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Known as the "Valley of the Sun," Phoenix and its adjacent suburbs benefit from abundant sunshine and warm weather throughout most of the year. Phoenix is the fifth largest city in the nation, with a population of nearly 1.4 million, and plays host to more than 13 million visitors per year. What is commonly perceived as Phoenix is really a vast urban sprawl that covers more area than Los Angeles. The Greater Phoenix area, which covers an area of 2,000 square miles and includes 22 additional cities, notably Scottsdale, Mesa and Tempe, has a population of close to 3.5 million.

Phoenix's history is steeped in Native American tradition, and is home to 23 reservations. The pioneer spirit of the West is reflected in ruins and replicas throughout the city. Arizona's capital shares a distinction with Las Vegas of being the fastest growing city in the country owing much to its favorable climate and rich heritage.

Phoenix has a pleasant average yearly temperature of 72 degrees Fahrenheit and receives more than 300 days of annual sunshine and barely eight inches of rain. Naturally, it is during the winter months that visitors are attracted in droves, drawn from colder climes to celebrate the warmth of the sun. When Easterners are bundled up, it's short-sleeve weather in Arizona. From November through April, the temperature rarely rises above 82 degrees, with June through September considerably hotter, often averaging 105 degrees.

Phoenix and the Sonoran Desert do not immediately bring water-based pursuits to mind, yet there are more than a half dozen lakes within an hour or so of the city limits.

Canyon Lake, one of the chain of lakes formed when the Salt River was dammed, is home to the Dolly Steamboat (480-827-9144;, a replica paddle-wheel steamboat that does 90-minute narrated cruises twice a day. The two-deck craft glides between massive canyon walls, with bighorn sheep and eagle sightings often a part of the day's entertainment. Closer in, Rio Lago Cruises (Rio Salado Pkwy. and Mill Ave., Tempe; 480-517-4050) lets visitors skipper their own electric-powered boat around the 2.5-mile Tempe Town Lake.

In Scottsdale, rowdy Old West fun is guaranteed at Rawhide Western Town & Steakhouse (23023 N. Scottsdale Rd., Scottsdale; 480-502-1880; This re-creation of an 1880s Western town has plenty of shops to browse through, stunt shows, simulated gunfights, stagecoach rides, and a steakhouse that serves slabs of meat mesquite grilled to your taste.

For a close-up look at what the Sonoran Desert has to offer without enduring the rigors of a trek into the actual outback, there's the Desert Botanical Garden (1201 N. Galvin Pkwy, Phoenix; 480-941-1225; Shaded paths wind among some of the desert's best plant specimens and helpful docents can advise on which species may be transplanted to your part of the world. At the gift shop, look for treasures with a Southwest flavor to take home.

Besides bringing the family to the Arizona Science Center (600 E. Washington St. Phoenix; 602-716-2000; with four floors of interactive exhibits and 203-seat planetarium, or the Hall of Flame (6101 E. Van Buren, Phoenix; 602-275-3473; where kids can don turnout gear and ride a replica fire truck, desert jeep trips are fabulous family adventures. Desert Storm Hummer Tours (480-922-0020; offers them in the low-slung 4x4s used during Desert Storm. They can crawl over rough washes and rocks as they hug the terrain-the company motto is "There Are No Dead Ends."

For an adventure astride, trail rides from just a few hours to overnight may be booked through professional outfitters that include Richardson's D-Spur Ranch (602-810-7029;, a working cattle ranch with horseback riding stables. Experienced guides match riders with appropriate horses, then set out among the foothills of the lore-filled Superstition Mountains just east of Phoenix.

Downtown Phoenix is home to Copper Square ( where visitors can attend a seasonal sporting event at Bank One Ballpark or America West Arena, visit a specialty shop, stroll through a street fair, and much more in the heart of Arizona's capital.

One of Phoenix's most renowned cultural venues is the Heard Museum (2301 N. Central Ave., Phoenix; 602-252-8848; Its treasures document the area's Native American history, and also include dazzling jewelry and artwork created by contemporary artists. The museum gift shop is one of the best places in the state to buy a Navajo rug. Best of all, there is no sales tax.

