Tips from a Local about Arizona


Phoenix: more than 330 days of sunshine a year

Like much of the Southwestern United States, Arizona is known for its beautiful sunsets and its arid climate. Its unique landscape, dominated by the rare saguaro cactus, has a lot to offer for visitors with varied interests. Phoenix and its surrounding areas proudly enjoys more than 330 days of sunshine a year and an average temperature of nearly 80 degrees, so one thing that all Arizonans have in common is their love for the outdoors. But be warned! In the summer months, high temperatures can top 110 degrees fahrenheit (43 degrees celsius). During the scorching heat of the midday, you’ll find locals relaxing poolside or inside a cool, air conditioned space.

Saguaro Cactus

Best known for their massive height and upward-branching spine-covered arms, the Carnegiea gigantea only grows in the Sonoran Desert and is a well-known symbol of the American West. Native Americans and westward-exploring settlers have noted their dominating presence on the landscapes for hundreds of years. Today, these incredible plants provide food and shelter for the local fauna and support the desert ecosystem. If you visit in May or June, you may get to see the saguaro cactus blooms, which only occur on those older than 35 years.

Historically, the cacti were so important to the Tohono O’odham, the natives of the area, that they relied upon its fruiting season to mark the beginning of a new year. They would eat the ripened fruits and use them to make wine. They harvested ribs from the dead cacti to build houses and fences. Today, however, the saguaro cactus is a protected species.

A baby saguaro only grows between one and 1.5 inches in its first eight years, and its first branches do not begin to form until it is between 50 and 70 years old. It is illegal to harm or destroy the saguaro, and they can only be moved with a government-issued permit. This means that there are plenty of opportunities to visit them and bask in their remarkable splendor. You could visit Saguaro National Park which is located in Tucson, between Phoenix and the border with Mexico, which is what millions of visitors do each year. However, because they are protected, you can also see them throughout the greater Phoenix area. Whether you’re strolling through the wild-western streets of old town Scottsdale, playing 18 holes of golf at one of the many nearby courses, or taking an early morning swim, you will no doubt notice that the human-like silhouettes of saguaros fill the horizon in all directions.

Tip from a local: Baseball Spring Training

Baseball, known as the American Pastime, originated in the United States sometime in the mid-1700s to the early-1800s. Annually, Americans spend nearly 10 billion dollars going to games and buying team-related merchandise. As an important aspect of American culture, there are even well-known songs written about baseball. The most famous is still sung today, right before the beginning of the seventh inning. Just like a football (soccer) or hockey game, a baseball game is divided into sections, called innings. Each game has nine innings, when each team has a chance to score points by hitting the ball and running through the bases. Right before the last three innings, the fans sing the following song in order to amp up their teams for the final push of the game.

“Take me out to the ball game,

Take me out with the crowd;

Just buy me some peanuts and Cracker Jack,

I don’t care if I never get back.

Let me root, root, root for the home team,

If they don’t win, it’s a shame.

For it’s one, two, three strikes, you’re out,

At the old ball game.”

Spanning from the end of February through the end of March, Phoenix and the surrounding areas are home to 15 Major League Baseball teams who occupy 10 different stadiums where they run drills, hold batting practice, and play games in preparation for the upcoming season.

During spring training, you can tour the stadiums, meet the players, solicit autographs, and maybe even snap a photo with your favorite for social media. While there, make sure to have a bag of salty roasted peanuts, a hot dog, and an ice-cold beer, just like an American baseball fan. A must do!

Climb a Mountain!

With more than a dozen mountain ranges surrounding the Phoenix area, finding a place to bike, hike, or walk that meets your abilities is easy. From day hikes up Pinnacle Peak to week-long backpacking trips in the Grand Canyon to simple night time neighborhood walks with gorgeous views of the valley below, everyone can find a way to get outside like the locals do.

Not only will you witness saguaros at various stages throughout their life course, but you will also become familiar with other distinctive characteristics of the Sonoran Desert. Perhaps you may catch a glimpse of a gila monster, a javelina, a rattlesnake, or a bald eagle in its natural territory. Beware of the jumping cholla, a cactus that looks soft and fluffy but will adhere itself to your body and travel with you everywhere you go. Its spines are hollow and easily lock into place wherever it touches.

Not a fan of the outdoors?

Millions of people travel to Arizona for its infamous golfing, hiking, rock climbing and mountain biking. However, the Phoenix area also has the highest number of luxury spas and wellness centers in the country. Whether you’re looking for someplace rustic set high atop the breathtaking red rocks of the sprawling deserts or a five-star resort in the heart of the city, anyone who prefers to be pampered will find someplace perfect. Many locals frequent the many day spas, where they can choose from a menu of services that best meet their individual needs.

If you’re a person who finds therapy in shopping, you may need to buy an extra suitcase to carry home all of the purchases you will acquire. Shopping and strip malls abound, but funky antique stores and stylish boutiques house unique, locally-produced goods and artisanal products. Look for jewelry made of turquoise and silver, leather goods, Native American-inspired prints and patterns, and cactus-adorned everything. Yes, you may!

I like the details about the baseball including the song. And the saguaro is a must see as well. Is there anything else you can recommend to do, including the address (a great shopping mall, an usual restaurant,a beautiful hike, so people can have a tip from a ‘ local’

Written by Mandy from U.S.A.