With an abundance of sun and warm temperatures throughout all four seasons, Phoenix is a great place to visit at any time of the year. In addition to many high-end resorts and spas, Phoenix is also home to a thriving nightlife and enough golf to keep die-hard golfers busy for an extended vacation.
Still, you want to be prepared for everything. Consider the tips below when you plan a vacation to Phoenix.
How to Plan a Vacation to Phoenix
The first step is to choose the time of year you’d like to travel to Phoenix. While some would argue any period of the year is the best time to vacation in Phoenix, some months or seasons appeal to different individuals, couples and families for visiting the city.
The most significant consideration for most people is the weather and how it will affect you and the people you’re traveling with. For the most part, the weather in Phoenix is pleasant, though certainly warm. And it’s also sunny most of the time. In fact, Phoenix is ranked as the sunniest city in the U.S. thanks to 85 percent sunshine during its daylight hours.
For most visitors, the best time to visit the city begins in November and extends through April. During these months, the skies tend to be blue and highs are mostly in the upper 60s through the low 80s. The “shoulder months” can be a safe bet for visiting, too, since the weather isn’t oppressively hot or unexpectedly cold.
Summer months typically bring heat most people would find oppressive along with average highs above 100 degrees, but budget travelers will find these months bring the best deals even at luxury resorts in the city.
The good news is it’s a dry heat in Phoenix, so the humidity level is relatively low even in the summer months. People from southeastern states who routinely experience heavy humidity may find the summer temps in this Arizona capital city bearable. It will rarely rain on your parade when visiting Phoenix and monthly precipitation averages one inch or less throughout the year.
You will want to be sure you plan your activities for the day with the weather in mind. For instance, if you plan to play several rounds of golf while you’re in town, you’ll either want to set up early morning tee times well in advance or travel during months when daytime temperatures don’t soar past alarming numbers for the average American.
Consider undertaking more strenuous outdoor activities during early morning or early evening hours when the daily temperatures tend to be lowest — especially if you’re traveling during the summer.
Recognize Your Purpose
When planning for the best time of year to visit Phoenix, it’s wise to consider your purpose for going.
Besides taking into account the weather, some activities and attractions are only available during certain seasons or times of the year. You need to verify that the activities and attractions you’re most interested in experiencing are available during the period of stay you have in mind and that there are tickets available to high-demand attractions and events.
So you can plan for specific events and attractions requiring specialized equipment, you need to know the type of vacation you intend to have when creating your itinerary. If you’re flying into what’s dubbed the nation’s friendliest airport — namely Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport — you may want to look for package opportunities that include all the necessary equipment and supplies so you don’t have to lug it with you when traveling.
Know What to Pack
Some items make sense to bring on a vacation to Phoenix during any time of the year while others are more suitable for certain seasons. For instance, the months of October through April have comfortable daytime temperatures but may become cool at night, with close to freezing temperatures. When traveling during those months, bring a sweater, wrap or light coat if you intend to enjoy the nightlife in Phoenix.
Choose comfortable shoes appropriate for the activities you intend to enjoy while visiting Phoenix. Because the sun shines so much in Phoenix, you may be spending a great deal of time outdoors and walking around. Bring shoes to accommodate a few miles on your feet during the days you visit.
Also, don’t forget your sunscreen. You may need even more sunscreen than you’re accustomed to using. You might want to bring travel-sized tubes in addition to full-sized tubs of sun protection so you can reapply liberally while out and about.
Besides sunscreen, weather-appropriate clothing and comfortable shoes, other items you’ll want to bring with you on your Phoenix vacation include:
- A camera
- A refillable water bottle
- Wide-brimmed hat
- Additional tote for souvenirs
- Hiking shoes (if appropriate for your planned activities)
If you’re planning to take advantage of one of the many championship golf courses located in the Phoenix metro area, make sure you bring along your favorite clubs, shoes and clothing appropriate to the golf club where you’ll be playing. Many private Phoenix golf courses have strict dress codes.
