The Arizona Desert
The most famous cities in Arizona are known as much for their cosmopolitan edge as for their stunning landscapes and terrifically varied terrain. Phoenix, Tempe, Scottsdale, Fountain Hills, Sedona, and Flagstaff and Lake Havasu are undoubtedly Arizona’s most famous places to visit.
Phoenix, also known as the Vally of the Sun, is the largest city in Arizona and the fifth largest city in the United States. Phoenix is generally flat with neighborhoods organized in a gridded street system and is surrounded by mountain ranges on all sides. The city of Phoenix is punctuated by Camelback Mountain — a popular hiking destination for locals — and Piestewa Peak — named after the first American soldier killed in the Iraq War. The capital city is also home to Sky Harbor Airport (the 10th busiest in the nation), four professional sports teams, and is known for its extremely hot summers and mild winters. The South Mountains (known locally as South Mountain) form the southern border of the city and are part of the largest municipal park in the world. The Superstition Mountains lie to the east of Phoenix, and the White Tanks are just west of town. Northeast of Phoenix is the McDowell Mountain Range which also serves as a border for the nearby town of Fountain Hills.
Phoenix’s Neighbors: Fountain Hills, Tempe and Scottsdale
Fountain Hills is home to the world’s fourth largest fountain which, when it was built, was the world’s tallest. It goes off once per hour and shoots water 560 feet up into the air. Look for it to be green on St. Patrick’s Day.
Another town that borders Phoenix is Tempe, home to Arizona State University. Visitors come to enjoy the college town spirit and a stroll down Mill Avenue where restaurants, coffee shops and boutiques abound.
Scottsdale, just east of Phoenix, is a world renowned tourist destination. Nicknamed “Most Livable City,” Scottsdale boasts dog parks and hiking trails, championship golf courses, first class resorts and spas, and world-famous art galleries — all with a kick of cowboy chic.
The Red Rocks of Sedona
Sedona, often called “Red Rock Country,” is famous for its crimson-colored geological formations and is a favorite destination for hikers, rock climbers, and photographers. Sedona is also known as a metaphysical mecca and is believed to be a spiritual vortex. With four distinct seasons, more than 300 days of sunshine every year, and nearby Oak Creek Canyon’s famous Slide Rock Park, Sedona is a nature lover’s paradise.
Flagstaff, located about 30 minutes south of the Grand Canyon, is Northern Arizona’s largest city. At 7,000 feet elevation, Flagstaff is surrounded by the ponderosa pines of the Coconino National Forest and boasts snowy white winters. Hunting, fishing, camping and skiing in nearby Snow Bowl are just a few of the reasons that Flagstaff has become known as an outdoorsman’s playground.
Lake Havasu City
Lake Havasu City, put on the map for its savvy acquisition of the London Bridge (yes, that London Bridge), now reigns as a top spot for spring break escapades. Boating, para sailing, jet skiing and all manner of water fun can be had on clear blue Lake Havasu.