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Phoenix, Arizona has a lot to offer visitors who love the sunshine. It is known as the “Valley of the Sun”, because rain is scarce and the sun is out over three hundred days out of the year. The climate in Phoenix, Arizona is a hot one. The town's winters are almost as hot as their summers. The low in July is around eighty-one degrees, and that is very warm. The average temperature for most every day in the summer is over one hundred degrees. There are very rare days in the winter where it will get cold enough to snow. These days are very few and far between. There are lots of attractions in Phoenix, Arizona that make it worth braving the heat. Phoenix is home to lots of performing arts shows, museums, and other attractions. One of the big attractions is that it is the home of the Arizona Cardinals. The Cardinals won the Wildcard game against the Packers last year, and are currently in the middle of a great season. Phoenix is a gateway to the Grand Canyon. They boast of still having real cowboys, and being in the desert you certainly will feel like you are in the Wild West. It is worth braving the heat to see the beauty of the rugged mountains of Phoenix, Arizona.

The Capitol of Our 48th State: Phoenix, Arizona

Phoenix, Arizona can boast that it is the 5th most populous city in the United States. It is home to approximately 1.6 million people. It can also boast that it is the 11th largest city in the United States by land area, at 517 miles. And, if that wasn't enough, the state of Arizona was the last of the Lower 48 States admitted into the United States in February of 1912. Phoenix is located in the North East reaches of the Sonoran Desert and, therefore, has the hottest climate of any major city in the United States. Its average high temperature is over 100 degrees between late spring and mid-fall and the temperature has spiked to over 120 degrees on occasion.

Some of the lower portions of Arizona and New Mexico, including some of the metropolitan areas of Phoenix, were a part of Mexico until the Gadsen Purchase was complete in 1853 after the Mexican/American war ended in 1848. These portions of land became part of the area known as the New Mexico Territory which was formed officially in 1866. The City of Phoenix was incorporated in May of 1881. This official incorporation probably came about because, in the 1880's, the railroad was built and it was the first of several important events the revolutionized the economy of Phoenix. As a result, Phoenix became a trade center with its products reaching both Eastern and Western markets. The area grew substantially in the ensuing years but the water supply was running dry. Subsequently, the Roosevelt Dam was completed in 1911 and it is located east of the city. Finally, in February of 1912, Arizona became the 48th State in the United States and, shortly thereafter, Phoenix became its capitol city.

It's Hot, But Its Affordable: Living in Phoenix, Arizona

The weather is hot, yes, but the cost of living in Phoenix is about 18% below the National average and personal income taxes is one of the lowest in the Nation at 3.5%. Even though it seems to be always sunny, about 250 to 300 days out of the year, and the heat can be atrocious, about 100 degrees from late spring to mid-fall. Many residents enjoy the great outdoors with the many activities that are available. If sports are your thing and you want to go to a game there are three stadiums/arenas to choose from. The huge America West Arena hosts the Phoenix Suns; the Sun Devil Stadium in nearby Tempe plays host to the Arizona Cardinals; and the Arizona Diamondbacks baseball team is showcased within the Bank One Ballpark, which is a very young stadium.

Unlike most other large cities, the rent for apartments inside of the downtown Phoenix area tends to be lower than the surrounding areas. The average rent is about $650 within the city and about $725 to $840 outside of the city. Homes generally cost, on average, about $139,990. Homes have depreciated an estimated 16.7% this past year. Gas prices hover at about the mid-range of the National gas prices, about $2.72 per gallon.

High Unemployment but Beginning to Rebound: Jobs in Phoenix

The rate of unemployment in pretty high at 9.0% compared to the National average of 9.5% but the job market is beginning to rebound. The most visible rebound in employment right now is the construction industry. Major new industries that are hiring are high-tech manufacturing including semi-conductor and aerospace production as well as electronic equipment. Older but very vibrant current employment opportunities include the service industry, which include those related to rising tourism, retail, healthcare, and many governmental positions within the State and City governments including those within Maricopa County, the US Postal Service, Mesa Public Schools, Luke Air Force Base and Arizona State University.

Generally, even with the cost of living of Phoenix being so low, the wages are above average compared to the United States average wages. For example, in the food preparation and food serving industries in Phoenix, the average wage is $9.93, vs. US wage of $9.72. On the other spectrum, management positions in Phoenix generally bring in, on average, about $48.35, and the national average is $44.28. The positions are hard to find right now, yes, but the recession seems to be beginning to end because the rate of hiring, according to one source, is expected to begin to grow again in 2011.

