Phoenix Travel Guide

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Phoenix Travel Guide

Phoenix Local History

In the mid 1860's the US Army built Fort McDowell northeast of what would later become Phoenix. It due to the initiative of former soldier and prospector Jack Swilling, who decided to open the ancient Hohokam canals which would assist in producing crops for the garrison. In 1870 the town of Phoenix was established. It was a British settler, Darrel Duppa, who said that the town had risen from the ashes of the Hohokam culture like the fabled Phoenix and so the name stuck. A ferry crossing and trading post was established on the Salt River by Charles Trumbull Hayden. Again it was Duppa's suggestion that stuck when he commented that the location reminding him of the Vale of Tempe near Mt Olympus in Greece.

In 1887 the railway arrived from the Pacific and in 1889 Phoenix became the territorial capital. The town quickly became an agricultural and transportation centre and its population had risen to 3000 residents. In 1886 the Arizona Normal School was built in Tempe, this school later became known as Arizona State University. In 1878 Mesa was established by Mormon settlers and other villages started springing up including Scottsdale.

Right up to 1911 the lack of water was a huge problem and the area did not grow very much. It was only once the Roosevelt Dam on the Salt River was completed that Phoenix came into its own and starting growing with a vengeance. By 1926 the railway link became transcontinental and this allowed people from the East to travel into the state. One of the visitors who arrived for his health was Dwight and Maie Heard; he became a leading businessman and editor and both of them established one of the most interesting museums in Phoenix The Heard Museum.

In 1926, Phoenix's railway link became transcontinental, enabling people from the East to pour into the state in increasing numbers. Many came for recreation - to stay in dude ranches and be cowboys for a few weeks or to relax at the luxurious Arizona Biltmore resort, opened in 1929 and still one of the finest in the West. Others came for their health; the dry desert air was said to cure various respiratory ailments. Many of these visitors stayed, including Dwight and Maie Heard, who arrived in 1895 to cure Dwight's lung complaints. He became a leading businessman and editor, and with his wife, founded Phoenix's most interesting museum, the Heard.

The population of the valley has grown almost six-fold between WWll and today. The economy is driven by agriculture, transportation, politics and tourism. The growth has brought many more manufacturers and other industries to the fore, such as computer and electrical components. Many of the old building have been replaced by modern structures but fortunately not all of them.

Phoenix Attractions

Phoenix Shopping

There are plenty of places for the visitor to shop as there is a mega-mall in just about every neighbourhood of Greater Phoenix. There are village-size retail stores that carry just about anything you would be looking for from Stetson to Indian necklaces. Scottsdale probably has the most varied options it is very pricey.

The Heard Museum Shop and Bookstore - Central Ave This store has the best selection of authentic Native American arts and crafts. The really nice thing about buying here is that all the money you spend goes directly to the artists and no percentage is paid to the middleman.

Wright Store Taliesin West Once the only gift shop were you could buy clocks, scarves, pillows and many more designed by Frank Lloyd Wright or people who are authorised to imitate his articles. However, these items can now be purchased at Wright Downtown in Scottsdale.

Saba - 7254 Main St, Old Town, Scottdale If you wish to acquire real western type clothing this store has been selling real cowpoke clothing in the Valley since 1927.

Antiques alley - 5800 Glenn Dr, Glendale Situated in Old Towne Glendale is where you will find over 90 antique stores. It is a treasure trove for the antique hunter and there is sure to be at least one store where you will find what you are looking for.

Phoenix Activities

Big Surf Water Park - 1500 N McClintock Av, Phoenix When it gets too hot in Phoenix take the kids to the Water Park which is on the east side of town. Here you will be able to ride waves 5ft high or go down waterslides and land in a giant freshwater lagoon. Open Mon-Sat 10am to 6pm, Sun 11am 7 pm only during May September.

Arizona Science Centre - Copper Street, Phoenix This is the highlight of downtown Phoenix and who will enjoy it the most the kids or you is hard to say. There are many things to see from the giant sneezing nose, a Fab Lab where paper airplanes can be shot and a replica of a air traffic control centre. These are just some of the great exhibits on permanent display. There is also a very modern planetarium and large-screen theatre. You can also experience how astronauts live and work on a flying lab. It is open daily from 10 am to 5 pm.

