Phoenix, from South Mountain
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The Valley of the Sun, otherwise known as metro Phoenix (i.e., Phoenix and all its suburbs, including Tempe and Scottsdale), is named for its 325-plus days of sunshine each year. Although many come to Phoenix for the golf and the weather, the Valley has much to offer by way of shopping, outdoor activities, and nightlife. The best of the latter is in Scottsdale and the East Valley with their hip dance clubs, old-time saloons, and upscale wine bars.The Valley marks the northern tip of the Sonoran Desert, a prehistoric seabed that extends into northwestern Mexico with a landscape offering much more than just cacti. Palo verde and mesquite trees, creosote bushes, brittle bush, and agave dot the land, which is accustomed to being scorched by temperatures in excess of 100°F for weeks at a time. Late summer brings precious rain as monsoon storms illuminate the sky with lightning shows and the desert exudes the scent of creosote. Spring sets the Valley blooming, and the giant saguaros are crowned in white flowers for a short time in May—in the evening and cool early mornings—and masses of vibrant wildflowers fill desert crevices and span mountain landscapes.
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Things You Can't Miss
Palm trees surround the ponds at Papago Park in Phoenix, Arizona
Image Credit: Claudia Botterweg/Alamy
The galleries and outdoor courtyards of the Heard Museum present traditional and contemporary works from a range of Southwestern cultures.
Image Credit: Richard Cummins / Getty Images
Botanical gardens usually conjure images of lush greens, not arid deserts—but that’s what makes this botanical garden so special. See it for yourself.
Image Credit: Andreas Geh / Getty Images
A slice of life of an American genius, at Taliesin West you see his buildings as well as his chairs, beds and lamps. It’s the Jetsons meet Fred Flinstone.
Image Credit: Stephen Saks / Getty Images
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Must Reads Before You Go
Phoenix, Scottsdale, and Tempe vacation travel guide and tour information including highlights such as Desert Botanical Garden and Heard Museum.
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