This article is a part of the 2023 Spring Travel Guide, a sponsored collection brought to you by our travel advertising partners. You can find more spring travel destinations and events here.

The ground crunches under your boots as soft winds whip up gentle cyclones of sand at the base of an ancient, towering saguaro. And as you gaze up, the nation’s fifth-largest city rises from the desert, a welcoming oasis beaming with culture and creativity.

Welcome to Greater Phoenix.

The people of the region have enjoyed a symbiotic relationship with the Sonoran Desert for centuries. Locals safeguard the treasure that is one of the world’s most unique and vibrant deserts, and in return, the desert gives inspiration that helps cultivate the rich experiences that await visitors.

Here are a few ways to experience Greater Phoenix.

Immerse Yourself in Local Art and Culture

There’s no one way to take in the vibrant local culture of Phoenix. A visit to the internationally acclaimed Heard Museum, which celebrates the culture and art of American Indians of the Southwest, is a great start. The museum’s 11 spacious exhibit galleries and beautiful outdoor courtyards feature outstanding traditional and contemporary works.

Take a stroll through the city’s Roosevelt Row arts district, where larger-than-life murals depicting struggles and triumphs blanket urban buildings. The artisans, artists, and creators that make Roosevelt Row home produce hand-crafted wares that allow you to take some of the local culture home with you.

Then simply boogie about the downtown streets and enjoy local sounds of rock, jazz, and blues at the city’s many live music venues.

Explore Flavors that Transcend Borders

Phoenix is home to an ever-growing menu of James Beard Award winners and nominees, whose inspired flavors incorporate a global influence with local flair. In 2023 alone, the chefs of three Phoenix restaurants earned the coveted Best Chef: Southwest nomination—Bacanora, Testal, and Lom Wong.

Chefs Rene Andrade and Roberto Centeno of Bacanora bring Sonoran cuisine—a type of Mexican food influenced heavily by Sonoran Desert agriculture—to downtown Phoenix. After your meal, browse the artisan piñatas from Mañana Republic that are available for purchase as a memento of your experience.

Testal, by chef Fernando Hernandez, takes burritos to a new level. One of the more unique offerings—The Colorado—features pork in red sauce with potatoes.

And chefs Yotaka and Alex Martin of Lom Wong offer their take on the regional cuisines of Thailand, with a full menu of authentic dishes complimented by a bevy of Thai-influenced craft cocktails.

For a nightcap, head over to 36 Below—a modern speakeasy where the process of creating these molecular mixtures is as much an experience as the delicious flavors of the cocktails. A rotating menu of seasonally stunning cocktails are served in spectacularly interesting glassware, only enhancing the experience.

Find Yourself in the Sonoran Desert

Exploring the source of Phoenix’s inspiration—the Sonoran Desert—is made easy by the Desert Botanical Garden, which is home to more than 50,000 desert plants, including the iconic saguaros. Five thematic trails with interpretative displays throughout explain topics such as conservation, desert living, plants, and people of the Sonoran Desert, and desert wildflowers.

For a more adventure-filled excursion, head into the desert with a hike along bucket-list trails. The famed Camelback Mountain and its Echo Canyon and Cholla trails can get a little busy, so if you’re interested in some solitude to connect with nature, head to some of the lesser-traveled trails.

The Lookout Mountain Summit Trail at Phoenix Mountains Preserve is a 1.2-mile out and back trail that treats you to panoramic views of the desert landscape from 450 feet above. Or observe evidence of civilizations from 7,000 years ago through the Petroglyphs along the trails at South Mountain Park and Preserve.

When your visit comes to an end, you’ll realize you’re taking home a piece of Phoenix—a radiance that you’ll carry with you as a reminder that, like all of us, The Desert Becomes You.

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