Phoenix, known as The Valley of the Sun for its 300 days of sunshine each year, is fragmented into many neighborhoods and suburbs. Visitors first notice the sprawling low profile of most of the valley, with two exceptional high-rise downtown neighborhoods.
The downtown area has been undergoing a major facelift since the construction of the US Airways Center and baseball arena, Chase Field . Coffeehouses, restaurants, nightclubs and shopping in the Arizona Center continue to draw people downtown for the nightlife. Many new restaurants have opened, including A League Of Our Own. Incorporating the themes of Phoenix's early history with culture and local events, Copper Square is a full square-mile hotspot for activities and action. Downtown attractions include the park at Patriots Square , the Arizona Science Center , the Phoenix Museum of History and the Phoenix Art Museum .
The inner neighborhoods include moderately priced homes largely developed in the 1970s. Shopping in the west area can be found at Desert Sky Mall , and Cricket Pavilion , which offers an open-air entertainment amphitheater.
The growing west side continues to spread outward. Visit charming Historic Downtown Glendale and Catlin Court for first-rate antique opportunities. The newer Arrowhead Towne Center Mall offers shopping and diverse dining choices.
Largely comprised of low-cost housing and industry, the walled and gated community of Ahwatukee is a notable exception. Ahwatukee residents are mostly older adults and urban professionals. Upscale apartments coexist with middle class housing here. Be sure to take the South Mountain Park Scenic Drive while you are visiting this area. Fabulous sunsets are the pride of Arizona and best enjoyed from a desert wilderness vantage point. Nearby shopping can be found at the new Arizona Mills Mall just across the freeway.
Past Peoria and Glendale are the communities of Sun City, Sun City West, Youngtown and Surprise. Hikers will enjoy the White Tank Mountain Regional Park. The Sun Cities and Youngtown are largely retirement communities with a casual, leisure pace.
Bordering Phoenix is the town of Paradise Valley, which draws middle to upper class residents. Fine shopping is available at the Paradise Valley Mall . East of Paradise Valley is Scottsdale, fondly referred to by residents as "The West's Most Western Town." Highly sought after for conventions and vacations, this area has upscale housing and topnotch restaurants such as Ruth's Chris Steak House at Lincoln Drive and Scottsdale Road. World class shopping is provided at the lovely Borgata of Scottsdale .
Located south of Scottsdale, Tempe is primarily a college town and the home of Arizona State University . Local festivals such as Fall Festival of the Arts are extremely popular down on South Mill. The University is located in its center, ringed by family and student housing.
Continuing east we find Mesa, Chandler and Gilbert. Chandler remained largely an agricultural community until a growth spurt, which began in the 1970s. Much of this area houses young families and middle-class professionals in stucco and tile developments. Local shopping is enjoyable at the Superstition Springs Center Mall at the northwest corner of Highway 60 and Power Road.
As late as the 1980s, the Valley of the Sun was considered more a culinary wasteland than a capital of cuisine. Outside of a few upscale resort eateries, dining options for desert dwellers were mainly of the steak and potatoes variety. In 1986, a revolutionary restaurant, Vincent Guerithault on Camelback , started an evolution in eating in Greater Phoenix. The work of local chefs, including Lenard Rubin's medley of Mediterranean and Arizona flavors at Medizona , have transformed the city into a unique dining haven.
The Arizona Center , in downtown's Copper Square , offers everything from a fast food court and clubs to more upscale offerings at Lombardi's and A League Of Our Own. For a pint of porter, pop into downtown's original Irish pub, Seamus McCaffrey's , at the Hotel San Carlos . Phoenix Suns fans, and sometimes players, often frequent Majerle's Sports Grill , opened by former Suns star Dan Majerle. Alice Cooper'stown is a mind-blowing mix of rock 'n roll revelry and sports bar, and features regular live concerts.
In Midtown, you'll find a super selection of comfortable neighborhood places to dine. Barrio Cafe offers award winning Mexican cuisine and has created its own niche in the city's dining scene. Tutti Santi is another great dining choice, with great Italian.
Scattered among the galleries in the downtown arts district are some true dining treasures. Don & Charlie's has been a fine dining fixture in the neighborhood. Some of the hottest clubs can be found here too, including the glitzy, high energy Axis/Radius , Madison's and Martini Ranch . Go back to the big band era at the Famous Door or catch a live musical act at Cajun House.