Mexican Food: a Staple in Phoenix, or Is It?

Phoenix is renowned for its excellent Mexican food but more cultures, and therefore more different types of food, are moving in to add their own flavor. An excellent authentic Mexican Restaurant is Carolina's Mexican Food on East Cactus Road. The area is not the prettiest in the world but the restaurant is famous for its tortillas and its very low prices, ranging from about $5 to $20 for a meal. The Kai at the Sheraton Wild Horse Pass Resort was reviewed as excellent, having a 5 star rating. It is said that the Buffalo is excellent and the cost of a meal is kind of high at $40 to $80 a plate. The restaurant's menu is rich in Native American culture incorporating the essence of the Pima and Maricopa Native American tribes.

Some don't know but Kai means “seed” within the Pima language. Of course, your eating experience wouldn't be complete if you didn't go to an authentic BBQ restaurant. Bobby Q is an up-scale restaurant offering the “finest BBQ in Phoenix,” as a patron has said. Everything within the place is over the top. From the courteous staff to the quality of food, which offers a full menu of burgers, steaks, chicken and of course BBQ, the medium to high price of about $30 a plate is worth it.

The Classy Side of Phoenix: Arts and Entertainment

The Phoenix Theater website, www.phoenix-theater.com, is the source for tickets and information pertaining to all available shows in Phoenix's area theaters and outdoor venues. There are various concert halls, theaters, outdoor venues and arenas that showcase some of the finest arts entertainment around. The Gammage Auditorium is the premiere Broadway Theater located in Phoenix. Other theaters in Phoenix include the Celebrity Theater which books popular acts for its revolving stage, the Dodge Theater which seats up to 5,000 people, the Marquee Theater and the Mesa Amphitheater which holds concerts in the spring and summer. Outside venues include the Sun Devil Stadium and the Wells Fargo Arena. Tickets for various shows within each theater and arena vary according to the theater, outside venue and the production.

The Phoenix Art Museum is another place to see. Admission is $10 for adults, $4 for children 6 to 17 and children under 6 are admitted for free. The Museum offers guided tours of the South Wing which includes Modern, Contemporary, Fashion Design and the photographic arts, the Featured Exhibition tour and the Masterworks Tour which includes masterworks of Modern, Contemporary and fashion design art. The Museum is housed in a 203,000 square foot facility that offers world-class visual arts that include galleries designed by New York Architects. The Museum opened in 1959 and is home to 18,000 works of American, Asian, European, Western American and Latin American Modern Art, Contemporary Art and Fashion Design.

Breathtaking Views and Vistas to Mining: Sightseeing in Phoenix

Even though the residents appreciate the rugged mountain ranges, the towering Saguaro Cacti and Phoenix's spectacular sunsets, anyone who visits Phoenix can appreciate these sights as well. There are numerous tours that bring these sights up close and personal. An example is Arizona Hummer Tours. These tours take unique treks through the famous Sonoran Desert. For 6 years, Arizona Hummer Tours has been taking tourists and residents alike to experience breathtaking vistas. They specialize in having extensive knowledge of the desert wildlife, fauna and flora and the history of the area. Their typical itinerary includes a nature tour of the desert via an original stage coach trail, an exploration of a Native American fort that is over 1,000 years old, a visit to a ghost town and a driving tour around the Bradshaw Mountain area. Refreshments, sunscreen and a digital photo CD are included in the package that runs about $135 per adult and $95 per child.

A must-see is the Arizona Mining and Mineral Museum that celebrates the mining industry that helped to build Arizona. Arizona is the number one mining source within the US with the largest value of non-fuel mineral production. There are over 3,000 specimens of minerals, rocks, fossils and mining artifacts available for viewing. Over 23,000 school children and 18,000 others visit the site annually. The Arizona Mining and Mineral Museum costs $2 to get in and children under 17 are free. The Museum is located on West Washington Street in Phoenix.

Nightlife in Phoenix: Something for Everyone

The nightlife in Phoenix begins after the spectacular sunset show. The numerous piano bars, dance clubs, pubs, numerous gay and lesbian bars and even a gentleman's club lights up the night within the city and metropolitan areas of Phoenix. There is something for everyone. The country music scene is predominant but the area's other hotspots include jazz clubs, more than two dozen gay and lesbian bars, nightclubs, comedy clubs and upscale lounges. Club Volume, Scottsdale's Axis Radius, Myst and the Ballroom and e4 are premiere dance and nightclubs.