Part of the Central Avenue arts corridor along with the Heard, the Phoenix Art Museum (1625 N. Central Ave., Phoenix; 602-257-1222; is the largest art museum in the Southwest with more than 17,000 works in its collection from Western, Latin, Asian, American and European artists that span the 16th to 20th centuries.

Pueblo Grande Museum and Archaeological Park (4619 E. Washington St., Phoenix; 602-495-0901; near Sky Harbor Airport, is located on the ruins of a 1,500-year-old Hohokam village, the remnants of which help explain how this ancient culture lived along the Salt River and engineered hundreds of miles of canals.

Founded in 1920, Phoenix Theatre (100 E. McDowell Road, Phoenix; 602-889-5284; is the oldest theater company in Arizona. It operates a variety of productions for adults including full-length musicals and reviews, and for children via the Cookie Company, which runs youth shows from September through May.

Golfers have no problems finding a perfect course for their skill level and personal taste. There are over 200 courses in the Greater Phoenix area.

Sanctuary at Westworld (10690 E. Sheena Dr., Scottsdale; 480-502-8200; www. is the first Audubon International Signature course in the area. The 6,650 par-71 daily-fee club provides a natural alternative to ordinary golf. Talking Stick Golf Club (9998 E. Indian Bend Rd., Scottsdale; 480-850-7304;, on the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Reservation, is a spectacular 36-hole facility designed by two-time U.S. Masters Champion Ben Crenshaw and partner Bill Coore. Troon North (10320 E. Dynamite Blvd., Scottsdale; 480-585-5300; has two desert-landscaped courses. Golf Digest ranked them the number one and two public access courses in the state.

The Phoenix/Scottsdale region is also the home for Gear-To-Go, a service that delivers clubs to golfers on vacation. Visit for more information.

The Scottsdale Gun Club (14860 N. Northsight Blvd., Scottsdale; 480-348-1111) is the country's largest, most elegant indoor shooting facility. Offerings include family-oriented safety classes, a self-defense course and life-size Firearms Training Simulator video game.

Arizona Snowbowl Ski Lift Lodge (Hwy. 180 and Snowbowl Rd., Flagstaff; 928-779-1951; is a year-round recreation center featuring an average of 260 inches of winter snow for skiing, snowboarding and scenic sky rides that send skiers soaring 11,500 feet in 25 minutes while serving panoramic views of glistening white landscape on the way to the slopes.

The F1 Race Factory (317 S. 48th St., Phoenix; 602-302-7223; is a full-fledged indoor karting and entertainment destination featuring high-speed European kart racing, rock climbing, billiards, head-to-head video games, and daily sporting event showings.

Phoenix area hotels and resorts offer the ultimate in comfort and extravagance.

The Fairmont Scottsdale Princess (7575 E. Princess Dr., Scottsdale; 480-585-4848; is an AAA-rated Five-Diamond resort that features two championship golf courses amidst an oasis-like desert charm. Seasonal rates range from $139-$549 per night.

Welcoming guests for more than 60 years, the Camelback Inn, a JW Marriott Resort & Spa (5402 E. Lincoln Dr., Scottsdale; 480-948-1700; is the only Arizona resort to hold the Mobil Five-Star and AAA Five-Diamond awards for 26 consecutive years. Features include a 16,000-square-foot Arizona Ballroom and 453 oversized adobe-style casita guest rooms and suites. Rates range seasonally from $159-$439 per night.

The Four Seasons Resort & Spa (10600 Crescent Moon Dr., Scottsdale; 480-515-5700;, located at Troon North, offers guests preferred use of both the Monument and Pinnacle championship golf courses. 210 luxury rooms, including 22 suites, are arranged in Southwestern-style casitas with private patios and fireplaces. The full service spa offers treatments using local ingredients such as mineral-rich Sedona mud. Rates begin at $165 per night and vary according to season.

The Phoenician (6000 E. Camelback Rd., Scottsdale; 480-941-8200; is a 650-plus room luxury resort featuring stunning views, six restaurants, 27-hole golfing, 12 tennis courts, $12 million art collection, and one of the city's best spas. Rooms are spacious and include private balcony. Rates start at $200 per night and vary according to season and view. Children 17 and under stay free with their parents.

