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Phoenix is Arizona’s capital city, located slightly south of the central part of the state. The first time I came here, I was in grade school and visiting from Indiana for a family wedding.

I remember thinking that this dusty, cactus-filled city was the place I wanted to be — not just because of the great weather, but because the views were beautiful and the city seemed so vibrant. Zoom ahead to my mid-20s, I decided to make the move to desert life, and I’ve now lived in Phoenix for more than a decade.

I’m in love with this city — bristly barrel cactus, ultra hot summers, occasional scorpion run-ins, and all. The weather is mild from October through May, mostly between the 60s and low 80s, the desert landscapes are stunning, and in my experience, there’s never a shortage of things to do. Plus, I personally haven’t seen another city that consistently delivers candy-colored sunsets like Phoenix does.

Wendy Gould Phoenix travel guide

I’ve lived in Phoenix for more than a decade.

Wendy Gould

The city sprawls across 500 square miles, and in the last few years, our population has boomed to 1.6 million, making Phoenix one of the fastest growing metros in the United States. The growth spurt makes sense to me, since I think the city is approachable for everyone, from families and young professionals to college students.

Outdoor activities like hiking are an especially big draw, and there’s a welcoming, laidback environment throughout the valley, in my experience.

Since moving here, I’ve explored Phoenix as much as possible. Core staples like certain iconic eateries, award-winning museums, and stunning hikes have remained the same, but I’ve also seen a lot of changes throughout town, even in the last five years. I do my best to stay on top of the latest attractions, new buzzy restaurant openings, and love to show visiting friends or family first-hand what I think makes this city so amazing.

Here’s my complete guide and best insider tips to exploring Phoenix, including where to stay, what to eat, how to spend your time, and more. 

Explore Insider’s guide to visiting Phoenix.

→ 6 tips for traveling to and around Phoenix, according to a local

→ I’ve stayed in all the best hotels in the Phoenix area and these 7 impress me the most, from a central luxury icon to a scenic Scottsdale resort

→ Where to eat in Phoenix — 8 local-favorite restaurants and bars

→ I’ve called Phoenix home for 10 years — here are 8 places I recommend to visitors, from my favorite hiking viewpoint to a Wild West ghost town

→ As a Phoenix local, these are the biggest mistakes I see tourists make. Some are downright dangerous.


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