Finding the bright spots in the Valley of the Sun:
Maybe you'll be in town to catch some spring training action or are wondering what else there is to do in Phoenix, or maybe you'll be passing through before or after a trip to the Grand Canyon. Whatever the reason, you'll find there's plenty to do around Phoenix other than play golf, hang out by the pool, go to a spa, or go shopping (although these are all favorite Phoenix pastimes).
First of all, you should be aware that the Phoenix metropolitan area, known as the Valley of the Sun, covers an area roughly 50 miles in diameter. Leave yourself plenty of travel time for getting across this sprawling metropolis.
For a first stop, you might want to acquaint yourself with the desert by wandering the paths of the Desert Botanical Garden, which is located amid the red rocks of Papago Park (which itself is a good place for a short hike). Also not to be missed is the Heard Museum, which is the nation's foremost museum of Native American cultures. Not far from this museum you'll also find the Phoenix Art Museum, which is the largest art museum in the Southwest.
Although Phoenix is the state capital and is home to several excellent museums, nearby Scottsdale is the metropolitan area's top tourist destination. Although this wealthy community on the east side of the valley likes to think of itself as a wild west town, it's more Rodeo Drive than cattle drive and the mustangs tend to have alloy wheels instead of iron shoes. If you live to shop, this is the place, and even if you can't afford to buy a $40,000 bronze statue for the back patio, it's fun to window shop along streets lined with art galleries. Scottsdale is also home to the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art, which, with its bold styling, serves as the valley's premier venue for cutting edge art (no cowboys on horseback here).
The Phoenix area is full of unusual architecture. In part this is due to the fact that Frank Lloyd Wright once made his winter home here. Taliesin West, where Wright lived and worked, is on the north side of Scottsdale. Although still in use as a school, Taliesen West is open to the public by guided tour.