Phoenix, along with its surrounding cities, has become one of the biggest metropolitan areas in the country. It offers everything you could want in a big city like art galleries, museums, pro sports teams, restaurants, and nightlife. In addition, it has wonderful choices for outdoor activities, scenic day trips, and a taste of the old west.
For the “city slickers”, Phoenix offers a several museums, but the Heard Museum is the most unique. Its exhibits feature the art of Native Americans of the Southwest, including Barry Goldwater’s famous collection of Kachina Dolls. The Heard presents annual events like the Hoop Dance championship for Native American dancers.
Nearby Scottsdale has more than 100 art galleries and every Thursday visitors can enjoy the art walk with special exhibits and live music. Scottsdale’s Old Town is a mecca of big city-style shopping, especially at the upscale Fashion Square Mall. Old Town also offers a wide array of shops in which to purchase beautiful Native American arts, crafts, and jewelry.
If you prefer nature and the beauty of the desert to the typical big city glitz and glamour, a visit to the Desert Botanical Gardens is mandatory. This different take on the usual botanical garden has the most amazing collection of desert plants that includes 139 very rare and endangered species of plants from all over the world. In fact, the Desert Botanical Gardens is a member of the American Association of Museums.
Outdoor enthusiasts can take advantage of the hiking trails of Piestewa Peak, which is part of the Phoenix Mountain Preserve. One of the most recognizable features of the Phoenix area is Camelback Mountain, a monolith of granite that resembles a camel at rest. Camelback is a prominent characteristic of the Phoenix skyline. Camelback offers several mountain trails that provide the avid hiker with many different skill levels, along with a variety of views of Phoenix and the surrounding terrain.
Brave day-trippers can drive the Apache Trail. This drive begins twenty-five miles east of Phoenix at Apache Junction and winds for forty-six miles from there to Roosevelt Lake and Roosevelt dam, great site for a weekend getaways for couples. This beautiful drive takes you high into the mountains past Lost Dutchman State Park, Saguaro Lake, and the ghost town of Goldfield. Along the way is the Canyon Lake Recreation Area. The Apache Trail drive is one of America’s Scenic Byways designated by the U.S. Forest Service.
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