Best neighborhoods in Phoenix – Lonely Planet


Among the mountains and arid landscapes of the Sonoran Desert is Phoenix, the most populous capital of the United States. Just beyond this desert metropolis are its sister cities and towns that make up the vast urban area of ​​the Greater Phoenix.

The culture of the American Southwest can be found everywhere here, but each of Phoenix’s neighborhoods, as well as the cities in its larger region, have its own distinct vibe – artistic, family, and historic.

Here are the best areas of the Greater Phoenix to explore.

Downtown phoenix

Best neighborhood for culture and history

Skyscrapers grow around downtown Phoenix, where, aside from office workers and briskly walking college students, the streets are remarkably quiet.

Opportunities to immerse yourself in the city’s many different cultures abound in this neighborhood. At the George Washington Carver Museum and Irish Cultural Center, run by African Americans, you can learn about how each group came to establish themselves in Phoenix. Relax as you stroll along trees, ponds, and Japanese architecture at the Japanese Friendship Garden, or visit the Heard Museum, which not only houses stunning Native American artwork, but features emotional tales of Native American residential schools – a crucial part of American history to be reckoned with.

West of downtown, seek relief from the heat at the Copper Dome Arizona State Capitol. Here you can find out how Arizona Territory became the last state of Lower 48 and learn about the historical impact of the USS bombing. Arizona at Pearl Harbor. In front of the Capitol is the huge Wesley Bolin Memorial Plaza, full of war memorials commemorating veterans.

Arizona State University’s downtown campus features quirky public art, Its secret is patience. Made of twine and shaped like spiraling summer monsoon clouds, it floats in the sky and sway when the wind blows. Nearby, colorful and wacky murals perfect for taking photos are splashed along Roosevelt Street (known locally as Roosevelt Row.)

The Phoenix Hostel and Cultural Center hosts local social justice events such as political poetry readings and documentary screenings that educate women, people of color and gay people.

Pedestrians stroll down a busy street in Old Town Scottsdale known for its souvenir shops © Getty Images

Old Town Scottsdale

Best neighborhood for the arts

Further north – legendary American architect Frank Lloyd Wright set up his winter home, Taliesin West, on the outskirts of Scottsdale, which is now open to visitors. It is a Unesco World Heritage Site thanks to its historical influence on modern American architecture and the Arts and Crafts movement. Wright was also the mentor of an Italian architect, Paolo Soleri, whose earthy works (the most famous being the ceramic and bronze bells) can be found at the Cosanti Gallery.

At the Musical Instrument Museum, you can admire a collection of over 4,300 musical instruments from around the world, including tree trunk drums from Vanuatu and Croatian bagpipes. You can even attend live concerts from one of the museum’s 300-seat theater.


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Woman looking at abstract sculpture of a musical instrument at the Musical Instrument Museum in Phoenix
A woman admires a sculpture in the courtyard of the Musical Instrument Museum, Phoenix © Getty Images

Tempe Town Center

Best area for nightlife

Mill Avenue in downtown Tempe lights up at night with its many lively restaurants and bars and you can also satisfy your shopping cravings at specialty stores. North of Mill Avenue, you can walk or cycle along the Tempe Town Lake oasis, where city lights illuminate the water at night. Take a moment to admire the eerie juxtaposition of a large lake at the foot of desert mountains and shiny contemporary office buildings.

By day, join occasional hikers on the ascent of Oidbad Du’ag or “A” Mountain, which is considered sacred to the natives Akimel O’odham and Piiposh. From the top, take in the elevated view of Tempe Town Lake, shiny modern buildings, and planes taking off from Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport.

Southern mountain village

Best area for sightseeing

Get in touch with the wilderness that Phoenix calls home by staying in the foothills of South Mountain Park, one of the largest city parks in the United States. Drive to Dobbins Lookout for sweeping views of metropolis Phoenix or cycle through the park’s many hiking and biking trails that wind through cacti, desert scrub, and rock piles.

The mysterious castle at the foot of South Mountain is full of quirky family stories. An eccentric Seattle businessman built it for his daughter in the 1930s, inspired by memories of building sandcastles with her on the beach, and now tours of the trinket-filled rooms are open to the public .

As you drive through South Mountain Village, you will notice Phoenix’s extensive canal system running parallel to the road, supplying many local farms. At South Mountain Farm, guests can stroll through the fruit and vegetable gardens and eat at the on-site restaurant.

Because South Mountain Village is a residential area, staying with affordable host families is your best bet.

Mysterious castle in Phoenix.
Visitors explore the weird and wonderful mysterious Phoenix Castle © Stephen Osman / Los Angeles Times / Getty Images

Mesa west

Best neighborhood for families

A variety of museums along the main drag of Mesa are very child friendly. The Arizona Museum of Natural History features artifacts from ancient civilizations across the Americas and the towering Dinosaur Mountain with realistic models that roar and move. Nearby is the Museum of Ideas, where toddlers can participate in hands-on art activities in a colorful play town.

For the sports-loving family, Sloan Park is a must-see, as baseball fans can catch the annual Chicago Cubs spring training. Older kids will enjoy the nearby Riverview Park, which has a huge rope climbing frame.

At Golfland-Sunsplash, families can cool off during the summer on the water park rides or tackle its miniature golf courses year round. A five-minute drive away, Organ Stop Pizza is a great place for a family dinner with live music, as an organist conducts a huge ensemble, with theatrical special effects ranging from flags to soap bubbles.

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