Travel tips for making the most of your visit to Phoenix, Arizona.
• Book your flight to arrive as early in the day as possible so that you can spend the afternoon getting settled in and finalizing your itinerary.
• Rent a car even if your family and friends say they can drive. That way if someone wants to have a golf day, you can still have a vehicle to get around to the spa, antique stores and museums.
• Phoenix is a large city. Make sure the hotel you select is as close as possible to where you want to spend most of your time so that it limits the amount of time you spend driving back and forth. To find the best hotel options for your plans and budget, check out TripAdvisor.
• Bring a gps or make sure you get one with your rental car, if you don’t have map service on your smartphone, . It makes getting around in an unfamiliar city much easier and eliminates the stress of getting lost.
• Plan your itinerary based on the weather. Spend mornings in outdoor activities when it’s cool. Plan indoor activities, such as museums or antique shops for later in the afternoon when the sun is the hottest.
• Take the time to read reviews on sites such as TripAdvisor before you book rooms or purchase tickets to special venues and attractions. Do your research on attraction options on TripAdvisor. This will help you narrow down your itinerary and determine operating hours, programs, exhibits and any special deals or offers that might be available.
• Pack some water, a sun hat and a granola bar in case you are out longer than you anticipate and need to “fuel” up from the activity and the heat. Throw in a light sweater or jacket if your day plans might possibly proceed into the evening hours as the air can become cool after the sun goes down.
A few favorite places to consider adding to your itinerary (in no particular order):
1.Sahuaro Ranch Park: According to their website, the Sahurao Ranch Park is known as the “Showplace of the Valley.” The 17-acre ranch preserves 13 original buildings, a rose garden, barnyard and historic orchards. It is a great place to step away from the city and get back to the agricultural heritage of the valley. When I visited there they were hosting a beautiful quilt exhibit, so check their site to see what special programs or exhibits might be scheduled and plan your visit accordingly.
2.Phoenix Arizona Living History Museum : You must have a love of old towns, historical artifacts and early American history to get the most from a visit to the Living History Museum. Plan your visit for a weekend as you will most likely find some “living history” interpreters inside some of the dwellings to give you a true feel of western town life.
3.Brass Armadillo Antique Mall: Do you love “antiquing” like I do, then your trip to Phoenix needs to be sure and leave plenty of time to visit the Brass Armadillo. They have two locations, but I’ve only personally visited the Phoenix location. They boast that they have over 600 dealers, making it the largest antique mall under one roof in the entire desert valley. Whether it’s Westmoreland glass or baseball memorabilia, you are sure to find something to take home from the Brass Armadillo.
4. Phoenix Art Museum: PAM is the Southwest’s premier art destination. They house a permanent collection spanning the world of art in areas of modern and contemporary as well as fashion design. Check their website to see what they featuring in the rotating galleries during your visit.
5.Heard Museum:One of the best museums exhibiting American Indian Arts and Culture. While they do feature on-going exhibits that focus on the fantastic 40,000 artifact collection of Maie and Dwight Heard, they also host a variety of significant traveling exhibits. It’s always a good idea to check their website to see what’s on display during your visit.
6. Arizona Broadway Theatre: You don’t have to travel to New York to see a great Broadway show. The Arizona Broadway Theatre provides not only a fantastic theatre experience, but also a wonderful dining option. When I start thinking about planning a visit to Phoenix, we always look to see what shows might be playing during that time.
7.Desert Botanical Gardens: After a visit to the garden in January of this year, the Desert Botanical Gardens will be on my list of “must dos”, when I travel to Phoenix. Be sure and check on-line and see what types of special exhibits are on display (such as the Chihuly glass exhibit I saw in January). Also, be aware that there are times when they sell out tickets in advance so purchase your tickets with on-line reservations to assure you can get in. A delight for the senses any time of the year.
8.Spring Training Baseball: Who can pass up the chance to see some of the major league baseball teams in their spring training; even for those of us that aren’t hard-core baseball fans, this is a cultural sports experience that can’t be missed.
9.Various wine, arts and crafts shows: Quite often when I visit in Phoenix, my folks will research what types of art, wine and craft fairs might be taking place in other communities close by. It is great fun to spend the day exploring local cuisine, art and culture. It also makes me feel good to support small artists and businesses by purchasing a little something to take home from my trip.
10.Prescott, Arizona and the Sharlot Hall Museum: While Prescott is an hour and ½ drive north of Phoenix, it is still a favorite place to visit. Prescott is a true southwest city with a small-town feel, and you can’t visit without stopping at the Sharlot Hall Museum. It is the jumping off point for learning about the cultural heritage of the region. Add in exploring nature, golf, sports and cultural arts and you’ve got a weekend trip to remember.
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