Phoenix has a reputation for being the land of sunshine and picturesque cactus-clad landscapes. However, the “Valley of the Sun” is also home to green golf courses, swimming pools and resorts.
The source of all that greenery is water from the Salt River and its major tributary, the Verde River. These waterways were exploited by the Hohokam people for agriculture hundreds of years ago. They left behind an extensive network of canals that helped to give rise to modern Phoenix. Explore the ruins of an ancient Hohokam Village at the Pueblo Grande Museum and Archeological Park. You’ll see how this innovative Native American community channeled water without modern tools or animals.
Check out the gleaming modern architecture at the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art, where the sun is ever-present as you walk through the building. Find an oasis of shade at the Mesa Arts Center, a visual and performing arts venue noted for the way its design complements the desert setting. At the Heard Museum, learn about the heritage of the country’s Southwest area through Native American arts and crafts.
With all of the pools, gardens and golf, it's easy to forget you’re in the Sonoran Desert. However, the heart of the desert is easy to access for those who love the great outdoors. Hike up Camelback Mountain, which is in the middle of the urban area. Here you can study the local geology, flora and fauna, and enjoy magnificent views of Phoenix, Scottsdale, Mesa and Tempe from the summit. Discover the surprising beauty and variety of desert plants at the Desert Botanical Garden.
Families will enjoy a trip to the Phoenix Zoo, voted one of the nation's best for kids. The zoo runs special programs where kids can learn what it is like to be a zoo-keeper. Play instruments from all over the globe at the Musical Instrument Museum, or cool off in the country's first and oldest wave-pool at Big Surf.