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Would Phoenix make a good vacation destination??

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Newcastle, England
posts: 33
reviews: 2
Would Phoenix make a good vacation destination??


While we were in Miami last year we met a lovely couple from Phoenix and they said we should go and visit them one day.... is there much for a tourist to do and see there? It would only be my second trip to the states and I would love to be in the heart of 'real american life' rather that somewhere really really touristy.

Any ideas anyone?


posts: 951
reviews: 2
1. Re: Would Phoenix make a good vacation destination??

We have many tourists from England visit here that love it. In fact, my brother has good friends that come every year. First, be sure to choose your timing carefully. From May through September you will likely see 100+ degree temperatures, and in July & August we have a monsoon season that adds humidity and dramatic lightning & storms to the heat. The preferable time of year to visit is October through March.

As far as things to do, the most obvious would be to see the Grand Canyon (I recommend 1 night there), and then drive down through Flagstaff, Jerome, & Sedona (an incredibly beautiful place with mysterious red rocks/buttes). You could explore those areas and spend 1 night in Sedona, and then on to the Phoenix area. You could relax at one of the valley's many luxurioius resorts and enjoy golf, spas, fine dining, and the pools. Or, you could spend time visiting local museums and other local places of interest.

Also, Mexico, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, and San Diego are all within a 6 hour drive away (or 1 hour plane ride).

The Bakery
posts: 9,580
2. Re: Would Phoenix make a good vacation destination??

The above poster has great suggestions for beautiful things to see, but thay are all major tourist attractions and can be crowded, esp on weekends.

I'm not sure what you mean by seeing the real America. Ours is a rather big country and it has fairly strong differences. Phoenix is a typical medium-large newish city in a desert setting. Most of the best of AZ is outside - way outside, the city.

AZ is certainly not Disney, it is all natural wonders and has great National Parks all over the place, but it attracts lots of tourists from all over the US and the rest of the world. Sedona is unreal, but it is getting overdeveloped in many areas, which is starting to spoil it. The best place to stay in Sedona is a good B&B. It's just the perfect place for it and the red rock views are very romantic. Grand Canyon - do not miss it and stay at the rim if you can. Montezuma's Castle, on the way to Flag from Phoenix, is one of the few cliff dwellings in AZ and a taste of the far more extensive ones that can be found elsewhere, like Mesa Verde.

South of Phoenix is Saguaro National Monumnet. A pristine slice of Sonoran desert that is a step back in time to AZ as settlers first saw the land. This area has far fewer tourists. Casa Grande Ruins are near Phoenix and an easy day trip. Chiricahua National Monument near the New Mexico border has stunnning rock formations and good hiking trails. Completely unlike red rock country, but more than worth a visit.

www.arizonaguide.com is a great into and resource for information.

Here's a link to an interactive map for scenic drives and sites in AZ that may be of some help.


Az is a wonderful state, far more scenic than FL, but Phoenix itself is just another city. Get out and explore and really see the 'real' AZ.

Sussex, UK
posts: 55
reviews: 11
3. Re: Would Phoenix make a good vacation destination??

We have just returned form Phoenix. We stayed with family, which does make a difference.However we had a great time. I must say that we didnt find that Phoenix itself had lots to see but is a nice city, but we used it as a base for travelling to Sedona ( about 2 hours drive) for 3 nights( in a B+B). From Sedona we went to that Grand Canyo for a day, which ws as awesome as you migt imagine, with a spectacular drive out the east gate of the park and back to Sedona. Plenty of hiking around Sedona, with lovely scenery. We did visit the Arizona Mining and Mineral museum in downtown Phoenix, as well as Taliesin West- the summer home of the architect Frank Lloyd Wright- even the kids enjoyed that desopite their initial misgivings!! Also went to a replica gold rush town near Phoenix- good fun for the children

We spent 3 days in Tucson( in a B+B) - lots to do here- Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum with native wildlife in "natural" settings. Also a huge limestone cave at the Kartchner Cavern National Park. Went to Bisbee- site of famous ( now closed) copper mine, which you can tour. Fab scenery on the drive. You can visit Tombstone- old cowboy town. Also Air museum at Tucson ( didnt visit, but next time!!)

We went in the summer so a bit hot, but great for those of us from England!! It was the low season ( except Grand Canyon) so not too busy anywhere . But if you can go when its cooler , then do so. What we really loved was how different it was from the UK- its real desert, with fantastic real cacti EVERYWHERE. And we saw lots of lizards, birds and even a coyote! And of course ther is the excellent American shopping .

Having been to Florida before, Arizona was very different, but we loved it.

posts: 951
reviews: 2
4. Re: Would Phoenix make a good vacation destination??

And I would add that if you can come in late March to mid-April, you will be here when the desert is blooming. It's so pretty with the different colors of wild flowers & the cacti blooms!

You could also take in a Spring Training baseball game. How much more American can you get? A cold beer, a hot dog, a baseball game, & perfect weather! The great thing about Spring Training is that the ballparks are smaller so you can get closer to the game. The atmosphere is a lot of fun. You'll want to reserach "Cactus League Baseball" for that - but most tickets don't go on sale until January.

Los Angeles...
posts: 2,633
reviews: 61
5. Re: Would Phoenix make a good vacation destination??

