1. Downtown is hot…and it has nothing to do with the sun.
Phoenix is at its best in its downtown heart. While some cities are just too expensive to attract working artists, and others too small to provide ample opportunity, Phoenix has struck some kind of creative gold — artists here have gifted an affordable, down-to-earth, DIY ambiance to a city center that has both character and accessibility.
Along Central Avenue and Roosevelt Row stand the oldest and most charming houses in the metro area, and the place is overrun with artists.
2. The desert can look like it’s out to get you…until you realize how beautiful it is.
Take a look at a barrel cactus, or the prickly outstretched arms of a saguaro, and you don’t have trouble imagining how the local flora could hurt you. See your first scorpion, and it hammers home the point that you might be in the city, but the city is in the desert and the desert can poke, bite, sting, and mummify like little else.
But then you start to see the upsides to hanging out on the edge of the Sonoran Desert and enjoying sunshine day in and day out. Year-round swimming, camping, and outdoor dining are just a few. Yes, you may have to be careful not to lean in too close when smelling that yucca bloom, but when you see the desert’s spring flowers explode into even more color during one of those classic Phoenix sunsets, or watch as a cluster of saguaros is silhouetted against a clear night sky, it is all so worth it.
3. Phoenix is home to the best hot dog in the world.
The hot dog may not have been invented in Phoenix, but it was most definitely perfected here. The
For more unexpectedly awesome dining options, check out our guide to
4. “Dry heat” isn’t just a cliche — it’s a real thing.
Phoenix is the reality that proves the cliche — there is such a thing as a dry heat. The logic goes that due to the lack of humidity, the desert is dry and therefore less imposing than other hot climates. Come May, when the mercury hits 90 degrees, this is absolutely true. It’s the most pleasant 90 degrees you could imagine, perfect for a hike at
5. Sometimes getting outside means breaking a sweat — other times it just means shopping.
Depressing fluorescent-lit storefronts and kiosks selling cold pretzels are what most people think of when they picture the quintessential shopping mall, but here we’ve turned it into something different. Places like
But if you’re really craving some air conditioning and want to shop in a traditional indoor mall, you can’t do better than
6. Rainy weather can be the best weather.
Phoenix averages 7 inches of rain per year — precipitation here is an absolute novelty. When the rain does come down, it’s a major event from which no one wants to be excluded. It’s fleeting and cooling, and if you’re stuck inside, you’ll actually be upset that you missed it. Instagram explodes with photos of riverbeds that actually have water in them. Facebook is deluged with comments of the deluge … even if it’s only a drizzle. It’s not uncommon to have friends ask, “What did you do when it rained two years ago?”
And that’s not even mentioning the lightning storms. Yes, they’re as awesome as they look.
7. In summer, it’s easy to live like the 1%.
There’s so much to be done outdoors in Phoenix (check out
Want to drink like a fat cat? We’ve got some of the
8. Baseball doesn’t stop when Spring Training ends.
That being said, the end of March is hardly the end of baseball season in Phoenix. Catching the Diamondbacks playing a home game is a draw in and of itself, partly because of Chase Stadium. It’s air-conditioned, with a fully retractable roof, and there’s even a swimming pool in right-center field. Note: That’s one luxury ticket item that doesn’t get insanely cheap during summer — but if you can find 34 friends, you can rent it for $100 apiece during the next game.
9. Midcentury design never went out of style.
Make no mistake: Phoenix is a big city. It’s the sixth-biggest city in the nation, the most populous state capital, and the only capital that has over a million residents. It’s not just a city in the desert — it’s a powerhouse.
And with powerhouse status tend to come new buildings, bigger buildings, and that steel-y, metropolitan feel that often lacks character. Not here. Phoenix holds onto its Midcentury Modern look in places like