|Phoenix, known as The Valley of the Sun for
its 300-plus 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
Greater Phoenix includes the older North Central Phoenix area which
extends through the central Camelback corridor to just past Northern
Avenue. "North Central" is relative, as the area has grown so
much in recent years. Beautiful upscale mansions and stately homes grace
this area, as well as some of the more popular churches including North
Phoenix Baptist Church and the Valley Cathedral. Citrus trees are abundant
in the lush landscaped greenery--pass in the evening when the citrus is
blooming, take a deep breath and experience one of nature's most glorious
Just west of North Central Phoenix is the Chris-Town neighborhood ,
anchored by the Phoenix Spectrum Mall at 19th Avenue and Bethany Home Road.
Developed during the 50s, 60s and 70s, this area features mostly green
landscaping and wide residential streets.
The downtown area has been undergoing a major facelift since the building
of the America West Arena and Bank One Ballpark. Coffeehouses,
restaurants, nightclubs and shopping in the Arizona Center continue to
draw people downtown for the hopping nightlife. Many new restaurants have
blossomed, including Dragon Inn. Be sure to visit the architecturally
significant Burton Barr Central Library while you are here. Downtown parks
such as Patriot's Square Park offer a place to relax for a sack lunch on
the green. Other attractions in the downtown area are the Arizona Science
Center, the Phoenix Museum of History as well as the Phoenix Art Museum.
The inner neighborhoods like Maryvale and Moon Valley include moderately
priced housing developed primarily in the 70s. Shopping in the west area
is provided by Desert Sky Mall, and Blockbuster Desert Sky Pavilion offers
an open-air entertainment ampitheatre for concerts and attractions.
Flanked by Glendale, Peoria and Tolleson, West Phoenix continues to
spread outward. Visit charming Historic Downtown Glendale and Catlin Court
if you have a hankerin' for antiques. Starting as a small farming and
ranching community, the area now features the premier Peoria Sports
Complex, the spring training home to the Padres and Mariners. Highlighting
shopping for the area is the new Arrowhead Towne Center Mall.
Further out from the city you will find a small pocket of higher priced
homes called Litchfield Park, developed in the 70s largely for the
enlisted soldiers and officers of nearby Luke Air Force Base. Newer Garden
Lakes neighborhood sports a lake ringed by upper middle class homes.
Nearby Duncan Family Farms offers a U-pick garden as well as bi-annual
festivals. Rooted in agriculture, the cotton fields are slowly giving way
to new homes and businesses, and smaller communities like Avondale,
Buckeye and Goodyear are seeing steady development as well.
Rainbow Valley and the Estrellas are a mix of newer stucco and tile homes
edging out the existing prefab housing and trailers nearby. Golfers,
hikers and campers, check out the scenery at Estrella Mountain Regional
Largely comprised of low-cost housing and industry, the walled and gated
community of Ahwatukee is a notable exception to the older South area.
Ahwatukee residents are mostly older adults and urban professionals, and
upscale apartments coexist with middle class housing. 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 accomplished at the new
Arizona Mills Super 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 are largely retirement communities with immaculately
manicured landscaping and a casual, leisure pace. Youngtown was also
developed as a retirement neighborhood, but with the appeal of a very
Home to the Paradise Valley and Sunnyslope neighborhoods near North
Mountain Park, lower and middle income tract homes abound here, developed
primarily in the last 30 years. Be certain to try dinner out at A
Different Pointe of View on 7th Street or at the fabulous German Felsen
Haus on East Camelback at 10th Street.
Bordering Phoenix is the Town of Paradise Valley, not to be confused with
the Paradise Valley neighborhood in Phoenix. Northeast of Phoenix, this
area draws middle to upperclass residents, and fine shopping is available
at the Paradise Valley Mall.
East of Paradise Valley is Scottsdale, fondly referred to by residents as
"the most western town in the west". Highly sought after for
conventions and vacations, this area has upscale housing and topnotch
restaurants such as Ruth's Chris steakhouse at Lincoln Drive and
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. Arizona State
University is located in its center, ringed by family and student housing.
North Tempe's residents are mostly middle-class while Southern Tempe
sports upper-middle class and a few well heeled folks. The area boasts
lots to do and see like concerts and special events held in the Grady
Gammage Memorial Auditorium.
Continuing east we find Mesa, Chandler and Gilbert. Mesa encompasses 122
square miles and has seen tremendous growth in housing over the past 25
years. Downtown areas are wide and tree-lined, some with nostalgic grassy
medians and diagonal parking. Housing is varied, but largely pre-World War
II, with red brick, painted brick and stucco most frequent. Chandler
remained largely an agricultural community until the growth spurt began in
the 70s. 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 NW corner of US Hwy 60 and
Carefree and Cave Creek
The northeast Valley finds the towns of Carefree and Cave Creek, home to
upscale resorts like The Boulders resort and spa. Carefree is a popular
retirement village and many residents are upper-class. Cave Creek
residents are more middle-incomes and families. Attractions here include
unique shopping at El Pedregal or dining and drinks at Crazy Ed's
Satisfied Frog inside Frontier Town.
Travelling far east to the edge of the McDowell Mountains brings you to
the beautiful town of Fountain Hills. The centerpiece of the city is the
world's tallest fountain jetting water 560 feet from the center of the
lake in the town's park. This powerful white plume can be seen for miles
around. Originally a cattle ranch, this planned community had eyes for
retirees in the 70s. Recently named one of the top ten places to raise a
family by Parenting magazine, the area continues to receive national
attention and prides itself on its small town appeal.
Apache Junction and the Superstition Mountains
This virtual desert wilderness has yet to see grand scale development,
although some newer stucco and tile communities provide stark contrast to
the clusters of retirement mobile homes. Take a tour through Goldfield
Ghost Town for an authentic desert experience.
Wherever you decide to visit, the Valley of the Sun gives rise to
fabulous scenic drives sprinkled with plenty of western folklore and
entertainment. See you soon!