When to Go to Phoenix, Scottsdale, and Tempe
It's a common misconception that Phoenix forever hovers around 100°F. That might hold true from May to October, but the winter months have been known to push the mercury down to 35°F. The city also has experienced consecutive days of nonstop rain. Such instances are rare, but it's good to be prepared and check weather reports before you pack.
Phoenix can get pretty darn hot in summer, so plan your outdoor activities for the cooler parts of the day and save the air-conditioned stuff for when it's needed: the Heard Museum is not only a must-see, it's also inside, as are the nearby Phoenix Art Museum and many other popular attractions.
Barrett-Jackson. Fabulous car auctions including Barrett-Jackson attract thousands every January. 480/421-6694. www.barrett-jackson.com.
PF Chang's Rock ‘n' Roll Marathon. Live bands line the course and a concert follows the 26.2-mile race that attracts thousands each January. 800/311–1255. runrocknroll.competitor.com/arizona.
Russo and Steele. Every January, the Russo and Steele auction features some of the most sought-after vehicles in the world. 602/252–2697. www.russoandsteele.com.
Waste Management Phoenix Open. Formerly the Phoenix Open, this golf tournament is the "Greatest Show on Grass." 602/870–0163. www.wmphoenixopen.com.
The Heard Museum World Championship Hoop Dance Contest. The Heard Museum hosts the spectacular Annual World Hoop Dance Championship, with traditional music and costumes. 602/252–8840. www.heard.org.
The Parada del Sol Parade and Rodeo. This annual horse-drawn parade is an Arizona tradition featuring cowboys, cowgirls, horses, and floats. 480/990–3179. www.paradadelsol.us.
Indian Fair & Market. Every March, more than 700 Native American artists and artisans are showcased at the Heard Museum. 602/252–8840. www.heard.org.
Top acts from a variety of genres perform on multiple stages in Tempe.
Ostrich Festival. This is a weekend of music, entertainment, and (of course) ostrich races in Chandler every March. 480/963–4571. www.ostrichfestival.com.
Scottsdale Arts Festival. This weekend event in March is jam-packed with arts and crafts—and music. 480/499-8587. www.scottsdaleartsfestival.org.
Country Thunder. In the Southeast Valley every April, Florence becomes Nashville West during the Country Thunder concert series. 866/802–6418. www.countrythunder.com.
Scottsdale Culinary Festival. Foodies from across the Valley mark their calendars for this week-long festival in April. Taste the creations from some of the best chefs in town at this outoor celebration of food. 480/945–7193. www.scottsdalefest.org.
Arizona State Fair. Come for classic fair fun, including arm wrestling and calf roping. 602/252–6771. www.azstatefair.com.
Las Noches de las Luminarias. Adjacent to the twinkling zoo, the Desert Botanical Garden lights up every night during Las Noches de las Luminarias, when thousands of luminarias (paper bags with lights inside) line the Garden's pathways. Stroll, listen to live music, and enjoy the beauty of the desert. Tickets sell out quickly, so be sure to make a reservation for this annual December event. 480/941–1225. www.dbg.org.
ZooLights. Get into a sparkly holiday spirit at the Phoenix Zoo when the park celebrates ZooLights every year from Thanksgiving through New Year's. 602/273–1341. www.phoenixzoo.org.