Central Arizona Phoenix Desert, Arts, Museums and More
All roads lead to and from … Phoenix!
Arizona’s main gateway is Phoenix and an ideal location for basing a hub-and-spoke itinerary. You can travel no more than 30 miles in any direction and arrive at one or more areas offering a selection of enjoyable touring sites and activities. Here is a sampling of what is available.
In and around Phoenix
Downtown Phoenix is in the throes of a renaissance with the transformation of its 90-square-block core and an infusion of $3.9 billion into Copper Square. Anchored by the Phoenix Civic Plaza, Copper Square is taking the best of Old Town and shaping it into a multi-use complex. It is an example of a contemporary city-center living style with a mix of residential, commerce, sports, cultural and arts facilities, shopping and other urban amenities.
Two of the more prominent Copper Square structures are the America West Arena, home to the Phoenix Suns, Phoenix Mercury and the Arizona Rattlers; and the Bank One Ballpark where the Arizona Diamondbacks play.
Other highlights of Copper Square are its more than 90 restaurants, lounges and markets and Arizona Center, where you find a myriad of speciality shops, movie theaters and performance venues. Other theater and performing arts venues include the Arizona Youth Theater, the Dodge Theatre, the Herberger Theater Center, the historic Orpheum Theater and Symphony Hall.
The Square also has several museums and historic sites including the foursquare block Heritage Square, site of the original town, which features several restored Victorian-style buildings. Other museums include the Phoenix Museum of History, Arizona Science Center, the Rossnon House Museum, the Arizona Doll and Toy Museum, the Musco Museum, Phoenix Police Museum and the Wells Fargo History Museum. Another feature of the area is a large Mercado shopping village.
Visiting Scottsdale and need a tour guide? One option is to use the new driving CD and map, Audio Adventure of Scottsdale. Commentary gives an inside look at the city’s architecture, art, sports, distinctive landscape and history. The map directs you to various points and scenic areas and there are 15 featured audio stops that offer more in-depth commentary. A limited supply of free CDs and maps are available from the Scottsdale CVB.
The Spring Festival of the Arts, March 31-April 2, is one of the states finest outdoor art events. This downtown Arizona area in Tempe is closed to foot traffic and becomes a gallery featuring over 500 juried artists in various media. These include paintings, sculptures, handmade toys and decorative items, textiles, pottery and other works of art. There are food, entertainment and other activities. The city’s Fall Festival of the Arts is typically the first weekend in December.
Way Out West Oktoberfest, late September weekend. This event features lots of dancing to polka music and country-western two-stepping. There are games of skill and chance, puppet shows and a cultural craft fair. Food ranges from bratwurst to cowboy grub.
Chandler boasts an active arts community and many theatrical and music performances are held at its Center for Performing Arts. Its primary season is from November through April. This seasons line-up includes Debbie Reynolds, Jan. 28; Lawrence Welk Show Performers, Feb. 11, and BYUs Young Ambassadors.