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My 10 interesting facts about Phoenix

Phoenix skyline palm trees facts about Phoenix

Palm trees in the desert? Not one of my most interesting facts about Phoenix

In the last 12 years, I’ve visited Phoenix four times.  I’ve hiked to the top of a mountain, seen a few sporting events, eaten some delicious food, gotten lost in the desert, and even spent a night vomiting in a hotel room.

OK, I made one of those up (you’ll have to read more to see which one).  However, these trips inspired me to share my 10 interesting facts about Phoenix.

Four visits and a few memorable experiences.  And now I act like I’m sharing secrets about a place I’ve lived my entire life.

However, you will not find interesting facts about Phoenix like this on the internet or in a guidebook.

Why?  Because I’m telling you personal stories that make the answers to Phoenix trivia questions come alive.

I don’t want you to learn facts about Phoenix.  I want you to remember the experiences.

My 10 interesting facts about Phoenix

Google “interesting facts about Phoenix” (because no one wants just facts – that’s boring) and you will find countless posts, articles, and information about the city.

Read how Phoenix got its name from Darrell Duppa and his prophecy about the ancient ruins of the Hohokam Indians.  Research those temperatures, average highs, and records so you can prepare for how insanely “hot as Hell” this place can be.

So sit right back and read some facts from my four Phoenix trips…

Well, they are more like stories.

(As I tell my stories, give me a little artistic freedom.  Sometimes when I mention Phoenix, I am referring to the Phoenix area – Glendale, Tempe, Mesa, Scottsdale, etc. So don’t yell at me for being too literal).

Phoenix is 1 of 12 US cities with all 4 major sports teams

When it comes to sports and travel, I am a big fan.  As a kid, I loved sports.  As I grew older, sports inspired my travels.  I soon realized that combining the two enriched my travel experiences and were a great way to connect with locals.

On this most recent trip, I was here for the Fiesta Bowl as part of my Expedia College Football Travel Tour.  In my previous visits, I have seen an Angels Spring Training game, an Arizona Diamondbacks game, and the Oakland A’s Spring Training facility.  On this trip, I saw a Phoenix Suns basketball game and toured Chase Field.

Did you know that 15 Major League Baseball teams (50 percent of MLB teams) have Spring Training in the Phoenix area?  (Can you name all 15 teams?).

On this recent trip, I took photos of all the sports arenas for the 4 pro sports teams.  Here’s proof.

So Phoenix is a big sports town.  Got it. Moving on.

(Can you name the other 11 cities with all 4 major sports teams – NBA, MLB, NHL, NFL?)

facts about Phoenix sports stadium Arizona Cardinals Phoenix Coyotes Arizona Diamondbacks Phoenix Suns

Phoenix sports stadiums (L to R clockwise) – Arizona Cardinals, Phoenix Coyotes, Arizona Diamondbacks, Phoenix Suns

Phoenix is located in the Sonoran Desert

Yes, it’s shocking to learn that with the cactus (or cacti – to be grammatically correct), hot sun, and rocky, dry landscape Phoenix is located in the desert.

However, the Sonoran Desert is the wettest and greenest desert in North America.

In nearby Papago Park, I spent an afternoon walking around Desert Botanical Garden.  I learned a lot about the plants, the Indians who lived here, and how people survived in the heat.

Desert Botanical Garden contains the world’s largest collection of desert plants.  As hot as it is here, there are lots of outdoor things to do in Phoenix.

Honestly, I found the desert to be quite beautiful.

facts about Phoenix Desert Botanical Garden Papago Park

Desert Botanical Garden

Sky Harbor International Airport is one of the 10 busiest airports in the United States

I’ve flown to Phoenix three different times.  I’ve connected through Phoenix a number of other times on layovers.

It’s a nice airport.  It’s big.  It’s busy.  I slept on most of my flights to and from Phoenix.

(I’m sure these stories will make you never forget Sky Harbor!)

Maricopa County is the size of New Hampshire

Phoenix and Maricopa County are big.

When I first arrived here, I didn’t realize how spread out the Phoenix area was.  You connect with many of the surrounding cities driving down long streets and hopping on and off the freeways.

The longest drive I had was from Scottsdale to Glendale for the Fiesta Bowl.  Most of that was on the freeway and it took me about 45 minutes.  The rest of the places seemed closer on the map but took longer than expected.

After driving around Phoenix and the surrounding cities I realized how big it really is.

No wonder this county is as big as a state.

Phoenix has an elevation of 1,119 feet

Be honest.  This one surprised you.  Whenever you think of “desert”, you think of hot, dry land located near sea level.  After all, one of the lowest points on earth – Death Valley, California – is in a desert located 280 feet below sea level.

However, Phoenix isn’t that low.  As I sucked wind hiking Camelback Mountain on a sunny winter day, I got a greater appreciation for its beauty.

Surprisingly, Phoenix isn’t at sea level.

facts about Phoenix hiking Camelback Mountain view

Views from the top of Camelback Mountain

Cooperstown is located in Phoenix

No, not the National Baseball Hall of Fame.  I am talking about rocker Alice Cooper’s restaurant Cooperstown.

I spent a Sunday afternoon there watching some football games.  There was memorabilia all over the walls and in the bathroom.  I was surprised at how good the food was considering it was named after celebrities and rock stars.  This place had a nice vibe to it.

(This isn’t the only celebrity to own a restaurant here.  Former NBA Suns player Dan Majerle has a sports bar and restaurant in Scottsdale – Majerle’s.)

Cooperstown was named one of the top 10 U.S. celebrity owned restaurants by TripAdvisor.  That’s pretty awesome!  I knew I liked the place – and I seriously know nothing about food.

