Valentine’s Day holds an extra special place in the hearts of Arizonans and Phoenicians alike. On Feb. 14th, 1912, Arizona – boasting Phoenix as its capital – became a state. Happy 105th birthday Arizona!
Known as the “Nation’s Valentine,” this great state — and the Valley of the Sun in particular — offers plenty to love. So, in honor of Valentine’s Day and Arizona’s statehood, we rounded up 14 things we love about Phoenix.
1. The beauty
To begin with the obvious, the region offers mesmerizing beauty. Phoenix’s unique desert landscape boasts a huge range of plants and animals, majestic mountains and sunset hues that range from violet to orange.
In addition, we get an astonishing amount of sunshine — an average 296 days of sun a year. We don’t call it the “Valley of the Sun” for nothing.
If you love golf, you’ll love the Valley. From hosting major golf events like the PGA Waste Management Phoenix Open at TPC Scottsdale to legendary golf destinations such as the Arizona Biltmore and the Crowne Plaza San Marcos Golf Resort (the first-ever golf resort built in Arizona), golfers — local and visiting — love hitting the links on the numerous course options available. Plus, as we already mentioned, you can play in the sunshine all winter.
Representing Major League Baseball, Chase Field hosts the 2001 World Series champion Arizona Diamondbacks. In addition, there are numerous teams who join us here each year for Arizona Cactus League spring training at various ballparks around the Valley.
The NBA’s Phoenix Suns hold court at Talking Stick Resort Arena, while the NFL’s Arizona Cardinals lock down the gridiron at the University of Phoenix Stadium.
And, no, it’s not a mirage, ice exists in the desert when the NHL’s Arizona Coyotes face-off at Gila River Arena. For those who like to live in the fast lane, you can even enjoy NASCAR and other racing at the Phoenix International Raceway or one of the other motorsport parks.
4. Frank Lloyd Wright
Frank Lloyd Wright loved the Valley, and it shows. The Phoenix area boasts a number of iconic structural designs that emerged from the vision of the legendary architect.
Among them, count the Arizona Biltmore Resort, the Grady Gammage Auditorium at ASU and Taliesin West, home of the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation. Phoenicians are proud to be linked to the legacy of one of America’s greatest and most prolific architects.
Need a jolt of java? You can readily find a coffee shop in Phoenix that specializes in locally roasted brews. Get a good cuppa at Lux Central, the Cartel Coffee Lab or the Songbird Coffee and Tea House, among others.
6. Mexican food
Phoenix’s proximity to the Mexican border makes for a strong cultural presence in the Valley. That means no shortage of deliciousness exists when it comes to Mexican food with restaurantes favoritos such as Los Dos Molinos, Carolina’s Mexican Food and Los Olivos Mexican Patio around town. It won’t be hard to impress your out-of-town guests with so many to choose from.
Highly livable, Phoenix remains one of the most affordable cities in the country to live, work and play, which also makes it a great place for retirees, young families and everyone in between.
The Phoenix Metro Light Rail, for instance, became a big hit with Valley residents when it began operating in 2008. In addition to being affordable and convenient — especially for getting to and from home, work and major events — trends suggest the light rail is also motivating more people to live in central Phoenix. That, in turn, has spurred new high rise development in the downtown area as the Valley continues to grow.
With several campuses spread across the Valley, Arizona State University ranks among the top colleges in the nation with one of the largest undergraduate populations and a wide range of highly-ranked graduate programs. Go Sun Devils!
Phoenix also houses other highly-regarded institutions of higher learning including Grand Canyon University and the Maricopa County Community College District, which comprise ten community colleges in Phoenix and surrounding cities. If you want an education you can find plenty of places to learn.
9. Toll-free roads
If you visit or move from a city where almost every road begins with a toll booth, you’ll appreciate that Phoenix, and Arizona at large, are toll-free. That comes in especially handy when you find yourself regularly traveling across the Valley for work or fun events.
10. Day trips
Phoenix makes day trips simple thanks to the city’s closeness to fun historical — and frequently cooler — cities around the state. And don’t forget major cities in other states that are within drive-able range.
Putting pedal to the metal (keeping to the speed limits of course) you can find yourself in places like Albuquerque, New Mexico, Las Vegas, Los Angeles and San Diego in a quarter of a day’s drive or less!
11. Plenty to do
Attractions abound for families, couples, singles, seniors and anyone else who want to spend their weekends doing fun stuff. Soak up the aesthetics of the desert at the Desert Botanical Garden or the sights and sounds of the Phoenix Zoo.
Check out the world-class Musical Instrument Museum or catch a concert or performance at one of the many venues around the Valley. Head outdoors to hike, swim or boat, or go skiing – yes, really. You can always find something to do.
Phoenicians proudly claim their share of homegrown celebrities. Rock legend Alice Cooper, who grew up in the Valley also owns a restaurant in downtown Phoenix named Alice Cooperstown, naturally.
Comedian and actor David Spade, “American Idol” alum Jordin Sparks, and “Twilight” author Stephenie Meyer are also some of the success stories to emerge from the Valley. Decorated Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps now coaches the ASU swim team.
With more than 16 million annual visitors to the Valley of the Sun, you can always meet new people from faraway places. The travelers also benefit the Valley and local business. According to the Convention & Visitors Bureau, visitors contribute more than $6 billion to the area’s economy.
14. The humidity
Yes, the summer months come with a massive dose of heat, which can be both inconvenience, and dangerous if you aren’t ready for it. But, as you’ll often hear Phoenicians say, it’s a “dry heat,” which means less sticky humidity and frizzy bad hair days.
Plus, we can still wear flip-flops and sandals in the winter months as our East Coast and Midwest neighbors dig themselves out of snowstorms. Give it a try and you might find it becomes the thing about Phoenix you love most.
– Suzanne Wilson, Phoenix.org