Phoenix

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Over 300 days of annual sunshine and the scenic Sonoran Desert setting are principal draws for visitors. Popular outdoor activities include hiking, biking, and horseback riding. But don’t discount Phoenix’s cosmopolitan and cultural attractions – trendy art galleries, world-class museums, desert architecture, and Native American heritage – are equally worthwhile especially in summer when indoor activities provide a welcome respite from the 110 degree days.

Things to do in Phoenix

Camelback Mountain

Hike the 1.2-mile Summit Trail to the top of Camelback Mountain, named after its humped, camel-like shape – at 2,704 feet it's the city's highest point.

Echo Canyon Recreation Area; E. McDonald Dr. & N. Tatum Blvd., AZ, 602-262-4837, www.phoenix.gov/PARKS
Tags: hiking | views | things to do | outdoors

Desert Botanical Gardens

Horticulture enthusiasts love this 50-acre floral wonderland, home to 139 rare international plant species including Queen of the Night and Agave. Spot desert animals and birds on its walking paths.

1201 N. Galvin Parkway; Papago Park, AZ, 480-941-1225, www.dbg.org
Tags: family | things to do | outdoors | wildlife | bird-watching | gardens | walk

Greasewood Flat

If you're looking for modern-day Arizona cowboy culture, Greasewood Flat is the place to find it. The bar, housed in a 120-year-old bunkhouse with an outdoor area for seating, has entertained locals for over 30 years. The concept is simple: Grab a beer and a burger, stake out a picnic table (near a fire pit in winter), listen to country music, and, if you're brave, strut your stuff on the dance floor. The bar caters to bikers, cowboys, locals, and tourists alike.

27375 N. Alma School Pkwy., AZ, 480-585-9430, www.greasewoodflat.net
Tags: nightlife | things to do | culture | bar | country music | southwestern

Guided Mountain Biking Tour

Experience the desert mountain landscape of either South Mountain or McDowell Mountain parks on mountain bike, and be treated to fresh desert air and close encounters with desert flora and fauna as you peddle the miles of trails in either park. Cactus Adventures provides hotel pick-up, bike rental, and a knowledgeable guide. Trips are geared for the beginner to advanced cyclist.

4747 E. Elliot Rd., AZ, 480-940-7433, www.cactusadventures.com
Tags: mountain biking | things to do | adventure | park | active | open-air | desert

Heard Museum

See Native American art and archaeology displays dedicated to the plight of, and featuring works by, indigenous Southwesterners, including two groups that reside on nearby reservations – the Navajos and the Hopis.

2301 N. Central Ave., AZ, 602-252-8848, www.heard.org
Tags: family | arts and culture | art | things to do | history | museum | southwestern

Horseback Riding

If the Wild West has awakened your inner cowboy, head to MacDonald's Ranch where professional wranglers offer guided horseback rides and cowboy cookouts.

26540 N. Scottsdale Rd., AZ, 480-585-0239, www.macdonaldsranch.com
Tags: family | things to do | outdoors | horseback riding | southwestern

Hot Air Balloon Ride

The fun starts when you're picked up from your hotel and taken to the desert launch point to meet your pilot and watch the balloons fill up. From there, you'll head up, up, and away, as you glide over the Sonoran Desert, marveling at the stark beauty of the landscape and catching glimpses of wildlife. Morning flights are followed by a traditional balloonist's ceremony and a sit-down Champagne breakfast. Sunset flights conclude with the ceremony, Champagne, and hors d'oeuvres. Vincent's, a Phoenix institution for fine dining, caters all the food.

2243 E. Rose Garden Loop, Suite #1, AZ, 800-831-7610, www.hotairexpeditions.com
Tags: food and wine | breakfast included | things to do | wildlife | adventure | open-air | champagne

Off-Road Hummer Tour

Explore backcountry along rugged, dirt-paved roads accessible only to off-road jeeps or Hummers. Roadrunner Desert Adventures offers superb up-close desert encounters, including special stops at abandoned mines or ancient Native American ruins.

AZ, 480-213-9428, www.roadrunnerdesertadventures.com
Tags: family | smart splurge | things to do | tour | adventure | desert

Old Town Scottsdale featuring Main Street Arts & Antiques District and Marshall Way Contemporary Arts District

Old Town Scottsdale still retains some of its Western roots and it's the place to find tokens of the Southwest: turquoise jewelry, cowboy paintings, Navajo rugs, and Mexican crafts. But the area is also known for its strong representation of art, with dozens of galleries and a smattering of antique shops found on Marshall Way and Main Street.

Main St. and Scottsdale Rd.; Marshall Way and Indian School Rd, AZ, www.scottsdaledowntown.com
Tags: shopping | editor pick | art | things to do | culture | jewelry | souvenirs | crafts | gallery | antiques | southwestern

Phoenix Art Museum

With a $50 million expansion completed in late 2006, the Phoenix Art Museum has officially put itself on the art world map. Today, it draws national touring exhibitions that complement its permanent collection featuring everything from American, European, and Latin art to fashion design and photography.

1625 N. Central Ave., AZ, 602-257-1222, www.phxart.org
Tags: family | arts and culture | art | things to do | culture | museum | photography

Scottsdale Art Galleries

Over 125 art galleries and studios can be found between the Main Street arts and antiques district and the Marshall Way contemporary arts district. The funky and thoroughly modern Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art is also nearby.

AZ, www.scottsdalegalleries.com
Tags: arts and culture | trendy | art | things to do | gallery | antiques

Scottsdale ArtWalk

Thursdays from 7 to 9pm multiple galleries along Main Street and Marshall Way open their doors to the public with artist receptions and special exhibitions; the SMoCA also keeps late hours and offers free admission.

AZ, 480-990-3939, www.scottsdalegalleries.com
Tags: nightlife | editor pick | art | things to do | culture

Scottsdale Gun Club

Put a modern spin on the Wild West gunslinger at the Scottsdale Gun Club. More country club than shooting gallery, it's the largest indoor public shooting range in the country. Handguns, revolvers, and even automatic weapons are available for rent and use on the 32 lanes.

14860 N. Northsight Blvd., AZ, 480-348-1111, www.scottsdalegunclub.com
Tags: things to do | adventure | adult | southwestern

Taliesin West

Explore Frank Lloyd Wright's genius at his winter home, studio, and architectural school, founded in 1932. Guided tours demonstrate his architectural philosophies and examples of their structural manifestations.

12621 N. Frank Lloyd Wright Blvd., AZ, 480-860-2700, www.franklloydwright.org
Tags: arts and culture | editor pick | art | things to do | architecture | tour

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