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Phoenix proper bustles with urban nightlife and hip ’hoods, while also maintaining acres of untouched desert woven with hiking and biking trails. Get ready to explore.

Downtown Phoenix anchors the metro area with such renowned cultural centers as the Heard Museum and Phoenix Art Museum. Sports fans find fun here, too. In fact, in February 2015, a dozen city blocks transformed into “Super Bowl Central,” a hub for Super Bowl XLIX entertainment. Also in downtown, the artsy Roosevelt Row neighborhood vibrates with live-music venues, murals, street performances, galleries, funky art walks and independently owned boutiques. This doesn’t even touch on the restaurants—a few blocks  south of Roosevelt Row is Pizzeria Bianco, which serves what The New York Times deemed “the best pizza in America.”

Just north of downtown, you’ll find Windsor Square. Winding streets curve around lovingly restored 1930s homes—think wide lawns and charming porches—and you’ll often see the young residents of the area astride brightly colored bicycles on their way to the neighborhood’s hip restaurants and hangouts.

Mid-century homes on surprisingly expansive properties (surprising, given that they’re in the heart of the sixth-largest city in the nation) dot Arcadia, just east of Windsor. Foodies gravitate to this neighborhood for its crop of chef-driven eateries, where the impressive architecture and stylish design often rival the cuisine.

Surrounding this urban heart are natural splendors and sweeping mountain views in nearly every direction. Take a scenic drive north to admire the desert flora and fauna of the Phoenix Mountain Preserve. Or, put the car in park to explore the Sonoran Desert at the Desert Botanical Garden.

Have your camera ready for…
Camelback Mountain and Papago Park

By Brooke Stevenson. This article first appeared in the Phoenix Official Travel Guide, copyright 2015, Madden Media.