Christie's Cabaret awaits the gentlemen scene while the King's Cocktail Lounge, home of Henry the Tilapia Fish, brags about having a mixologist from Miami. Bar Bianco is a quieter place that serves up hearth-baked breads and glasses of wine and Harold's Corral in Cave Creek is a unique place that serves up Wild West nostalgia. For jazz buffs that like French-style service, there's Johnny's Uptown Restaurant and Music Club. A highly reviewed lesbian bar, Cash Inn Country, has been voted as the hottest place in town by Echo magazine and the Phoenix New Times and it offers karaoke, Texas Hold'em tournaments and two-step lessons. See, there is something for everyone.

Shopping in the Valley of the Sun

The term “shop ‘til you drop” was probably coined in Phoenix because of the multitude of areas and places to shop within Phoenix and its metropolitan areas. Most of the better shopping is found in non-traditional and outdoor settings. Old Town Scottsdale, for example, comprises several city blocks of shaded and curvy streets that are lined with eateries, clothing boutiques, specialty shops and galleries. If you're looking for antiques go to Glendale Old Town where more than 70 shops and restaurants are located in century-old bungalows.

Spanish Village in Carefree, outside of Phoenix, boasts 30 shops and restaurants and has a bell tower, fountains and winding alleyways tucked into various courtyards. The Borgata of Scottsdale is another outdoor mall recreated to look like San Gimignano's 14th century Italian village. There are 40 unique shops, upscale shops and restaurants hiding within the beautiful buildings and landscaping of the village. Other places include the El Pedregal Festival Marketplace, located in Carefree, which sits at the base of a 250' boulder and features one of a kind shops and Arizona Mills, located in Tempe, features over 200 outlet stores that guarantee to save you money.

Health and Wellness in Phoenix

A spa is not really hard to find within Phoenix and its surrounding areas. The crème of the crop, though, seems to be the Scottsdale Plaza Resort and Spa. The prices are upper class but they do everything from lip and chin waxing to manicures and pedicures to men's and women's hair stylist services and enhancements such as lash and brow tinting. A wonderful spa package is called the Girlfriend Getaway which includes a 55 minute Swedish massage, Spa Manicure, Spa Pedicure and a cocktail of choice. Another wonderful day-spa to go to is ItGirl Diva Lases Massage and Tan, located in Scottsdale, their website address is www.itgirldiva.com and they offer massages, reflexology, aromatherapy, cranial massage, reiki, makeup and makeovers, spray tanning and hot stone massage.

If you're looking for a health club, look no further, the top four are Yoga Phoenix on N. 9th Street, Phoenix Women's Fitness and Speciale Spa on Black Canyon Highway, Lifetime Fitness on East Chauncey Lane and Fitness West, Inc. on Indian School Road. Phoenix is a wonderful place to live. From its views, vistas, sunsets and an impressive heritage, who wouldn't want to call Phoenix home, even for just a vacation?

Hotels and Hospitality in Phoenix, Arizona

Phoenix suggests a perfect combination for visitors, with a booming metropolitan area the skyscrapers are framed by the Camelback Mountains integrating an inner-city fill with the backdrop of the beautiful Southwest. Phoenix is the perfect destination for family vacations and weekend adventures. Travelers can book a stay at the JW Marriot Desert Ridge Resort and Spa and be pampered with all the hotel spa has to offer. It is conveniently located by the Desert Ridge Mall and the golf course. If a hotel and spa are not what you have in mind, the Marriot Canyon Villas are an excellent accommodation, or even the Arizona Biltmore.

For the more adventurous, Phoenix offers unlimited trails for hiking, and beautiful scenery to enjoy. Horseback riding, mountain biking, rock climbing, and hot air ballooning are some of the attractions for travelers to expect. If traveling in the summer Arizona offers beautiful lakes to water ski, fish, or sailing on. More remarkable sights to take note of are the Desert Botanical Gardens, the Heard Museum, art galleries of Native American Art, sporting venues, and golf courses. Whether the traveler is alone, on a family vacation or a romantic getaway, Phoenix, Arizona has something to offer everyone. From its breathtaking scenery to urban shopping, or if you are there to indulge your adventurous side you will find Phoenix, Arizona is the perfect getaway.

