Arizona’s capital sizzles with sunny days and big conventions

The sixth-largest city in the country, Phoenix is known for its toasty temperatures, abundant golfing, and Southwestern landscapes. Thanks to thriving tourism and meetings industries, Phoenix sees about as much business travel a year as it does sunshine.

There’s no shortage of event space in this sprawling metropolis, starting with the 24-acre Phoenix Convention Center downtown. The 900,000 square feet of space — encompassing climate-controlled loading docks, Arizona’s largest ballroom, 100-plus breakout rooms, and a stacked floor plan to accommodate multiple groups at once — make it an ideal venue for events of all kinds. In the city, you’ll also find numerous companies, particularly in the high-tech and telecommunications industries.

Warming to the idea of a business trip to Phoenix? Use this guide to help you discover what’s hot.

Planes, Trains, and Automobiles

Alaska, Delta, Southwest, and US Airways all offer nonstop flights from Sea-Tac to Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport (PHX) that take just under three hours. The airport is located about 10 minutes from downtown. You can leave the airport via the Metro Light Rail, which has been running since late 2008 and reaches central Phoenix, downtown, Tempe, and Mesa. The cost is $2 for a ride, $4 for an all-day pass, or $20 for a seven-day pass. If business takes you outside the city center, you’ll likely need a rental car to navigate what is a decidedly spread-out city.

The Power Lunch

Near the financial district, the popular Chelsea’s Kitchen serves up hearty salads, taco platters, and grass-fed burgers in a sophisticated yet comfortable atmosphere. Vegetarians and carnivores alike can find plenty of options at St. Francis, where the wood-fired oven cooks up great flatbreads, vegetables, and other seasonal cuisine. Try the French onion burger with smoked bacon, Gruyère, crispy onions, and French onion dip. For white-tablecloth ambience and fine Italian food, Tomaso’s has been a Phoenix mainstay for decades.

Get Some Sleep

With 1,000 rooms, the Sheraton Phoenix Downtown Hotel is the state’s largest. And although it’s just a block from the Phoenix Convention Center, it also boasts its own conference center, with 80,000 square feet of flexible meeting space. At the Westin Phoenix Downtown, there’s ample space to spread out — all guest rooms are at least 540 square feet. For a boutique experience, Hotel San Carlos boasts individually decorated rooms that have been wowing guests such as Clark Gable, Mae West, and Cary Grant since the 1920s. The lobby still features the original carved-plaster crown molding and Austrian crystal chandeliers.

Off the Clock

For an outdoor experience unlike any back home, visit the Desert Botanical Garden in Papago Park — the variety of cacti and agave is impressive. Arts district Roosevelt Row (RoRo), just north of the city center, houses independently owned restaurants and cafés, coffee shops, wine bars, boutiques, and galleries. Fridays are especially lively; on the first Friday of each month, you can participate in one of the nation’s largest self-guided art walks. Live music fans will find the midsized Crescent Ballroom downtown a memorable place to catch a show any day of the week.