Why Locals Love Phoenix (And You Will Too)

A born-and-raised Phoenician shares what makes this city so much fun

The Valley of the Sun boasts metropolitan amenities in a supremely scenic setting.


Despite being one of the nation’s most populous, Phoenix doesn’t act like the big city it is. It’s modern, but isn’t sleek and metallic. It’s busy, but not dense. And it’s possible to grow up here without feeling like you live in a major metropolitan area at all. Such was the case for me; I was raised toward the Valley of the Sun’s sloping edges in Carefree, a quaint town of at the base of Black Mountain surrounded by massive boulders and beautiful desert.

Outdoors fun

Camelback Mountain’s rigorous climb reaps a grand reward: a sweeping city view. Photo Credit: visitphoenix.com

Because Phoenix has been able to stretch its city limits, residents are able to stretch our legs in any fashion we’d like, whenever we’d like, and under perpetually blue skies. The Valley is dotted with farms big and small, that fill restaurant kitchens with produce and fuel dozens of farmers markets. The year-round markets in uptown and downtown Phoenix are lined with local products and produce, while the Old Town Scottsdale Market to the north and the Gilbert Farmers Market way out east are some of the Valley’s most popular.

There are plenty of parks for organized sports, shade and relaxation, and there is no shortage of challenging hiking trails. Some, like the rugged and rigorous ones at Camelback Mountain, are found in the heart of the city; many more—including those at South Mountain at the southern edge and at Pinnacle Peak to the north—weave though the city’s mountainous outskirts.

Fans watch pro golfers at the annual Waste Management Phoenix Open tournament.

As for golf, many believe Phoenix, which boasts more than 200 diverse options, is home to some of the best courses in the country. As temperatures rise, fares at public courses plummet, and you can count on sunny skies and minimal wind for almost every round. If you prefer to watch the sport only on occasion— perhaps even with a beer in your hand—the Waste Management Phoenix Open is one of the nation’s largest tournaments (and possibly the rowdiest).

The food speaks for itself

Complement your order at La Santisima Gourmet Taco Shop with a selection—or several—from the homemade salsa bar. Photo Credit: @activationpotentials

While our five-month summers are bearable with air conditioning and swimming pools, they fade into seven months of sunny bliss. Mid-fall is when the city comes alive, and it’s the best time to wander around and discover Phoenix’s culinary draws. In the past, Phoenicians had a reputation as a people who just wanted bar food, pizza and burgers. If that’s true, it’s good thing that the city’s pizza is some of the best around. World-renowned pizza maker Chris Bianco calls Phoenix home, making thin pies, sandwiches and pasta at Pizzeria Bianco that have received praise from the New York Times and Food & Wine.

You’ll also want to seek out Sonoran cuisine while you’re here. Some dishes are more traditional, like chicken and fish tacos topped with Margarita slaw and chipotle sauce, which you can find at Canyon Café; or tacos made with carne asada charbroiled with mesquite charcoal, like those at La Santisima Gourmet Taco Shop. And there are those that mix tradition with traditional American food, like the Sonoran Hot Dog, a regional specialty. The beef frank is wrapped in bacon before it’s grilled and served in a light and fluffy torpedo-shaped roll, a relative of the bolillos made in Mexican bakeries. They are topped with pinto beans, diced tomato, Mexican crema and a creamy avocado sauce, then salty cotija cheese is sprinkled on top.

The city limits are where the fun begins

Hiking the Grand Canyon offers amazing views and an unforgettable Arizona experience.


Phoenicians love day trips, and we’ll never hesitate to send you beyond the city limits. But you won’t go far. In about two hours, you can find yourself up north in the red rocks of Sedona or the forests of Flagstaff; another hour takes you to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. Two hours south and you’re in Tucson, the only UNESCO-designated City of Gastronomy in North America. Another hour southeast and you’re in the historic boomtowns of Tombstone and Bisbee.

Phoenix packs endless adventure from its downtown to its city limits—and beyond. That’s why locals love it, and we think you will too.

Written by Shelby Moore

Ready to travel? Find hotels in Phoenix.




More to Explore


Best Phoenix Restaurants

Sample some of the best in the Southwest at these restaurants.

Read More

Things to Do in Phoenix

Plan your trip to the Valley of the Sun with these recommendations.

Read More

Phoenix Hiking Trials

Outdoor enthusiasts will love the hiking trails in the Phoenix area.

Read More


Search Hotels