Ever since Elizabeth Arden opened a spa on Camelback Mountain in the 1930's, Phoenix (and its satellite sister, Scottsdale) has been a prime R&R destination for the wealthy and well bred. (Cue the local joke: What's the difference between Phoenix and yogurt? One has culture.) While the Valley of the Sun still has its priorities straight-warm desert breezes, swaying palms, chaise lounges by the pool-something has shifted of late. The city's contemporary art scene has finally achieved critical mass. Cool boutiques are launching; chefs are redefining southwestern cuisine; and-although malls and fairways continue to overtake the surrounding desert-civic-minded residents have preserved plenty of evocative landscape for nature enthusiasts. (Pinnacle Peak, a beloved local hiking spot, reopened after being closed for eight years.) And although Arden's spa is long gone, the resort scene is rife with ever-revamping hotels and state-of-the-art spas. Thousands now travel to Phoenix to experience this awakening, and Travel + Leisure's Phoenix travel guide can show you where to start.
Things Not to Miss in Phoenix
• Scramble to the top of Camelback Mountain's red rocks for a view of the city from above.
• Grab a taste of authentic Mexican cuisine at the Phoenix Ranch Market, where artisans make everything from tortillas to hibiscus juice.
• Stroll through Bentley Projects, a downtown warehouse district full of art galleries.
When to Go to Phoenix
Given the city's desert setting, Phoenix travel can be affected by its soaring summertime temperatures. Luckily, its buildings are well air-conditioned. And, in the winter months, Phoenix can experience close to freezing temps. The shoulder months in between are the safest bet for weather that's not oppressively warm or cold.
Scrambling to the top of Camelback Mountain’s red rocks for a challenging hike with a payoff: a view of the entire city.
Sipping hibiscus juice, sampling tres leches (three milk) cake, and watching hundreds of tortillas roll off the assembly line at Phoenix Ranch Market—the most authentic Mexican market in town.
A stroll through Bentley Projects, a funky downtown warehouse and outpost of one of the city’s most popular galleries.