The Wigwam, Litchfield Park

Explore Phoenix's West Valley

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October 5, 2018

Just beyond Camelback Mountain and a little north of the Salt River lies a region ripe for exploration. In the northwest corner of the Valley of the Sun lies what locals refer to as the West Valley—home to Glendale, Peoria, Surprise, Sun City and more.

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Thanks to some of the largest concert, sporting and event venues in the state, a boom in businesses, and destination-worthy dining and shopping, the West Valley has transformed from placid to popular.

Explore what draws Phoenicians and visitors to the west side—and what a day could look like—ahead.

Entertainment

Westgate Entertainment DistrictWestgate Entertainment Center / Credit: Visit Glendale

The headquarters of things to do in West Phoenix, Westgate Entertainment District combines nightlife, shopping, athletic events and concerts into one colorful center. By day, stroll by happy fountains and into favorite shops such as La Lady Boutique and Just Sports. Break for happy hour and a view of the sunset at Whiskey Rose, McFadden’s or Fat Tuesday before heading to an exhilarating show at Gila River Arena. (Elton John, Drake, and Taylor Swift have all performed here.) Late night craving? Yard House and Dave & Busters are filled with fun, and filling entrées. Or head to Salt Tacos Y Tequila for crispy tortilla chips, bright guacamole, and spice-filled Mexican dinners.

Both USA Today and Sunset Magazine have named Historic Downtown Glendale as one of the country’s ten best places for shopping. Comprised of two neighborhoods—Historic Catlin Court and Old Towne—this area is walkable and charming with a setting of white picket fences and mature trees. Pop into antique stores for one-of-a-kind finds. Set in a bright green home with a shady porch, Gracie’s Marketplace has a Memory Lane Trinkets and Treasures section for vintage finds. And at Zola Bell’s, a two-story building filled with throwback knickknacks, Charlie the shop dog works on Saturdays. The Ceremony Shop & Cafe combines a boutique and dining, with coffee, tea, and pastries next to unique gifts. And because The Ceremony Shop & Cafe is also set in a charming house, you can admire your purchases or sip on Earl Grey in the backyard, filled with a green lawn that’s inviting and relaxing.

Action

From baseball season to football season to hockey season, there’s no bad time for a sports fan to be in West Phoenix. When the State Farm Stadium isn’t hosting the NFL’s big game (2008, 2023, comin’ right up!), it’s home to the NFL’s electrifying Arizona Cardinals. The “bird gang,” as Cardinals fans refer to themselves, cheers on the home team—63,400 of them. The stadium is hard to miss; a circular silver goliath with an impressive retractable roof that keeps those inside cool when summer temps are high.

Cross the street in hockey season to watch the Arizona Coyotes dominate the ice at Gila River Arena, which seats more than 17,000 for a game. The best seats in the house? Luxury suites and the above-it-all Fireball Terrace. With the departure of long-time captain and leading scorer Shane Doan, it’s a new era for the Arizona Coyotes and an exciting time to see where the franchise goes next.

During MLB Spring Training (one of the best times of the year in Greater Phoenix), head to Surprise to watch the Texas Rangers and Kansas City Royals prep for the season ahead at Surprise Stadium. All you have to do? Take a seat, grab a beer and chill at the “best place to watch a Spring Training game,” as voted by locals. Upgrade the traditional hot dog for a mini bacon-cheddar muffin or bacon mac and cheese version. Or bite into pork tenderloin sandwiches, waffle fries or grilled corn on the cob.

Relaxation

West Phoenix continues to play perfect host when you’re swapping out-and-about for pool and snooze time. Get closest to the action at either of the region’s two Hilton hotels, where on-property shuttles play Uber—for free—with transportation to and from nearby attractions. Perfect for airport arrivals and departures. Fuel up for the day ahead with a continental breakfast that includes all the classics and healthy swaps, such as egg whites and turkey bacon.

BEST WESTERN® hotels sprinkle the region for the utmost convenience, while The Wigwam resort in Litchfield Park packs on the charm. Built with adobe and timber in 1929, this Historic Hotel of America manages to balance history and adventure. Peppered among the 331 casitas and suites of The Wigwam are lush gardens, two pools (including the Oasis Pool and its 25-foot tower with twisty water slides), a golf course and signature restaurants. Litchfield’s is the resort’s signature restaurant with a menu led by a cooking fireplace and a wine list that won the Wine Spectator Best of Award of Excellence in 2018.

A golfer on the green at Rancho De Los Caballeros in Wickenburg, ArizonaThe course at Rancho de Los Caballeros / Credit: Paul Markow

Head a bit further north to Wickenburg, where Rancho de Los Caballeros brings the Western life to West Phoenix. Authentic activities include horseback rides, skeet shooting and cowboy-approved meals of barbecue, steak, and cornbread. Trade dust for mud at The Spa at Los Caballeros, a Golf Digest top-five rated golf course and a top 100 course nationally.

So go west, young (and mature) men (and women) to explore a region that continues to thrive. While highlights are listed here, the magic of West Phoenix is that there’s so much more to see. In the spirit of the west, conquer each day for yourself!

Author: Ivy Morris

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