However…

facts about Phoenix Cooperstown restaurant

Cooperstown – rocker Alice Cooper’s restaurant

Phoenix is one of the top 30 food cities in the US

Travel and Leisure named Phoenix one of its top 30 cities for food in the US.

Believe it or not, a lot of top chefs come here.  With lots of resorts in Phoenix for the millions who visit every year, there are a number of diverse food choices.

There is no shortage of Mexican food here.  I enjoyed burritos at Frank & Lupe’s.

At Pita Jungle, the atmosphere was great, the food was good, and almost everything was vegetarian.  I don’t even care about vegetarian food.

The Arrogant Butcher is another good place to eat downtown.  Food is international and high quality but a little pricey.  With its location across the street from US Airways Center, it has a hip downtown vibe and a great bar scene across the street from the Suns and Diamondbacks.

facts about Phoenix top food cities Pita Jungle

Pita Jungle – delicious vegetarian food, great atmosphere

Phoenix is one of the top 10 golf cities in the US

Without a doubt, golf is very popular here – especially in winter.

Twelve years ago, I moved from South Carolina to California.  Driving through Phoenix, we stopped to spend the night.  I had pizza at lunch and played a round at a public golf course in the afternoon.

By that evening, I was as sick as I’ve ever been.  My food poisoning experience will be one I will always remember.  Can’t blame the golf but I do blame that pizza.

On my recent visit, I played at Troon North.  The views were awesome.  As for the golf game, I was hacking at the ball like a machete in an Amazon rain forest.  But I still had fun.

Every year, Phoenix is home to the PGA Tour event The Phoenix Open.  It’s one of the biggest and rowdiest crowds for any PGA Tour event all year.  The fans and players love it.

There are over 200 golf courses in the Phoenix area.  So they want you to play – even if you are as bad as me.

facts about Phoenix golf courses Troon North golf Scottsdale

great views at Troon North golf course in Scottsdale

No daylight savings time in Phoenix

Arizona is one of the few places in the US (along with Hawaii and that wacky part of Indiana) that doesn’t do that “Spring forward” or “Fall back” thing with their clocks.

Coming from California, you need to know what time of year it is.  Most of the year, we are on the exact same time as Arizona.  On this last visit to Phoenix, I wasn’t.

Like that tourist wearing shorts in San Francisco during August who doesn’t realize it’s freaking cold in the summer, plan ahead and be prepared.  Just know about that time change thing.

South Mountain Park is the largest city park in the world

If you thought Central Park in New York City is grand, it’s got nothing on South Mountain.  With 16,500 acres, South Mountain is the way locals spend an afternoon at the park.

It’s the desert way to do things – hiking in the heat, sweat dripping off your body as you climb to the top for views of the Phoenix area.

I didn’t go to South Mountain.  A few locals told me I should check it out.  Unfortunately, I didn’t have enough time so I hiked Camelback instead.  However, I did see South Mountain from the top of Camelback.

However, I don’t have a good photo of it.  However, I can sum it up from this view of from Hole-in-the-Rock.  With all the interesting facts about Phoenix, this place is a desert oasis you need to discover.

facts about Phoenix Hole in the Rock Papago Park

a desert view from Hole-in-the-Rock

The best travel experiences in Phoenix

Phoenix isn’t about cactus, canyons, and baking in the heat.  It’s not a place you can learn about online.  You don’t get points in life for learning answers to questions about Phoenix for a trivia game.

All the knowledge and research in the world can’t prepare you for a destination.  The only way you can truly learn about a place is to experience it.

I didn’t write a top 10 list.  I experienced the most interesting facts about Phoenix.

What’s the most interesting thing you’ve done in Phoenix?  What’s the most memorable travel experience you’ve had that made that place unforgettable?

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  1. Phoenix IS a great food city. We’ve visited multiple times for work, spending a few weeks each time. There’s much more going on than people might imagine. Definitely worth a visit! Thanks for the post.
    Tamara (@Turtlestravel) recently posted..A Hindu Temple in Atlanta: Shri Swaminarayan MandirMy Profile

    • Phoenix did surprise me as well. It’s more than just a desert. There are a lot of great restaurants many people may not know about. Outdoors, food, shopping, activities – so much to do and experience. For many people, the offseason is a great time to visit. However, Phoenix is definitely worth a visit.

  2. We were in Phoenix about 8 years ago and really enjoyed it. My expectations were fairly minimal but I was really impressed! Id love to go back again and see how much its changed since we were there last. And I had no idea that South Mountain Park was so big!!
    Nicole @ Suitcase Stories recently posted..Jaguar Rescue Center in Costa Rica – Photo EssayMy Profile

    • I wish I had more time to see South Mountain. Unfortunately, all I had time for was Camelback. However, I am glad I did it. Phoenix is a great area. A bit hot during the summer but the desert is beautiful.

  3. Deb says:

    Great round up, Who knew that Phoenix was such a hub for air travel? I love the message at the end to get out there and travel. We agree, live it instead of reading about i. although, I think Ken Jennings (that Jeopardy winner) would disagree. There must have been a few trivia questions in his winning streak about Phoenix ;-)

  4. John says:

    We just came back from 10 days yesterday and totally agree with your assessment of Phoenix and surrounding area. Next time you go, make sure you do the Apache Trail. Breathtaking puts it mildly. Another great mountain hiking spot is the White Tank Mountain regional park. Oh, we just did the reopened Echo Canyon trail and only made it half way before realizing it was too much for us to tackle. Thanks for your blogs!

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