. For concerts and fairs, the Cricket Pavilion offers an open-air amphitheater all year, even in the summer! 

The growing west side continues to spread outward into other communities such as Buckeye and Surprise, however the town with the most charm would be Glendale. Most visitors go to Historic Downtown Glendale and its neighborhood Catlin Court for first-rate antique shopping opportunities. The newer Arrowhead Towne Center Mall offers newer wares and different dining choices.

South Phoenix

Largely comprised of low-cost housing and shared lots with the farming industry, the area of South Phoenix has somewhat of a reputation for violence and poverty. However, the upscale community of Ahwatukee is a notable exception. Ahwatukee residents are mostly older adults and urban professionals who shuffle around the city for work, and as such there is not a tremendous amount of attractions here.

This area is mostly residential, with upscale apartments that coexist with middle class housing. For some of the best views of Phoenix, be sure to take the South Mountain Park Scenic Drive while you are here. Fabulous sunsets are the pride of Arizona and best enjoyed from a desert wilderness vantage point. If the traveler prefers more shopping, it can be found at the Arizona Mills Mall near the outlaw little township of Guadalupe.

North & Northwest Phoenix

Further north, visitors can find the tranquil towns of Cave Creek and Anthem. And further northwest, you will find Peoria and the communities of Sun City, Sun City West and Surprise. Most of these towns are filled with golf courses and retirees. However, for other recreation, hikers will enjoy the White Tank Mountain Regional Park.

East Valley

Bordering Phoenix to the east is the neighborhood of Paradise Valley, which draws middle to upper class residents because of its beautiful desert location in the foothills of Camelback Mountain. Shopping is available at the upscale Paradise Valley Mall and Scottsdale Fashion Square. On the border of PV (as residents call it), lies Scottsdale, Arizona's most luxurious and coveted area. Highly sought after for its real estate and vacations, this area provides top-notch restaurants and entertaiment with renowned restaurants like El Chorro Lodge or Tarbell's. For some of the best pizza in the city, visit Pomo Pizzeria, a genuine pizzaiolo made in the old tradition of Napoli. You can find it in the interestingly constructed Borgata of Scottsdale.

Located south of Scottsdale, Tempe is primarily a college town and the home of Arizona State University. There is plenty to see and do in Tempe, from sports to recreation. For water activity, visit the Tempe Town Lake or climb Hayden Butte, and for entertainment, this suburb is the spot for local festivals such as Fall Festival of the Arts. The University is located in the center, ringed in by family and student housing.

Continuing east we find Mesa, Chandler and Gilbert. All bedroom communities that are primarily filled with families and strip-malls. Most of the area aside from Mesa remained largely agricultural communities until a growth spurt of housing which began in the 1980s and continues to this day.

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