I was a hardcore hater until, much to my own chagrin, I moved here a few years ago. I’m happy to report that there’s as much (or more) to love than there is to hate, though. Phoenix can be absolutely awful if you do it wrong, so do it right. There is all sorts of stuff here, so seek out what you want/like and you should be fine.

1 - Weather. Avoid from May-Sept. Our weather is amazing, but only for half the year, unless you are a lizard and really love hot weather. Live here and you adjust to deal with summer in your own ways, but to visit without acclimation is a level of misery you probably don’t want to invite into your life.

2 - Culture. There are art walks throughout the week, galleries and museums aplenty, and some kickass music to be found on the regular. We also have great food and a growing booze/beer scene if you’re into it. From cocktail bars to breweries, Cornish Pasty to FnB to Barrio Cafe to Carolina’s, our food/booze scene has something for everyone. There’s also a lot of history here, especially with the tribes, as Arizona is still home to 22 federally recognized tribes. The Heard Museum had an incredible exhibit on boarding schools recently. Learn something.

3 - Desert. Some people just don’t like the desert, but if you’ve never experienced it, I suggest you give it a fair chance. On easy mode (with wheelchair accessible paths and scooters to rent), hit the Desert Botanical Garden. Or go hiking in our parks. We have several mountain preserves and huge parks within/near city limits with tons of trails to explore, from easy to super technical, right in the city. Go on your own adventure or book a guided hike or bike ride. Wear appropriate shoes and clothing, and bring as much water as you can carry. If you are carrying an Aquafina bottle and nothing else on a hike, you basically deserve whatever happens to you. Don’t be that touron.

4- Access to even better shit. Have a few days and a car? Arizona’s geography is incredibly diverse. This is not unique out west, but you get an enormous bang for your buck from Phoenix in this department. Drive up to Jerome, take the long way into Sedona, and then head up to Flagstaff. Beautiful little towns to explore, and depending on where you’re from, some of the best scenery you can ever see (which is a win on its own if you’re not into the hiking/exploring). Or go directly to the Grand Canyon. Or the Painted Desert. Or the Superstitions. Or the dells in Prescott. Or go wine tasting in the Verde Valley. Or the Davis-Monthan Air Force Boneyard in Tucson.

5 - Locally, get out of the car. If possible, try to plan lodging central to what you’re here for or what you want to be doing. Our traffic isn’t an LA-level shitshow, but the city is enormous and spread out. The light rail is great, and if you’re already comfortable riding bikes, it doesn’t get easier than a huge grid of wide, flat, straight streets with a nice mix of multiuse paths along the canals, golf courses, and parks. We have Grid Bikes and a ton of bike shops that will rent you a bike. Wear a helmet.

6 - Sports. I hate spectator sports, but we have a ton of it here. NBA, MLB, NHL, and NFL teams plus Cactus League spring training and some soccer too. We also have roller derby and bmx/skate parks. On the other side of that, we have some really nice gun ranges like Ben Avery just north of town. If that’s up your alley, head over to north Scottsdale and tour Dillon.

7- Damage Control. If dates are out of your hands, deal with the heat by living like a local. If possible, save anything requiring you to go outside for the earliest or very latest points in the day. It’s still hot at night, but the oppressive burn of direct sunlight is the difference between feeling like you’re in a sauna and feeling like you’re actually on fire. Get to a pool with good shade. Seek out attractions with air conditioning, like museums. Take a siesta.