Gay Vacations in Phoenix, Arizona

Cowboys on horseback looking at downtown Phoenix, Arizona
Phoenix, Arizona (Babe Sarver/courtesy, Phoenix Convention & Visitors Bureau)

Phoenix Highlights

  • Use cars, not cabs. You’ll need a car in Phoenix, and renting one for the day is usually less expensive than just one cab ride. Also, you’ll want to take road trips to Arizona’s other attractions, like the Grand Canyon, north of Phoenix, and quaint Tucson's growing LGBT scene to the south.
  • See Scottsdale’s galleries on Thursdays from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. That’s when the 100-plus galleries in town fling open their doors for open houses and artist receptions during the weekly ArtWalk.
  • Be aware of the golf seasons. The Phoenix area is a top-tier golf destination, with more than 200 challenging courses. Another challenge is the hot weather during summer—making for deep discounts on golf fees. Book for early tee times or late afternoon, and watch when fees go back up from November through April.

Sprawling Phoenix—which at times feels more like L.A. than Arizona—is a booming town with an exploding LGBT population. Arizona may be known as a red state, but you’d never know it when visiting one of Phoenix’s many crowded gay bars. And the city has a very happening lesbian scene as well. The Melrose or "M7" area, on 7th Avenue between Camelback Road and Indian School Road, is where you'll find the bulk of the city's queer nightlife, although Phoenix really doesn’t have a defined gayborhood. The city’s tourism board has gone after the LGBT market with gusto, and there’s a choice of gay events throughout the year: January’s AGRA Gay Rodeo (one of the better ones on the circuit), Phoenix Gay Pride celebration on the first weekend in relatively cool April, and October’s Rainbows Festival, a gay downtown street fair.

Among the surrounding communities, Scottsdale in particular has put itself on the map as a stylish, exclusive enclave—with multimillion-dollar resorts and a Beverly Hills-level vibe. It’s also an art center, and in Old Scottsdale amid the historic buildings you'll find a cluster of world-class galleries, Southwestern boutiques, Native American crafts, and western-wear stores. The impressive Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art is the only museum in Arizona devoted to modern art, architecture, and design.

Outside of Scottsdale, the rest of the city is amazingly affordable, with plenty to keep you busy both outdoors and indoors. The Pueblo Grande Museum and Archaeological Park, located at a 1,500-year-old Hohokam village ruin, details the area’s pre-Columbian inhabitants. Taliesin West, Frank Lloyd Wright's winter home, offers tours exploring the history and architecture of the compound. The Desert Botanical Garden showcases 50 acres of hundreds of rare, threatened, and endangered plant species from around the world, with striking wildflower and cactus sections. The Heard Museum has excellent exhibits on the art and culture of the native people of the Southwest. Phoenicians know how to make the most of their nearly year-round sunshine, and they get outdoors to hike and bike among giant saguaro cactus in Papago Park, trek through 16,000-acre South Mountain Park, and climb up the distinctive spine of Camelback Mountain, a peak that is visible throughout most of the city. Its summit affords great panoramas of the Valley of the Sun.


Published: 17 Jul 2008 | Last Updated: 17 Aug 2012
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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