I heartily agree with everyone's recommendations. As a Californian who's travelled to may other lands, I am almost ashamed to admit that it was not until I had been living in Britain (I was there 8 years, and loved it, but I digress) that I finally saw the Grand Canyon--at age 30!--- as a friend came to the States with me on holiday and we took my da and went. Wow. And we just went for the day! I am headed back next weekend for the first time in 17 years and plan to do some hiking this time and stay for the entire day.

If you do head towards Tuscon and the south, I can also recommend Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument. It sits on the AZ-Mexico border and is just magical in the springtime when the desert is in bloom---I saw it during late April a few years back and used the old copper town of Ajo as my base for the night. Stayed at a B and B called the Mine Guest House (I think?) which had been used by the mining town for visitng guests. On the way there I did Tombstone and yes, it's fun. Never did get to Bisbee (next trip) but DID go as far as the border with Mexico in Lukeville, parked my rental car at the parking lot and took a taxi into the nearest town ( a few minutes away) for lunch. That was fun. but don't know about immigration regs for non citizens. The University of Arizona in Tuscon has a lovely campus too, if you are in the area. On the way back to Phoenix, you may see air force jets zooming across the sky as there is a base in the area.

The Frank Lloyd Wright estate mentioned is just amazing. I took a twilight tour last Labor Day weekend, just as an afternoon thunderstorm passed by and my pictures were dramatic from the light.

Cactus League baseball is definitely not to be missed! If you are in Sedona/Flagstaff and have time to do a tour out to Monument Valley, I would absolutely recommend it. I went just for a day when I was out for a wedding this May, and was stunned by the sights there---you will recognize it from just about every Western film, tv car advert and watch magazine advert! I kept expecting John Wayne's ghost to ride by (Stagecoach was filmed here). I did a horseback trek for the day, but there are jeep buggy tours as well--though it can be hot and dusty. Red dust. Lots of Brits were there that day, en route to Lake Powell and Las Vegas on a coach tour. Best time of year would be May-ish as I did. The desert floor was a vivid green with plants and the temps were in the high 70's.

Wherever you go, have a wonderful time. And if you get to Scottsdale, near Phoenix, you MUST go to the Sugar Bowl Ice Cream Parlor. The malts and sundaes are delicious!

Newcastle, England
posts: 33
reviews: 2
6. Re: Would Phoenix make a good vacation destination??

Wow I cant beleive how helpful these responses were! Unfortunatley it will have to be next year, as I'm already booked up for Australia next month... but all I can think now is how excited I am for AZ!! It sounds truly amazing! I don't have a clue about baseball - but I cant wait to go to my first spring training game with my beer and my hot dog! The scenery sounds fab (thanks AZ sundevil, I will definatley try to make it April to catch the cacti blooms!)

I would love to take a trip to mexico and las vegas and obviously the Grand Canyon.

One more question - I heard that the Grand Canyon tour operators no longer offer helicopter rides - is this true? Either way - I cant wait to book up!

Many thanks again for everyone's help!

Nikki XX

posts: 48
reviews: 1
7. Re: Would Phoenix make a good vacation destination??


Not sure where in th UK you are from, I am Yorkshire so use Manchester. We have booked a villa in the Phoenix area for next August and have decided to fly with BMI to Las Vegas, after 3 nights driving via G Canyon may take 4-5 hours to our villa for 2 weeks. On our return to Vegas for the flight staying on a ranch for 1 night in the Canyon. BMI fly direct to Vegas Thurs and Sun. Other alternative BMI use Chicargo or Dallas from Phoenix. Flights not on sale yet but will be soon, took the risk on the villa and booked already

A bit worried about Monsoons!! First I have heard in July/Aug will this affect my holiday. We were originally coming in October this year and changed to Florida and booked Arizona for Aug 06 as we thought better weather. We love it hot and want to make the most of the pool. Yorkshire is always wet, have I made a bad move? Love to hear from anyone


Newcastle, England
posts: 33
reviews: 2
8. Re: Would Phoenix make a good vacation destination??

Hi 'travelalots'...

I'm a bit confused abut your email... I have never been to Phoenix yet so I dont know about their weather... unless you are asking about the weather in Florida? While I was there last year I was caught in a hurricane and evacuated from our accomodation. We had to sleep in a school for 4 days! It was really scary and there was more rain than you will ever see in Yorkshire! (I am from Newcastle so we get our fair share too) All locals advised the best time to travel to Florida is Nov/Dec. I hope this helps a bit!

Your trip sounds fab - just how I would plan it myself



posts: 654
reviews: 33
9. Re: Would Phoenix make a good vacation destination??

We have been in Florida in 105- 110 degrees but it is the humidity which is very icky and uncomfortable, AZ heat is very different

We put off our trip to AZ until after our baby years because of the fear of the heat, really wish we hadn't we have now been to AZ the last 2 Easters and last halloween and had a fantastic time, we base ourselves just outside Phoenix and have lovely trips exploring the state. You have already been given all the great trips to do, BA fly direct from Heathrow to Phoenix so I would say go for it you will not regret it. We are already counting down to our next trip.

Newcastle, England
posts: 33
reviews: 2
10. Re: Would Phoenix make a good vacation destination??

thanks, that's also great advice - I really fancy going to the US at Haloween time, I would also love to go at thanksgiving, I think the atmosphere would be amazing! I will also bear this in mind when I'm booking.

Thank you!