A trendsetter since 1963, Biltmore Fashion Park (2502 E. Camelback Rd., Phoenix; 602-955-1963; offers world-class shopping in an outdoor park setting and counts Saks Fifth Avenue, Polo/Ralph Lauren, Gucci, and Cartier among its prestigious purveyors.

Scottsdale Fashion Square (7014 E. Camelback Rd., Scottsdale; 480-941-2140; is the Southwest's largest mall featuring more than 225 exclusive retailers and five department stores including Dillard's, Nordstrom and Neiman Marcus. Linger over lunch at P.F. Chang's China Bistro, Sbarro's Italian Eatery or any number of others among some 30 choices overall. For more information on shopping packages for out-of-towners, contact the mall's Tourism Department at (480) 994-8048.

Five minutes south of Fashion Square, the historic Fifth Avenue Area Shops (Scottsdale Rd. and Fifth Ave., Scottsdale; 480-945-0962) include a number of boutiques with Native American handcrafts, art and jewelry, as well as typically Southwest treasures ideal to take home. Plan at least half a day to stroll among more than 100 specialty shops, and stop for lunch at an open-air cafŽ where some 35 restaurants lie within a five-minute walk.


Alice Cooper's Town (101 E. Jackson St., Phoenix; 602-253-7337;, named for the legendary rock star and owner, is an entertainment complex in downtown Phoenix that serves up great barbecue and home-style fare. The biggest attraction is the monster video wall and state-of-the-art sound system. A live entertainment stage has hosted the likes of Dave Mustaine from heavy metal band Megadeth, Creedence Clearwater Revival's Doug Clifford, Dogstar's Keanu Reeves, and Alice Cooper himself.

The Four Peaks Brewing Company (1340 E. 8th St., Tempe; 480-303-9967; is a beer distributor and pub located in the historic Borden's Creamery building. A 2004 World Beer Cup award-winner from the Association of Brewers, Four Peaks offers brewery tours and is available for private parties.

Myst and The Ballroom (7340 E. Shoeman; Scottsdale, 480-429-6000; is an ultra modern, ambient nightclub featuring state-of-the-art lighting, sound, swank rooms, and exotic spirits. Club-goers can also sip cocktails at Myst's spacious outdoor patio.

The Phoenix Convention & Visitors Bureau publishes an official visitor guide called Greater PHXplorer. Complimentary copies are available by calling toll free (877-CALL-PHX) or by logging on to For more information on Phoenix and Arizona contact the Phoenix Convention Visitors Bureau, 400 E. Van Buren St., Ste. 600, Phoenix, AZ 85004; (602) 252-5588, or the Arizona Office of Tourism, 1110 W. Washington St., Ste. 155, Phoenix, AZ 85007; (866) 275-5816 or (602) 364-3700;


Acacia, located at the Four Seasons Resort and Spa, incorporates nature and ambience into the decor, with a menu focused on fresh seafood and game. Sauteed jumbo sea scallops and wild forest mushroom ravioli are among the most-favored dishes. Named for the lovely, lacy, desert acacia tree, patio diners overlook a breathtaking desert setting and often are treated to a spectacular Sonoran sunset.

10600 East Crescent Moon Dr.
(480) 513-5086

Cowboy Ciao

Cowboy Ciao is a long ways from the steak 'n' grub concept that its name may imply. Its style is creative, with American and global influences, primarily Mexico and Italy. Try tuna glazed with lavender grappa for something truly out of this world. Wine is a huge part of meals, with a spectacular list that extends seemingly to the next county. Don't miss the killer margaritas and martinis either. It's fine fare with a frivolous bite.

Cowboy Ciao
7133 East Stetson Dr.
(480) 946-3111

Eddie Matney's

In Phoenix, the Biltmore area around 24th Street and Camelback Road is chock-a-block with superb lunch and dinner places that include casual, bistro-like Eddie Matney's. Colorful, exuberant chef/owner Eddie Matney says he takes a "melting pot" approach to New American cuisine that is multi-cultural and multi-ethnic, and utilizes many flavors native to traditional American and Mediterranean cooking. The appetizers are all over the map and worth the time it takes to decide. For an entree, don't pass up the beef tenderloin tartare, or the seafood potpie. It's a treasure trove of clams, mussels, shrimp, and scallops.