Unless you’re dining at some of the city’s most exclusive fine-dining establishments, casual attire is typically acceptable for most activities and dining experiences throughout Phoenix. If you intend to explore the thriving nightlife Phoenix has to offer during your vacation, pack nightclub-appropriate clothing.
Also, make sure you have an extra memory card or plenty of space reserved in your “cloud” for photographs. You’ll find many beautiful bits of scenery you’re going to want to share with friends and family and take home after your trip.
Lastly, consider investing in refillable water bottles to bring along with you whenever you are outdoors in Phoenix for adequate hydration.
Things to Do on Vacation in Phoenix
You needn’t worry about running out of things to do while spending time in Phoenix. Whether you’re traveling alone, as a couple or with your family, you’ll see there are many things to do on vacation in Phoenix. You’ll find an extensive list of outstanding art galleries, museums, entertainment venues and outdoor adventures to enjoy in and around the city.
In fact, Phoenix has something to offer everyone, including the very young and the young at heart. There are fun adventures like hot air balloon packages, for instance, for those interested in romance underneath the desert sky.
Some of the things you can do in and around Phoenix on vacation are:
Stay in Luxury Hotels and Spas
If your idea of traveling well includes world-class spa amenities, private poolside cabanas, tropical drinks delivered poolside, plush-bedding with high-thread-count sheets or unique Spanish bungalows, Phoenix’s best luxury hotels and spas won’t disappoint. The greater Phoenix region consistently ranks among the country’s top cities in the number of Five Star, Four Star, Five Diamond and Four Diamond resorts.
Some Phoenix resorts boast acres upon acres of water playgrounds for the young and old alike, including multiple swimming holes, fountains and lazy rivers. Some notable resort offerings include:
- The Phoenician
- JW Marriott Desert Ridge Resort and Spa
- Royal Palms Resort and Spa
- Arizona Biltmore Resort & Spa, A Waldorf Astoria Resort
- Sanctuary on Camelback Mountain Resort and Spa
- The Hermosa Inn
All in all, you’ll find about 450 hotels in the Greater Phoenix area able to provide more than 62,000 rooms for visitors.
Phoenix is home to a wide variety of museums designed to educate, inspire and engage visitors of all ages and interests. VisitPhoenix.com lists 23 museums, making Phoenix a more-than-ample museum-hopping city.
Among the top museums you might be interested in attending during your stay are the following:
- Arizona Capitol Museum
- Arizona Open Wheel Racing Museum
- Arizona Science Center
- Children’s Museum of Phoenix
- Commemorative Air Force Airbase Arizona
- Desert Botanical Garden
- Heard Museum
- Mesa Arts Center
- Musical Instrument Museum
- Phoenix Art Museum
- Pueblo Grande Museum
Participate in Outdoor Fun
There’s a reason people refer to the great outdoors when talking about Phoenix, as Mother Nature here offers some of finest sights and attractions, including:
- Whether you’re an experienced golfer or a novice, there are 185 golf courses in the metro Phoenix area offering unique challenges for golf lovers of all skill levels. While Phoenix golf courses stay “green” all year in America’s fifth-largest city, some, such as We-Ko-Pa and Troon North, offer gorgeous desert backdrops, while others, like the Gainey Ranch and Arizona Biltmore golf clubs, provide the opportunity to enjoy some spa time after your 18 holes.
- Visiting landmarks. In addition to taking in the scenery of the Sonoran Desert, you can visit interesting landmarks like Camelback Mountain, Piestewa Peak, Phoenix Mountains Preserve or Papago Park — home of the famous Hole-in-the-Rock formation.
- Participating in family activities. When looking to plan a family vacation to Phoenix, you can experience fun attractions including the Children’s Museum of Phoenix, the Arizona Science Center, The Phoenix Zoo, The Sea Life Arizona Aquarium or one of the waterparks in the area. The one thing you will not find in Phoenix is a shortage of family fun and activities to enjoy.
