Phoenix, the capital of Arizona, is a city of surprises. The Southwestern City has a reputation of being small, friendly and warm, so it may come as a surprise to learn that Phoenix is the largest state capital and the sixth largest city in the U.S. Phoenix is young by most standards – it was only incorporated in 1881, but it consistently ranks as one of the fastest growing cities in the country.

Located in the stunning panorama of the Sonora Desert, the scenery shares equal billing with nearly any other Phoenix attraction imaginable. The city’s desert preserve system gives visitors easy access to the Sonora with numerous parks and programs. The city’s climate – sunny and dry year round with 325 sunny days per year – provides the ideal environment for hiking, biking and other outdoor nature activities. You can visit one of numerous desert parks, visit the Rio Salado project and see restoration in progress or picnic at one of half a dozen municipal parks that rival any national park in variety and diversity.

The arts play a great part in the cultural life of Phoenix. The Phoenix Art Museum is the largest art museum in the Southwest. Its 17,000 works of art include works by Ansel Adams, Rembrandt and Frederick Remington. The diversity of its collections includes American and Contemporary art, as well as European, Native American and the surprising Fashion Design gallery. In addition, visitors can share the passion of early settlers Dwight and Maie Heard felt for the Southwest at the Heard Museum while enjoying the collections of native and fine art, or see another point of view on Phoenix at the Museo Chicano, the only museum in Arizona that was founded by and is operated by Latinos.

Landmarks and Sightseeing
There’s no better way to find out about Phoenix than to take the Phoenix Points of Pride walking tour. The Points of Pride is a selection of thirty landmarks and popular venues chosen by vote of over 40,000 Phoenix residents. The walking tour includes parks, shopping centers, historic buildings and nearly anything else that Phoenix residents point to with pride as a ‘must-see’ visitor’s guide.

Camelback Mountain is one of the city’s most well-known hiking spots. The two hiking trails that lead to the top are not for beginners, but the trails around the base offer plenty of fun and scenic views.

The Desert Botanical Garden is a one-of-a-kind museum located in Papago Park. It showcases 50 acres of outdoor exhibits and the finest collection of desert plants in the world. The Garden offers seasonal activities that include walking tours, Taste of the Desert Tours and the annual Noches de Las Luminarias.

Pamper Yourself
Phoenix is the acknowledged shining star of the spa world. The desert air and stunning sunny days make Phoenix the ideal location for a healthy luxury retreat. There are hundreds of spas located in and around Phoenix, and a visit to the city would hardly be complete without at least an afternoon spent pampering yourself at one of them. Massage, relax, rejuvenate – and top it all off with a palate pleasing meal.

Family Fun
Treat the kids – and yourself – to a fun afternoon of education and entertainment at the Arizona Science Museum. There are interactive exhibits, a planetarium and a laser light show as well as a theater.

Shop Till You Drop
The Valley of the Sun is also a shopper’s dream come true. Phoenix features seven separate outlet shopping centers, offering direct to the public deals. Visit the Outlets at Anthem, or one of the outlet malls clustered around Sedona, Page and Casa Grande. One of the newest entries in the shopping mall lists is the Desert Ridge Marketplace, a departure from the enclosed, lofty towers. Over 110 acres of stores sprawl across a stunning outdoor landscape that invites you to relax and enjoy your day of shopping.

Unique to Phoenix
There are some venues and attractions that are uniquely Phoenix, and no visit to our city would be complete without seeing them. The Japanese Friendship Garden, Ro Ho En, is one of these. Born of a shared vision between Phoenix, Arizona and sister city Himeji, Japan, the garden features a beautiful 12 foot waterfall and a koi pond, over 50 varieties of plants, and 1,500 tons of rock handpicked from quarries near Jerome, Superior, Congress and Florence. If you’re in town on the second Saturday of any month from October to May, the public tea ceremony is a unique and beautiful experience.