PopulationMetro: 4,459,692
Latin soul, daring architecture and a reverence for the outdoors blends a heady mix in the heart of the American Southwest.

A thriving desert metropolis, Phoenix offers some of the best Mexican food this side of the border, a number of fine museums, a vibrant artist community, and 300 days of sunshine (the city ranks #8 globally in our Weather sub-category).

Start your visit with a stroll through Roosevelt Row Arts District, or RoRo as locals have taken to calling it. Art galleries, studios, restaurants and bars sit side by side in this walkable creative district in the downtown core. Then head over to the Green Gables neighborhood for a hoppy farmhouse ale at Wren House Brewing Co., a cozy taproom set in a 1920s bungalow.

Is it taco time yet? The answer is another question: when isn’t it? Hit up Barrio Cafe, where chef Silvana Salcido Esparza puts her own spin on regional Mexican favorites like cochinita pibil. Exposed brick walls and wooden beams set the ambiance at St. Francis, an intimate restaurant in the heart of the city where owner and chef Aaron Chamberlin roasts meats, fish, vegetables and breads in a hand-crafted wood fire brick oven.

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Don’t miss the Desert Botanical Garden, which with more than 50,000 plants has one of the world’s largest collections of desert flora. Want to see some cacti and succulents in their natural element? Take a close-up look at Camelback Mountain. Summit trails are not for the faint of heart, especially in 100-degree heat, but the base of the mountain offers easier and equally beautiful trails for beginners.

Architecture buffs should make a beeline to Frank Lloyd Wright’s winter home, Taliesin West, located in the foothills of the McDowell Mountains. Here, Wright set up his studio and school, where his apprentices lived and worked beside him. If you’re looking for a respite from the heat, visit the Phoenix Art Museum where Carlos Amorales’ Black Cloud, a site-specific installation consisting of 25,000 individual, life-sized, black paper moths and butterflies, weave their way in a swarm up the walls and ceilings of a gallery space.