travel & recreation
A huge, sprawling landscape, the Valley of the Sun includes the city of Phoenix and a network of cities and towns surrounding the main business and commercial core, including Scottsdale and Tempe.
For more details and help in planning your visit to the Valley of the Sun, contact the Phoenix and Valley of the Sun Convention and Visitors Bureau -- call 800-528-0483. The main public information center is located at One Arizona Center, 400 E. Van Buren, Suite 600, Phoenix AZ 85004-2292. The center is open Monday through Friday from 8 am to 5 pm. Another information center is at the northeast corner of Adams and Second Streets, in the Hyatt Regency Block -- open from 8:30 am to 5 pm daily. For general information on current activities, call (602) 254-6500.
There are two distinctive parks in the area that offer quiet walks and other things to do -- both situated in the desert environment. South Mountain Park is the largest municipal park in the world. It is located south of the Salt River, off Interstate 10. A second entrance, an extension of Central Avenue, leads through a large portion of the park, offering a drive to the Summit Lookout.
Papago Park is a desert area shared by the cities of Phoenix and Tempe. In addition to the picnic areas and hiking trails, the park houses the Phoenix Zoo, an 18-hole golf course, and the Desert Botanical Garden. You could easily spend a complete day exploring the attractions of Papago Park. The Botanical Garden has indoor and outdoor displays of every desert plant imaginable, including a 3-acre exhibit that has displays of the historic uses of Sonoran Desert plants. Sixty-fourth Street runs through the park (north/south), and either McDowell or Van Buren Streets will take you west to the park from downtown Phoenix.
Museums, Galleries & Gardens
The Heard Museum features an outstanding range of exhibits on the art and culture of southwestern native peoples. Indian artists demonstrate their craft skills daily in the galleries. The museum is located at 22 East Monte Vista Road, (602) 252-8848. The Phoenix Art Museum is the Southwest's largest art gallery -- featuring paintings, photography, sculpture, and fashion from the Renaissance to modern times, plus a children's gallery. The museum is at 1625 N. Central Avenue, (602) 257-1222.
The Arizona State Capitol Museum (1700 West Washington St.) celebrates the history of the state capitol building -- built in 1900 and restored to its 1912 appearance. The museum is open weekdays from 8 am to 5 pm, (602) 542-4675.
There are two notable Indian cultural centers in the area portraying the cultural history of the tribes that settled the area before the European settlement. The Hoo-hoogam Ki Museum is located on the Salt River Indian Reservation, a few minutes' drive east of Scottsdale. The museum features displays with artifacts from the Pima and Maricopa tribes. For information, phone (602) 941-7379. Pima and Maricopa culture is also on display at the Gila River Indian Arts and Crafts Center, which is found 30 miles south of Phoenix via Interstate 10 (exit 175), at Sacaton. There is a botanical park and a gift shop, with accommodations available. Call (602) 963-3981.
Pueblo Grande Museum and Cultural Park (4919 E. Washington St., Phoenix) is the site of Hohokam ruins that were occupied from AD 1 through AD 1450. Some exhibits show excavated material and some highlight other aspects of Native American culture. Call (602) 495-0901.
Desert Center at Pinnacle Peak is a desert garden open daily for self-guided tours. It is in Scottsdale, at 8711 E. Pinnacle Peak Road. Call (602) 585-5743 for a recorded message. Those interested in impressionist art will enjoy a visit to the Fleisher Museum, in the Perimeter Center at 17207 N. Perimeter Dr., Scottsdale. The museum is dedicated to showing the work of the California School of American impressionist artists. More than 200 works are on display. The gallery is open daily from 10 am to 4 pm but is closed on holidays, (602) 585-3108.
The Pioneer Arizona Living History Museum is located north of the city, via Interstate 17. Here, a complex of restored pioneer buildings displays early life in the state. People in period costumes populate the old buildings, which include a bank, opera house, miners' camp, and a Victorian home.
Other Things to See & Do
Apache Greyhound Park, the dog racing track, is in Apache Junction, 17 miles east of Phoenix. The track features racing Thursdays through Mondays from October to May. For information, call (602) 982-2371 or 244-2729.
Cave Creek and Carefree are neighboring mountain villages north of the city, offering shopping and dining. Cave Creek dates back to the 1800s and has much of its old mining town flavor. Carefree is a modern upscale residential community. There are several old-timey eating places (saloons) in Cave Creek, and this scenic area is a fine place to visit, particularly near the end of the day.
Set in the foothills of the McDowell Mountains, Taliesin West is a national historic landmark&emdash;the winter home, studio, and school founded by architect Frank Lloyd Wright. This outstanding example of Wright's style is open daily for guided tours: October&endash;May, Mon.&endash;Thurs. from 1 pm to 4 pm, Fri., Sat. and Sun. from 9 am to 4 pm; June&endash;September, 8 am to 11 am.
To search hotels, cruises,
See information on hotels and resorts in the Phoenix area on our hotel page.
Green Acres RV Park III is in Tempe, close to almost everything in the Phoenix area at 1890 E. Apache Blvd. There are 60 RV spaces with showers and laundry. (602) 829-0106.
Desert Edge RV Park is located 17 miles north of the city, next to I-17. Take the Deer Valley Rd. W. exit. It's 1/2 mile north by the Frontage Rd. to 22623 N. Black Canyon Hwy. The 250 sites all have hookups. Laundry, propane, dump station, pool, whirlpool, recreation room. (602) 869-7021.
Two national forest campgrounds are situated near Cave Creek and Carefree, in the northern part of the Phoenix metro area.
CCC Campground is 20.5 miles north of Carefree on Forest Road 24. This is a primitive campground with no drinking water.
Seven Springs Campground is 20 miles northeast of Carefree on FR 24. There is water but no showers. Several nature trails are nearby.
At the eastern edge of the greater Phoenix area, the Superstition Mountains provide a backdrop for great sunrises. The best scenic drive in the area leads behind this range, over the old Apache Trail. Take this road at Apache Junction -- east of Phoenix. For our driver's guide to the Apache Trail, Go Here.
Pinal Pioneer Parkway
Another scenic drive featured earlier in this Arizona section (page 194) provides the scenic way to get to Tucson. To get to Florence Junction (the start of the southbound drive), take the same route (60/89) east from Phoenix and continue for 16 miles past Apache Junction. Turn south toward Florence and you'll soon be at the start of the Pioneer Parkway.
One point of interest along the way is the Tom Mix Memorial, at the spot where the venerated western movie star left this mortal coil. It is truly a touching experience for movie fans, made most interesting because of the adjacent desert plants. There is a picnic spot at the memorial site.
There are several additional picnic areas. Trees and shrubs along the route are marked with botanical information.
in the U.S. and Canada
in the US and Canada
Traveling with Kids
© 1997 - 2010
Onroute Communications LLC
Travel with Onroute.com