PHOENIX is the capital of the southwestern U.S. state of Arizona. The Phoenix metropolitan area, known as the Valley of the Sun. The area's explosive growth over the last decade has made it one the largest metropolitan areas in the country.
Sunny days and comfortable temperatures are the rule November through April, making this time the most enjoyable and popular time of year to visit. Vacation resorts are plentiful throughout the valley and the most popular outdoor activities are golfing, hiking, hot air balloons and scenic day trips to the nearby desert or to one of the nearby mountain towns. More than 41,000 acres of Phoenix desert and mountain parks and preserves offer everything from hikes to busy, arduous summit climbs, and to secluded, meandering valley walks. Dogs are prohibited on Camelback Mountain's Echo Canyon and Cholla Trails, and the Piestewa Peak Summit Trail year-round. Dogs are prohibited on ALL city of Phoenix trails when the temperature is 100 degrees or warmer.
Lake Pleasant north of town along with the Salt River and Verde River reservoir system east and northeast of Phoenix provides scenic mountain lakes very popular for power boating, water skiing and fishing. Several Reservation casinos, greyhound tracks and horse tracks are available both in town and on the outskirts of town. Mountain ranges surround the valley: McDowell Mountains to the northeast, the White Tank Mountains to the west, the Superstition Mountains far to the east, and both South Mountain and the Sierra Estrella to the south/southwest. Camelback Mountain, North Mountain, Sunnyslope Mountain, and Piestewa Peak are within the heart of the valley. Other than the mountains in and around the city, Phoenix's topography is generally flat, which allows the city's main streets to run on a precise grid with wide, open-spaced roadways.
Phoenix is well-known for its outstanding hotel resorts, with elaborate pools and desert gardens, Southwest-infused fine dining, luxurious spas and championship golf courses. Phoenix is a world-class destination because of its natural beauty, sunny skies, manicured golf courses and sports and cultural attractions. Downtown Phoenix and the Biltmore area top rate restaurants, theaters, museums, shopping and sports venues. The well established suburb of Glendale has been re-energized with the new Arizona Cardinal's football stadium and the Phoenix Coyote's hockey arena. All the major professional sports leagues have Phoenix teams and in March every year Major League Baseball's growing Cactus League spring training is a huge draw for visitors and locals alike.
The city has numerous performing arts venues, most of which are in and around downtown Phoenix. The Phoenix Symphony Hall is home to the Phoenix Symphony Orchestra, the Arizona Opera and Ballet Arizona. Another venue is the Orpheum Theatre, which is home to the Phoenix Opera. Ballet Arizona, in addition to the Symphony Hall, also has performances at the Orpheum Theatre as well at the Dorrance Theater. Concerts also regularly make stops in the area. The largest downtown performing art venue is the Herberger Theater Center, which houses three performance spaces and is home to two resident companies, the Arizona Theatre Company and the Centre Dance Ensemble. Three other groups also use the facility: Valley Youth Theatre, iTheatre Collaborative and Actors Theater. Concerts can be attended at Talking Stick Resort Arena and Comerica Theatre in downtown Phoenix, Ak-Chin Pavilion in Maryvale, Gila River Arena in Glendale, and Gammage Auditorium in Tempe (the last public building designed by Frank Lloyd Wright). Several smaller theaters including Trunk Space, the Mesa Arts Center, the Crescent Ballroom, Celebrity Theatre, and Modified Arts support regular independent musical and theater performances. Music can also be seen in some of the venues usually reserved for sports, such as the Wells Fargo Arena and State Farm Stadium.
Other Attractions and Annual Events
Due to its natural environment and climate, Phoenix has a number of outdoor attractions and recreational activities. The Phoenix Zoo is the largest privately owned, non-profit zoo in the United States. Since opening in 1962, the zoo has developed an international reputation for its efforts on animal conservation, including breeding and reintroducing endangered species back into the wild. Right next to the zoo, the Phoenix Botanical Gardens were opened in 1939, and are acclaimed worldwide for their art and flora exhibits and educational programs. South Mountain Park, the largest municipal park in the U.S., is also the highest desert mountain preserve in the world. Other popular sites in the city are Japanese Friendship Garden, Historic Heritage Square, Phoenix Mountains Park, Pueblo Grande Museum, Tovrea Castle, Camelback Mountain, Hole in the Rock, Mystery Castle, St. Mary's Basilica, Taliesin West, and the Wrigley Mansion.
Many annual events in and near Phoenix celebrate the city's heritage and its diversity. They include the Scottsdale Arabian Horse Show, the world's largest horse show; Matsuri, a celebration of Japanese culture; Pueblo Grande Indian Market, an event highlighting Native American arts and crafts; Grand Menorah Lighting, a December event celebrating Hanukah; ZooLights, a December evening event at the Phoenix Zoo that features millions of lights; the Arizona State Fair, begun in 1884; Scottish Gathering & Highland Games, an event celebrating Scottish heritage; Estrella War, a celebration of medieval life; Tohono O'odham Nation Rodeo & Fair, Oldest Indian rodeo in Arizona; and the Chinese Week & Culture & Cuisine Festival, a celebration of Chinese culture
Phoenix is home to several professional sports franchises, and is one of only 13 U.S. metropolitan areas to have representatives of all four major professional sports leagues, although only one of these teams actually carry the city name and two of them play within the city limits.
The Phoenix Suns were the first major sports team in Phoenix, being granted a National Basketball Association (NBA) franchise in 1968. They had originally played at the Arizona Veterans Memorial Coliseum before moving to America West Arena (now Talking Stick Resort Arena) in 1992. In 1997, the Phoenix Mercury were one of the original eight teams to launch the Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA). They also play at Talking Stick Resorts Arena. The Arizona Diamondbacks of Major League Baseball began play as an expansion team in 1998. The team has played all of its home games in the same downtown park, now known as Chase Field. It is the second highest stadium in the U.S. (after Coors Field in Denver), and is known for its swimming pool beyond the outfield fence. In 2001, the Diamondbacks defeated the New York Yankees 4 games to 3 in the World Series, becoming the city's first professional sports franchise to win a national championship while in Arizona. The win was also the fastest an expansion team had ever won the World Series, surpassing the old mark of the Florida Marlins of 5 years, set in 1997.
The Arizona Cardinals are the oldest continuously run professional football franchise in the nation. Founded in 1898 in Chicago, they moved to Phoenix from St. Louis in 1988 and play in the Western Division of the National Football League's National Football Conference. Upon their move to Phoenix, the Cardinals played their home games at Sun Devil Stadium on the campus of Arizona State University in nearby Tempe. In 2006, they moved to the new State Farm Stadium in suburban Glendale. The Arizona Coyotes of the National Hockey League moved to the area in 1996, formerly known as the Winnipeg Jets. They originally played their home games at America West Arena in downtown Phoenix before moving in December 2003 to the Jobing.com Arena (now named the Gila River Arena) in Glendale.
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