Eddie Matney's
2398 East Camelback Rd.
(602) 957-3214

Los Dos Molinos

A colorful stucco building at the foot of South Mountain, Los Dos Molinos offers mouth-watering dishes prepared in authentic Southwest style. Two additional locations in Arizona—in Mesa and the restaurant’s original location in Springerville—attract loyal diners. There’s also a second location in central Phoenix in this family-run business, whose sentimental name means “The Two Grinders.” Chefs Victoria and Eddie started their culinary adventure 20 years ago in Springerville and still provide the personal touch. A house specialty, Shrimp Veracruz, consists of large shrimp with New Mexico red chili served with rice and beans. The burros, tacos, tostadas, enchiladas, and tamales are all made fresh.

Los Dos Molinos
8646 South Central Avenue


At the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess Resort, Marquesa features a cuisine as rich and sophisticated as the Mediterranean-style surroundings it's presented in. Choose from exquisite seafood and meat delicacies radiantly seasoned with provincial herbs, garlic and other flavors indigenous to the region. A selection of exotic cheeses from the Mediterranean Riviera as well as delicious desserts round out your culinary experience. The high-ceilinged elegance of the dining room emphasizes the lush furnishings and artistic accents of this most charming restaurant.

7575 East Princess Dr.
(480) 585-2723

Mary Elaine's

Mary Elaine's at the legendary Phoenician Resort is for serious gourmets. From the elegant multi-story windows that provide views of the resort's grounds to the seasonal menu of Modern French cuisine that seems bent on enticing diners to sample just one more delicacy, this is the place to take your time and savor truly spectacular food. French-style fare reaches its zenith here. In addition to the acclaimed a la carte menu, Mary Elaine's offers diners a selection three-course prix-fixe menu items, from lobster, duck or veal, to suit a variety of tastes. Luxurious dining with European elegance.

Mary Elaine's
6000 East Camelback Rd.
(480) 423-2530


The trend-setting Medizona in Old Town Scottsdale has received top honors in a variety of publications due in no small part to chef/owner Lenard Rubin's deft combination of unusual flavors that continue to pique the interest of returning diners. Named for its Mediterranean-inspired Southwestern menu, this intimate dinner-only restaurant reflects the talent that Rubin refined during tenures at the Scottsdale Princess and the prestigious Boulders Resort. Among signature dishes, appetizer eggplant and lime tacos, and achiote-rubbed pan-fried salmon are standouts.

7217 East 4th Ave.
(480) 947-9500

Michael's at the Citadel

In North Scottsdale on Pinnacle Peak Road, Michael's at the Citadel is an attractive, pleasing showcase for the superb cuisine of chef/owner Michael DeMaria. A series of rooms look onto gardens and waterways, and an intimate upstairs area attracts guests for pre-dinner cocktails. DeMaria draws on his ethnic background for Contemporary American, Italian-influenced dishes like osso buco on scallion and Roquefort risotto, and mint-tied and grilled loin of lamb on goat cheese potato tart, to go with artful appetizers and creative desserts.

Michael's at the Citadel
8700 East Pinnacle Peak Rd.
(480) 515-2575

Old Town Tortilla Factory

Old Town Tortilla Factory draws from Native American and Sonoran influences to create a true Southwest setting and flavor. Voted the "Best Tortilla" by Phoenix Magazine and "Best Southwestern Cuisine" by Citysearch, the flavors of Mexico are definitely there, but rather than relying on simply tacos and burritos, the menu also includes dishes like pulled chicken slowly simmered in citrus juices, seafood Margarita, and Camarones al Mojo de Ajo. Don't miss the Chorizo Fundido, for starters. On balmy evenings, ask to be seated on the patio under the 60-foot olive tree.

Old Town Tortilla Factory
6910 East Main
(480) 945-4567

Roaring Fork

Named after the westward flowing river through Aspen Valley, Roaring Fork is an airy, low-key bistro and saloon that captures the spirit of the American West in both theme and cuisine. Tucked among menu items like grilled rib-eye and falling-off-the-bone shortribs are satisfying fish dishes and a spectacular sugar-and-chile-cured duck. Don't forget to visit the General Store for some mouthwatering baked goods and take home items.

Roaring Fork
4800 North Scottsdale Rd.
(480) 947-0795

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