Phoenix lies at the center of the state, in the “Valley of the Sun,” with average temperatures rivaling those of cities in the Persian Gulf. Outdoor activities are prominent here: The Phoenix metropolitan area (which includes satellite cities like Scottsdale and Tempe) is home to hundreds of golf courses, and the spectacular Sonoran Desert offers stark natural beauty that can be enjoyed from Old West-style dude ranches updated with modern resort amenities.
Phoenix’s indoor attractions provide much more than a respite from the heat: The Heard Museum showcases Native American art and culture, and the city’s art museum is the largest in the Southwest. Shopping and dining opportunities abound, and the area’s Hispanic heritage means Mexican and Southwestern cuisine are superlative. Scottsdale, widely considered the cultural center of the valley, is home to scores of restaurants, galleries and spas.