As the 48th state, Arizona
is a relative newcomer to the Union—
but its roots are ancient history. For more than 1300 years, Arizona
has been home to some of the most dynamic, resourceful, and energetic civilizations. Although the earliest Native American communities—the "Ho Ho Kam" —mysteriously disappeared from the desert before the arrival of European settlers, their legacy is evident in the ancient Pueblo Grande
ruins and in the elaborate system of irrigation canals they developed that made life in the desert possible. Like the mythical bird from which it takes its name, Phoenix
rose from the ashes of its own extraordinary past.
Today, the Phoenix
metropolitan area ("the Valley of the Sun
") reflects its unique historical origins and its distinctive Southwestern character. With 21 Native American tribes throughout the state, its close proximity to Mexico, and a constant influx of newcomers from around the world, Phoenix
offers a diverse cultural, legal and business environment. Now the fifth-largest city in the United States
consistently rates among the best run cities, the best places to live, and the best major metro areas for starting and growing a business. The state's economy—once based exclusively on farming and mining—today also thrives on tourism and high-tech manufacturing and development. Arizona State University
, located in Tempe, is a level one research institution that attracts students and scholars from across the globe. A temperate climate, affordable housing, and a resilient economy keep them here.
A relaxed lifestyle also contributes to the exceptional quality of life in the Valley. Cactus League Baseball
—featuring nine major league teams in Phoenix
and three in Tucson—
jump starts baseball season every March. Throughout the summer, the Arizona Diamondbacks
play at the state-of-the-art Chase Field
's Copper Square
, where, in 2001, the fledgling Diamondbacks defeated the New York Yankees in one of the most exciting games in World Series history. Rounding out the professional sports teams are the Phoenix Suns
(NBA), Phoenix Coyotes
(NHL) and Arizona Cardinals
(NFL). The Valley also hosts college football's Fiesta Bowl
, the PGA's Waste Management Phoenix Open
, and, in 2008, the Super Bowl. With an average of 300 days of sunshine per year, valley residents take full advantage of outdoor recreation—an extensive urban trail system for hiking, cycling, and horseback riding; canyon lakes offering water skiing, boating, and fishing; and two hours to the north of the Valley snowboarding and downhill skiing in winter.
combines the best of The Old West with the cosmopolitan diversity of a world-class city. Weather permitting (and it usually does), diners enjoy patio seating at a wide array of restaurants, ranging from the trendy bistros of Scottsdale
to the funky ethnic fare tucked away in the central city neighborhoods. Perhaps the most popular cuisine is Mexican, reflecting the variations of its distinctive regional origins—from the traditional to contemporary, spicy to mild. Also Greek, Thai, Chinese, Italian, Japanese, Cuban, French, and, at the Arizona State Fair
, don't miss the Indian Fry Bread!
Local museums reflect the unique character of the desert southwest and the heritage of its earliest inhabitants. The Heard Museum
is internationally renowned for its collections of Native American and Southwestern art and artifacts. Several annual events—including the Championship Hoop Dance Contest
and the Indigenous Film Festival—celebrate Native American culture in the Park-like setting of midtown Phoenix. Further south, the Phoenix Art Museum
, after a recent expansion, is among the largest visual art venues in the Southwest. With more than a half-million visitors each year, the Museum recently reached record attendance with its exhibition "Masterworks from El Greco to Picasso in the Phillips Collection." With a more contemporary feel, the Arizona Science Center
features more than 300 hands-on exhibits that invite patrons to interact with science and technology, while the recently completed Challenger Space Center
allows visitors to explore the mysteries of the universe and the wonder of Discovery. The Phoenix Children's Museum
engages the imagination with hands-on, interactive exhibits.
Further points of interest include the Desert Botanical Garden
, the Phoenix Zoo
, and Frank Lloyd Wright's Taliesin West
, home of the Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture and the Wright foundation and archives.
Arizona State University
(ASU) has its main campus in Tempe
, 15 minutes from central Phoenix
. Established in 1885 as a teachers college, ASU today enrolls more than 57,000 undergraduate, graduate, and professional students on three campuses in the metro area. ASU's extended campus in Downtown Phoenix
offers various academic programs and professional certificate programs. In addition to ASU, the Valley is home to Thunderbird School of Global Management
, recently ranked by U.S. News & World Report
as the number one graduate program in International Business for the eighth consecutive year, and the University of Phoenix
, the largest private university in the United States.
Arts & Entertainment
With a wide range of distinctive venues, the Valley attracts the finest music, dance, and theater productions from around the world. The historic Orpheum Theater
in downtown Phoenix, built in 1929 as a movie house and vaudeville theater, combines ornate Spanish Baroque Revival architecture with state-of-the-art production technology. The opulent Gammage Auditorium
on the ASU campus, originally designed by Frank Lloyd Wright as an opera house for Baghdad, hosts musical, theatrical and operatic productions. Symphony Hall is home to the renowned Phoenix Symphony
, Arizona Opera,
and Ballet Arizona
, while the Herberger Theater
houses the Arizona Theater Company
, the Center Dance Ensemble
, and Childsplay.
For larger events is the innovative Comerica Theater
. A facility designed to accommodate concerts, Broadway shows, and professional boxing matches, as its moving side walls transform an intimate proscenium theater into a modern, fully-equipped sports arena. Phoenix also offers events, such as The Scottsdale International Film Festival
Other unique activities in the Valley of the Sun.
Dia de los Muertos
(Day of the Dead), a Mexican Halloween tradition that merges the Catholic feast of All Soul's day with Native American rituals of death to celebrate the unity between life and death; Artlink First Fridays
, a self-guided tour of galleries and studios in Central Phoenix; and Art Walk
, a walking tour of Scottsdale's 100+ art galleries every Thursday night that features food and entertainment. Phoenix also has a variety of hiking trails
across the city. Sedona and Flagstaff are nearby and offer a beautiful escape for weekend getaways.
Phoenix, in the heart of the Valley of the Sun, is a progressive modern metropolis steeped in the rich traditions of its ancient past. Now, as then, Phoenix
is on the rise.