Did you know that each month, citizens of Phoenix host a massive street festival of art, music, and food trucks called ‘First Fridays’? Or that you the desert landscape is filled with floral blooms in the spring months? If you’ve never been to Phoenix, coming to ISHI is the perfect time to challenge any pre-conceived notions you may have. Read on for the top 10 reasons to visit The Valley of the Sun!
Written by: Tara Luther, Promega
1) Desert Landscape
If you’ve never been to the Sonoran Desert, you are in for a treat! Many western movies have been filmed in this area, and the landscape is like no other. From the saguaro cacti (who are only found in this region) to the blooming barrel cacti and red rocks, you’re sure to come home with a camera full of pictures.
According to data compiled by the National Climatic Data Center, Phoenix basks in sunshine more often than any major metropolitan area in the United States. In fact, the sun shines on Phoenix during 85% of its daylight hours. Make sure to bring those sunglasses and sunscreen!
While not traditionally thought of as a ‘foodie paradise’, Phoenix is reinventing itself as a ‘foodie oasis’ in the desert. The southwestern flavors of Mexican, Native American, and Sonoran desert influences will be sure to tickle your taste buds. As a bonus, the Arizona Restaurant Week dates run at the same time as ISHI!
If you’re looking for a small oasis in the desert, take the short drive to Papago park, just outside of downtown Phoenix. Whether you’d like to do a bit of fishing or climb up to the Hole in the Rock for some excellent views of the downtown skyline, this park offers a great escape from the downtown bustle.
Whether you’re headed to check out the street art of Roosevelt Row, are taking in the local ballet, or wandering through one of the many local museums, there is much to learn about the heritage of Phoenix.
Learn about the local desert inhabitants at the Phoenix Zoo. You may find that they look a little different than the animals that you’re used to in order to combat the desert climate. You may even find a surprise there, such as Luke Bryan, one of a dozen stingrays that inhabit the zoo.
While the canyon is quite a drive from downtown Phoenix, if you’re going to be in the area, it’s worth staying an extra day to visit the area. Each year, more than 5 million people visit the national park each year, and it’s not hard to see why. The sheer size of the canyon and breathtaking views will make you glad you came. If you’re feeling a little more adventurous, you can even hike down into the canyon itself.
The last Saturday in September is National Public Lands Day in the United States. Dedicated to preserving the diverse landscapes, many parks will be waiving their fees on this weekend, including the Grand Canyon.
Phoenix has beautiful sunsets, but after the sun has gone down, take the opportunity to venture outside of the city to view the clear night sky. With the desert landscape on the horizon line, it’s a great way to reconnect with nature.
It may be a ‘dry heat’, but with temperatures running high in Phoenix, it’s important to find a way to cool down. For a more unique experience, head to the nearby Salt River. Located in nearby Mesa, tubing down the Salt River allows you to experience the desert landscape while enjoying a floating picnic. As your lounging, keep an eye out for the local wild horses who have lived in the area for decades.