What can I expect from life in Phoenix, Arizona?

If you’re coming from the midwest, or the east coast, you’ll be surprised that nearly all of the buildings are new and modern. We don’t have many 100+ year old buildings as the state was founded only about 100 years ago. Now, we do have older buildings, or run down areas, but on the whole it’s a fairly new metropolitan area. If you’re arriving from Los Angeles, you’ll love how quickly you can drive across town.

What are summers like in Phoenix, Arizona?

Let’s be realistic, summertime in Phoenix is mostly spent indoors at home, in your car, or at work or a store You’ll shuffle from your home, to your car, and to your destination. By late summer,  it’s far too hot, even at night, to enjoy a park, or spend much time outside.

While that’s mostly true, there are a lot of exceptions! For example, every July 4th, hundreds of thousands of people get outdoors for Independence Day fireworks.

During the summer, we have a Monsoon season in Phoenix (and across the state), which produces some great thunderstorms. Unlike much of the country, we have fairly low humidity levels. You can expect this monsoon season to begin around July 4th, but some times much later. Check out our ultimate guide to summer in Phoenix.

Any surprises that might be in store for someone visiting or moving to Phoenix, Arizona?

Snakes, scorpions, and our surprisingly dramatic monsoon weather. But seriously, you’ll probably be most surprised by how much you appreciate the low humidity we have for much of the year. Because of the dry weather, you’ll find you don’t sweat as much even when it’s hot. We’ve seen temperatures of 121 degrees at times. Those are the days to stay indoors!

Most people are surprised that Arizona isn’t all desert. Yes, we have a very diverse landscape (over 12,500 feet of elevation change across the state. You can wake up in Phoenix, go swimming in the morning, and then drive to Arizona Snowbowl in Flagstaff for an afternoon of skiing. While you’re there, explore the Coconino National Forest, home to a diverse forest of Ponderosa Pine, ancient volcanic peaks, and high desert. The forest is actually the largest contiguous ponderosa pine forest in North America.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that the metro-Phoenix area is home to an amazing restaurant and coffee culture. This can be surprising to people who haven’t lived in a city of this size. We have a lot of unique restaurants that serve amazing food. Beyond that, the state has a thriving coffee culture, with nearly 100 independent coffee houses across the valley.

Because Phoenix is a relatively new city, and is mostly flat, we have an easy to navigate road system. Roads are usually straight, and point North-South and East-West. The city is also divided into both a “west valley” and an “east valley” with plenty of freeways to get around quickly.

What are the people like in Phoenix, Arizona?

If you ask people where they’re from most people will tell you they’re from somewhere else in the United States. The population of Phoenix exploded in the past 50 years, and as such most people are from somewhere else. That makes it both friendly and diverse, and a great conversation starter. Where are you from is always interesting.

There are a lot of new homes in Phoenix. People are moving to Phoenix because of the job opportunities, the great winter weather, and to get away from other states with higher taxes. People from all over the world and the United States move to Arizona in fairly large numbers. In 2019, it was announced that Maricopa County is the fastest growing county in the United States, according to census data.

Some quick stats:

  • From July 1, 2017 to July 2018 there were 96,268 people that moved to Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale.
  • As of July 1, 2018, metro Phoenix has a population of 4,857,962.
  • Compared to a metro-area, Phoenix is only 2nd behind the Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington area of Texas.

How long does it take to drive from Phoenix to the Grand Canyon?

Driving around Phoenix is easy. You’ll find that in most cases you can get where you need in the city within about 30 minutes, unless you choose to live in a distant suburb like Apache Junction, Laveen, or Avondale.

Residents of Phoenix are well positioned to explore the greater southwestern United States. Here are some typical drive-times:

  • The Grand Canyon is 4 hours away by car
  • Los Angeles is 8 hours away by car
  • San Diego is 6 hours away by car
  • Zion National Park is 6 hours away by car
  • Rocky Point, Mexico, is 4 hours away by car
  • Tucson is 2 hours away by car
  • Skiing is only 3 hours north in Flagstaff, Arizona

What are some interesting things to do if I have 3 days in Phoenix?

If you are interested in museums:

  • For a three day trip to Phoenix, we suggest you set a trip itinerary and visit all of the major attractions in the valley. The Musical Instrument Museum maybe one of the most unique museums in the state, and can easily take half a day to tour in entirety.
  • The Heard Museum is a great place to learn about American Indian art.
  • Take the kids to the Children’s Museum of Phoenix. Easily one of our favorite places in all of Phoenix. We take our kids at least monthly. Check out our review.
  • The i.d.e.a. Museum in Mesa, AZ is a great place to take the kids. Heavy emphasis on art and crafts.
  • Are you interested in fire trucks? Go and see the Hall of Flame Fire Museum where you can see dozens of cool fire trucks.

What should I wear in Phoenix in the summertime?

In summertime, you’ll want to wear shorts and a t-shirt if you’ll be outdoors and hiking. Check the weather! If you are hiking in the summer, bring water, a phone, an air conditioner, a large collection of marbles, and a rescue squad in case you run out of energy.

What are car seat laws in Arizona?

Children under 5 years of age must be properly secured in a child restraint device that meets federal standards.

Are there any lakes in Phoenix, Arizona?

Yes! There are a lot. A few of our favorites are Tempe Town Lake, Lake Pleasant, Saguaro Lake, Chaparral Lake, the lake at Fountain Hills, and Lake Marguerite.

What is Phoenix With Kids?

Phoenix With Kids helps people find things to do in Phoenix, Arizona, that are geared towards kids and families. Follow us on Instagram for the latest things to do.

How did we get started with Phoenix With Kids?

We started the site in 2013, when we put a list of things to do with kids together for a friend. Then we put it on a web site, and shared. We love visiting places with our children. The biggest challenge is finding time to share them. We have 3 children, ages 8, 5, and 1.

What are some of your favorites things to do?

Right now, our kids are obsessed with LEGO, and nature hikes.

Have other questions?

Reach out to us on Instagram or on email.