If American cities are humans of different ages and styles, then New York, Boston and Chicago are the older, established types, while Phoenix is the up-and-coming 20-something just out of school and growing fast.
Spread over close to 2,000km2 of desert - and hot enough to show it in the summer (commonly surpassing 40 °C) - Phoenix basks in a seemingly endless summer sunshine that will have the sun-starved running for cover. Learn to deal with the heat (or come at winter), though, and Phoenix has plenty of desert-tinged and artistic attractions to get stuck into.
Head out of town, in fact, and you’ll find a whole host of the kind of attractions that come about when artistic types meet with large areas of empty desert. There’s a colossal desert-influenced botanical garden, a Mystery Castle (made from car parts and goat milk amongst other more normal building materials) and an entire replica of an 1890’s mining community reconstructed near Superstition Mountain. The oddities are fantastic, but Phoenix has plenty in the way of cutting edge culture, too, including Phoenix Art Museum (one of the largest of its kind).
If you’re a real outdoor type (and can cope with the heat), Papago Park and it’s famous ‘Hole in the Rock’ crumbling stone formations make for the perfect spot for desert hiking, or you can hunt down one of Phoenix’s impressive golf courses, somehow kept a lush green amongst the sands of the rugged desert. Back in town you’ll find plenty in the way of top-notch professional sport, boutique shopping, supreme restaurants and thumping, heady nightlife.
Of course, for many Phoenix is something of a gateway, too: the route into Arizona’s national parks that offers a last glimpse of city life before the wilderness beckons. Those heading for something epic will enjoy the all-consuming luxury that can easily be tracked down amongst this vast city, while the rest of us can also make the most of the city’s most attractive side: the stunning surrounding countryside, and the countless amusing oddities it attracts.
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