Phoenix and the wider region (Greater Phoenix) are based in the Sonoran desert, Arizona, with arid hot temperatures and mild winters. The adage goes that it doesn’t feel hot because it is so dry and even perspiration has dried before you realise it. Clear desert skies ensure that during 85% of daylight hours it is clear and sunny. April is an ideal month to visit whilst|July – September can be the months of monsoon and fork lightening.
Flight times and Airports
Phoenix is the capital state of Arizona, in the south west of USA. International flights use Sky Harbour International (PHX), at which there is no terminal one. British Airways, which operates a direct flight at the time of writing, uses terminal four. Located in the centre of Phoenix, a good network of freeways and clear signposting ensures you will find the airport and your exit easily.
Onward flights are possible from PHX. Direct and indirect flights are available plus regional departures are possible. Direct flights take round 13 hours.
Please discuss your options with your Tropical Sky travel consultant.
If you have prebooked transfer arrangements / tours with us you will be met on arrival by our Tropical Sky representative who will guide you to your transfer vehicle. If you have pre-booked car hire follow the instructions given on your booking itinerary.
It is only 3 miles (less than 10 minutes) to downtown Phoenix and you could take the Phoenix Transit bus into the city; look out for #13 and #40 bus routes.
Amtrak currently does not stop at Phoenix and you would have to travel to Flagstaff a good three hour car journey away to catch the Amtrak train or southerly Maricopa.
- Passports must be valid for a minimum of 6 months from the return date to the UK.
- All travellers should check full entry requirements prior to travel by visiting the FCO website or by contacting the relevant embassy.
- USA entry procedures have changed and UK travellers to the USA under the Visa Waiver Scheme must now complete the I-94W form online using the Electronic System for Travel Authorisation (ESTA) system - for more details, look at the US Embassy site. Any other nationalities must seek the advice of their embassy.
Language, People and Culture
Phoenix, Arizona is one of the few places left in the USA where you can find the landscape and people of celluloid westerns with huge cactus, cowboys and rugged mountains in which to make your escape. When it was first settled by non-indigenous people it was for agricultural purposes and the farms, wide open vistas and distances remain. More recently Mormon’s have settled a community at Mesa and at Tempe a large university population can be found. A large Hispanic population ensures Spanish culture is a strong theme in Phoenix.
English is spoken as the primary language although Spanish is widely spoken and understood.
American Dollar. Credit cards are accepted in hotels and many restaurants and shops.
120V 60 Hertz. All plugs are a flat blade 2 pin.
Converters are readily available in the UK for the USA.
Vaccination & Health
As health requirements change please consult with your GP or specialist travel clinic well in advance of your holiday for specific information related to your travel and medical history. Additional information can be found by visiting NaTHNaC or MASTA Travel health.
Phoenix (+1) 602
Location and Getting Around
Phoenix epitomises the stereotypical American dependency on the motor vehicle. It is just about possible to get around the central district and downtown on the rail system but anywhere else you will need a car and you can make life easier for yourself by hiring one.
By car: Very advisable. During the mid1980’s enormous investment was made in the road network system and as a result, it is easy to find your way around and without a car you will be limited. The city is designed for the car with the connection to outlying areas in the Greater Phoenix locale and in the city itself. One word of caution – there is a compulsory jail sentence for anyone caught drink driving plus a fine.
By public transport: Phoenix is not well served by a train system and do not rely on it if you want to get around and visit the area fully.
The Light Rail system operates Downtown and around Tempe – an all-day pass costing $3.50. You can then take a taxi to your actual destination from the rail station. Stations are close by and run by some of the area’s top attractions, like the Heard Museum, Phoenix Art Museum, the Arizona Science Centre, Chase Field, US Airways Centre, and Sun Devil Stadium.
By Taxi: Perhaps the only upside to waiting in line for the taxi’s is the fact that a Sedan, SUV or Limo could pick you up and they will be the same price as a normal car.
On foot: Not advised – Phoenix is a massive city.
By Bike: More destination cycling than cycling between attractions.
Food, Drink and Nightlife
South Western USA and Mexican food such as burritos, tortillas and tacos are the main fayre although all kinds of food can be found in outlying districts. In the smaller areas of Midtown and Downtown you will find more bars and choices of restaurant, you might also try Scottsdale. Specifically Old Town Scottsdale which has a good selection of entertainment. Around Tempe and the university you will find more budget options and more nightlife; head to Mill Avenue opposite the uni. Central Phoenix is much more of a local crowd, which may suit you.
As Mesa is a Mormon community there is no nightlife and associated bars and restaurants there.
Festivals, Events and Sports
The major USA holidays are listed here:
New Year’s Day 1 Jan
Martin Luther King Day around 21 Jan
Presidents Day around 18 Feb
Memorial Day around 27 May
Independence Day 4 Jul
Labour Day around 2 Sep
Columbus Day around 14 Oct
Halloween end of Oct
Veterans Day around 11 Nov
Thanksgiving Day around 28 Nov
Christmas Day 25 Dec
With five local sports teams there always some sports going on but top tip – try to leave purchasing your tickets until a couple of hours beforehand when the price goes down. The Arizona Diamondbacks (MLB=baseball) play in Chase Field, while the Phoenix Suns (NBA) and Phoenix Mercury (WNBA) run the court in US Airways Centre. Both venues are downtown so getting around is easy.
The Arizona Cardinals (NFL) and Phoenix Coyotes (NHL) play at University of Phoenix Stadium and Jobing.com Arena respectively, in the West Valley.
Check local listings for up to date sporting events.
Scottsdale Fashion Square is the place to head for designer goodies but equally Phoenix prides itself on having retained vintage and one-off boutiques and shops which make the whole shopping experience more unique. Shopping in most USA cities will be a breath of fresh air after the one size fits all kind of shopping streets we have in the UK. With some much daylight and sunshine, outdoor markets are everywhere selling homeware to food to clothes.