Along the main drag of Scottsdale Road you'll find a "parkway for the palate." Scottsdale Fashion Square offers several fine restaurants including P.F. Chang's popular Chinese. Cosmopolitan cowboys seek out Rancho Pinot Grill , hidden away in a plaza at Lincoln and Scottsdale Road. At the Bastille-like Borgata , award-winning Chef Donna Nordin serves up Arizona edibles at Cafe Terra Cotta. Right across the street is the ultimate upscale steakhouse, Fleming's Prime . La Locanda , touted as one of the best Italian restaurants in all of Scottsdale, and Seasons is a find for its ever-changing menu and super selection of Sonoma wines.
New restaurants springing up at Bell and Scottsdale roads include a second helping of Carlos O'Brien's popular Sonoran-style Mexican cuisine and Coyote Grill , an attractive and appetizing southwestern cafe. Ambling on, plan to spend a few hours at Rawhide Western Town and try the rattlesnake (yes, it's really rattlesnake) at the Golden Belle Steakhouse & Saloon . Further north, new and exciting eating establishments include Restaurant Oceana, which offers fresh fish to eager desert dwellers. Michael Monti's specializes in top quality steaks and seafood and the Cantina del Pedregal offers dramatic views and a lively atmosphere.
You can always count on a college town to have an active party scene and Tempe is no exception. Mill Avenue and University Drive are ground zero for the East Valley's nightlife. The subterranean Beeloe's is a combination cafe, gallery and concert venue with live music. Gordon Biersch Brewing Company , named the 1998 Valley's Best Brew Pub by the Phoenix New Times, is as popular for its people-watching as its microbrews. True to its name, The Bash on Ash is a warehouse-sized "animal house." Nutrition and environment conscious noshers will find a variety of eats available, including macrobiotic munchies at In Season Deli , Israeli at Sabuddy and Ethiopian at Cafe Lalibela .
Mesa, Chandler and Gilbert form the "bedroom communities" of the East Valley, but in terms of dining they are by no means sleepy. A whole world of ethnic cuisines awaits visitors, including Arisoo Korean, Zur Kate German cuisine and more appetizing options. For fine dining, Mahogany Run in Gilbert has quickly become an acclaimed destination.
Centered at 24th Street and Camelback, this could be called the culinary vortex of the Valley. Many of the area's top restaurants are located here. Biltmore Fashion Park is home to the renowned Bamboo Club and Che Bella. As you head east, several standout steakhouses— Ruth's Chris , Omaha Steakhouse and Harris' —can be found. Marco Polo and Havana Cafe will take you on a whirl-wind world tour of upscale ethnic food.
This is the place where you'll find simple, satisfying food at bargain prices. Try triple-decker sandwiches at the New Yorker or aromatic dolmathes at the Golden Greek . Dillon's , one of the Valley's younger restaurants with an already huge following, serves up fine Iowa corn-fed pork.
Country cooking and country music go hand in hand. Kick up yer heels and "Electric Slide" on over to Mr. Lucky's, one of the Valley's authentic cowboy dance clubs. Mr. Lucky's even has live bull riding in an outdoor rodeo arena.
From architectural wonders like St. Mary's Basilica to cultural treasures like those found at the Phoenix Art Museum , this city has a wealth to offer every visitor.
Heritage Square Downtown at Heritage Square visitors can see the historic roots of Phoenix. Enjoy mid-morning tea and pastries at the historic Teeter House , and educational adventures at the Phoenix Museum of History . Visit the nearby St. Mary's Basilica , the oldest Catholic Church in Phoenix, then check out the Arizona Center in Downtown's Copper Square .
Arizona Science Center The Arizona Science Center contains many educational and interactive exhibits, such as the Dorrance Planetarium . Take in a show at the Orpheum Theater , the Herberger Theater Center or Symphony Hall , then enjoy dinner at Oregano's Pizza Bistro .
Pueblo Grande Museum and Archaeological Park Dine at Matador or Lib's Ribs , then head out to explore the interpretive trail at the Pueblo Grande Museum and Archaeological Park . Abundant rock art also dwells in the Deer Valley Rock Art Center . Green thumbs will love the Desert Botanical Gardens , where guests can stroll the trails and observe more than 4,000 species of cactus, succulents, trees and flowers.
Arizona State University Take a tour of Arizona State University , which has a museum on its grounds. Grab a bite to eat at the nearby Casey Moore's Oyster House . Then check out SunDevil Stadium , headquarters of the Arizona Cardinals , and Grady Gammage Memorial Auditorium , an opulent music center designed by architect Frank Lloyd Wright.
Heard Museum Just a few blocks away from the Phoenix Art Museum , you'll find the Heard Museum , which is dedicated to keeping Native American history alive. Try some tasty Italian dishes at the Old Spaghetti Factory . Visit the nearby Margaret T. Hance Park , or Encanto Park and enjoy the Enchanted Island amusement park on its grounds.
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