- Enjoying eco-friendly activities. With an impressive light rail system, bike share services and more, you can reduce your footprint while taking in the various sights and sounds Phoenix has to offer. You can also visit art shops providing works created from repurposed materials and spend your vacation dollars at hotels offering green features. Consider playing golf on desert-style courses known for their efforts to conserve water.
- Taking in the sights and tastes of wineries. Arizona boasts three major winery regions: Sonoita, Willcox and Verde Valley. These local wineries have won plenty awards, received international acclaim and have been served in the White House.
- Enjoying a hot air balloon tour. Hot air balloon rides are “a thing” in Phoenix. And it’s no wonder! With the beauty of the Sonoran Desert, the comfort of the warm weather, the beautiful clear, blue skies to gaze upon the breathtaking scenery, and the gorgeous sunrises and sunsets, there just might not be a better place for ballooning.
- Visiting the Goldfield Ghost Town. If you’re passionate about history, you certainly will not want to miss out on the opportunity to explore a historic 1890s mining camp at Goldfield Ghost Town or an opportunity to explore life on the trail by taking one of the many trail rides (or stage-coach tours) available in the area. The Wild West is alive and well for those who are willing to drive a little outside the city when visiting Phoenix.
- Touring Tovrea Castle at Carraro Heights. This Jewel in the Sonoran Desert is in high demand for visitors to Phoenix. Walk-up tour ticket availability is a rarity, with tours selling out months in advance. Cancellations are also uncommon.
Not only can you explore the beauty of the desert areas around Phoenix, but you can also take day trips to exciting destinations like:
- Grand Canyon National Park
- Whitewater rafting in the Colorado River
- Jeep tours of the local landscape
- Trips to Oak Creek Canyon
- Tour the Apache Trail
Attend Sporting Events
Phoenix is home to several professional sports teams, including:
- Arizona Cardinals: National Football League (NFL)
- Arizona Coyotes: National Hockey League (NHL)
- Arizona Diamondbacks: Major League Baseball (NLB)
- Phoenix Mercury: Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA)
- Phoenix Rising Football Club: United Soccer League (USL)
- Phoenix Suns: National Basketball Association (NBA)
The Phoenix International Raceway also is host to two NASCAR events during racing season.
Make sure you check the schedules for your favorite venues if you want to take in some of your favorite sports action during your vacation in Phoenix.
Besides being a golfing, luxury spa resort and sunny and warm destination, the greater Phoenix region offers some of the best shopping therapy around. Not only does the area host Scottsdale Fashion Square — the most extensive upscale shopping mall in Arizona — but chic boutiques, premium outlets and vintage shops also line the city streets.
Experience the Nightlife
Nightlife is another terrific Phoenix activity you won’t want to miss if you’re not traveling with small children. Venues like Monarch Theatre and Bar Smith, both located on East Washington Street in Downtown Phoenix, are just the beginning. Bitter and Twisted Cocktail Parlour offers a unique atmosphere for imbibing and is an in-demand venue, so plan an early arrival if you want a seat.
Lucky Strike offers the perfect combination of live music, nightlife and bowling. Give it a try and see for yourself why it’s such a happening place to be in Phoenix. And if you’re looking for a nightlife atmosphere involving playing games, look no further than the Cobra Arcade Bar.
Whether you’re gearing up for a day filled with adventure, refueling after an afternoon of exploring the sights and sounds of Phoenix or getting ready to hit the dance floor while spending a night on the town, you’ll need to fuel up first with an outstanding dining experience.
Eat Good Food
While restaurants are as plentiful in Phoenix as are cactuses, Giordano’s World-Famous Stuffed Deep-Dish Pizza is the sure cure for all your hunger blues and taste bud cravings. We have delicious pizzas, sandwiches, salads and starters to satisfy your hunger and get you ready for your next grand Phoenix vacation adventure.
Conveniently located on North 83rd Avenue near shopping and entertainment, Giordano’s is sure to become your “go-to” dinner destination when visiting Phoenix. Stop by today!