Located close to the city of Scottsdale, the Camelback Mountain watches over Phoenix, Arizona's sweeping semi-arid plains from a spectacular elevation of nearly 1,400 feet (426.72 meters). The mountain gets its name from the resemblance it bears to the unmistakable shape of a camel's hump. The north trailhead offers views of red cliffs rising 200 feet (61 meters) in some areas, beckoning rock climbers with its challenges. Antelope squirrels, lizards, and snakes are the landscape's most widely-spread inhabitants. The Praying Monk red sandstone formation is arguably the site's most noticeable sight.
Music lovers should head to the Musical Instrument Museum which has a collection of 15,000 musical instruments as well as multimedia exhibits. The collection of musical instruments comes from every corner of the world. Many so strange, they are exhibited along with an instructional video. Visitors get the opportunity to learn diverse music styles that exist around the globe. The museum also has live performances held at its theater.
The Desert Botanical Garden was opened in 1939 to preserve the area's pristine desert environment. Today, the garden helps save endangered plants, with the focus still on native flora and special emphasis on succulents. The cactus collection is world-renowned and between the months of March through May, the seasonal blooms are spectacular. The garden hosts several events throughout the year, some of which include the popular 'Butterfly Habitat' during the spring and the 'Luminarias' during the holiday season. If you come during the summer months, don't forget your hat and sunscreen!
One of the largest in the Southwest, the Phoenix Art Museum includes a staggering collection of exhibits from the world over. Permanent displays in this facility include miniature interiors as well as 20th-century art. Featured pieces cover contemporary art and fashion design with international exhibits from Europe, Asia, Latin America as well as Western America. Interactive, hands-on activities are featured for kids at the PhxArtKids space. Traveling displays are often included in the museum's highlights. Exhibits include popular works by Ubertini, Nicolas Lepicie, Max Beckmann, Robert Henri, Eugène Boudin and many more.
Founded in 1929 by Dwight B. and Marie Bartlett Heard, this museum houses tributes to American Indian art and culture. At the Heard Museum, permanent displays are showcased along with traveling exhibits displaying the rich heritage of the people. Home of approximately 40,000 artifacts, the museum has on display American Indian jewelry and more than four hundred Hopi katsina dolls. Heard Museum also has an exhibition that narrates the stories of Native Americans in 19th-century boarding schools.
The Phoenix Zoo offers a plethora of activities for family recreation. Sprawling over 125 acres (50 hectares), this privately-owned leisure facility is a must-visit when in the Valley. It is home to over 1,300 exotic species including lions, giraffes, baboons and meerkats, making it one of the country's largest zoos. Explore the verdant labyrinth of the Forest of Uco, take a hike along the African Trail and enjoy a tractor ride at the Harmony Farm. Also, the interactive programs on offer are both educational and entertaining.
Located at the intersection of Washington Street and Central Avenue, 'Downtown Phoenix' has something for everyone—museums, cultural venues, sports venues, music halls, theaters and much more. This place is an snapshot of 20th century architectural style. It has many mid-rise and high-rise buildings and also houses the popular Heritage and Copper Squares, which are the corporate, governmental and cultural hubs of the city.
This interesting museum opened in 1993 and offers a colorful history of the Phoenix Police Department. Learn more about various men and women who have kept law and order in the city. Located in downtown Phoenix, exhibits include recreations of old jail cells from the 19th and 20th centuries as well as a Model-T police car from 1919. The kids can play 'cops' and try on old police uniforms.
The Heard Building or the Greater Arizona Savings Building is a beautiful historic structure that was once a thriving commercial building. This tall landmark was also included in the U.S. National Register of Historic Places in 1985.
The César Chávez Plaza was named to honor the man who is responsible to further the cause of migrant workers in the state and the country. Located in downtown Phoenix, this plaza plays host to several community events, including Phoenix Earth Day and Cinco de Mayo. Do pay a visit to this plaza to experience a part of the vibrant culture of this city.
Officially called the Church of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, it is more commonly known as St. Mary's Basilica or simply St. Mary's. Located in downtown Phoenix, the splendid architecture is a mix of Mission Revival, Spanish Revival and Roman designs. Moreover it is known for its opulent stained glass, the largest in Arizona, while the religious carvings and statues inside add to its beauty. St. Mary's was elevated to being a minor basilica in 1987 by Pope John Paul II and is the only one of its kind in Phoenix. This striking church conducts daily mass for the faithful and tours of its healing garden and the monument itself for visitors.
The gigantic funnel suspended above the Civic Space Park makes the place impossible to miss in downtown Phoenix. Brought to life with whimsical colors, this attraction defines the park which is the city's green oasis. Covered with a canopy of trees and lined with several benches, the park is a perfect place to bite into a snack while taking a break from shopping and sightseeing. It's also a venue for many local events. The park also has a splash pad that comes as respite from the city's heat for families and friends alike.