Education in Phoenix

Most of the education for primary education in Phoenix high schools is provided by the Phoenix Union High School district. However, there are actually over thirty different school districts. There are a few charter schools available as well, such as North Pointe Preparatory School and Sonoran Science Academy.

For secondary education, there are a number of schools in Phoenix available. Arizona State University is the main school to look to when researching the secondary education available in Phoenix. Arizona State University has many locations spread out all over Phoenix and even includes a school for Medicine. The University is one of the largest institutions for secondary education in the United States.

Phoenix also has a number of specialized schools. For the Arts, there is The Art Institute of Phoenix, which offers undergraduate degrees in design, fashion, media and culinary arts. For teaching in the law field, there is the Phoenix School of Law, a private school with a large number of its graduates passing the bar exam. They have schools like the Thunderbird School of Global Management, specializing in Global Management, and the University of Advancing Technology, which is known for being a technology-oriented school.

One of the more popular and well-known schools for secondary education is the University of Phoenix. Though its headquarters are located within Phoenix itself, it has many campuses all over the United States. Its sheer size of students is only second in line to that of New York's State University of New York. It has an open enrollment policy, allowing anyone with a high school diploma, GED or something of equal value to enroll. It offers many courses to study from such as Nursing, Business, Teacher Education, and Counseling and offers both classroom and online courses for these courses.

Transportation in Phoenix

As with so many of the large cities in the United States, Phoenix, Arizona has a large number of options to get around the city. From the normal walking and biking in the larger, denser areas, to buses that run through and within a large part of the city, it is also unsurprisingly home to its own airport for those coming in and out of Phoenix.

Unlike with New York and Chicago where biking is not only well used, but in so many ways recommended because of the traffic congestion that can occur, Phoenix inhabitants do not bike very much. However, the government is attempting to make the city better for those who do bike, and perhaps even push others into wanting to bicycle. Those who do not bicycle will often make use of the freeways and highways that crisscross and dip throughout most of Phoenix. The city employs a traditional grid system, meaning that the roads work by going north-south or east-west.

It is also served in the air by the Sky Harbor International Airport, which can be found in the metro area of Phoenix, right around many of the exits of the freeways. It is one of the busier airports in the United States, ranking ninth in the list. The airport hosts and serves over one hundred different cities within the United States, and is in constant motion and business all times of the year.

Traveling through Public Transportation will definitely mean the bus, as there has not been an Amtrak service running through the city since 1996. So if there is to be any public transportation at all, it is through the bus or cab unless you own a private car. Though the Valley Metro maintains public transportation with its buses and trains throughout most of north-central, downtown and eastern parts of Phoenix, there are plans to extend this further with about thirty miles of segments by 2025.

Local Government Services of the City of Phoenix, Arizona

Phoenix, Arizona has services administered by City Hall where the Mayor governs all boards and departments charged with the protection of the City´s wellbeing. The Development Advisory Board oversees planning work but smaller Village Planning Committees have a more focused approach to their own areas. The city is split up into Ahwatukee Foothills, Camelback East, Central City, Deer Valley, Desert View, Encanto, Estrella, Laveen, Maryvale, Paradise Valley, North Mountain, North Gateway, Rio Vista and South Mountain Village. Business Development is handled for the city as a whole through the Industrial Development Authority Board and the Phoenix Workforce Connection program. The Phoenix Employment Relations Board supports this by working with employers and employees alike.

With the vast green land around Phoenix, the Phoenix Urban Forestry department protects the ecosystems in the area and the Environmental Quality Commission safeguards the city´s natural environment. The City of Phoenix Parks and Preserve Initiative Oversight Committee works with the parks and preserves, which make up so much of the city´s landscape. This is reinforced by the Parks and Recreation Board. Equally, the city Tourism and Hospitality Board provide services for maintaining Phoenix as an attraction for people visiting the city for business and leisure reasons. For information on more cultural attractions, the Arts and Culture Commission gives information and advice on all the city has to offer. For permanent citizens, the Youth and Education Commission, along with the Library Advisory board, ensures that educational and literary needs are maintained. The residential Investment Development Effort looks after housing needs of all levels. If information is needed on civic initiatives, the Civic Improvement Corporation Board will have all of the necessary details. The city´s transport system is managed by the Public Transit Department, with the Citizen´s Transit Commission and the Phoenix Aviation Advisory Board playing roles more specific to individual modes of transport. Law and order is preserved in the city by the Phoenix Police Department who, in collaboration with the Judicial Selection Advisory Board, ensures that a fair and transparent legal system is maintained.