Phoenix Parks & Gardens

Boyce Thompson Southwestern Arboretum This is the largest and oldest Botanical Garden in Arizona and can be found 90 miles north of Tucson on the way to Superior. The gardens are situated on more than 300 acres of land that belonged to Boyce Thompson, who established the gardens in 1924 with the help of a professor from Arizona University. The park is committed to desert wildlife conservation, research and education. There are miles of nature trails which pass the lovely Queen Creek Canyon. There are many gardens of cacti, palms, eucalyptus and greenhouses.

Historic Sahuaro Ranch Park - 9802 N. 59th Ave Glendale The park was once a thriving citrus orchard and is still full of fragrant orange trees. It is also known by the locals as 'Peacock Park' because of the family of peacocks who live at the ranch with the rabbits, roosters, chickens and pigeons. This is a ranch is full of history and visitors can also tour the 1895 Main House. There is plenty to do in the park, from having a picnic under a palm tree to visiting exhibitions in the old packing shed. There are also plenty of seasonal events especially the Glendale Annual Hometown Fourth of July celebrations.

Murphy's Park This park can be found in the town plaza and is situated on three acres. There are over 100 trees which offer plenty of shade; there are brick walkways, old-fashioned town clocks, gas lamps and many more. This is a peaceful and graceful park where you can have a picnic and during Christmas they have the 'Glendale Glitters' a light show which is absolutely incredible. There are plenty of other festivals held here such as 'Fiesta Glendale and the decadent chocolate fair. Surrounding the park are plenty of antique shops, gift stores, restaurants and bars.

Phoenix Beaches

Phoenix Restaurants and Bars

Phoenix Restaurants

Alice Cooper's town - 101 E Jackson St This restaurant is also a sports bar and is owned by the rock star (Alice Cooper). The food is good and lunch and dinner are served daily. The atmosphere is great with the staff all wearing face paint.

Monti's La Casa Vieja - 101 W Rio Salado Parkway, Tempe This house was built in 1873 and is Tempe's oldest adobe house. It has been converted into a western diner and has a wonderful atmosphere. Lunch and dinner are served daily and the prices are extraordinarily low.

Sam's Cafe Arizona Centre - 455 N 3rd St - This cafe has patio seating and is situated in a busy downtown mall. This is a great place to try some modern South-western fare at good old-fashion prices. They serve lunch and dinner daily.

MacAlpine's Nostalgic Soda Fountain - 2303 N 7th St This is your typical soda fountain from old. They serve breakfast specials and deli sandwiches and you can wash it down with an old-style soda.

House of Tricks - 114 E 7th St, Tempe This is a small but smart, romantic place and is in the university district. There are many vegetarian meals on offer. They are closed on Sundays.

Phoenix Bars & Clubs

Char's Has The Blues - 4631 N 7th Ave This is where you will find the best-loved blues. Char's is the longest-standing venue in Phoenix and attracts many of the big name stars; there are live acts nightly.

Mr Lucky's - 3660 NW Grand Ave Here you will find real country honky-tonk music and on weekends they also have real-life bull riding.

Phoenix Live! - Arizona Centre, 455 N 3rd Ave This club is a bit bland but has three separate clubs in one building. There is only one cover charge and it is very central.

Phoenix children's activities

Big Surf Water Park - 1500 N McClintock Av, Phoenix When it gets too hot in Phoenix take the kids to the Water Park which is on the east side of town. Here you will be able to ride waves 5ft high or go down waterslides and land in a giant freshwater lagoon. Open Mon-Sat 10am to 6pm, Sun 11am 7 pm only during May September.

Arizona Science Centre - Copper Street, Phoenix This is the highlight of downtown Phoenix and who will enjoy it the most the kids or you is hard to say. There are many things to see from the giant sneezing nose, a Fab Lab where paper airplanes can be shot and a replica of a air traffic control centre. These are just some of the great exhibits on permanent display. There is also a very modern planetarium and large-screen theatre. You can also experience how astronauts live and work on a flying lab. It is open daily from 10 am to 5 pm.

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