Phoenix enjoys about 300 days of sunshine a year, which has helped it to balloon into the sixth-largest city by population in the United States. It's also one of only 12 US cities with at least four major sports teams: the Arizona Cardinals (NFL), the Phoenix Suns (NBA), the Arizona Diamondbacks (MLB), and the Phoenix Coyotes (NHL). For those who would rather play sports than watch them, the city is home to hundreds of golf courses, many of which could prove distracting to golfers due to the unobstructed mountain vistas in the distance.
Though the topography of the Phoenix area is all desert, it's by no means desolate. Camelback Mountain is a designated city park area with scenic trails that wind past boulders and red-sandstone formations; climb to the very top for a view of the entire city. Or hit the themed trails at the Desert Botanical Garden filled with southwestern flora such as huge sonoran cacti and other moisture-hoarding succulents. Either way, plan hikes in the early morning or twilight hours to catch the most stunning sunlit views and stay cool.
When the sun is at its hottest, take cover in one of the city’s many waterparks. Big Surf in neighboring Tempe lays claim to North America’s first wave pool, Waikiki Beach, a 2.5 million-gallon pool that drenches swimmers with a wave every three minutes.
For an in-depth look at the cultures of Arizona’s indigenous population, browse the 12 exhibition galleries and sculpture garden at the Heard Museum. The collection’s nearly 40,000 pieces of art range from 500 Hopi katsina dolls to a full-size Pueblo oven. In nearby Scottsdale, Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin West was the renowned prairie-style architect’s winter home as well as a campus for his architecture school. Lesser-known local works can be viewed each month during First Friday art walks through the downtown galleries.
Phoenix’s arts culture is also quite audible: Symphony Hall is home to an orchestra, a youth symphony, a ballet company, and a metropolitan opera. Rock, country, and indie-music venues also pepper the metropolitan landscape, including the Sail Inn, which boasts both an indoor stage and an outdoor, open-air amphitheater.
From quirky movie theaters to vegan cookie providers, the city's varied activities are a perfect match for the incredible variety of its residents and small-business owners.