This blog explores the history of Phoenix, Arizona and a little bit of Los Angeles and San Francisco, California. This blog is not supported by advertising, it's supported by the generosity of my patrons on Patreon. Thank you!

How to enjoy living in Phoenix, Arizona like a tourist


I've lived in some pretty awesome places in my lifetime, including where I live now, Phoenix Arizona. And in all of those places I've been dismayed to see people who live there and have no appreciation of it the way that tourists do.

It's November now, and the beginning of the tourist season in Phoenix. People are escaping the cold from back east, people are coming from all over the world to see the beauty of Arizona, which they would normally only be able to see in magazines, and way too many of the locals are slogging along, ignoring it all.

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I remember my first November in Phoenix, Arizona. I was 19, and had grown up in Minneapolis, Minnesota. It was amazing. The temperatures were just gorgeous, the skies were bright and blue. I don't recall if I was swimming in November, but I sure had my feet in the pool. By December I was just jumping out of my socks - no cold, no snow, no slush. Wow, what have I found here?

When I lived in Tempe I would watch the sunset just about every night. After a while I got to thinking that maybe the sun wouldn't go down if I didn't.

After I graduated from ASU I moved to Santa Barbara, California, and the wonder continued. Santa Barbara was so beautiful that it looked as if the "backgrounds were just painted on", mountains, the ocean, unbelievable. And in both Southern California and Phoenix I spent a lot of time staring at palm trees, refusing to believe that they could even exist, and that I could walk up and touch one anytime I wanted to.

Now, in my "golden years", I haven't changed. I love the smell of the desert, I love the blue skies of Arizona. I'm fascinated by the long warm shadows in the morning and late afternoon. I'm as fascinated by all of this as if I had never seen it before, like a tourist who wants to take a photo of everything he sees.

So, if you live in Phoenix, this is what I recommend: look at it through the eyes of tourists. Remind yourself that someone is paying the big bucks to stay in a hotel room just a few miles from you. Someone is eating breakfast on their patio and marveling at how beautiful the Sonoran Desert is. Go watch the colors change on the Superstition Mountains, go stare at a saguaro cactus. Take a selfie on the patio at a restaurant. Stare at people walking by, gape at a sunset. Be a tourist, I won't laugh at you. In fact, I'd feel sorry for you if you didn't.