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western usa travel, tourist and visitor information guide
Phoenix, Arizona - Overview and Essential Travel Information
by cctraveler2 at TravelPost

Phoenix is the capital and largest city of the state of Arizona, United States. The biggest draw of Phoenix is its winter-time climate. You can expect frost about once every other year in Phoenix. Hordes of midwesterners flee to Phoenix each winter to escape the brutal cold back home.

Phoenix boasts an incredible quality of life. Housing is cheap and roomy. Streets are wide, traffic is light for a city this size, and the climate is conducive to an extremly laid-back existance. Every class of society is represented in the Phoenix area, and most co-habitate fairly pleasantly. Scottsdale boasts scores of manicured golf courses and 5-star resorts. Tempe is a college town with a funky feel guaranteed to charm all but the hardest of hearts. Mesa is the second largest mormon community in the world, behind only Salt Lake City. The Phoenix area is home to a large population of Mexicans and Mexican-Americans...both recent immigrants and descendants of families who lived here when it was still part of Mexico. You'll find great Mexican food almost anywhere you go. Phoenix does have its share of problems. Summers here are insanely hot. Having weeks at 115 degrees is not uncommon...if it gets to 120 degrees, everything has to shut town. For a desert city, Phoenicians let the water flow freely to fill their swimming pools and water their lawns. This creates some problems with water in dry years. Phoenix also has some not-so nice areas which should be avoided--if for no other reason than the smell of heavy industry and waste disposal. Many 'residents' are transients and leave the city for part of the year, creating problems with absenteeism. All this pales in comparison to the enjoyment and pride most Phoenicians feel.

Phoenix is still developing its identity as a center of culture, but you can see some great plays and exhibits in downtown...not to mention all types of major league sports and huge concerts. If you're a lover of the outdoors, there's no need to leave the city. South Mountain Park is the world's largest city park and offers hiking, biking, camping, horseback riding, and all sorts of activities culmonating with a panoramic vista of the entire valley from the top of the mountain. You can even gamble at Nevada-style casinos located on the Indian Reservations that surround Phoenix.

World-class resorts, warm/sunny climate, unsurpassed convenience and liveability, great activities, and tons of hospitality are what the visitor can expect from the Valley of the Sun.

GETTING AROUND

Three miles (5km) southeast of downtown Sky Harbor International Airport is connected with downtown by two Valley Metro bus lines shuttle services and taxis.

All the main car rental companies have airport offices and many have offices in other parts of the valley or will deliver a car to your door.

Valley Metro operates weekday buses all over the valley as well as a few routes on Saturday. Most stop operating in the early evening. Riders can use credit cards to pay their fare. The DASH bus system runs weekdays from downtown to the capitol leaving every few minutes from dawn to dusk.

Three to four hour narrated bus tours are a popular way of taking in the city's major sights. Several companies also do longer tours such as a grueling 14 hour tour to the Grand Canyon. Truer to the Western spirit are the horse-drawn carriage tours of Old Town Scottsdale. Many companies offer 4WD tours into the surrounding desert lasting anywhere from four hours to all day and stressing themes from ghost towns to natural history to Indian petroglyphs and ruins.

If you're driving, have a map handy; Phoenix has a large freeway network. Some of it is still underconstruction. The roads are fairly easy to navigate and exits are well-marked. Street-level congestion generally isn't a problem except during rush hour or around Arizona Mills Mall.

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