Phoenix is located in central Arizona about 150 miles south of Flagstaff and 150 miles north of Tucson.
It is situated on a broad, flat desert basin amid scattered barren rocky mountain peaks. It is a large sprawling city that has expanded to envelop the surrounding communities of Scottsdale, Mesa, Tempe, Glendale and Sun City.
It has a small downtown area containing a few dozen high rise buildings surrounded by a large metropolitan area that has expanded outward rather than upward.
Phoenix has attracted many retired people who come to enjoy the year round warm climate, the dry desert atmosphere and the relatively modest cost of living.
Unfortunately, this popularity has given rise to increased population density, urban sprawl and traffic congestion. Nevertheless, Phoenix and the surrounding areas retain a pleasant arid climate free of the rains and mosquitoes in Florida and without the exorbitant cost of living in Southern California.
The climate is very dry with temperatures ranging from pleasantly temperate during the winter to extremely hot during the summer. Daytime temperatures often exceed 45 during the summer months but average a refreshing 20 to 25 during the winter.
Golfing at one of the many surrounding courses is popular during the winter. Residents usually avoid all outdoor activities during midday hours in the summer. Late fall and early spring are good times to visit Phoenix, in order to avoid the summer heat and the winter tourists.
The Phoenix area lies within the northern fringe of the Sonoran desert, home of the giant Saguaro cactus that can exceed 10 meters in height. The surrounding countryside varies from barren rocky waste to fields of cactus and exotic desert vegetation interspersed with mountains and mesas of varied colour rocks. It is a land that can be rugged and forbidding yet strangely beautiful.
There are many things to see in Phoenix and the surrounding area. The Desert Botanical Museum has a wonderful collection of desert plants from arid regions around the world. It is a great place to learn about the flora of the southern Arizona desert. The museum is located near the popular Phoenix zoo, which contains a fine exhibit of animals living in the surrounding desert. Heard Museum features Native American culture and art including an extensive collection of artefacts that depict the lifestyle of local indigenous people. Deer Valley Rock Art Centre is dedicated to the preservation and interpretation of petroglyphs or prehistoric Native American rock art. Pueblo Grande Museum features an archaeological site revealing some of the ancient dwellings. These attractions in addition to the Mining and Mineral Museum and the Chicano Museum help form a complete depiction of the Central Arizona heritage.
Outdoor activities like golf, tennis and mountain biking are very popular all year round in Phoenix but especially during the winter months. There are nearly 120 golf courses near Phoenix. Horseback riding is another favourite pastime and many horse rental stables are located in the area.