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What to See and Do in Phoenix – a guide to notable landmarks and attractions

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A sprawling metropolis in the heart of the desert, the capital of Arizona is said to be the hottest city in the United States - literally. Set against a backdrop of parched and rugged mountains, this vibrant, modern destination is awash with glitzy shopping malls, world-class golf courses, and a thriving dining scene. Top-flight museums and no shortage of drinking and live music venues round things off nicely.
Desert Botanical Garden

 

 

Situated amid the other-worldly landscape of Papago Park, with its looming red rocks and giant cacti, Desert Botanical Garden is one of Phoenix’s most popular attractions. Occupying over 140 acres, this nature-lover’s paradise showcases the unique beauty of the Sonoran Desert, with thousands of striking and unusual plants arranged in breathtaking outdoor exhibits. There’s a fantastic year-round program of temporary exhibitions and one-off events, and a host of themed trails to explore. The tempting restaurants and cafés here pride themselves on their use of delicious, fresh local produce.

 

Phoenix Zoo

 

 

Phoenix Zoo is a truly first-rate family attraction. Privately owned, and deeply devoted to conservation, this pristine zoo is set over 125 beautifully landscaped acres, and is home to an astounding range of exotic and endangered animals. Across several themed zones you’ll encounter fearsome Komodo dragons, majestic Bornean orangutangs, giant tortoises, and countless other amazing creatures. The zoo boasts a host of quirky and interactive attractions – enjoy a walk through a forest full of squirrel monkeys, pet giraffes and stingrays, or even take a ride on a camel.

 

Phoenix Art Museum

 

 

One of Arizona’s premier cultural attractions, Phoenix Art Museum is a thriving, internationally renowned arts hub, showcasing amazing work spanning centuries, from all over the world. Some of the most avant-garde names are represented here, including Picasso, Jean Cocteau, and Georgia O'Keeffe. Creative powerhouses from more recent years are also well represented, with its contemporary galleries featuring pieces by leading artists such as Anish Kapoor and Sol LeWitt.

 

South Mountain Park

 

 

Sprawling over a colossal 16,000 acres, South Mountain Park is one of the largest city parks on the planet. This desert mountain preserve, where lizards dart around crags and dips, is an outdoor enthusiast’s dream, with miles of rugged hiking, cycling, and horseback riding trials, as well as endless scenic picnic spots. Embark on a sweaty climb or leisurely drive up to Dobbins Lookout for utterly spectacular views of the Valley of the Sun. Throughout the year, the museum plays host to festivals, independent film screenings and exciting one-off events.