Phoenix Getaway Guide: Visit the Sunniest City in the US

America’s sixth largest city is the perfect getaway for sun-seekers who love their food, culture and nightlife

Credit: Curt Woodhall, Arrivals

Arizona’s breathtaking desert scenery features landscapes and sunsets you won’t see elsewhere

Known as Arizona’s urban heart, Phoenix offers all the amenities and excitement of an American metropolis, with all the sun and relaxation you’d find at the beach

With over 310 days of annual sunshine, Phoenix is the perfect getaway for adventure-seeking urbanites who love the sun.

And its more than 40 luxury resorts, world-class destination spas and phenomenal dining and nightlife scene ensure every visitor is rested, relaxed and reinvigorated before their journey home.

What to See in Sunny Phoenix

Hop aboard a hot air balloon to gaze upon Phoenix’s glorious scenery (Image: Curt Woodhall, Arrivals)

Phoenix is America’s sixth largest city, and with so much ground to cover, seeing it from above might be your best bet for a complete perspective. Hot Air Expeditions offers sunrise and sunset hot air balloon rides that are exciting and invigorating as well as peaceful and romantic. You’ll float like a cloud over vast expanses of arid land, spotting local wildlife and taking in magnificent unobstructed desert vistas. An al fresco champagne breakfast of fresh fruit, cheese, pain au chocolate and quiche completes the adventure. 

If you want to experience the incredible desert scenery but prefer your feet planted firmly on the ground, try South Mountain Park and Preserve‘s 82 kilometres of trails for hiking, horseback riding and mountain biking. To learn more about the area’s unique cacti and plant life, visit the Desert Botanical Gardens, a one-of-a-kind museum showcasing 50 acres of beautiful outdoor exhibits and more than 100 rare, threatened and endangered plant species from around the world. The gardens also hold special events throughout the year including several concert series and Las Noches de Las Luminarias – a Southwestern holiday tradition with thousands of hand-lit lanterns.

The arts and culture scene in Phoenix is as unique as the landscape, with an unusual blend of Native American, Hispanic, African and Asian influences. For a perfect depiction of this diversity, visit the Phoenix Art Museum to view its collection of art, photography and fashion design.

Another hugely popular museum is the internationally acclaimed Heard Museum, which features 10 exhibition galleries comprised of approximately 40,000 pieces of Native American artefacts and artwork. The local art scene is also flourishing, and every Thursday evening the Scottsdale Gallery Association holds an Artwalk in Old Town Scottsdale to showcase the many artists and galleries in the area. 

Sip & Savour

Sip sophisticated cocktails at one of Scottsdale’s classy lounges or martini bars (Image: Phoenix Visitors Bureau)

Foodies visiting Phoenix can indulge in a full spectrum of cuisine that ranges from signature Southwestern dishes to exotic international fare. For a casual morning, tour the Downtown Phoenix Public Market and taste your way through fresh local fare including artisan cheeses, pickles, jellies, soups, and baked breads. 

A tasty way to experience one of Phoenix’s most popular neighbourhoods is to take a tour of Old Town Scottsdale with Arizona Food Tours. This three-hour walking tour includes the history of this old western town alongside samples of Southwest cuisine from some of Scottsdale’s most popular eateries.

Other fabulous finds in Old Scottsdale are Petite Maison, a stylish, intimate French bistro with amazing steak frites and crème brule, and Arcadia Farms, which has been a household name in farm-to-fork style cuisine for over 20 years.

When the sun goes down Old Town Scottsdale transforms itself from quaint and artsy to the place to be. Sexy lounges, moody wine bars and bumping clubs like Suede, Martini Ranch and Pussycat Lounge are packed with partygoers until the wee hours. A local favourite for Sunday pool parties and late night cocktails is the chic yet cheeky W Hotel.

Phoenix Accommodations

Enjoy a tranquil treatment with your partner at Alvadora Spa (Image: Curt Woodhall, Arrivals)

The iconic Arizona Biltmore Hotel, designed by famous architect Frank Loyd Wright, has been a Phoenix institution since opening in 1929. The impressive property, which spans 39 acres, features manicured lawns and gardens, eight swimming pools, tennis courts, championship golf, a 22,000-square-foot day-spa, as well as a mix of 750 guest rooms, villas and suites.

Among the Biltmore’s six dining options is The Wright Bar, which lays claim to creating the original Tequila Sunrise, and the seasonally inspired fine dining restaurant Wrights

For a more intimate and romantic boutique hotel, book into the Royal Palms Resort & Spa. Awarded Travel + Leisure’s #1 Resort in Phoenix for 2012, this former 1920s Mediterranean-style mansion offers solitude and tranquility with 119 beautifully appointed casitas, guestrooms and villas set amidst lush courtyards and fragrant gardens.

Royal Palms is also home to the amazing Alvadora Spa, specializing in luxurious couples’ treatments, and the critically acclaimed T. Cook’s restaurant, offering delicious seasonal dishes and fire-roasted specialties from the Mediterranean region.                                                                                                                    

Right: Enjoy the gorgeous view of the Phoenix Mountains from the Arizona Biltmore Hotel (Image: Curt Woodhall, Arrivals)  

Mhairri Woodhall is a travel writer at Arrivals Travel.