The two square blocks from Munroe Street to Washington Street, between Fifth and Sixth streets, are known as the Heritage and Science Park. This area has ties to the past, present and future of Phoenix, all within a few minutes' walk.
The modern glass and metal structure of the Phoenix Museum of History (105 N. Fifth St., tel.602-253-2734, www.pmoh.org) provides a striking contrast to the museum's contents. It features a Native American section and another that chronicles the lives of the region's early settlers. The history of Phoenix is brought to life with replicas of the original Hancock General Store and the city's first jail.
Right beside the Phoenix Museum of History is the Arizona Science Center (600 E. Washington St., tel.602-716-2000, www.azscience.org). The five-storey IMAX-style theatre presents documentary films every hour, while the 20m-wide planetarium can seat over 200 people. The Science Center's facilities also include a laboratory, a human biology section and a scientific art gallery.
The city's Historic Heritage Square (115 N. Fifth St., tel.602-262-5071), while not ancient by East Coast standards, provides Phoenicians with a vital link to the past. A few remaining houses are all that's left of the original Phoenix settlement, of which the oldest is Rosson House, which dates back to 1895. The eight remaining houses have been lovingly restored and are now home to administrative offices, small museums, restaurants and shops.
The Midtown District
The internationally-renowned Heard Museum (2301 N. Central Ave., tel.602-252-8848, www.heard.org) was founded in 1929 by Dwight Bancroft and Maie Bartlett Heard to preserve their impressive collection of Native-American art. The museum's ten exciting galleries strive to promote appreciation and respect for Native peoples worldwide and the products of their cultural heritage. Traditional and contemporary sculptures, prints, potteries and textile art are complemented by music and dance performances. The museum's most popular event-the Guild Indian Fair and Market-takes place on the first weekend of March, and features 500 of the nation's finest Native artists, entertainment, food and shopping.
The Phoenix Art Museum (1625 N. Central Ave., tel.602-257-1222, www.phxart.org) is located just a few blocks south of the Heard Museum. Three permanent exhibitions-Art of Asia, Art of the Americas & Europe to 1900 and Art of Our Time: 1900 to the Present-contain more than 13,000 pieces. Children will love the "child-friendly, please touch!" ArtWorks gallery.
The Phoenix Zoo (455 N. Galvin Pkwy., tel.602-273-1341, www.phoenixzoo.org) is home to over 1,300 animals, including 200 endangered or threatened birds, mammals and reptiles, housed in four replica habitats that are connected by trails. For instance, the Forest of Uco Trail showcases the South American rainforests' wildlife and lush tropical plant life.
Historic Old Town Scottsdale serves as the downtown area and has a well-established, if not authentic, Old West theme. Approaching the end of Main Street, you'll find the Scottsdale Mall, which is actually a pedestrian
park and not a shopping centre. The mall is marked by a beautiful sculpture, The Yearlings by George-Ann Tognoni. The Civic Centre Plaza is the pride of the Scottsdale area. Many beautiful fountains and sculptures can
be found here. The Scottsdale Center for the Arts and Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art (7374 E. Second St., tel.480-874-4666, www.scottsdalearts.org) are the cultural and artistic masterpieces of the city. The Main Street Gallery District and the Marshall Arts District are important destinations for art lovers.
Nestled in the foothills of the McDowell Mountains, Frank Lloyd Wright's Taliesin West (12621 Frank Lloyd Wright Blvd., tel.480-860-2700, www.franklloydwright.org) is a true masterpiece of architectural design. The renowned architect came to Scottsdale in 1937 to build a winter studio, home and architectural campus. Taliesin West was constructed from the surrounding rocks and sand. Visitors can explore the intricately landscaped grounds with their fountains, bridges and terraces.
The Apache Trail
On the Apache Trail, it's not the destination, but the journey that counts. The winding road snakes its way between deep canyons, past ancient rock formations and through the Tonto National Forest. It's a lively drive, with steep hills, tight turns and bumpy sections, but the seemingly endless vistas make the trip worthwhile. Traffic can be slow, but this is not a trip you should be rushing through. Take your time and enjoy the sights along the way.