While much of North America is experiencing the dead of winter today, Phoenix
, Ariz., is probably enjoying one of its 300 sunny days a year. For many of us, a temperature in the mid-70s is sounding good about now, even if we do have to swap a fir or maple for a cactus
Each year, hundreds of thousands of snowbirds, sun worshipers and leisure sports enthusiasts flock to Phoenix to escape winter. Here they enjoy the sunshine, and the numerous golfing centers, resorts and health spas in the area.
But the famously warm weather is far from the only reason to visit. Phoenix is the sixth largest city in the U.S., and its mild winters and low cost of living makes it one of the fastest growing and most dynamic areas in the nation.
Recreation opportunities abound in Phoenix—both indoor and outdoor. On milder days, you might want to try a desert hike. Covering more than 16,000 acres, South Mountain Park is called the largest municipal park in the world and is home to over 300 varieties of plants and a wide variety of animals. Or you can hike to the summit of Squaw Peak, one of Phoenix's more famous landmarks. Other great places to visit for outdoor activities include the Desert Botanical Gardens, the Japanese Friendship Garden, Encanto Park, and Papago Buttes.
In Phoenix, the air conditioner is man's best friend. So if the thermometer gets too high, you can always take refuge in one of the area's many museums, art and cultural centers. A few places to check out include the Heard Museum, Phoenix Art Museum, Phoenix Museum of History, Arizona Science Center and the Pueblo Grande Museum.
If browsing items you can actually buy appeals to you, there is always the famous and beautiful "oasis" design of the Arizona Center, or you can pick from eight other malls in the Phoenix area.
Shopping protestors can catch a Diamondbacks game at Chase Field or a Phoenix Suns game at America West Arena. Or if you prefer to get your drama from the stage, see what the current production is at the Orpheum Theatre or the Herberger Theater Center.
Phoenix has a lot to offer vacationers, including a welcome break from the chilly air and cloudy skies of northern climates. So if you're feeling a little overworked, windblown and pasty, you might want to consider more than a desktop getaway.